And they all lived happily ever after

I wonder how many people’s lives have been significantly impaired by that unfortunate fairy tale belief? It implies that once the lovers kiss and the wedding date is set, all will be well. It’s the end of the story, folks, adventures over, happiness guaranteed. And they all lived happily ever after, as though that would be the natural, magical consequence of true love. I’ve met too many people along the way who imagined that finding the right person would fix all their problems like waving a wand. They would be happier, fulfilled, inspired. They would write the best song, the novel, become able, and so forth. What a burden to put on a potential partner! Not only do you want their love, they have to set your world to rights and fix all those thing you couldn’t, or wouldn’t fix for yourself. Not so long back, someone commented here that if I’d found the love of my life, that should cure me of depression. This is the kind of madness I’m talking about.

Relationship is supposed to be a core concept for Druidry. Relationship can be magical, it can bring to us a sense of awen, of divinity, and all manner of other wondrous things. But it is not wise to assume that relationship will sustain itself as if by magic. Love alone is not enough. You need to be paying attention, listening, responding, taking note. People change, and over years people change a lot. Children, status shifts, jobs and other life experiences alter us. The relationship where it is assumed that the all living happily ever after process is under way, is the one that risks losing everything in face of change.

It’s easy to become careless in relationships if we assume they are in the bag. I know of people who invest vast amounts of time, energy, money and attention in setting up relationships, but once they think the other person is secured, they stop making the same effort, imagining that such attention to detail is only necessary at the start. Did they ask if the courted one felt the same way? I doubt it. Will the courted one come to feel ignored and uncared for a few years down the line? Probably. Too busy living happily ever after to do much living, or happiness.

What’s true of our love lives is equally true in friendships, and familial connections. Taking for granted is highly destructive and eats out the roots of whatever you had.

No matter how longstanding a relationship is, or what shape it has, don’t take it for granted. Nurture it. Give it time and attention. Do all the things you would have done when starting out, and things stay fresh and immediate rather than becoming tired and banal.

Also, don’t imagine that love will fix everything. Be prepared to put in some work yourself. Love will not pay the bills, and love will not cure all ailments. What it will do, if you’re lucky, is give you the support and belief of another human being who is willing to work with you, dream with you, share the triumphs with you and cry over the disasters with you. Love can be healing, but only when we let go of old pain. Love can be reassuring, but only when we’re listening to reassuring words from a loved one, or carrying those words with us. There are a great many ways to sabotage what love can do. Asking too much, and putting nothing in are the most reliable.

I have, along the way, been in some good relationships and some lousy ones. I’ve seen a great deal of other people’s love lives, and their hopes for what romantic involvement will give them. I’ve seen people throw away what they have because they’ve lost sight of the value. There may be true love, but refusal to believe in it or nurture it will eventually kill that love off. I also know that where there is mutual support, care and listening, where time is invested in actually having a relationship with another person (or a place, or an art form or whatever else you invest yourself in) good things come. What we get out depends so very much on what we put in. When both people are putting in their hearts, souls and energy, so much more is possible. I spent a lot of years without that, I have it now, and am conscious of the difference of dedication underpinning things.

And they all lived happily ever after is not the end of the story, it’s where a whole new thing has to begin.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

3 responses to “And they all lived happily ever after

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