Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there lived a princess.
This princess had lived her whole life waiting for her prince charming to arrive.
When he came for her, she knew that he would sweep her up in his arms, kiss her like she’s never been kissed before, and would create with her a life of love, laughter and the creation of nothing but happy memories.
She knew that when she found him, everything would be perfect.
They would be soul mates.
They would be lovers.
They would be best friends.
They would agree on everything.
He would never say or do anything that would upset her.
She would never say or do anything that would upset him.
They would never argue.
They would have a perfect house, a perfect relationship, perfect children, and a perfect life.
…and she knew they would live happily ever after.
Fairy tales like this have got a lot to answer for.
Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast…take your pick….the gist is pretty much the same.
The ‘perfect relationship’ format
Girl wants boy.
Boy finds girl or girl finds boy.
Someone or something gets between girl and boy.
Girl and boy overcome the someone or something.
Girl and boy live happily ever after.
Three words that simultaneously say nothing and everything …and that set our childhood expectations for relationships.
Happily. Ever. After.
The trouble with these kinds of fairytales is that they often end at the point where the relationship really begins.
As little girls we filled in the blanks as to what ‘happily ever after’ meant. Our own idyllic vision of what a perfect relationship would be.
Do you believe in the perfect relationship?
But we don’t really believe in this kind of happily ever after, do we?
Unfortunately, although the prince might have become a stockbroker, the princess a marketing executive and the kingdom houses more Starbucks than gingerbread houses…one of the challenges with modern day relationships is that we still believe in the fairytale.
We might not admit it to anyone, least of all ourselves, but most women are out there looking for ‘the one’.
…and what exactly do we mean by ‘the one’?
The one who won’t break my heart.
The one who won’t leave me.
The one with whom it will work perfectly.
The one who I can have happily ever after with.
The question is, what does happily ever after mean?
Given that we left our childhood stories right at the beginning of the relationships, what did it mean for our princesses?
What did Cinderella do when Prince Charming left his socks on the bedroom floor?
What did Sleeping Beauty do when she found out that Prince Phillip snores?
What did Ariel do when Prince Eric noticed a pair of shapely legs that weren’t hers?
Did Snow White and the Prince have an argument over whose turn it was to do the washing up when the 7 dwarves came for dinner?
Often we equate Happily ever after with “the perfect relationship”.
What does expecting a perfect relationship cost us?
The downside of looking for, hoping for or expecting ‘perfection’ in a relationship is that at the first sign of an imperfection a lot of modern day princesses hitch up their ball gowns, kick off their glass slippers and start running to catch the nearest pumpkin.
“He’s obviously not my prince charming, I’d better high-tail it outta here so I don’t miss the real deal when he shows up…”
Most of us aren’t even aware that we’re aiming for perfection…it’s not something we’re conscious of.
It comes as an extension of expecting perfection from ourselves.
We expect ourselves to be perfect…we have standards for ourselves that are way higher than for most ‘normal’ human beings.
If we don’t have the perfect relationship, then we take it as a personal failure of ourselves…I’m not perfect enough to have the perfect relationship.
The ironic thing in all of this is that our perception of the ‘perfect relationship’, is more of a nightmare than a dream come true.
Who wants a relationship with someone who won’t ever challenge you and your thinking? Who wants a relationship with someone who agrees with you on everything? Who wants a relationship where you never argue, never disagree and never learn from each other? Who wants a relationship with a ‘Stepford Hustband’?
Not me, that’s for sure.
So how about a perfectly imperfect relationship instead?
In relationships, as with people, the best ones are perfectly imperfect.
So what is a perfectly imperfect relationship? …and how does it differ from our idea of happily ever after?
A perfectly imperfect relationship is a partnership between two perfectly imperfect people….a partnership that is chosen by both of them.
A perfectly imperfect relationship is real.
It’s a living, breathing, growing entity of it’s own.
It has good times and not so good times.
….and the not so good times make you appreciate the good times even more.
It needs nurturing, understanding and effort to flourish.
In a perfectly imperfect relationship there is no guarantee that it will be there tomorrow, so if you want your partner to continue to choose you tomorrow, you need to put in the effort today.
A perfectly imperfect relationship has arguments, has laughter, has moments you’ll never forget, it has challenges, it has smiles, it has learnings, it has misunderstandings, is has passion, it has appreciation, it has miscommunications, it has love.
It has the whole range of human emotions, because it involves two people who between them are capable of the whole range of human emotions!
If you have a masculine person and a feminine person in a relationship, there are going to be misunderstandings, there are going to be disagreements and confusions, because we are so fundamentally different.
What makes a perfectly imperfect relationship work perfectly is when both people are actively choosing the other. When both people appreciate the differences between them. When both people want to learn and grow together. When both people seek to understand the other. When both people want to know how to make the other happy. When both people are prepared to go first.
When both people are on the same team, working together to create something that works perfectly for them.
So rather than looking for happily ever after, I invite you to look for perfectly imperfect.
That’s what I’ve got, and I love it.