I kind of give fairytales a hard time.
I’m adamant that we shouldn’t fill our heads with stuff that will give us unrealistic expectations about marriage. And very few men can live up to the image that fairytales have of the perfect husband!
In fact, I posted on Saturday about Harlequin’s new advertising video about going bowling with a Viking. They’re actually bragging that their books are totally unrealistic–and that’s the appeal! It’s an escape so that you can imagine a man that your husband will never be.
That’s seriously dangerous!
And yet I gave birth to one daughter in particular who loves fairytale romances. And I know she’s not alone. Many of us have daughters who dream to be the princess–or maybe we dreamed that ourselves! And so when Melody Quinn sent me this article about the GOOD things she learned from fairytales, I thought it was worth sharing. Maybe I’ve been too hard on Prince Charming. And maybe, if we get the right perspective, then we can learn to talk about fairytales in healthy ways with our daughters, too!
My childhood was filled with Disney movies and fairy tales.
I read and re-read books full of original and modern fairy tales. I watched every Disney movie a hundred times, and still watch them to the annoyance of my husband. I used to attend dances and banquets with my imaginary prince. My childhood room was plastered with Disney posters. (That was my own choice, my mother likes to remind me.) I was hooked on tales of princesses and princes at a young age.
People used to tell me that I needed to be careful. If I kept filling my head full of fairy tales, I would be seriously disappointed with real life relationships. There are no Prince Charmings in real life. I must have heard that phrase over and over. I know that. In fact, that was part of my wedding vows: Honey, you’re no Prince Charming, but that’s alright, because I’m no princess.
I don’t regret that my head has been filled with fairy tales.
I would change nothing about that. My love of fairy tales didn’t damage my view on my very human, very non-“and-the-prince-and-princess-lived-happily-ever-after” marriage. Even I was a little surprised that I had no expectations about having a fairy tale marriage. I was, however, slightly disappointed in the dating process. I wasn’t expecting to be swept off my feet, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t that
“connection-at-first-sight” moment. I had to struggle to get to known my future husband, but it was, and still is, worth every minute of that struggle.
No, my views on marriage weren’t damaged. If anything, I think that the fairy tale relationships that I read about and watched in the movie theater actually made my views on real life relationships healthier. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that the happily ever after that I had been dreaming about is not possible here on this earth. It will only come to pass when the Lord takes me to be with him. The relationship that I’ve built with my husband isn’t based on a happily ever after view of life, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the stuff of fairy tales.
Here are a few things that I learned about marriage from the Disney fairy tales that filled my youth.
1. Create a new life together.
I’m putting this one first because it’s actually a very important concept. Women in fairy-tales are usually depicted as cleaving to their men. Some people don’t like to image a woman giving up her old life for her love. I’m actually fine with that, because I was able to fill in the blanks. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NIV). I left my old life behind; my husband did the same. Together we’ve created a new home. That’s how it’s really supposed to be, isn’t it?
2. Together forever.
Something else that I learned from Disney movies that I think is falling by the wayside in today’s society is the idea that marriage is forever. I don’t mean the “happily ever after” that’s tagged on the end of every Disney movie. I mean the idea that marriage is sacred. Married couples are going to have differences and fight. The point of marriage is to stand together and confront that together.
3. Overlook the outside.
My favorite fairy tale of all time is Beauty and the Beast. And what is the whole point behind the tale? Not everyone is as they seem on the outside. This has a double meaning. As a married couple, my husband and I have gotten to know each other in ways that other people haven’t. We would never have gotten to this point if we weren’t willing to overlook the flaws that rested on the outside of who we are and dug deeper to find out who we really are. On a daily basis, we are called to turn a blind eye to the little imperfections that we’ve discovered and choose love and understanding instead. We should strive to see each other as the Lord sees us: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV.)
4. Work and serve together.
When a married couple stands together, they stand as equals. Even when it seems like you’re a princess looking at a frog. As unique individuals, they have different strengths and weaknesses. They won’t always have the same calling, but that shouldn’t stop them from working side by side. Embrace your differences, but keep looking for ways that they compliment your spouse’s. By working together to obtain a common goal, their relationship is strengthened.
5. Sing every day.
I would love to dance around and sing to Disney songs with my husband every night, but that just doesn’t happen. What I’ve gathered from watching fairy tale couples sing with each other is that couples don’t only need to work together–they need to play together as well! My husband and I both enjoy reading, playing board games, and swing dancing. We take every opportunity that we can to have fun together. After all, the couple that plays together stays together.
6. Don’t end the story in a fight.
In other words, don’t go to bed or leave for a trip with unresolved anger and hurt hanging over your head. I know from firsthand experience that this can be a hard lesson for newlyweds to learn. However, dealing with fights upfront will make you stronger. Fights with your spouse can push you further apart or pull you together. Be careful with your words. You can’t take them back, and you can never be guaranteed a chance to apologize another day.
7. Not everything is about you.
I love fairy tales that really show a dynamic between two characters. Without each other, they can’t make it through the day. Focusing on yourself can ruin everything. You need to learn to put someone else first. I feel that it’s almost important to mention that not everything is about your relationship. Just like a good story has to involve different aspects of a character’s life, not just their relationship, you need to have a life outside of your spouse. If you are able to stand strong on your own, then you will be able to stand stronger together.
8. It’s not all sunshine and daises.
There is always that one moment in a Disney movie when everything seems like it’s loss. Regrettably, that feeling occurs often in life. That doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel or go on by yourself. The only thing that is going to make your married life stronger than your life before you got married is that you are no longer alone. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV).
So fairy tales and happily ever afters don’t exist in the real world. That doesn’t meant that you should discount fairy tale relationships entirely. My head may be full of Disney songs, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy here with my dear hubby. And that goes double for you!
What are your favorite life lessons you learned from stories or fairy-tales growing up? Let’s chat about it in the comments!
Melody Quinn is an associate editor for TouchPoint Press. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin in 2014 with a BA in English and Technical Writing. She married her un-Prince Charming in 2016. They live together in Fort Worth, TX with their baby guinea pig. Melody currently attends North Fort Worth Baptist Church.