Defining My Own ‘Happily Ever After’

Fairy Tale Castle Last week I wrote a piece focusing on storybooks and relationships, complaining essential lessons about love are not in these books. I then discovered a storybook last weekend that does teach a wonderful lesson to children. A lesson I just learned at 43.

Two special little girls in my life have a book called Claire and the Unicorn: Happy Ever After. I had an opportunity to read this book last weekend, proving once again children have much to teach us whether it is sharing their wonder with small things in life or simply a cherished book.

The protagonist, Claire, asks her father what made the characters in a book he read to her live happily ever after. Her father told Claire to think about that as she falls asleep. In Claire’s dream her favorite stuffed unicorn takes her on a trip to meet fairies, princesses, and a prince in search of what “happily ever after” means.

Here’s what Claire discovers on her journey:

  • The library fairy says it’s a good book and peace and quiet.
  • Princess (Princess and the Pea) explains it’s a good night’s rest.
  • The prince (Frog Prince) states it’s a nice, big, juicy fly.
  • Fairy godmother tells her no one ever has the same wish.

The next morning Claire’s father asks her if she has an answer to what it means to live happily ever after. Here is Claire’s response:

“It depends. A very tired princess may just want a comfortable bed. Another princess might be looking for true love. A frog prince would be happy with nice, juicy flies.”

Claire learned how unique “happily ever after” is for each person. Hopefully she also understood that a prince and princess have to agree on what that looks like now and in the future to be happy together. At least that is what this 43-year-old realizes now.

While I have made great strides identifiying what qualities I am looking for in a man, I stopped with that mental exercise. My effort has been to focus on the search for Prince Charming, but not what happened when he showed up. I am not suggesting I need a clearly-defined future with no room for input from a partner, but without any idea what I want “happily ever after” to look like with a would-be prince, significantly different views can’t be identified as easily. Just like needing to match each other’s list of qualities we desire in a partner, so too does our outlook on life, priorities for love and relationships, parenting, desire for the future, and more.

As my longtime readers would expect, I am now deep in thought about my own happily-ever-after description. It’s time to decide what I would like my future to look like and what would make me happiest when I find Prince Charming.

Tell me: what does “happily ever after” look like in your own story?

So your little princes and princesses don’t have to figure this out in their 40’s, I recommend buying the book.



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16 responses to “Defining My Own ‘Happily Ever After’”

  1. Thanks for that my daughter will love that book. She loves unicorns and she asks questions like that. Great find!

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      It’s a very good book. It’s thought provoking for children (and me).

  2. I love this. :-) The simplicity is sometimes shocking, isn’t it?

    My happily-ever-after changed. I think you have try on a few before you know. And sometimes your H-E-E changes and doesn’t quite fit anymore. If you asked my 25-year-old self if I expected to be divorced, bankrupt at 34, and living with a man who has two children, neither of us wanting to create any more children, I’d have said you were crazy. I wanted to get married, have a nice house, raise some kiddies, and live in a neat little picture. I got married, had a nice house, and then it all fell apart. Not just because of him, but because it was the wrong H-E-E. I didn’t really want that life, but I didn’t know until I was in it.

    You can understand your H-E-E a little better as you continue to try different books, different flies, different beds (that sounds TERRIBLE but you know what I mean!). And when you meet Prince Charming, he might even have some H-E-E items you’d never even thought of. :-)

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      You have left very wise insight in your comment. Each can change over time, which might lead to redefining “happily ever after.” That’s a significant take-away from your comment.

      Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love this post so much. We must be in sync these days, Kelly, because I just returned from a fairytale wedding and I’ve been mulling on this myself the past few days (and was even just constructing my own blog post about it).

    When we’re fed all these things about this magical happily-ever-after, it’s hard not to get swept up by it all. Like any other little girl, I always had dreams of a Prince Charming and a castle (err, house) and the cute kids we’d have and whatnot.

    I never got married as I intended to by the time I turned 30. And kids just haven’t happened yet. And I also don’t believe anything has to happen in that order.

    The many bumps in the road serve to remind us that life hands us some very important lessons along the way and that the hardships are often the most invaluable learning experiences. We create a new happy. With or without a Prince Charming (and castle).


    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      I was thinking about what I wrote during my run today, realizing that each ending leads to tremendous growth and insight for me. My draft version of “happily ever after” was very easy to write because I was forced to think about these things in the last relationship.I was bumping up against many differences in life priorities and future desires. Significant compromises means one or two unhappy people.

      It sounds like we are both finding our way on our journey Charlotte.

  4. What I eventually learned is that “Happily Ever After” isn’t some end result (a boyfriend, a college degree, a husband, kids, whatever)–it’s the whole journey. My answer to the age-old annoying question “Where will you be in ten years?” has changed drastically over the last ten years. Even now, I have two very different answers. One assumes I’ll marry my boyfriend; the other assumes we’ll break up. I think it’s good to have goals and to plan for the future, but I think it’s equally important to realize what makes you happy today.

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      Thank you for visiting and sharing this comment.Focusing on happiness today is something I am good at doing, but planning step 2 of the fairy tale needs a little focus. Best of luck for you in your relationship. It’s good to have “happily ever after” planned out two ways.

  5. I just want a simple carefree life. Just like the one I’m currently living. The thing I hate is the nagging fear that it won’t last (nothing does) but hopefully when this changes it’ll just be for another happy existence and not some dark horror story (like parts of my past…)

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      You bring up a good point. “…when this changes it’ll just be for another happy existence…” I am going to hold onto that thought.

  6. That page is blank in my book, that’s bad isn’t it?!

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      No, it’s not bad Monkey Butt. How about getting out a pencil and starting to draft something? That is what I am doing now.

  7. I agree completely with Nicole. Happily ever after is constantly changing because I’m changing, my family changes, the world in general is changing. Ten years ago I thought I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted the husband, the house, the whole works. (I already had the kid. Whoops.) But now that I have all that, I can honestly say, I don’t have a clue what my happily ever after looks like. I don’t know what I want. Well, no, I guess that’s isn’t totally true. My happily ever after would be contentment. Now the question is: how do I get there?

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, Hannah. Happily ever after does change as we grow and develop. We are ever-evolving individuals with life experiences shaping us as we go down our unique paths. Contentment is a worthy goal. I love that.

  8. This is a good one!
    My Happily Ever After idea started when I said “I do” assuming I have found my Prince Charming, only afte time realizing I got the frog not a man of my dreams to grow old with.
    Now looking at HOW COULD I and What was important at that time is almost day and night with what I stand for right now. (I know better by failing miserably)

    I have realized that I need somebody alike my personality and drive. Work hard,play hard, driven individual who never stops learning and improving. Life loving! Moral Compass in check. A person who doesn`t grow old and is always interesting, even when we start counting each others wrinkles and holding canes.
    Every Queen needs a King, like every King needs his Queen. I rule Wonderland with tough love and compassion, so take a guess what kind of a man I need :D

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      Once you know your “happily ever after,” it makes it easier to figure out who Prince Charming is (and is not). Great comment, Alice!