Divorce and the Happily Ever After

By JMathis

There was a time in my 20’s, where I spent almost every weekend going to a wedding. We would get decked out and dance the night away, being sleekly dressed accessories in the myth that every bride and groom’s “happily ever after” had finally arrived, as Bindu would say. The bride and groom were Mr. and Mrs. Prince Charming, and we guests were complicit in re-telling the story of this fairy tale for generations to come.

Now, in my 30’s, I am becoming a co-conspirator in the unraveling of fairy tales. I spend hours on the phone consoling my friends, and then analyzing the “he saids, she saids” with my husband (as he inevitably hears the guy’s side, while I am now only privy to the girl’s narrative. “Ladies and gentlemen, the lines in battle have been drawn! Boys on one side, girls on the other”). After all, this isn’t some college breakup, but a full-scale war where the casualties are often children.

The children. Innocence lost in one fell swoop. They, too, were complicit in the fairy tale. Seeing and hearing the nightly fights, but never believing that the ‘D’ word would actually sever their household.

Last night,  I heard the news again about another couple. I feel almost too sick to write this post in a week where we have kept it lighthearted on our blog.

But, yet, here we are once again, and the “once upon a times” are taking on the dark quality found in the sinister fairy tales of the the Brothers Grimm…decapitated heads, wolves in sheep’s clothing, children falling to their demise. 

I need strength, Lord. I can’t hear story after story without wondering if this is the fate of all parents, even Christian ones.

What words do I say to a couple facing this, Lord? What words do I say to myself and to other parents who are watching this horror movie where our friends are playing the lead roles?

I turn to Romans 8. I tear up to find a chockful of verses that give me hope. Hope for them, hope for their children, hope for me, hope for all of my married friends.

 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.

 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

   “For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank You, Lord, for hope. Thank You, Lord, that we do know how the story ends, and that is with You, triumphant, saving us from darkness, despair and the harmful effects of the ‘D’ word. Thank You, Lord, for allowing us to surrender our fairy tales at your feet, in exchange for restoring the “happily ever after” in our lives. A true “happily ever after”, where we are showered with Your grace, majesty and the hope of eternal life.

Most of all, thank You, Lord, for Your LOVE, that saves, heals, covers, purifies and makes all things new–even our “once a upon a times”…

The Truth About “Happily Ever Afters”

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By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Once Upon a Time…most of the stories I read as a child opened with those famous four words. As a kid, I loved fairy tales. I loved the adventurous stories, like Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, but I’ll admit somewhat sheepishly that I especially had a soft spot for the princess storylines…especially the sweet sappy Disney versions of Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. Unlike JMathis, the idea of being treated like a princess was very appealing to me. Very, very appealing.

Once I was in high school, my love of fairy tales transformed into the medieval bodice-ripping romance novels of yore, and in college, my love of the princess-themed fairy tale romance further evolved into the “Romeo and Juliet” storylines of Indian/ Bollywood movies that I became obsessed with.  And most recently, while I no longer believe in fairy tales, romance novels, or Bollywood-like romances, I, along with 2 other billion viewers, woke up in the wee hours of the morning (okay, I admit, it was closer to 6am) to watch a modern-day fairy tale. Middleclass commoner Kate, er I mean, Catherine, Middleton meets and marries a real life Prince William Charming of Windsor, complete with the requisite blond hair and crown.

The carriage. The royal guards in uniform. The medieval church. The hats. All that Pomp and Circumstance.

Sigh. For a few moments, I was once again transformed into the wide-eyed eight year old who watched Princess Diana’s wedding in awe, believing that Cinderella stories really did happen.

But years later, I, along with the whole world, would later learn that Diana’s life was no different from ours. In fact, in comparison to most of ours, it was probably emotionally much worse. Despite all that fame, privilege, and royalty, she experienced pain, loneliness, eating disorders, affairs, suicide attempts, divorce, and sadly, an untimely death. Unlike the fairy tales, she got her “once upon a time,” but she never got to fully experience a “happily ever after” here on earth.

As I watched Catherine and William’s wedding, though, I was struck that while I was absolutely smitten by the grandeur of the occasion, I no longer needed to believe or even hope that they would live some type of fairy tale type of existence. And somehow, for the first time, I felt that while we (all 2 billion of us) were struck very much by this “once upon a time” experience, we all collectively seemed more interested that they truly also have a chance to experience a “happily ever after.”

As I think of my own daughter and what “life lessons” I want to pass on to her, I realize whether she’s a tomboy like JMathis or a Disney princess daydreamer like me, I want her to know that her own love story can be as unique as she is. I want her to know that she won’t turn into a spinster maid with warts on her nose when the clock strikes twelve on her 30th birthday (as I feared).  I want her to know that if she does fall for a frog, accept he’s a frog…and if she falls for a snake, accept he’s a snake and move on rather than wasting her time, hoping to change him into her version of Prince Charming (as many of my friends have learned the hard way). Because in the end, he’ll still be a snake and she’ll just end up with a bunch of snake bites. I also want her to know that happily ever afters are not always blissfully happy. There are good days, bad days, and many in between blah days. And it’s okay.

But most of all, I want her to know that unlike the fairy tales or Bollywood movies that end with a wedding, the real story is in the happily ever after.  Unlike those fairy tales, the happily ever after is not the end of the story…on the contrary, it is only the beginning.