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It is true that in the life of every child, there comes a time of fairy tales. Unfortunately, these fairy tales are just that; fairy tales.
They do not culminate into anything realistic, and as one grows and reality sets in, most children become disappointed to find that their fantasies never mimic the reality. The reality is always harsher than fantasies.
Talk of Spiderman and every boy in the neighborhood will have something to comment; talk of fairy tale marriages and every girl will have a couple of pages detailing how she will be married to a prince, have princesses and princes and live happily after that.
The fact is, the ‘ever happily after that’ sounds sweet to many but in reality, it does not happen. The, closest this line has ever come to reality is in poetry.
Anne Sexton proved this right in her poem, Cinderella. Adults should stop telling young girls about these fairy tale marriages because they do not exist in reality.
They Lived Happily After that
Many adults conclude their fairy tale marriages by saying, “and the couple lived happily after that.” This passes as a wild imagination that never has, and will never come to fruitage.
Even in her poem Cinderella, Sexton writes so sarcastically such that the reader can sense the vagueness in the poem right from the beginning.
She begins by analyzing some unusual stories that people hear in life like, “the plumber with the twelve children/ who wins the Irish Sweepstakes” (Sexton Lines 2 &3). However, she is quick to the point that; this is only but, “that story.” For sure, this is only but a story.
The best thing with stories can be either true or false; either way, they find a way into the masses and win following. Some instances in this poem may be real, like a tycoon’s son marrying a house cleaner hence promoting her from zero to hero.
Nevertheless, marriage has nothing to do with luck; it is a reality, a harsh reality.
The fact that even poets like Sexton realize that fairy tale marriages are not real; therefore, choose to write about the fairy tale in a satirical way depicting its vagueness, is enough to stop promoting fairly tale marriages amongst young girls.
Fairy Tale Marriages Are Not Real
A young girl listening to an adult pushing for the abolition of these fairy tales may wonder why these fairy tales never come to be. Well, there are many reasons surrounding the fact that fairy tale marriages are not real.
The greatest misconception about marriage is that people get married out of ‘true love.’ This is ironical because even there is no definition of true love. Love is not a single element that exists by its own; no, love is a combination of different virtues that have to be nurtured over time.
Therefore, when people get married under the pretext of being in true love, they miss the mark. Love calls for understanding, patience, persistence, and above all, kindness. To understand the reality of marriage is good to look aside and notice the escalating cases of divorce.
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According to Divorce Rate, “about 50% of marriages in America end up in divorce” (Para. 2). If true love is the common factor in marriages, what explains this high rate of divorce? Does it then follow that true love is perennial?
Many people misunderstand love and fail to realize love is not merely strong feelings about someone. Its true love may be strong feelings, but these feelings cannot sustain a marriage even for weeks. So, what is the source of conflict in a marriage?
Newly can swear by earth and heavens that they will never divorce or separate until death do them apart. Unfortunately, after spending some time together, differences start creeping in, and within no time, these differences become so pronounced that nothing can mend them except divorce.
It is human nature to desire new and better things in life. Newly found love is like a brand new toy; however, as time passes and a child plays with the toy, he/she will want another one, and if given a chance, he/she would discard the old one. This principle applies equally well in marriages.
As people stay together, they become used to each other and differences emerge as they start to notice their partner’s weaknesses. Unfortunately, no one is perfect, and everyone has his/her shortcomings.
This is a common phrase, but people tend to think it is meant for others, not them. Eventually, the ‘love’ that couples thought they had for one another dies out.
At this point, the element of understanding should set. Those who stay in marriages until death separates them are held together more by understanding that love. People have different expectations in life; unfortunately, these expectations may not be shared between couples.
This means that, if neither of the couples is willing to compromise, then divisions will arise. The adage ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ sets in.
No sooner than a couple begins pursuing personal interests without the help of the other meaning that they take different directions in life, the marriage comes to a loud halt.
This heralds divorce hence nullifying the popular ending ‘they lived happily after that.’ Children are blessings and bring bundles of joy; however, they come with their challenges too.
Couples that survive the first test of marriage viz. understanding taking precedence over love, they are soon faced with another challenge, children. Spratling notes that, for a relationship to stay healthy there has to be maximum attention from each side (98).
