• Alicia Assad

When the Fairy Tale Ends, You Can Still Be Happy Together

"Love is an action verb."

~Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

This August, I will celebrate my 10 year wedding anniversary. I am REALLY proud of this accomplishment.

I suppose for any couple, this is a milestone, but due to the fact that I grew up in a broken home, a decade of marriage is a feat I intend to savor.

I marvel that we've made it this far, not only because I felt like the odds were against me (my parents divorced when I was 10), but because the marriage journey has NOT been easy.

Yes, I am very much "in love," but Eddie and I have worked hard on fostering our connection through life's transitions and the stressors of raising four kids.

Let me tell you, I had no idea marriage (like motherhood) would require so much effort! Growing up, I was only aware of two relationship scenarios:

1. The Fairy Tale: Fall in love and pray that you live happily ever after (what I gathered from media).

2. Divorce: The most probable outcome (everything I feared and all I knew).

Since it might look like I am living "The Fairy Tale" per my positively curated social media feed (and I am committed to sharing authentically with you here), I have been mulling on a post about the truth behind my healthy, happy, and long-lasting relationship. The gist of what I wanted to relay to you is that it sure doesn't feel like "The Fairy Tale"...

Enter the scenario I discovered through a decade of marriage:

3. Real Relationship: A rewarding union that requires a TON of effort (the partnership I work at every day).

However, I won't expand further on what #3 is really about, because it's been eloquently defined in a book that was released today. In fact, I've already read Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Lasts by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski, MAPP & James Pawelski, PhD. I am thrilled to tell you about this "must read," because I happen to know the authors. The details about their expertise are here, but let me summarize this wise couple by saying they eat, sleep, and breathe the science of happiness. Indeed, they are highly-regarded in the field I am passionate about, and they nailed the first book on positive psychology and relationships.

If you heed my advice and purchase this valuable resource, you'll read about the wedding celebration of the Pawelskis eight years ago. This description brought back a flood of memories for me, because I was one of the lucky guests who was privy to their special day.

From Suzi's exquisite gown (a woman who has studied and radiates happiness) to James's elegant prose (a scholar and VIP in the field of positive psychology), they most certainly lived up to my expectations of storybook happiness. See, on the day of their nuptials, an article entitled, "The Happy Couple" graced the cover of Scientific American. This of course was written by Suzi (a gifted writer), suggesting my newlywed friends not only specialized in, but embodied happiness; they were "The Fairy Tale" complete with empirical validation.

At this point, I was a year or so into my own marriage and I was also rounding out my first year of motherhood. Needless to say, my "Fairy Tale" had already transitioned into a "Real Relationship." As I basked in the joy of the Pawelski union, I couldn't help but wonder what marriage would feel like to these happiness experts in a few years...

Fast forward to 2017 when I was catching up with Suzi during my class reunion at The University of Pennsylvania (we were classmates). Standing in the kitchen of her apartment, we had a heart-to-heart about marriage and raising kids.

Indeed, the Pawelski's "Fairy Tale" transformed into a "Real Relationship," but they are still happy. The manifestation of their love and happiness expertise is a book complete with personal stories, ancient wisdom, contemporary science, and practical exercises that show you how to survive the long haul.

That being said, I'll gently suggest that if your "Fairy Tale" has come to a crashing halt (as mine once did), Suzi and James have authored a fabulous book that will explain how you can still be happy together. Get your copy here!