My favorite fairy tale was always Cinderella. I, like her, was relegated to “house slave” doing the dirty jobs no one else wanted to do. And I, like her, had blonde hair — at least in the books I read she had blonde hair. I dreamed of a Prince rescuing me, and for years that’s what I looked for: a prince. The vast majority of the princes turned out to be toads, but in hindsight, what else did I believe I deserved?
There is something very appealing about fairy tales. We all want to believe that little girls can become princesses, and that little boys can grow up to become White Knights, saving damsels in distress.
But, fairy tales are just that—fairy tales. Or are they?
Is it possible to learn something from fairy tales? Is there something in these stories that holds out hope for us when we’re feeling discouraged? Are there possibilities hidden in the magical language that might serve as reminders of what we can be and do, if given the chance.
Recently a young woman wrote, sharing her discouragement about her new marriage. Having been married only a few months, you’ll read about her loss of innocence and questions about the dreams she once held for her marriage.
I have only been married a few months and already I’m questioning whether or not I made the right decision. My husband treated me very special before we got married, but soon after he began to change. Instead of treating me like a princess, he began to take me for granted and treat me like a slave. He expects things to be done for him, and doesn’t recognize all I do. I have tried to talk to him about how I feel, but he doesn’t seem to get it. He doesn’t think he has changed, but I can tell you for certain that he has. When I ask him to help around our house, he complains and says he is too tired. When I ask him to take me out for dinner or a date, he says he is too tired. My question for you is this—is this what I can expect from marriage? Some of my friends tell me ‘the honeymoon is over,’ and to face it. Others tell me the honeymoon never has to end. Which do you think is true? I need some answers. — Discouraged
Dear Discouraged. You’re talking to a hopeless romantic who never thinks the honeymoon has to end. While there are certainly changes that take place after a couple has been married a while, there are ways to keep the spark alive and burning brighter than ever. A husband can always be made to feel like a prince, and a wife can always be made to feel like a princess.
One of the things that jumped out at me in your note was the fact that your husband is tired. Tiredness and exhaustion are absolute killers to a marriage. We need energy to create enthusiasm and excitement about a relationship. Without energy, we’re like a car running on fumes. We have just enough energy to take care of the necessities, and little energy for the extras in our life.
So many marriages are drying up because of two tired, irritable people coming home at the end of the day, with nothing left to give to one another. String together a few months of this kind of monotony and you’ll have a marriage heading swiftly for trouble.
Having said that, there are other concerning indicators in your note. I wonder about each of your expectations. Does your husband value romance? What were his expectations for after the marriage? Did you two talk about those expectations?
Many men founder in the “love making” category because they don’t have a clue about what romance looks like. While they’ve seen a few Chick Flicks, these are hardly “how to” guides on being loving with their mates. Sadly, men need to be taught, encouraged and even expected to bring more to the table than a paycheck.
It’s time for a serious “heart to heart” conversation with him. You will need his undivided attention. He must know the seriousness of this conversation. He must know that you mean business. Ask for his attention in a clear, calm but convicting manner.
Choose a time when he has some energy, and once you have his attention, share your expectations with him—specifically. Be prepared with a simple list of things you’d like in your marriage that would make you both feel special. You may have to be the impetus in this matter—but don’t be thrown off by that. Many men will step up to the plate once they know they must. Given the right set of instructions, men can learn how to be better romantics.
So, get out your list. Make it simple. Take the lead. Be romantic yourself and encourage him to enjoy the marriage. Encourage movement in the right direction. Avoid criticism and scolding as these are likely to push him away. Catch him doing things right, and get some momentum going. Prepare for some increased sizzle in your marriage.
2009 April Lorier