The thing we’ll regret from the legalization of same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage is legalized–and I know we have all read 537 articles telling us so.

This blog will make it 538.

In all honesty, as soon as I heard the news I told myself under my breath, “I’m not writing about this one.”

Most of my readers, my friends, my family–even my co-workers– know how I feel about same-sex marriage just by the church I attend and the social views I have and express when asked or here on my blog. I really didn’t have anything new to say in regards to my opinion on the matter. But now I do–and it’s something that bothers me more than the legalization of same-sex marriage.

It’s the hate.

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There is a divide in our nation–and we caused it. There is pro-gay marriage and anti-gay marriage. Liberal and conservative. “#lovewins” or “#traditionalmarriage”. Black or white. There is barely a middle anymore where all of us grays mingle, agreeing to disagree with kindness and compassion and a willingness to be in the presence of those completely different than us. I miss that gray area. And I think we eventually all will.

I can’t scroll down my Facebook wall without seeing half of my friends list filtered with rainbows over their profile pictures, loudly exclaiming which side they’re on, drawing attention to the profiles of those who stand on the other side of the ravine. Little by little we claim our groups, hoist our flags, and draw the curtains on the “other side”. Little by little we become members of a certain community rather than individuals of different colors, faiths, ethnicities, orientations, and backgrounds who inhabit a country built on the beauty of differences. We seek so ferociously to “unite” and “accept”, all the while dividing and shunning. And I’m so incredibly sick of seeing that happen. Are you?

Years down the road I hope we aren’t so far gone that we don’t regret this period of complete unkindness toward our own brothers and sisters. I hope that pictures like this make us sick.

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And I hope that our flag and war heroes mean more than this to us.

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And that this kind of anti-gay bullying will simply be in the pages of an old history book.

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And that churches can preach what they feel is right and ban what they feel is wrong.

And that bloggers like me and artists and writers and politicians and ministers and you and I can hold opinions and vote for what we feel is right and still make friends with those who cast a different vote.

And as soon as I push publish on this blog I realize the repercussions of it. I’ve sifted through the e-mails and comments before, knowing full well that along with those who seek understanding and love even amongst disagreement, there will be even more at times who seek to harm and destroy and rip apart all for the sake of hopefully “being right” or “being heard”.

You know what I believe.

But if you are gay– I love you. You can be my friend. You can be someone I laugh with and work with and go to for advice.

I am devout in my faith–and I hope you love me back.

Because THAT is humanity.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently published a letter boldly saying, “The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree. We affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same‐sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully…The Church insists on its leaders’ and members’ right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution. The Church is also entitled to maintain its standards of moral conduct and good standing for members.”

Kindness and civility shouldn’t be too much to ask, but it often is. There are no winners when a comment thread takes a nasty turn or when churches are persecuted or a gay teen commits suicide because of homophobes by his locker. Hate never breeds victory.

Just last night there were some news reports about how the star during Jesus’ birth was once again visible in the sky after 2000-something years. My sister and husband and I actually saw it while driving home last night. “What do you think it means?” my husband asked. Some people may have answered, “That God is pissed at what’s going on right now!” or “That He’s celebrating marriage equality!”. But my answer was kind of simple. I think He’s just reminding us that He’s there.

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No matter what.

Genesis 20:13 blatantly speaks to us. “And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, ‘This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother’.”

My brother. My sister. That’s who you are. That’s who I am to you.

I hope that one day we regret the repercussions of this movement and I feel that someday we will. Because I’ve always regretted the times when I hurt someone’s feelings or worded things wrongly or pushed someone further away from the Savior rather than closer to him. But I’ve never regretted being honest or understanding.

And I’ve never regretted being kind.

Additional Reading:

Here’s a link to a beautiful blog that I recommend reading: I’m Gay, And I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

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Divorce is an option

I don’t think I’ll ever forget her eyes.

Or the way her face changed when she told me, matter-of-factly, that it was done. Her husband left her and he wasn’t coming back.

The last two—three?—weeks have been circled around this very decision. We’ve all been impacted—losing sleep and losing our minds. He was our close friend too. It was a complete betrayal that left us all shocked and hurt.

