Unrealistic Expectations: The Dysfunctional Myth of “Happily Ever After”

Bride with a Knight or Prince

Prompted by last year’s news coverage of Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton, I’ve decided to explicitly tackle the myth of a “Happily Ever After” that occurs after the wedding. The implicit assumption seems to be that one finds love, marries, and experiences smooth sailing thereafter. This prevalent myth that we first encounter through fairy tales contributes to unrealistic expectations in marriage, a failure to establish a solid foundation for a relationship, and an inability to react and cope with the inevitable stresses in a productive manner.

CNN Money: Happily Ever After
Tubefilter News: Prince William and Kate Middleton are ‘Happily Ever After’
Teen Vogue: “Happily ever after: Prince William and Kate Middleton finally tie the knot.”
IMDB: Prince William and Kate Middleton are ˜Happily Ever After’

I could list more, but encourage you to google “William and Kate Happily Ever After” to see for yourself.

Unrealistic Expectations in a Relationship

Certainly the wedding of a Prince inspires a fairy-tale like atmosphere more so than your average wedding. Underneath it all, though, many – if not most – hope for their own fairy-tale love, wedding, and happily ever after. Our projections onto William’s wedding say a lot about who we are.

Yet, relationship experts are almost unanimous in advising against unrealistic expectations. “Happily ever after” makes a nice bedtime story, but it has little to do with real life. In real life here’s what comes after:

1.) Handling differences of opinion.
2.) Dealing with competing or conflicting priorities.
3.) Deciding whether or not to have children, and how to raise those children.
4.) Dealing with a spouse who’s sick or injured.
5.) Competing career interests.
6.) Financial stress.
7.) Dishonesty.
8.) Power struggles.
9.) A good chance of infidelity.
10.) Dealing with in-laws, other family conflicts, and conflicts with and about friends.

None of these enter into our fairy tales, and most couples – particularly the women – spend far more time planning the wedding than planning a solid foundation for the marriage. Men spend less time planning a dream wedding, but the failure to plan a solid foundation for marriage is the same.

Here are some links that deal with unrealistic expectations:

Fight Unrealistic Expectations
Dealing With Unrealistic Expectations In Marriage
#1 Marriage Killer: Unrealistic Expectations
7 Things Newlyweds Should Never Do
The ‘happily ever after’ myth
7 Myths of Happily Ever After
What happens after happily ever after?

Michele Weiner-Davis recently tweeted, “Unrealistic expectations about relationships are the viruses in unhealthy marriages.”

Dr. John Gray recently tweeted an article on 10 bad relationship habits, which included expecting too much.

Dr. Willard Harley talks about What’s Wrong With Unconditional Love, and Steve Harley talks about expecting things to just go smoothly without acquiring knowledge and expending effort in his article But no one told me!

So what do you think about “Happily Ever After”?

Discuss this article on our forum.

This entry was posted in Emotional Fulfillment, Listening and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Unrealistic Expectations: The Dysfunctional Myth of “Happily Ever After”

  1. Pingback: So You Want To Improve Your Marriage - Intro & Avoiding Common Mistakes - Marriage AdvocatesMarriage Advocates

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