Happily Ever After
Disappointments, Annoyances and Other Relationship Imperfections
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | December 2016 (edited February 26, 2022)
Relationships provide meaning, depth and beauty to our lives. Relationships do not, however, cure all our ills. Happily ever after requires enduring a few disappointments and annoyances.
We shed a few sentimental tears watching the happy ending culminating from a life of struggle. We are romantic by nature. We cheer for the underdog. We embrace love. Romance gives richness to life. But reality often doesn’t meet Hollywood’s standards—much too ordinary.
Early romances don’t fluidly flow into maturing relationship. The greatness of early romance is not beyond the reaches of time. With these magical expectations, the normal settling of desire with a continued relationship set the stage for disappointment.
"I think relationships are work, but love is a gift."
The greater the need for security, the more firmly we grasp beliefs of salvation, attachments where unconditional love abounds, no matter how unlovable our behaviors might be. But these shallow pictures of love require a partner without a soul, where the partner’s limited role is quelling our desires for security. We have no room for their expressions of individuality because those expressions arouse suspicion and fear.
These visions of love do not portray the selflessness necessary for intimate connections.
Being loved imperfectly can satisfy the need for companionship. A partner can be selfish at times, without being unloving. We all have moments of selfishness. We may need assistance in soothing our relentless searching for the impossible, a perfectly satisfying lover, and settling with the realistic, enjoying the benefits, and managing the drawbacks of connection.
When faced with the limits and demands of romance, some choose to bypass attachment and spend evenings alone (there is nothing wrong with this). Unrealistic demands destroys many promising relationships. I settled for imperfection. And I’m ecstatic my wife was also willing to settle with my collection of nicks and glitches.
"But these shallow pictures of love require a partner without a soul..."
Overtime unrealistic views end in disappointment, discouragement and pain. The distorted lens of idealism begins to view the imperfect partner as the enemy, to be fixed or abandoned. Most failed relationships are not because a chosen partner transformed to the evil villain. The failed relationships slowly deteriorate from accumulated misunderstandings, false attributions, and failure to actively build connections. The lofty expectations provide goals to work toward, not the standards that must be met.
Reach out to your partners in their imperfections, learn healthy conflict resolution, and build meaning together. You may not experience happily-ever-after Hollywood style, but you can enjoy a rich mixture of appreciation, joy, and sprinkled with patience.
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