By MAGGIE JANKULOSKA
Whether we like to admit it or not, at one point in our lives we have been bombarded with the notions of the intangible ‘happy ever after’, usually after a childhood spent watching and reading fairy-tales. You may long for a happy ever after as a lonely teenager watching rom-coms or as a hopeful bride, longing for the new transition as a
Usually in the Disney realm, the princess is saved from an evil stepmother, a poison apple or a life under the sea, thanks to the kiss of their prince. Of course, once kissed, all trials and tribulations are soon forgotten and they ride into the sunset, with their life together assumed as bliss.
We never see Cinderella getting old, Snow White crippled by a mortgage, Ariel resenting her prince for making her sacrifice her mermaid life, Jasmine thinking of starting up her own business in this economy or Belle finding herself not attracted to her prince. Instead we imagine them as forever young and forever happy in their castles.
While I have been fortunate enough to have met the man I envisioned and so far we have spent five wonderful years together, does this mean we are in are in our happy ever after? We seldom fight, we support each other with our hopes and we have can even sense each other’s thoughts through our weird couples’ telepathy. Are we at that dubious ‘happy ever after’ stage, where we can drink tea on a porch and look into the sunset?
While we are and will be happy, our love story will not be a fairy tale and I am glad. We are both logical enough to know that after X amount of time together, a relationship does not become placed on the fairy-tale mantel.
After all, ‘happily ever after’ signifies stillness, a dead calm that you couldn’t possibly want in a relationship. A relationship is not about sailing on placid sea. Placid sailing usually signifies the end of a passionate relationship. Ironically, ‘happily ever after’ replaced ‘and they lived happily until they died’ in fairytales.
While the term remains, I’m sure its meaning has evolved. Surely a woman can no longer wait to be rescued before beginning her adventures? Can a woman or man have a happy ever after without a significant other in their life or must the term be associated with a partnership?
Can your happy ever after mean having a life full of self-discovery, personal growth and happiness sans partner? Can a life dedicated to travel, learning and hedonism be a happy ever after? Or should women listen to Taylor Swift, eat ice-cream and pine over their long lost Prince William who lost his way to rescue her?
The cynic – or realist – in me knows that there is no fairy tale relationship. A relationship may look glossy and glamorous and too good to be true on the outside, just like bleached teeth; but most times those are the couples with buried flaws – just look at Hollywood. A couple that appears to belong in a housekeeping catalogue eventually always ends up breaking up in a sordid way – that’s just my observation.
If I had to apply the happily ever after line in my life and my relationship, what would it be? In my happy ever after, I would have a partner that would always remain my best friend, ask me ‘how are you feeling?’ daily, watch bad television with me without complaining too much and unconditionally accept me for who I am. Call it happy ever after or not, but I am lucky to already have this.
This gallery features images from the brilliantly shot “Fallen Princesses” series by photographer Dina Goldstein. You can find more of her work here.
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Do you or did you, ever expect a relationship to be like a fairytale?