My parents are to blame for the husband I don’t have.
They make marriage look so easy. Effortless, really. My parents make love look so easy. Effortless, really. They have convinced me the fairy tale is true and that my Prince Charming is waiting to plant the earth-shaking kiss that will launch us into a life ever after.” Happy marriages give us the false pretense that love smells like roses—but sometimes it smells like shit.
Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us choose to forget the good, focusing instead on the bad and the ugly. Look at the media. After news of death and turmoil, we claim to crave something enlightening, but it just doesn’t give us the same thrill that our typical morbid news does.
This is the same reason Americans focus on unfavorable divorce rates, rather than stories of successful marriages. Today, I’m happy to report that, contrary to belief (and rumor), divorce rates have been decreasing since the 70s and 80s. In other words, marriages are more successful than ever.
Yet, it seems no matter where we turn, we witness divorce first-hand or know someone that has suffered through it. The more friends we meet, the more ordinary it seems to hear of split families rather than those happy ever afters.
Almost as small talk, we ask, “Do you have siblings? What about your parents?” Its always an opening for the hot topic. People are jealous when I admit, “My parents have been happily married for 25 years.” Sadly, they usually think I’m kidding.
Frozen in a Fairytale
I’ve been incredibly blessed with a role model couple to look up to in my life. My parents are still flirtatious, genuine, and remarkably trusting of each other. They live for communication and compromise. My dad puts a face to chivalry, and my mom gives every ounce of her soul to everyone around her—especially her husband.
I know what you’re thinking… I’m lucky right? Its true. My friends have suffered through their parents’ divorces and glanced my way with bitterness. It’s not fair what they’ve been through. Here’s my burden—the burden that comes with happily married parents. My view of marriage is tainted by the expectation that love is only right if it’s nothing short of a fairytale.
Rather than protecting my heart and tip-toeing into love, I have always leapt full-force. I wear my heart on my sleeve, even when its bleeding. I’m too old to believe in fairytales, but too young to be morbid. I’m a hopeless romantic, but have seen too much to be naive. These people I call role models have set the bar so high it seems unachievable.
Go ahead. Blame it on the constant need for perfectionism. Expecting too much of yourself is unhealthy, but bears far fewer consequences than a life wasted from expecting too much of others. This is the life I live… expecting too much, waiting for my Knight in Shining Armor. With this curse, you construct a never-ending-list of the qualities that make up your “perfect man”—a list that couldn’t be achieved if you genetically engineered him.
The problem with the view of love and marriage today is that we base it all too much on the experiences of those we love—our parents or guardians. We forget that our luck is not linked directly to theirs. We assume their fate is ours. And we don’t forget what we’ve experienced growing up
Whether we’ve suffered through the fire that burns in divorce or believe in fairytales based on couples that never fall out of love, we must remember that it wasn’t our experience. We witnessed it.
We hold our own fate for love. Our parents hold theirs.