Every married couple probably enjoys the story of “Cinderella.” I read the story as a child and my wife and I have watched numerous movie versions of it over the years (some better than others). While I enjoyed the book as a child, some of the movies as an adult, and I appreciate the magical nature of it and the satisfying and heart-warming ending to the story, I think Cinderella has done an injustice to the realistic notions of marriage.
In real married life, there are no whirlwind courtships, where the wonderful Cinderella and the perfect Prince Charming ride off in a beautiful carriage to live life happily-ever-after in a castle. However, for some of us as married couples, whether consciously or unconsciously, we have bought into the fairytale marriage – that our spouse is supposed to be like Cinderella or Prince Charming and that our marriages are supposed to be “happily-ever-after.” But a fairytale marriage, even if it did exist, does not require faith. Our faith pleases God and without faith it is impossible to see God. If you’ve been married for any length of time, you realize that sometimes faith in God, in our spouse, and in our marriage itself is all that we have to work with. I believe that it is all that we need. What does faith tell us about our marriage as opposed to what the fairytale tries to tell us?
Fairytale: My spouse will come to me “perfect” – needing no extra work from me.
Faith: My spouse will come to me imperfect – with “other assembly required.”
Cinderella and Prince Charming came to each other ready-made, with no visible flaws or issues. One of the challenges of being married, particularly in the early years of marriage, is the sometimes sudden and unexpected discovery that your spouse has some flaws, some areas that may need to be changed (in your opinion), or there are some things about him/her that you simply do not like. This is normal, particularly after the honeymoon stage has subsided in the marriage. However, each partner must decide which of these things about our spouses are simply issues of personal preference and which things potentially represent impediments to the health and success of the marriage. There will be some spousal quirks & idiosyncrasies that you will have to learn how to joyfully live with, while some things will require honest & open dialogue and proactive steps to decrease or eliminate. But regardless, it will require faith on your part.
Fairytale: My marriage will start at the top and stay there.
Faith: My marriage will start at the bottom and be built up from there.
Cinderella and Prince Charming started off with great intimacy, a nice car, and a big house. One of the most disconcerting fallacies of marriage, especially for newer married couples is that their marriage should start off at the same place (relationally, materially, spiritually, etc.) where other marriages are who have been married for much longer. In reality, very few things in life start out looking like the beautiful thing that God ultimately intends for them to be, like the butterfly for example. Like the butterfly, a marriage goes through periods of growth and transformation. Common sense also tells us that we cannot expect to start out in year one of our marriage and be like the couple in year 21 of their marriage. It takes faith starting in year one to even make it to year 21 and beyond. As couples, if we are willing to build our marriage on faith and not on the fairytale images of the world surrounding us, we can create a marriage that is God-honoring and attractive to those around us.
Fairytale: My spouse will know exactly what I need or want without me telling him/her.
Faith: My spouse will learn my needs and wants by open and honest conversations with me.