Once upon a time, there was a mystical kingdom that held a beautiful, skinny, petite, blonde princess. There she waited, held way up high in the air, locked in a tower, and guarded by an evil fire-breathing dragon, for a tall, muscular, gorgeous, perfect prince, who was destined to come save her. Where upon they would share true loves' kiss, be married on the next morning, and awaiting the arrival of their new child just nine months later, so that they could live happily, ever after.
Okay, let's cut the crap.
Society has a funny way of building up false hopes and expectations for both men and women, starting when they are just little boys and girls. Children grow up watching and reading stories about fairytales, being told that someday their prince/ss will walk into their lives, they'll be married, and grow old together. These children fully expect to meet their true love someday, and they expect everything to be perfect, romantic, and happy. If you don't see an issue with this, then you're part of the problem.
Remember when you turned 16 and nothing magical happened to you? When you met a boy/girl who made your heart race, and you desperately wanted to share true loves' kiss with them, but when that kiss came, it was sloppy and imperfect, embarrassing and overwhelming, and you're absolutely sure you did it wrong--and why are you next to a garbage can, and weird people around? Where was the perfection you always expected? Or worse: they didn't like you, or were already in a relationship, and it was like, totally the end of the world because they were your prince/ss, and it was supposed to be magically perfect.
Now that child is 23, married, and has children. They were high school sweet-hearts, so it was meant to last--like a prince and a princess! They got married and popped a baby out quickly after they moved in together. But now the rent is due, the baby is always crying, while the toddler is making mess after mess, and the house is trashed, they never spend quality time or family time, they argue because they are both miserable and expected perfection out of a relationship founded on attraction that never became love. Neither he nor she is perfect, and that bothers the other, so they've fallen out of lust, and have lost interest. Divorce is on the tip of their tongues, but neither one is willing to say it. No one is happy.
Society doesn't teach children realities about the world or relationships. Every lesson is sugar coated because they are "too young," precious, delicate, or special. We want our children to hope for, and expect the best out of life, but there's no reality taught to teach real expectation. How can we expect this generation, last years' generation, or future generations to stop the divorce level from rising if we can't teach children and people what real love is, what real life is, and what real relationships require to sustain and maintain them? Instead of teaching children fairytales, they should be shown positive images and lessons of a family working together and overcoming daily adversities that strengthen the bond between people, not just: BAM! You're a prince, I'm a princess, and we're both hot and have the hornies for each other, so let's get married.
Herein lies just one of the issues: attraction. Fairytales help to teach children to mistake attraction for love. Just because your heart skips-a-beat, it doesn't mean you're in love. How many children and young adults are told that though? They are still young, naive to a degree, and haven't felt these emotions before. How could they possibly know that attraction is not the same feeling as love? Attraction is a chemical reaction in the brain that says: "Mate! Mate with this fine specimen, for they have the traits and qualities fit to protect your offspring!" Not: "This person has the prefect skills, hobbies, and qualifications to keep you happy for the duration of your relationship." But for some reason, at 16 years old, the latter is what we choose to believe in stead of the former.
"I'm a woman, he's a man, and I think he's sexy. I'm going to marry him." If your child said this to you, would you stand idly by and let them make that mistake? No. You'd probably slap the child across the face and chant "Demons be gone!" until she came back to her senses. If this is all a child sees though, how would that child know any different as an adult? Logic seems like the right answer, but have you ever ignored logic in favor of a feeling? You'd be lying if you said you hadn't. We give into feeling because it's stronger and what we've seen and been taught growing up: love triumphs over all. So we let ourselves cling to that idea as adults, even if we know that we are wrong.
What if we grew up being told that love is just a feeling that starts as lust but has the potential to bud into a gentle love? If we were told that it's okay to fall out of love, and that some people's beliefs and interests won't match up with our own: but that's okay. If we were told that having similar interests, hobbies, and passions would make for a more stable future, and a happy one, do you think children would grow up having more realistic expectations of relationships? If we stopped focusing on the physical aspects (both sexual and appearance) in relationships, do you think children would thrive as adults?
I think the healthiest way to teach children how to truly love is to show them. Be real and true with your spouse. Show your children how a real man and woman interact in their daily lives. Sit down to dinner and discuss accomplishments and how you're proud of your spouse. Talk about the non-physical traits that make you happy with your relationship: hobbies, goals, dreams, hopes, accomplishments, personality. Don't focus on how "handsome" or "beautiful" one is; or how it was "love at first sight" between you both: be honest about how real love developed between you, while living life, chasing down your dreams, working to build a relationship, and the arguments and obstacles you overcame together.
I love a good story or fairytale as much as the next fantasy lover, but for me, it was the only lessons I ever had about how love supposedly worked. My parents were not my teachers, and that accounts for many of my false expectations in a relationship when I was a teen. I was looking for passion and romance, not a relationship built on compassion and trust. As far as romance and passion are concerned, those can be built into any happy relationship, because love and understanding creates room for real romance and true passion to bloom.
Let's build a world where children learn to love, trust, and sacrifice for compassion, not for lust and a false happy. Lust fades, but love lasts.