He came home one day, packed a bag, and said the “D” word that means all the things that our worst fears and nightmares are made out of. He walked past their wedding album, grabbed a shirt she had bought him on vacation a couple months before, and that was that.

And it was nearly midnight when I got the call and came to—not pick up the pieces—but sit with her in the mess of pieces he left behind. There was no explanation. Now, three weeks later, there still isn’t. But it doesn’t matter because he’s gone.

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I watched her go from helpless to sad to angry to sad again to strong to weak all in the matter of hours and days. But there was no other choice. I helped her pack. I helped her cut up credit cards. I distracted her with Slurpees and potato chips and episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. I stayed up with her until she fell asleep and then I cried myself to sleep because I hadn’t had a chance to yet.

I watched her make the decision to get out of bed each day and the decision to quit her job and move out of state and the decision to start over. I watched her confront her mom and dad with eyes full of tears and I carried her hope chest into a waiting car, my arms carrying the weight of memories. I watched her wrestle with feelings of self doubt and grief and pain and anger with Heavenly Father. I watched her question whether she was pretty enough. Strong enough. Good enough. She never thought she’d be “that” girl.

But who does?

“Divorce isn’t an option,” she said to me a million times, once when I was half asleep one night. “Doesn’t he know that?”

And that’s when I realized: It is.

Of course divorce is an option. When we forget that, we judge incorrectly. We have a stigma within our churches and even within society that says, “Divorce isn’t an option” and instead of it being meant as, “Divorce shouldn’t ever be the first option and it shouldn’t be the convenient escape route” it casts a bad light on those who are left, who have to leave because of abuse or addiction, or for those who found themselves oppressed or abandoned in some other way.

We were sent to this earth with options. We have an option to get married—and we have the option to leave it, too. We have the option to abuse and hate and live for ourselves–and we have the option to choose God. Do we always choose the right options? No. Watching my friend curl up on the ground, watching her withdraw her paycheck and cancel her phone and leave her life behind for good to start all over—I know for a fact it wasn’t the right option he chose. But he made that decision. And she shouldn’t be left with the red letter A on her forehead. Because out of the terrible choices of others will always come remarkable blessings anyway.

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The simple truth found in Isaiah 41:10 speaks plainly: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” 

No matter which choices we make–no matter what choices those around us make–we are in the palm of his hand. We are his children. Divorced, abused, heartbroken, lost, angry or abandoned–we’re his children. And we’ll make it.

I’m not writing this because I take marriage lightly or because I am an advocate for slipping the ring on and off without a second thought. I’m writing this because I watched someone I love break apart into a million pieces as soon as the door shut one Friday night—and I watched her keep breathing.

If divorce wasn’t an option—if we didn’t have the choice to move on from a terrible abuser or rise above the ashes of insecurity and self-hatred; if we didn’t have the agency to not only make a horrendous choice, but a choice to move forward with strength and choose well, then what kind of life would this be? And how would it ever lead to eternal life?

She is already branded. Stigmatized. Walking around with “young and divorced” as a banner isn’t a light load to lift. And especially within the church and Christianity and our own little social circles she will continue to be…all because “divorce isn’t an option”.

“He has his agency,” I remember telling her one night, staring toward an empty wall. “And he chose.”

And now she has to choose.

I’m inspired by her. Before we said our goodbyes she smiled and she said she knew she’d be okay. And I know she cried after she got in the car. Just like I did. But she moved her feet and kept going. She decided it wasn’t the end. That was her choice.

I learned a lot from her. Divorce is an option.

But so is love. So is strength. So is understanding.

And I’m grateful for that.

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**Picture and story used with permission**

The REAL killer of your marriage: And why no one mentions it

I have always had a thing for once-in-a-lifetime romance.

I think it started as a teenager when I decided that my favorite kind of books to write were the ones where the two characters fall in love in the end, despite the whole world coming against them. And then it all just steered me on the course– I discovered things like Nicholas Sparks and The Thorn Birds (a 1980’s miniseries you should totally check out) and Wuthering Heights and I listened to Air Supply. Love, love, love— undying, sickly sweet love wrapped in more rose petals and love.

