Why Happily Ever After is Just a Fairytale

Happily ever after? That’s just a fairytale. And it’s not only Disney that continues to perpetuate the myth. Hollywood has played its part too.

We are saturated with images of happy couples at the end of movies—after a few stumbling blocks early on in the relationship, there is a culmination of soaring violins, and a promise that the two went on to live happily ever after, together, forever. Smooth sailing and blue skies, cute bunnies and rainbows.

It’s simply not possible.

Sourced from Djsumma.com

The first problem with this scenario is that it makes us think that if we’ve found “the one,” there will never be another problem again. That person “completes us” and “makes us happy,” and it all happens seamlessly.

So of course, at the first sign of a problem in our relationship we stop, and we begin to question. Maybe this isn’t meant-to-be love. Maybe we got it wrong. Maybe “the one” is still out there somewhere!

So we move on to our next princess or knight in shining armor, looking for the package deal that comes complete with a white picket fence.

Let me tell you now, if you’re looking for perfection, it does not exist. What you may need is a readjustment of your expectations.

Author Lori Gottlieb had the realization too late, prompting her to write controversial piece: Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.

At 40, Gottlieb found herself still single, mother to a child she had conceived via sperm donation, and still seeking Mr. Right.

On reflection, she decided that any number of men she’d dated in the past would have been suitable for her. At the time, though, she discarded them because they didn’t tick enough of her boxes.

It’s a story repeated many times over in this world: people wait for their perfect match only to discover that person’s never coming. Or they got snatched up by someone else years ago.

Perhaps a little compromise of ideals is in order. It’s almost a dirty word: compromise. But it really doesn’t have to be.

I gave comment on this very subject in an insightful piece, “True Romance,” that Rachel Hills wrote for Sunday Life Magazine.

If a potential love interest checks even 50% of your tick-boxes, then there is potential to build a loving, solid relationship from there. Just because a person isn’t as sporty or as literary as you might have dreamed is no reason to discard them upfront.

There are, of course, some things one should never compromise on. You must have the same moral values, family values, and similar goals in life.

Everything else? That’s negotiable.

No matter who you end up with, you will have to work hard at creating a relationship. There will be ups and there will be downs, there will be happy and sad and frustrating times. But that’s what makes a relationship a journey.

And that’s why I wouldn’t even want happily ever after. That’s the romantic equivalent of a road trip on a straight, flat freeway.  Give me a picturesque mountain range any day.

About Emma

Emma Merkas is the co-creator of couples' inspiration website $30 Date Night and author of the 'How Was It For You?' relationships and dating column in Australian newspaper, mX. You can also find her at her own blog or on Twitter @30dollardate.


  1. My hubby and I are so different. We like different stuff. We have different hobbies. And we have been married 30 years. We have the same values, the same vision for our family, but we like different things. We do spend a lot of time together and we have learned to incorporate something from each of our hobbies into our lives.
    Don’t wait for Mr or Mrs Perfect. They don’t exist.
    In pursuit of happiness, or joy?

  2. 25 years and counting. 6 great kids. Not perfect, but very happily ever after.

  3. John Hoff says:

    It will be 20 years for us this November that has produced two wonderful daughters. In those years, whenever I felt like we had a happily-ever-after relationship, within days we had an epic argument. I agree wholeheartedly with Emma. There is no happily-ever-after relationship that is perfect. With us, the moment we start thinking that it is, something small turns into a major fight. Now, whenever we start talking about how good we have it, we immediately say “but it’s because we work at it”.

  4. Here’s the actual source of the image in the post: http://fav.me/d1j25p7 created by me for my girlfriend.

    On a related note, my girlfriend and I have been together for 4 years and still going strong. We’re only 20.

  5. Hello! I’m a writer in Brazil and I have made one of my books avaiable in kindle. It’s in Portuguese and it’s about the ending of a relationship. If you are Portuguese/Brasilian or, if for any reason, you study Portuguese I invite you to read my book. Its title is “E nós não fomos felizes para sempre” that means “And we haven’t lived happily ever after”. I intend to translate it into English, I’m working on it.
    I look foward for your opinion about it.
    Thank you!

  6. Happy ever after with one person Is difficult I obviously got boring to my husband, he had heard my stories too many times because after 20 years of marriage and raising a family together, anything I had to say or discuss was just not interesting anymore. When all the times we talked for hours when dating and early in the marriage and enjoyed conversations together became distant memories. The conversations I had with someone who found the tv more important and entertaining and lots of ahum and that’s nice answers and can u hang on a minute I want to watch this programme became the norm, it became a lonely existence for me, my self esteem was dwindling because that damn box in the corner of the room or laptop on the knee was way more entertaining. I have always been a good listener but when your partner shares his thoughts and you listen intently and ask questions and when it’s your time to discuss your day or share words his eyes would glaze over and look back to the tv or laptop and say i am listening which you know is just bull Conversation stopped, communication was grunts and whatever’s. After separation I have now become very interesting to him and he is hanging on to my every word looking for titbits into how I spend my time. Of course he doesnt get to listen to me anymore because I don’t talk much to him even though I seem more interesting to him I am still the same old person I once was. Sad isn’t it. And I still feel resent towards that damn tv or laptop for taking away my once husband that thought I was worth listening to. Too late I say. Never again will I be replaced by a tv or computer. My kids have picked up his habit too and I politely pointed out to them that “don’t u hate it when you try and talk to dad he doesn’t listen and finds the tv more interesting” . ” yes they say its really annoying” I tell them so don’t you dare do the same thing to me or I will start ignoring you too…. They get it alright and often during conversations with them they will mute the tv and we chat … Very refreshing they get it so quickly and I don’t have to wait 20 years to talk to my kids.

Speak Your Mind