Ask most girls under age 10 what "happily ever after" looks like and they'll talk to you about meeting a man (probably a prince) and kissing him at the royal wedding. Ask a grown woman what "happily ever after" looks like, and she'll probably tell you the same thing. If you respond, "No, what does it look like to you NOW, as a grown woman," she'll stare at you blankly. I know this is true because it happened to me repeatedly while I interviewed women around the country for my book and documentary, Seeking Happily Ever After. No one ever told us that we could redefine happily-ever-after for ourselves—and that doing so might make us, well, happier. So here is permission for you to do it, and four ways to go about it.
Step One: Block out the noise.
It's hard to know what your own "happily ever after" looks like when many people are busy defining it for you. The usual version goes like this: married, babies, house, mini-van. You've got your mother or grandmother or friend (or all of the above) blurting out tips on landing a husband and pointing out what you're doing wrong; reality shows, romantic comedies and TV shows confirming that your goal is a man on his knees presenting you a diamond ring; and books for singles advising you to fix that defect so you can finally find a spouse. How To Fall In Love With Mr. Good Enough
According to popular culture there's one route to "happily ever after," and you better get on the bandwagon, sister. So the first step to creating your own path is to see all the programming around you for what it is: noise—loud noise. The good news is that you get to stop listening the moment you decide to.
Step Two: Check in with your compass.