Like most little girls growing up, I dreamed of one day finding the man of my dreams, getting married, having kids, and living happily ever after. But does such a thing exist? We have bought into fairy tales such as Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. I could go on. We yearn for our Prince Charming. Who doesn’t like a happy ending? As little girls, we play at being wives and mothers with our dollhouses, baby dolls, and easy-bake ovens. We entertain our guesses at our make-believe tea parties with our toy tea sets. We pretend that we are the perfect couple, like the Barbie and Ken dolls. I even had a name picked out for my first daughter. It was Lisa Teresa. I loved those two names. Boy, if I only knew then what I know now. I would have at least burned the dollhouse. I remember watching Lemon Pledge, Tide, and other household and laundry cleaning product commercials as a child. I used to think these products were so wonderful and would surely sell out. I thought that I needed to buy a chest and stock up before the stores ran out. As a child, it didn’t dawn on me that they could be reproduced. I wanted to make sure I had enough when I got married. I always had a vivid imagination. I was in my teens during that time. I always wanted to be the perfect wife and mother. As we grow older and start dating, we start mentally planning our wedding with the guy(s) we date. Maybe this explains why the wedding day traditionally centers around the bride. It is the day we have been dreaming about for most of our lives. It is the beginning of our happily ever after. In reality, it is not all peaches and cream. Marriage and raising a family are hard work. It takes a lot of dedication.
Often times, we are starry-eyed and in love and overlook many of the red flags or fail to have conversations about what each expects from the marriage, what our goals in life are, how many kids each wants, and how much debt each has, among other things. Are you ignoring the fact that he constantly criticizes you? This could be a sign of mental abuse. We feel that once we are married, everything will work itself out. Nothing is further from the truth. I believe this is why we are so devastated when our marriage doesn’t work out. We sometimes go into marriage with blinders on. It’s not always 50/50. Are you willing to stick it out if your spouse loses his or her job and is unemployed for an extended period? What if your spouse becomes totally disabled due to no fault of his or her own? We utter the words “in sickness and in health”, but do we really mean them? When I see a couple who have been married for forty, fifty, or sixty years, I often find myself thinking, "How many storms have they weathered, have they ever been separated, and how many of those years were actually happy ones? When a couple has been married for a long period of time, they have usually put a lot of work into the marriage, and it has probably not always been 50/50. The mother is traditionally the one who has the bulk of the responsibility for raising the children. Don’t think that your responsibility ends when they are adults. It doesn’t end until death, dementia, or Alzheimer’s whichever comes first. We always worry about our children and, later, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If I could have a conversation with my preteen self, I would tell her that marriage and raising a family are not easy, but don’t let that stop you. Nothing in life is certain. There will be disappointments, but oftentimes they happen for a reason. Possibly for growth and to take you to a better place. By the way, I didn’t name my daughter Lisa Teresa.
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