As children, the cartoons and movies we watched helped shape the perceptions we had about ourselves and about each other. I identified with superheroes, princesses and the Care Bears. I believed I had superpowers, I believed that somehow even though my start in life was a bit crappy, by some stroke of luck I’d garner the attention of a distinguished fellow, who would seek me out and change my circumstances. Lastly, I believed I could beam my love & care toward someone and it would cure them of whatever anger or evil they possessed as did the Care Bears. Fairytale movies in particular began shaping my ideals and future interaction with the opposite sex unbeknownst to me. Fairytale movies had three components real life didn’t; romance, adventure, and a happy ending where love always overcame the obstacles standing in its way. I’m sure I’m not alone, in focusing in on these three things as it pertained to how my future interactions and relationships would be. After all, women innately have a need and desire to be protected, provided for and chosen. Men naturally want to impress, provide for and feel needed by the woman they love and are with.Recently as I was watching the Disney movie, The Little Mermaid, I looked a little closer at its fairytale storyline, and I began to remember all the other fairytale storylines I’ve watched and loved from childhood. I realized there are real, practical love lessons in these fairytales that I missed altogether. Maybe, had I been able to grasp them earlier, they might have helped me navigate better relationally and in love. Below are three very necessary love lessons I took from fairytale storylines. They are lessons we still need to learn as adults. These three lessons in love are now really needed in our new world culture of instant gratification. Our picture of what it means to love is terribly distorted because selfish, manipulative love messaging is being projected. The sustainability of marriages is failing as a result.
Love Means Sacrifice
Name one fairytale that didn’t require someone to have to make a huge sacrifice for the love they wanted? In The Little Mermaid, Ariel sacrificed her voice for legs, even though her voice was the only sure way of Prince Eric knowing she was who he was looking for. To sacrifice means you’re willing to give up something for the sake of a better cause, in this example love. It means you value the love you seek to gain more than whatever it is you have to give up for it. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever get it back, but for a period of time, you feel what you’re going after, is much more important. Every fairytale ever created required one or both of the lovers to give up something they valued or maybe even needed in order to be able to love the other. They acted unselfishly because they knew the love they’d receive was far more valuable and necessary. They valued love, but specifically love for each other more than anything else. They proved worthy of the love they sought, not because of their sacrifices, but because of their ability to be unselfish. As a result they were often able to have the love and be restored in the things they gave up.
Love Must Overcome Adversity
Prince Eric had to fight Lady Ursula and kill her before he and Ariel could be together and free to explore their love for each other. In every fairytale, the prince and princess go through much adversity before they can truly be together and live happily ever after. Their love goes through a series of trials, tests and adversity before they reap any benefits and before they actually are able to be together and explore love. We often don’t value what we haven’t had to work or fight for. Same thing goes for love.
Love Requires Making a Decision
Before Prince Eric fought Ursula, he decided his love for Ariel was worth it. Just as Ariel decided her love for Prince Eric was worth her giving up her voice. They both made a decision to fight and to make the necessary sacrifices for their love. They both valued the love they shared enough to decide it was worth risking everything for. They decided separately, as individuals, from the beginning. They decided they were going to go all the way to see their love materialize, before they ever got into battle. Making the decision is what gave them the strength, courage, and stick-to-itiveness to keep going in the fight, and to ultimately win the battle for their love. As a result, they get to live happily ever after, together. Their love proved to them that it was worth fighting for and powerful enough to overcome every obstacle that came up against it.
Like me, you were probably oblivious to these important lessons fairytale storylines have tried to share with us over the years. We selectively only want to focus on the happy ending and think we ourselves are able to have the happy ending without the fight, without the sacrifices, and without making a decision to love. Absolutely not! If the make believe characters didn’t get a pass, we, who live in real life, most certainly don’t either. Love is not selfish. Our favorite characters showed us they were willing to give up things that they loved and cherished because the love they needed, and were in search of was more important. Love requires us to fight for it. We have to prove ourselves worthy of its rewards. We have to learn to value the love we receive. The battles must be won before there are any rewards in life and in love.
After Ariel and Prince Eric overcame the battles, after they sacrificed, after they decided that the love they shared was worth it, then they were able to live out the happily ever after. Not before. There was no happily ever after until after the blood, sweat and tears that proved them worthy of the love they desired. They went into battle willingly and were serious about fighting to the death for the love they believed in. They made the decision to love wholeheartedly from the beginning. They felt their love was worth it and the sacrifices and the battles did not make them give up on their love, nor make them look for a potentially easier someone to love. They stuck by their decisions and because they stuck it out, were able to enjoy a lasting, happy and fulfilling love with the person they sacrificed, fought and decided on.
Many seasoned couples in love will tell you after they have outlasted the difficulties, the fighting, the adversity that every couple faces, they are happier, more fulfilled, and value and love each other more deeply. The hard work pays off. Did you catch that? Hard work, yes it’s synonymous with love. There is no such thing as instant gratification when you seek to build love with someone. Lasting love can only be measured over time. Dust off your favorite childhood fairytale and see for yourself the lessons we should’ve learned from them then, but must learn now if we seek to win in love and be able to sustain that love. Just like there are forces that work to bring two people together in love, there are also forces at work to tear love apart. Love is that powerful. So, don’t you believe the people that tell you, you can’t have the fairytale ending you dream of, sure you can! You now know it comes at a high price to get it. It’s up to you to decide it’s worth it!