Unfortunately, children take a considerable amount of attention from parents. As parents become more engrossed in caring for their children, they reduce the attention they had for each other. Spending time with the children robs them time to be together as a couple.
Within no time, they find that they are arguing over small things they would solve amicably before the kids came into being.
Without realizing it, frustrations set in and in a bid to escape this frustration, which happens to be a reality; they divert all the attention to children and healthy communication between couples who were happy before disintegrates to sign language.
However, ignoring the fact does not change it, the fact remains that there is a problem and if not addressed, it consumes the marriage and divorce becomes the easy way out. This is why it beats logic to continue raising the young girl’s hopes of living happily after that.
In contemporary times, a mother and a father working are becoming a necessity. Living cost is on the rise and this forces couple to take jobs. Work consumes a lot of energy, and as a couple goes home, they are tired.
Therefore, the only last thing they would want to do is to solve any difference; therefore, they opt to retire in beds and forget about the day.
Lindquist puts across sources of conflict in marriages as, “Money, housework, childcare, employment issues, in-laws, sex, time for self and together, recreation, lack of sleep, holidays, roles, routines and goals” (15).
Out all these issues highlighted here, many couples face them; unfortunately, may couple do not know how to overcome these problems. People have a problem with their egos, and they tend to imagine they are always right and their position should be respected.
Any form of correction appears to be disrespect and marriages become unbearable; this explains the high rate of divorce in today society.
It is unfortunate that communication skills are lacking in many people. People are not angels and not unless someone tells his/her spouse what is happening in his/her life, the other spouse will not know.
According to Slattery, healthy communication forms the backbone of any long-lasting marriage (56).
How else would understanding come without communication? Statistics show that those who do not end up in divorce live together through patience, understanding, forgiveness, kindness and other virtues nurtured along the way.
Therefore, it is unrealistic to continue misleading young girls into believing that the fairy tale marriages are real; they are not real. Going back to Sexton’s poem, the way she concludes her poem is satirical in the wake of these revelations about marriage.
She says, “lived, they say, happily ever after/ never bothered by diapers or dust/ never arguing over the timing of an egg/ never telling the same story twice/ never getting a middle-aged spread/ their darling smiles pasted on for eternity” (Sexton Stanza 10).
This is unrealistic. In a marriage blessed with kids, diapers will always be present; fertile women will in most cases worry about ovulation and at times, repeating the same story becomes inevitable.
Above all, old age brings many troubles as people lose interest in many things that thrilled them including their spouses.
Fairy tale marriages are not real; they are only that, fairy tales. In her poem Cinderella, Sexton employs satire greatly perhaps to bring out the reality in these fairy tales. Marriage comes with many challenges; moreover, people get into marriage under the pretext of true love.
In reality, true love is hard to find. Understanding, not love keeps couples together. Unfortunately, many people do not understand and as challenges set in; they back out of the marriage and end up in divorce.
If these fairy tale marriages were real, what explains the high rates of divorce in contemporary society? Many people have confessed that they choose to stay in the marriage for the sake of kids; otherwise; they would have gone for a divorce.
Others have confessed that they have only learned the principles of patience and understanding and that is why their marriages have stood the test of time. Marriage is not a bed of roses; it is a process involving commitment, sacrifice, and compromise.
Unfortunately, many people are not willing to go this road thus making marriage the most difficult institution to manage in life.
Given these marriage insights, it is time to stop promoting fairy tale marriage stories in young girls because they are not real. Even poets of these stories like Sexton concur to this fact; fairy tale marriages are a hoax
Divorce Rate. “Current Divorce Rate in America.” 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2010. <http://divorcerate.org/>
Lindquist, Carol. “Happily Married With Kids; Its Not Just A Fairy Tale.” New York; Berkeley Publishing Group, 2004.
Sexton, Anne. “Cinderella.” 2009. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/annesexton/563>
Slattery, Julianna. “Finding the Hero in Your Husband.” Deerfield; Health Communications, Inc. 2001.
Sratling, Cassandra. “Blended Families Can Overcome Daunting Odds”. Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press, 2009.