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And it only grew. Not just for me, but for the rest of us. Movies, music, novels, sitcoms with devilishly adorable characters and even cuter plot lines that lead up to that anticipated first kiss. *Let’s be honest, Jim and Pam in The Office made us gush*. And it bred in me the sense of expectation.

I wanted that kind of romance. I wanted to be that leading actress in my life.

But here’s the unfortunate thing–the expectation is not a positive thing to have. And it’s still something I wrestle with.

Unrealistic expectations that stem from watching Ryan Gosling in a boat surrounded by swans kills a marriage.

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Now, before you get all huffy on me, I’m not saying that marriage shouldn’t be exciting or playful or romantic. On the contrary. And I’m sure you have a love story that I’d love to hear about and knowing me, I’d think it’s the cutest thing ever.

But we have this deadly habit of being so engrossed in fake worlds and fake scenarios and airbrushed magazine covers that we forget what real life is like. We forget that people mess up. That forbidden romance is actually just a sexy term for a dark, unhealthy accident waiting to happen. That men can’t read our minds. That fights don’t always end in a dramatic romp to the bedroom and rosy cheeks. That romance doesn’t just happen all recklessly and unknowingly without us putting in effort, planning things and trying. That cheating on your husband to rendezvous with your childhood sweetheart is actually a very bad idea that never ends well. That the “bad boy” is usually just that. Bad.

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We crave what we will literally never have and should by no means ever do either.

And it’s killing everything God has planned for you.

On my newsfeed every day I see countless articles that state “Top ten reasons your marriage is failing” or “How you are destroying your husband” or “The top five ways you’re headed toward divorce”.

The reasons always make sense. Lack of communication, built-up resentment, financial difficulties, unfaithfulness…

I’ve read it all.

But I’ve yet to come across anything (and I could be wrong) that simply states what is obvious. We’re holding our partners to the standards of unreal people, fake scenarios, and an ingrained desire to have the romance that EVERYONE else has, just because we see it or hear it or read about it. That’s the thing that’s becoming real to us, while our own lives and our own relationships are becoming sub-par or broken.

I couldn’t believe the number of blogs and articles I read when Nicholas Sparks, one of the nation’s most successful romance authors who made us all choke on tears at one time or another, announced he was getting a divorce.

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WHAT?! Women across the country screamed. How could that be? The man who INVENTED what romance should be like can’t keep up his own marriage?! It appalled me the way so many women reacted to the news, calling him a hypocrite and a fake and howling about the devastation this brings and even how could we read another one of his books again??

Along the line somewhere we forgot that Nicholas Sparks leads a life separate from fantasy as well. He says the wrong things and messes up and can’t read his wife’s mind. They pay bills and don’t wake up in the morning with mascara freshly applied and don’t dangle from ferris wheels to get one another’s attention. Why would we hold that marriage to the standard of his writing when his writing is merely fiction? But we do that with ourselves too, and we’re not even the ones writing it.

I met my husband in a whirlwind kind of way and you might even say the love story is a book-worthy one. And believe me, it was thrilling and sweet and I love us. But let’s be honest. Marriage takes work. Sacrifice. Boredom. Stress. Imperfections. Marriage isn’t meant to be anything like the things we see on TV. It isn’t romanticized, photoshopped and edited. It’s raw, real, and filled with layers of mistakes and unedited material.

And that’s what makes us built to last.

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We don’t talk about love stories in Hollywood or books being unrealistic because we don’t want them to be. We enjoy those stories–and that’s ok for entertainment’s sake. But it’s not ok when it blinds us to reality and makes scenarios that are unhealthy or inaccurate in real life look golden on screen. It’s not ok when we lose someone we love because they didn’t match the mold that our minds created.

I still love romance. I love Nicholas Sparks. I’m obsessed with Gone With the Wind and Phantom of the Opera and all the old, timeless love stories that made me adore literature more than anything. But I live here, and I’m writing my own real-life story and it’s not even comparable to what I’ve seen.

But I’ve learned to love that more, simply because it’s real.

And it’s mine.

Marriage took everything out of me

I got married young. And fast.

