Happily Ever After.
I believe this is actually possible.
I think what most people want is: Happily every moment from the second I meet you.
I believe this is rare. Super rare.
‘Happily ever after’ begins with an excitement of meeting someone who inspires you. Someone who does and says things that light you up. Someone who does and says them in ways that you find —at very least interesting. And when it is super exciting, the same thing is happening for the other person.
This is when I hear, oh, its perfect! S/he is so wonderful after two dates —or not even dates. It could even be two evenings of texting. [Note: I am way too old to understand the idea that texting is equal to talking.]
I celebrate feeling good. Sitting in possibility. The hope of a partner for the future. I agree that the feelings in this stage of a relationship are unique and awesome. And, what happens is we confuse these feelings with the idea that the other person is or isn’t ‘anything’. S/he isn’t fantastic just because you think s/he is. At this stage of any relationship you are relating with your imagination. So of course it’s good.
It is so easy when they are telling you how wonderful you are, and sharing with you about their ‘perfect’ self. And maybe they include a few flaws just to make it believable. You both think the other is good sounding and good looking. And this is dangerous. Why?
Because you don’t know each other.
Whatever they are telling you is likely true, and the filter through which they are sharing it in is also likely flattering. They are sharing who they want to be. Or more realistically they are sharing who they think you want them to be. Based on their imagination of what you want.
This is the time to hold dearly to the needs you are committed to. The experiences you are hoping for inside a partnership relationship.
If you are not crystal clear about this, you are likely to get drug around by what is happening, and your imagining of who the other person is. Then when a red flag comes up, you might not notice it. Or again, more realistically, you will notice it, and tell yourself it is okay because s/he is “fill in the blank”.
As time passes, you are more and more clinging to the belief that ‘this is the one’, and forgetting to check in with yourself to notice when your needs are actually getting met. You are robbing yourself from the possibility of someone becoming ‘the one’ if you do this. Because now you are pretending. Now you are building up little resentments —and you are just beginning the relationship.
My encouragement is to remember what you want to create. Notice as time passes whether the things this ‘not-so-new’ person is doing and saying are still exciting, interesting and inspiring. If they aren’t, are you speaking up? Are you asking why? Are you asking for more of what you want? Are you ‘being’ more of what you want?
If you have chosen honesty, for example, and you are not fully checking in and letting this other person know that something —albeit very small, is on your mind, then how is it that you think honesty will be woven into this relationship?
Most often that is what people want and hope for.
If you are not one of the lucky few that has got the ‘Happily every moment from the second I meet someone’, then ‘Happily Ever After’ starts with the less romantic idea of talking about the difficult things as they show up. In ways that that show interest and curiosity. What we usually do is wait until we are pissed off, and then the arguing begins. You don’t want to rock the boat, so you pretend and then expect the other person to know that you want something different. A year into in and you are now sick of what they do —so you say it in ways that are blaming and accusatory. Not the best strategy for ‘Happily Ever After’.
Here’s an analogy:
You move into a new house. The basement is sparkling clean and empty. You start throwing your stuff down there with no order, just piling stuff up. Some things are in boxes, some things aren’t. Maybe you go and buy a shelf or two, and get stuff off the floor. Still, you can’t find your things, nothing is cleared identified. A year in, you hate going in the basement. You can’t find the things that you care for so much. The possibility that the basement offered of organized storage in support of you keeping and using things that are precious to you is now a disaster and takes boatloads of time and energy to clean up.
It isn’t magic.
In this basement example, if you took the time in the beginning to think things through, decide what you wanted your basement to look like, how you wanted it to serve you, you might have made different choices. You may have set up areas where kitchen items go, tools, craft supplies, building materials, etc. You may have made label so that when you went to the right area, you would be able to find the right box or shelf immediately. You get where I am going. If you put the hammer in the box labeled craft supplies, you will likely take a long time to find it, and feel frustrated when looking. Ending with a trip to Home Depot to get another one. Leaving the perfectly wonderful hammer unused in the craft box, until you want to make a card for a friend. [BTW-that has never, ever happened to me, in any basement I have ever had. Please don’t ask me why I have three of everything]
It is the same with relationships. As you get to know people, if you are connected to and asking for the experience(s) you want, you can think it through with the other person. You can invite in honesty, compassion, laughter (whatever else you are hoping for). That way, if you will know how to organize this relationship. Are the needs you have identified for partnership person being met? Or is this person more suited for friendship? Business partner, neighbor, acquaintance, sewing group person.
While everything in life is magic, making a relationship become ‘Happily Ever After’ requires something different.
It requires focused attention, honest conversation, often managing your own and the other’s difficult feelings. For enough time that you actually understand and agree to partner with the person in front of you, rather than your imagining of who you thought they were when you met them or who they should be now that you have known them for a while.
When you stop dating your imagination, and starting relating with the real person, show up, tell the truth, listen compassionately and choose wisely, ‘Happily Ever After’ happens.