I recently came back from my cousin's wedding. It was a gorgeous day, cloudy and 70's outside. Inside a beautiful gazebo, we witnessed the story of two people who met at work, started dating, and will continue to work together and go home together. Their vows spoke perfection: a promise to care and hold each other. The bride couldn't keep a dry eye. Outside, they topped it off with a popsicle vendor. I had a raspberry coconut. Amazing!
At the reception, it was Disney themed. Happily ever after. We sat at the Beauty and the Beast table and wrote in a card that they will read at their 10th year anniversary. I don't remember what I wrote but I meant every word of it.
Are you sure about this?
Cousin, I believe in a strong, happy marriage so keep working at it. Otherwise, I do tend to be skeptical at weddings as I question whether people really know what they're getting themselves into. Cuz picture this: at a certain time in your life, sometimes before your brain fully develops, you make a lifelong decision to commit to ONE other person. Does that sound crazy or what? And yet, people all around the world are sharing vows as I type this.
Why is it so hard?
When the adrenaline is gone, the toilet seat is up, and you realized you married your mom/dad, things are rough. Throw in the stress of raising kids, an uneven distribution of household chores, and conflict with in-laws and you have it made. What about disagreement in how you manage finances and the use of substances, food or gambling to cope with stress?
When have you ever seen Disney couples fight? All you see is the kiss that ends the tale. Is happily ever after even possible?
Be prepared to work hard
I want to say yes, but be prepared to work your butt off. Relationships are hard work. You're either building up your partner or you're tearing them down; drawing them close or pushing them away. As psychiatrist Robert Waldinger might add, “Relationships are messy, complicated, and the hard work of attending to family and friends are not sexy, but lifelong.” Happily ever after is in the daily grind of doing the small things that would create safety and security for your partner to come close and for them to do the same for you.
Are you ready?
Often times by the time couples come into my office, they've forgotten the vows said years ago. How I so want the DeLorean time machine from BTTF so I can witness their wedding, their longing for each other til death do them apart. And sometimes, I have the privilege of catching glimpses of that hope, the love once shared, but we have to dig through the mud to get there.
Patterns of relating take years to form but possibly only months to unravel and rebuild. Would it be worth it to devote an hour a week to deepen a connection that will last a lifetime? Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) has shown such results! Compared to a 35% success rate with other forms of couple therapy, 86% of couples "report feeling happier in their relationships" with EFT.
If happily ever after is what you're striving for, give me a call!
Ada Pang, MS, LMFT is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond counseling practice in WA. She loves helping distressed couples learn to connect in a safe and secure way. She enjoys the Seattle summers and last week, went SUPing with her husband on Lake WA. At one point he tied his ankle bracelet to her paddle board. Let's just say it was a bad idea.