To some, that’s a bad combination. But it wasn’t to us. I was nearly done with schooling and he was somewhere in the middle, and it would be…well, perfect.

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But then I learned something. The part that romance novels and Hollywood and love gurus don’t talk about when you’re getting ready to be fitted for a dress and testing wedding cake. It was a truth that had me shocked and keeled over in tears when it first hit me. And I remember saying it out loud and watching his face from the bathroom door completely change as I said it.

“This marriage is taking everything out of me!”

Looking back on that night, almost three years ago now, I’m glad I realized it. I’m glad I learned that marriage does, in fact, take it all out of you and it never gives it back.

And you know what? I’m grateful for all those things that it never gives back.

But it took a while to be thankful for it. Because when you first get married you cling to all the things that in reality decays a marriage. The things that are comfortable. The things that make you right. The things that tell you this isn’t the fairytale you thought it would be and this is actually hard work.

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But looking back now, I can’t help but feel thankful for that night when I shouted that it was taking everything I had inside of me. Here I am now, sitting beside an imperfect man who stresses out over nursing exams and keeps his crusty cereal bowl on the nightstand, and I love him more than I ever have. Imperfections and all. And that’s because of the daily process of letting marriage refine us.

Marriage strips you of selfishness.

It robs you of impulsiveness.

It teaches you painful lessons of compromise and scolds you to pick your battles.

It brings you to your knees in prayer when your spouse is hurting and you suddenly realize your own heart hurts too.

It binds blind ambitions and prioritizes what matters. It makes you rethink your dreams and steals the dreams that suddenly hold no more weight in your heart.

It burns down the towers of bad habits and hammers out expectations that disappoint.

It takes it all out of you little by little.

But yet–three years later, and still on the beginning trailhead, I see that it gives back a whole lot more.

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I’m grateful for the woman that marriage made me into. I don’t think the old Kayla would ever allow myself the same grace to have a messy apartment every once in a while in order to take that extra nap I need. But Matt did. So I do.

I’m stronger now and more resilient simply because I chose to stay–to work hard–at something that was difficult. I got up from the bathroom floor and decided I wouldn’t quit this time around like I had quit so many things in the past. That Matt was worth it. And I carried that virtue into every detail of my life, working harder than ever before for things that are worth it.

I bite my tongue more, practicing kindness and love for people who often seem undeserving. I choose to redirect frustrations and calm arguments and we’ve chiseled away at all the rough edges that comes with learning how to work through the meaningless, “But I think I’m right” debacles.

I’ve learned to be a whole lot more spontaneous. From adopting bunnies from cardboard boxes to deciding one day to drive to the ocean “just because”, Matt has taught me to seize life by the reins. No need to pencil it in or be logical about it.

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I’ve learned to love. A lot. When I said “I do” I thought that was the pinnacle of it all. That I had reached the point where I understood what true love is. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every single day is another lesson in how to love and it’s taught me so far that love isn’t given to you, it’s worked for and chosen.

Love is dirty laundry, two separate blankets on the bed to stop early morning tug-o-wars, netflix, make-upless faces, mascara on his dress shirts, texts to get milk after work, and lots of hugs after a long, bad day. Love is admitting you’re wrong, listening when you’d rather talk, and surrendering when you’d rather say the last word. It’s opening yourself up completely and letting everything fall out, letting your inner being be replaced by something that is refined and smoother and more equipped. Love is a daily choice.

I look back at my wedding pictures and smile.

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Such a beautiful day for so many reasons. It was the first day of the journey toward becoming SO much better together. I see two people who are just about to learn what love actually is. Two people who truly won’t give up, just like their wedding song stated. And I see a girl who eventually let marriage take everything out of her.

That’s all it really takes, after all.

Sure, we have miles to go. Years to go. Lots more lessons to be learned and lots of experiences to be had. We have children and moves and losses and celebrations and milestones up ahead. But I’m thankful we learned a lesson that some people, years and years in, still have yet to grasp. A painful lesson, but a rewarding one at that.

Marriage will beg to take everything out of you.

Let it.

Women in the home are exceptional: A letter to a feminist blogger

Dear Amy,

I read your blog post yesterday.

