When the Fairy Tale is Different Than You Imagined

Fifteen years. Fifteen years, and he still brings me coffee. Every morning. Fifteen years ago I married Prince Charming. Diaper changing, dinner cooking, laundry folding Prince Charming. But no one is perfect, including me. Neither are relationships.

Fifteen years ago, I never imagined this life. This kid refereeing, car-pooling, groundhog day, frozen pizza for dinner life. This ships passing in the night, hearing each other’s silent arguments, what’s-a-date-night love.

I never imagined this to be love. But it is. And I never imagined this love to be incredible. But it is. Because real love lives life—all of it—together. This is the fairy tale.

Marriage is difficult. Real love takes work. The work of two—a partnership. When it is the work of one, well, it just won’t work and leaves a wake of heartbreak.

But two? Walking, sometimes trudging, through–holding tight? Cleaving together?

Loving Jesus isn’t the guarantee. Divorce happens in church too. The guarantee is the choosing. The daily, hourly, even minute-by-minute choosing the love Jesus defines is the glue that sticks. And we both must choose.

Because really? Love is a choice. And the choosing is the work. The roll-your-sleeves-up-and-get-dirty work. Because the choosing is never easy.

Love is patient when I have to put his deodorant back in the medicine cabinet. Every. Single. Day. And when his idea of picking up papers is stacking them neatly. And when I forget to turn the AC back up to a dessert breeze before leaving the house. And when I am “almost done” writing and will be there in a minute.

Love is kind and tells me I’m beautiful all the time. Especially the days when I need to hear it the most. And love tells him he’s one hot tamale and still rocks your world.

It does not envy a day on the golf course because he has given even more time for your coffee with dear friends.

It does not boast or consider one role is more important than another. There is no room for egotism in partnerships. Arrogance only leaves room for dominance, and this is not love.

It is not proud and can say I’m sorry because we hurt our best friend, even if we were right and our lover was wrong.

It does not dishonor others, or point out flaws in public or whisper embarrassing stories of weakness in even our tightest circles.

It is not self-seeking, always asking how he can help me, and I wonder how much more I need to follow his example.

Is not easily angered when I can’t make a simple decision about chicken or pork chops for dinner, or when he chooses to parent in a way that makes me want to scream “Are you crazy!?”

It keeps no record of wrongs even if I desperately want to bring up that one time when he, when he, when he…yeah. Because to erase a record assumes forgiveness and grace have been given.

Love does not delight in evil but realizes that if King David, the man after God’s own heart, could falter, so could we. This humbles us. And we set boundaries.

But rejoices in the truth knowing honest words spoken with a tender heart is balm to our wounded souls. And in the protective net of truth, I can be me. And he can be himself. Neither is lost in the cleaving.

It always protects as his hand at the small of my back guides me into the safe places. Because our space together is always a shelter, even when the silent anger is deafening.

Always trusts, shows no doubt, and never laughs it off when I whisper, please be careful—she’s looking a little too long.

Always hopes with each passing year love will deepen and bonds will strengthen.

Always perseveres. It refuses to give up. Refuses. To. Ever. Give. Up.

Love never fails even when we do. Because we will fail. We will yell. Scream. Flail about. Scar the souls of our beloved. But the Jesus-Love in our hearts never fails.

And when we choose the Jesus-Love? Our deeply wrinkled hands will still find their way together as we walk with backs stooped toward a setting sun.

When love looks like this, love is the fairy tale. The beautiful-lay-down-my-life-for-you dream of the Prince and his Princess. The deep sigh of knowing someone—really knowing and still loving.

Because real love isn’t a dozen red roses, castles, and white horses. The fairy tale is the loving in, the loving through, the loving despite this mundane life. This is the story-book ending. This is the rescue. The knight-in-shining- armor rescue of the damsel waiting. Waiting for someone to walk with through the ordinary, only to turn and realize she’s holding the extraordinary.

And you realize the fairy tale is exactly how you imagined…

Summer Lovin'

Inspired by the beauty of God’s word in 1 Corinthians 13…

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24 Responses to When the Fairy Tale is Different Than You Imagined

  1. Brandy Currie says:

    I absolutely love this !! So nicely written. So many long for this. I am very blessed to say, I have it ! God Bless and Happy Anniversary to you and yours !!

  2. Laney says:

    Absolutely amazing!! You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. Thank you!:-)

  3. Stacee says:

    Just read this out loud to my beloved on this shared 15th anniversary of ours… it’s our story too and you told it incredibly beautifully. Thank you for sharing, dear friend! You and your Prince Charming are blessings!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It does my heart good to see this written from what I consider a young wife and mother. What an example you are and a blessing to the world! It gives me hope for the future of our country and our families. Keep speaking the truth! I celebrated 41 years with my Prince Charming this past June. He is still my Prince too. This is what real love is all about – sticking at it and giving it your best!

  5. Sheila says:

    It does my heart good to read this, coming from what I consider a young wife and mother. What an example you are to the world! I celebrated 41 years with my prince charming this past June. And your words are so true. It gives me hope to read this. I love thinking that there are other young women like you out there making an impact on the young families of the world. Keep writing, girl! That is your gift!

    • Thank you so much, Sheila. Your words were a great encouragement to me. And trust me, marriages like yours and my parents give me such hope for fairy tale endings:-))

  6. Hi there! I’m Shari, I’m a co-leader at Woman to Woman Ministries, and I write on my own blog Leaving A Legacy. I really loved this post, beautifully written. I look forward to reading more! :)

  7. Marky says:

    Beautifully written in a world filled with people overly obsessed with the big party at the start of the marriage & the make-believe.

    The reality is actually more beautiful, and with Christ, it goes into eternity. I have the knowledge that my friendship with my wife, my sister in Christ, doesn’t end at the grave.

  8. Kimberly says:

    Love this! Thank you so much for putting into words a real marriage!
    We are on year 8!

  9. Rachle says:

    Beautiful words, Heather. I am sharing this entry with a dear friend of mine who is going through a challenging time with her boyfriend; I hope that what you’ve written will help them to further understand what Brendan and I have tried to show them through our relationship…that love and relationships take work and take CHOOSING to keep going to honor each other. I always enjoy reading your blog and I’m hoping this will help my friend during this time in her life.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to you and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

  11. Jenifer says:

    Heather….YES! Love this! Thank you for putting this into words.

  12. Dana says:

    WOW! This is beautifully written.

  13. I love this. Wonderful!

  14. LaDawn H says:

    this is so lovely it brings tears to my eyes. this IS the fairy tale that I always dreamed of, but it hasn’t been in God’s plan for me. it fills my heart when I see couples who are blessed with this dream…and saddens me when it isn’t held on to like the treasure it is.

  15. Pat says:

    I wanted to keep this and share it on my anniversary in December. However, had to share it today. Thank you for this. It’s beautiful and soooo true!!

  16. Pat says:

    p.s: 22 years in December and seems like yesterday!

  17. Anonymous says:

    You are inspiring. Thank you for the wise words of encouragement.

  18. Zelma Dodd says:

    Wow, after celebrating 48 yrs of marriage I can tell you that you are spot on with this post. Great post. Everyone should make a copy and keep it handy to refresh our thinking when things get a little rocky.

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