...And they lived happily ever after
You don't have to be a hopeless romantic or a Disney uber-fan to feel something when you read these words. The desire to attract and sustain a long-lasting, satisfyingly happy love relationship is shared by many women and men too.
There is something comforting and pleasing about the prospect of finding a mate, maybe even a soulmate, and having the passion and love continue to grow over time. Unfortunately, the dream of “happily ever after” feels impossible to many.
It may even be something that you cringe to hear because you once believed it could happen for you and it hasn't. In fact, what you've experienced of love so far in your life has possibly been a giant disappointment that left you feeling scarred and jaded.
There is no “happily ever after,” you may have decided and so you've given up your longing for the kind of relationship you truly want and, instead, have settled into “good enough” or even “better off alone.”
We know that life doesn't always (or maybe ever) feel like a fairytale or Disney movie. And we know that any relationship-- including yours-- can be one that is consistently happy and one in which passion and connection continue to grow.
If this sounds too fantastical to ever be true for you, we invite you to ask yourself these 3 questions...
#1: What's your story about your relationship?
We all tell ourselves stories about ourselves and our relationship. If you long for a happiness with your partner that keeps on growing but you're not living it, take a closer look at the story you tend to tell.
Do statements like this dominate your mind and talk?
“This is as good as it gets”
“I just keep putting up with it.”
“He'd never do that!'
“She'll always be that way.”
“That kind of love is only in movies and novels.”
“I'm stuck where I am.”
“There's nothing I can do about this.”
We're not doubting that there isn't some truth to the stories you tell yourself. There could be mountains of evidence supporting your story that your partner is always critical, nagging, letting your down, uncaring, disrespectful or boring.
But.... is he or she absolutely always this way? Could there be some moments that you are missing or discounting with your certainty that your partner is always a certain way?
Is there a different story you could open up to about your relationship and your partner that is possibly just as true, but takes into account more than just the unhappiness?
#2: What's your version of happy look like?
This is the fun part.
When you look at a couple who seems to be happy, is that what you think happy HAS to be? Open up to the possibility that happy can be just as diverse and unique as we human beings are.
Give yourself permission to create your own version of happy in your own way.
What activities do you like to do-- together with your partner or by yourself? What specific expressions of love and appreciation has your partner shown you in the past? Which of these brought warmth to your heart? What specific ways have you shown your love and appreciation for your partner? Which of these seemed pleasing to him or her?
Notice what brings out the happiness for you even if it is different than what you think happy “should” look like.
#3: How can you be a match for the story you want to live?
Maybe the previous exercise of coming up with happy moments with your partner or expressions of love and appreciation was difficult and painful. Maybe it seems like there literally have not been moments that were even close to happy with your partner.
...But you still want the happily ever after experience. In fact, you deserve it!
If you've looked at life with your partner and found literally no happy moments (or very few), then we recommend that you seriously ask yourself whether or not you should stay in or leave the relationship. What is truly in your best interests?
Ultimately, whether or not you stay in this relationship, the opportunity for you is to become a better match for the story that you DO want.
Assess how well-matched you are for what you want. In what ways do you sabotage happiness before it can fill your heart? How do you block connection with your partner?
The more you can identify the ways that you play a role in preventing happiness, the easier it will be to consciously make some changes.
Keep inviting yourself to speak and act differently so that you can be a match for the happily ever after relationship you've longed for.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.