This one, to be exact: “I look down on young women with husbands and kids and I’m not sorry”.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I was stunned. I read almost every comment on your blog and I know for  sure that I’m not alone in the category of “jaw-dropped-women”. But before you click out of this post and think this is just one more hateful monologue about your writing–let me first say this. Just a few years ago, I agreed with you. I’m ashamed to say it now. But I won’t deny it. I believed the lie. And let me tell you, in a kind way of course, why it’s in fact a lie.

As you can read from my biography and as you can see from all my social media platforms–I’m a career woman too, just like you. It’s always been in my blood. Like you, I get a thrill from traveling. I live off of the adrenaline that pumps through my blood under deadlines. I’m a busy bee–a workaholic at times, even. And I enjoy tackling challenges, probably like you do. And just like you, I’m a writer.

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And much like you express in your letter (though I wasn’t exactly as heated about the topic) I tended to wonder why not EVERY woman wanted opportunity to step out into the world and take it in her hands and mold it into the shape she wanted. Why didn’t every woman want to get a degree and climb corporate ropes and BE something valuable and highly-esteemed? I didn’t want to disappear. It wasn’t that I looked down on women in the home, I just didn’t want to be that woman.

You said in your post, “You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids”. And within a young mind, I believed that because that’s what the world whispered to me. Rise above your gender roles, it said to me.

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But then, I started my career. I bought my own groceries and I paid my own bills. I had viral blog posts *like you* and I had plenty of bylines to stack up my resume.

But you want to know something? I noticed that at the end of the day, when the stories are written and the projects are done–all I want is to come home and talk to my husband. The “ball and chain” people speak of makes life exceptional. At the end of the day, before I go to any CEO or big-wig director with a concern, I’ll go to my mom. Because she created an exceptional life for me. She is exceptional.

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During visits to see my nephews and nieces and holiday functions (that I actually get off from work), I watch my sisters-in-law with awe as they carry a baby on one hip and wipe sticky goop from a toddler’s hair with another, all while carrying on an intelligent conversation with the rest of us. They are exceptional to me.

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My greatest teachers in my life never stood at the front of a boardroom. They waited at the bus stop for me. They gave me cough medicine at 3 in the morning. They married me at an altar and promised to put up with my not-so-nice days. They held me when no one understood and they worked odd jobs and sacrificed it all to stay home and make sure I had after-school snacks and help with my math. They raised my nephews and nieces with tenderness that taught me patience and compassion. They showed me what it means to live an exceptional life–what it means to be exceptional.

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You say that “doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business”. I know how it may look like that, Amy. But I also know that when I threw up all over my sheets in the middle of the night when I was just 7-years-old and my mother woke up to wash, dry, and fold them right back over my bed, humming a song as she scratched my back and put me to sleep again, she was doing a work far greater than building any business. She was building me.

That is exceptional.

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From the ones raising CEO’s to the CEO’s themselves–every moving part is vital to humanity’s progression. From the mother who wakes up nine times in the night to soothe a crying baby to the lawyer who falls asleep on a desk of work–the dedication and resilience is astounding to me. And exceptional.

As women we need to stand together, Amy. We need to remind the world of why mothers and wives and husbands and those within the walls of our homes help build nations. We need to stick together and cheer each other on for building families, building businesses, building futures, building homes and most importantly–building people.

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We need to remind the world of the courageousness and importance of womanhood. That, my friend, is what’s truly and undeniably exceptional.

All my best,

A fellow blogger

Secrets of our perfect un-fairytale: A letter to my prince

To my dear prince *AKA husband of over a year now*,

It started with a castle–just like a fairytale should.

Okay, not exactly a real, medieval castle with spires that pierced the sky around the time Cinderella lost her shoe. But it was our castle. Even better than a “real” one, I’d say.

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And it was perfect.

Even before the castle doors, I felt like you were coming into my life on a white horse, scooping me up in my dusty dress and replacing old slippers with glass ones.  And in many ways, I was right.

But then, the wedding bells were silenced, the dress was put away, and the routine of every day life commenced–as it should, and does. And I quickly learned about fairytales. I put my dance shoes away and, like many people in the world, I reminded myself that midnight comes and the glass carriages turn into pumpkins at some point. The fairytale, in Disney’s standards, ends almost immediately.

