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Happy or happily ever after?

By Antara Kar

Contributing Author for Spark Igniting Minds

We have been told bedtime stories for centuries. They have been the source of inspiration that shaped our childhood dreams – yet, fairytales are riddled with archaic stereotypes.

Pick stories of Cinderella and Rapunzel. Both have a commonality – a villain (witch), a handsome prince, a beautiful princess, and a happily ever after the end.

But have you thought what Snow White and Sleeping Beauty have in common? Think of something apart from shining skin, glossy hair, an hourglass figure, and a life full of misery. Well, it so happens in those tales that one fine day, the damsel in distress is rescued by a prince charming who comes riding on a horse and takes her to his palace.

I feel the character of the prince is glorified to the level of masculinity that is disrespectful for both the genders. I mean, think of girls being idolized as a princess – a commodity of desire who’s to be kept away from her dreams.

Notions that were built:

The Fair is beautiful.

Beauty and happiness are synonymous.

Being macho is manly.

Unfortunately, the focal point of all stories gathered the idea of the celebration of matrimony. No one tells us what happens after the marriage – the crux!

Years later, I was irked to pen down my own princess story.

Fast forward to the 21st century...

Now, marriage (as Disney showcased for years) is considered optional or a mode of make-beliefs.

Ask a woman of today – Do you dream of your wedding? Or you dream about your career?

Most common answers will be:

  • “Let me date to find out.”

  • “It’s hard to find someone whose views are similar to mine.”

  • “My career clock and biological clock are conflicting. Where is time for a romantic relationship?”

  • “Will I be able to balance the sand clock (of family and career) at the appropriate time?”

  • “If I find a soul mate who appreciates and allows me to be who I am – let’s think of Two to Tango.”

  • “I am used to freedom and want my privacy to be respected. I am vocal about everything. So maybe I’m not marriage material!”

The modern woman has come a long way from the past. She has seen the struggles of the earlier generations and made education her weapon. Thus, she stands strong. And so is her expectation! And, why not?

When you earn your own money, pay your bills, have a degree or 2, take care of your appearance, and develop yourself in other fields, you will expect and look for a man who doesn’t bring you down to a lower level of your life by enslaving you.

Her duties have evolved from serving her husband and family alongside her career as a businesswoman. She has pushed her boundaries and stepped out of the four walls of the house into the actual foreground where money matters are generated.

She can’t accept a man who doesn’t appreciate her efforts.

The sheer reality has changed over the years with more and more women coming into the workforce. The top ranks in education, politics, media, and science are being taken by women. This gives her financial powers and a voice of her own.

Then comes the marriage market with its rigid bases. The standards for both men and women are preset in our society.

If you are a man, this applies to you...

You should own a place of your own, a big bank balance, and a non-bothering family.

You should be handsome and in a good physique. No receding hairline and exceeding waistline.

And if you are a woman, this is for you...

Milky white skin, attractive, slim and should look like 22 years old.

Beauty with brains? But are you homely?

Fantasies and ideals preoccupy our minds. We are too caught up in finding the perfect version. We tend to treat our partner as an option.

For a relationship to become mature, healthy, and strong, it needs time to blossom. The problem is, most people nowadays simply don’t have the patience. Most of us are guilty of wanting something but not willing to work for it. We rush into relationships but end them as soon as we find something better. When something goes wrong, we’d rather start over with someone new than try to work things out with our present partners. But in wanting too much and too fast, our relationships fail.

My dream of a flawless happily ever after started fading when the reality around me changed. I started concentrating on being happy.

I came to realize, happiness is a state of mind. It’s in everyday things like self-achievement, appreciation, doing charity, learning new skills, innovation, or exploring the world. It’s about perception. Trust me.

One shouldn’t believe that happiness is present in those things that you don’t have. Comparison often brings complexity, like these monumental events: career, promotion, assets, marriage, children, and grandchildren, etc. This gives us a limited scope of happiness and we start aiming at the next milestone one after another and become frustrated.

Soon you will realize that having a partner is just the icing on the cake. It should be a part of life that we choose consciously.

Love is not always exciting, passionate, and intense.

It’s also about a crying baby on lap, morning tea in hand, a tiffin-box in preparation, getting the overgrown male child(husband) ready for work, a ring at the doorbell while hanging on the phone trying to get a good deal with a business partner. And in the middle of all that a mother, wife, daughter-in-law (Indian case) and a businesswoman who tries to get the situation under control.

If you can imagine the scenario, then leap into marriage – the sacred bond of friendship, equality, trust, mutual respect, and patience.

All that we want in a relationship does not come neatly tied in a bow. It requires a lot of effort into a partnership to hold on to the bond.

Marriages are made in heaven", is an extremely famous quote but I could never agree with it! Rather, if someday I get to meet the person behind this highly fairytale-ish belief, I would get him arrested for a felony. Marriages are made on earth and a lot of work goes into making it remotely earthly, forget divine!

Lasting relationships depend on two people primarily involved. No amount of witnesses can save a marriage until both partners wish to keep it alive. The ones made in the heart rust with time, the ones made in the mind lack intimacy, only the ones made in both heart and mind will last longer. Heaven comes nowhere in it.

A happy or happily ever after, it is only a matter of choice.

(Featured Image by nugroho dwi hartawan from Pixabay)

About Antara Kar

Antara Kar is a techie by profession and an author/ poet/ blogger by passion. Her writing career started with fiction that she penned for a local magazine. Blogging was always on her bucket list, and eventually, with panache and flair, it became a reality.

She is best known for writing articles, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and more. When not absorbed with a page-turner, she finds interest in cooking, traveling, sports and fitness.

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