Hi, my name is Joanna. I am a woman, mummy, friend and I was a wife for nearly 10 years. That “was” pushed me to do my research for a recipe for a “happy ever after”. To write something so personal was not easy but sometimes when you want to start over you just need to come out from your comfort zone.

Did you ever wonder what happened next, after Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty got married? As a child I didn’t, I didn’t even care, I lived in the bubble of “and they lived happily ever after”. I was so blinded by those stories and believed that my Prince Charming would come on a white horse and whizz me away from the very often brutal reality. That I didn’t want to know. Until real life happened to me and it really opened my eyes.

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I thought from the moment you got married the fairy tale begins, all your troubles and worries disappear like with a touch of a magic wand. After all, you’re marrying your Prince, what possibly could go wrong?

I was not prepared for reality, for the sleepless nights with kids, money problems, family problems, illnesses and death and all other ones which come with married life.

So how to go through life together and not go crazy? How to stay through the storms? How to stay when the only thing you want to do is run away?

I really wanted to find out what is the secret recipe for everlasting love, which I truly believe does exist, like in the fairy tales which I watched as a child. Since none of them show the struggles of everyday life together. I wanted to point that out.

Let’s start from what does “ happily ever after “ really means? If you check it in the dictionary you could find that it’s: a phrase that means “from this on” or “Spend the rest of one’s life in happiness”.

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? But my question is – what does that really mean? No one can give you or guarantee you happiness if it’s not in you. No one can tell you what you really want and need, you should figure that out yourself. People can add on to your happiness but realistically they can’t make you happy. They also can’t help you become happy if you don’t understand what that really means for you.

What you need to remember is that nothing comes easy if you don’t work for it, if you don’t analyze it and if you don’t make your mind up, you can’t achieve it.

I had so many questions which I struggled to answer and so many doubts that “happy ever after” existed, I was getting more and more confused. In current times there are so many broken marriages, including mine, that I was losing hope. I really wanted to know why, because that’s not the happy ever after I believed in. What’s going on?

I decided to dig deeper. I was reading, observing, talking to many people. People who went through hell and are still happily married as well as people who had separated. People who lost their kids and went through cancer and other illnesses together. People who have just “been” in a relationship but never actually contributed to the relationship and people who live two lives because they couldn’t make their mind up which relationship is better for them, and they didn’t want to be the heartbreakers. Each time I was trying to make my own recipe for “happy ever after”. Memorizing what to do and also not to do to make the marriage work.

I came to the conclusion that relationships are very hard, simply because we are making them harder. I have learned that everyone is different and sometimes no matter how hard you try if you are not on the same page, you just need to let go. If you don’t share the same values and you don’t want to compromise the union will fail.

I have learned that the biggest tests to a marriage are illnesses, deaths, lies, hiding, and cheating. This behavior shows us who the other person really is and who we are as a whole. I discovered that you need to love yourself first to be truly loved by others and that you need to remember that you can only change yourself and not expect the other to change for you. I realized that communication is essential as well as respect and honesty.

I realized that if you want your relationship to get to the “happy ever after” level you need to always work on not only growing yourself but working on how to grow as a “one”. I noticed that it’s not money which people actually want but it’s quality time with each other, I am realistic and know the financial struggles are killers for couples but honesty and teamwork will save you. I have learned that time together and experiences bond. A very valuable lesson was that you also need that time to be you, on your own and do the things you love.

So my answer to the question – “is it actually possible to live “happily ever after” with someone the rest of your life?” is – yes it is! I still believe it is.

Yes, I still believe in love. I just know now that it’s more than just giving, and waiting, praying that it will come back. It’s learning to receive it back! It’s learning who you really are, your standards and expectations first and being clear about it. It’s always remembering your values and beliefs and never settling for less.

Maybe you already have this person in your life but you have forgotten the reasons why you are still together because life got in the way. Or maybe you are looking to find someone who shares the same values and desires in life as you. In both cases you need to remember that it is important to listen to each other and learn to compromise, it’s important to continue to learn about one another. The “happy ever after” requires thought, consideration, little rituals as simple as remembering to compliment, hold hands, kiss, date nights or a surprise note. The magic is hidden in simple gestures!

On that note, I would like to wish you all and myself our own “happily ever after”. Like all those couples who gave me the privilege through my photographs to tell their love story.