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People often say that when the two ride into the sunset, when the grand finale kiss comes, when the sparkles of fairy godmother wands float to the earth and every day life pursues–the book gently closes and “real life” is the cruel teacher that whispers that fairytales don’t exist for long. I’ve read blogs and have heard from people who say marriage isn’t a fairytale, it’s hard work. And struggle. And disappointments from unmet expectations.

And I almost–ALMOST–bought into that. Lots of us do. For example, I almost bought into it the first time I noticed you have a habit of leaving your clothes in piles–in a trail–all the way from the bed to the shower in the morning. Or the way you slam cupboards in the early morning when I can still be sleeping and kiss me a million times on the face despite the fact that mornings equal a grouchy Kayla. Or the way I threw up in front of you when I was dreadfully sick and spent days in bed looking like death. Or the way I have a habit of slipping into an ugly state of REM and like to drool all over my pillow. Or the way I have stared up at you a million times with horrible raccoon eyes as I cry, unconscious of the fact that my makeup is now a blurred mask on my face.

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I almost bought into it–that we’re a silly, unfairytale-like couple with stubborn ways and outbursts of crazy. But then today happened.

You called me as I sat by myself, hands bunched together, staring at the clock. I had just heard an hour before that my dad was admitted to the hospital again. He’s getting sicker, Mom said, and it looks bad. I called you a couple times and left voicemails, realizing you’re in class and wouldn’t get it ’til later. And I cried, knees up to my chest. And then, the phone rang. You weren’t asking what’s up or why I called during class. You were calling me from the hospital parking lot–before even calling me back you were at the hospital to see my dad. And just like that, I suddenly had my glass slippers on again.

As I made my way to the hospital, eager to join you, I reflected on how different every fairytale is–even in the movies. No fairytale is exactly alike. It comes with opposition, heartache–discoveries that turn the tides for a time. And with that same train of thought, I realized it’s not that I should lower my expectations of marriage–I need to instead readjust what a fairytale really is.

I don’t agree with the reasoning that fairytales are thoughtless, irresponsible love and marriage is only hard work and mutual agreement to keep on keeping on. Yes, marriage is hard work. A lot of work, actually. But it’s also dancing barefoot in the kitchen. Laughing til we’re breathless as we try to put together a coffee table from Wal-Mart that comes with impossible directions.

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Yes, it comes with heated arguments and tears. But it also comes with whispered words of “I love you” right before we fall asleep and embraces that heal the soul.

Yes, marriage comes with you scrubbing pans coated with remnants of burnt egg *that I forgot to soak* and me finding your dirty socks lodged between the headboard and mattress. But it also comes with little love notes on the white board and clean dishes put away after a long day at work.

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Yes, it comes with compromise. Plenty of it. But it also comes with those happy silences–the contentment of being in the same room and doing completely separate tasks. It also comes with goofy inside jokes that only we know and the finishing of one another’s sentences *And one another’s entrees during date night*.

Marriage comes with all of those anti-fairytale parts we’ve all heard of–but who’s to say that wasn’t part of the real fairytales all along? Who’s to say the “happily ever after” didn’t entail times of silent treatments, misunderstandings, or holding hair while the princess hovers over a toilet? It DOES include those things.

After thinking over all these things I walked into the hospital room and I saw you sitting by my dad, making him laugh, of course. Because you tend to do that.

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And glass slippers, big dress and all *or at least it felt like that* I was reminded of my modern-day fairytale, complete with hospital rooms, dirty laundry, overflowing sinks, and spats over which way to turn during a road trip. It’s also complete with daily laughter, a safe place to run to when the world just hurts, long conversations that I’ve never shared with anyone, and those morning kisses–the annoying, pesky little things that I just couldn’t live without.

There ARE such things as fairytales, regardless of general opinion. Imperfect, challenging, quirky, amazing fairytales that far surpass ballrooms and crowns and knights on fancy horses.

You see, when THAT is the way a fairytale is defined, it’s easy to see that’s us to a tee.

Happily, dysfunctionally, crazily ever after.

Love,

Your princess-in-training

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