Ever since I was a little girl in pigtails, I’ve been influenced to believe happy endings involve a beautiful couple riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
Maybe you can relate. In our culture, being in a relationship is portrayed as the key to ultimate fulfillment. The message seems to be that you can only be truly happy if you’re in a relationship.
When I was younger, I fell for that idea. I was convinced my life would only be complete if and when I found someone who would make my happily-ever-after come true.
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In fact, I was so in love with the idea of getting married that I nearly got engaged as a teen — even though my then-boyfriend and I were anything but compatible. I’m not proud to admit that I was motivated by fear — the fear of being alone, of being left behind, of facing challenges on my own. That fear led me to believe that having a partner, any partner, would make my life better.
Today, I thankfully have a healthier perspective on what happy endings look like.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m still a hopeless romantic. I do believe relationships grounded in mutual respect, self-sacrifice and genuine love can work. In fact, I have every intention of getting married someday and building such a relationship (if that’s God’s will).
But I wholeheartedly reject the idea that the only way for a person to be fully content and fulfilled in life is to get married. And so should you.
Why marriage isn’t the only path to happiness
People who believe they will only be happy when they find their “one and only” waste years waiting for some Prince Charming to come along and save them.
The problem is that no one should depend on their spouse (real or imagined) to save them from anything or fill a void within them. Only God can save us. Only God can fill our hearts and give us lasting peace. Only God can make our lives complete. It’s when we look to others to fill God’s role that we get lost and confused.
Another problem with thinking marriage is the only road to fulfillment is that it doesn’t encourage us to ask God what his will is. For example, what if God is calling you to be a nun?
If you’re anything like me, you grew up with the idea that being a nun or religious sister was a punishment. In my mind, women chose religious life as a backup plan if they couldn’t find someone suitable to marry. Thankfully, I was wrong. In fact, some of the happiest women I have ever met are religious sisters. They radiate love and joy and peace to those around them — not exactly what you’d expect from people who supposedly chose to become nuns out of desperation.
So, what if that’s the path God wants you to take to lead you to heaven? Would you be open to accepting that call? Would you give your whole life to God in that way? Think about it. Pray about it. You’ll never be disappointed if you let him lead you.
For the truth is, receiving a call from God to join a convent is beautiful beyond words. And if you hear that call in your heart, the most beautiful way to respond is with a wholehearted yes.
Vocations are not one-size-fits-all
The reality of life is that happy endings come in many different forms. I have friends who decided to get married, and I have friends who decided to enter religious life. I have friends who have young children, and I have friends who are single. As far as I can see, they’re all happy with their lives.
The fact is, there isn’t one correct way to live a fulfilling life. We’re all different, and we all see the world through different eyes. God made us unique, so why should we try so hard to be the same as everyone else?
In my last relationship, my boyfriend and I argued a lot. Over time, we realized our relationship wasn’t going anywhere. Inevitably, we broke up. I moved away and started living my own life again. And, in retrospect, I realize I’m much happier now than I used to be.
That relationship made me discover how possible (and necessary) it is to lean on God for support — with or without a partner. So even though I probably won’t be single forever, I’m choosing to be happy right now. I’m choosing to enjoy this season in the place and circumstances God has placed me. And so can you.
Don’t buy into our culture’s lie that you can’t be fulfilled without being in a romantic relationship. If you do, you might spend countless years waiting for your life to start — waiting for that elusive Prince Charming to come along and make your life complete. The thing is, if God hasn’t planned for you to marry at all, you’ll be waiting a long time. And even if he is, there is a better way to spend your time.
So please, live now. Choose happiness now.
If you’re trying to find out what God wants you to do, try going to Eucharistic adoration more often. Try praying the Rosary more and going to Mass and confession frequently. Ask God to guide you. If you’re single, don’t waste this precious time wishing for things that are out of your control. Who knows, maybe God is calling you to use this time to volunteer or work overseas or write a book.
One thing is for sure: He loves you, he sees you, and he has not forgotten about you. If you let go of what you thought your life would look like and let God take the wheel instead, you’ll never lose your way.
Even if there are a million unknowns in your life, even if you don’t know what to do — and yes, even if you’re single — you can still choose to love your life and live your happy-ever-after right where God has placed you.
I hope you will.