What you learn about Marriage at 6 will kill your marriage at 36 or 46

Cinderella newI remember one evening sitting on the couch watching Cinderella with my 6 year old granddaughter.

She was enthralled with the movie; eyes riveted; heart obviously attached to Cinderella.

Then I thought, “What is she learning about relationships, about love and about marriage?”

My heart skipped a few beats as I watched the budding “relationship” of Cinderella and the Prince.

Have you ever noticed:

1. Cinderella and the Prince never have a conversation? They merely looked starry eyed at each other and in some fashion “fall in love.”

2. Cinderella was being rescued by the Prince. He truly was her knight in shining armor. He would come and make her life incredibly better, all without carrying on a conversation!

3. Did you ever wonder what the Prince saw in Cinderella? Well, I suppose he saw a cute little thing, the cutest in the realm, even scrubbing the floor. She certainly would be a prize, would she not? And, do you ever think the Prince had any sexual thoughts about this cute thing?

4. And, of course, they would live happily ever after. Their relationship would cement where it was: always starry eyed, she being cared for by a wealthy good looking Prince and he able to strut with the cutest in the realm holding his arm. There obviously would be no need for any “deep” conversation or thoughtfulness about their relationship.

What do you suppose my granddaughter was learning? Would she work hard at being this cute damsel batting her eyes, feigning helplessness, to attract a wealthy handsome prince?

Now, let’s jump ahead 30 or so years.

In our 20s and 30s we work hard at making our dreams become reality. We take the assumptions we learned early in life and try to inject them with life (success, fortune, romance, happiness, etc.)

We assume the role and behavior of Cinderella or the Prince. Not consciously, of course, but these imprinted images guide how we feel and think and markedly influence.

Men strive to be the prince. Women welcome the prince who makes life better.

Around 36-46 we are struck by a life changing and shattering reality: It just ain’t gonna happen!

My husband is not a prince; far from it. I’m sick of his posturing.

My wife is not the cutest in the realm (especially after a couple kids) nor does she accept or appreciate my work.

This mid-life awakening often shakes one or both and certainly the marriage or relationship to the core.

It’s time for the prince and Cinderella to grow up.

It’s time to look beneath the surface. It’s time to move beyond roles.

It’s a great opportunity to truly BE and with a little more “conversation” with fewer childlike assumptions generate the mature intimacy both truly desire.

11 thoughts on “What you learn about Marriage at 6 will kill your marriage at 36 or 46”

  1. So, five years since my wife asked me to stop the divorce, not much has changed! She had a 2 year affair with her sisters fiance. I have come to realize that no matter how hard we try or don’t try, no matter what we hope for, no matter what we wish for, no matter how much we want happiness, intimacy, excitement, etc…long term marriages and the institution of marriage in general is doomed to fail! This is not my wish or desire – this is REALITY!!!!!!!!! I have tried just about everything and been trying to practice Dr Huizenga’s suggestions, books and courses since midway through her affair. Sadly, to no avail!!!!!!!

  2. Sadly some people are damaged goods and will never change. If you’re married to Prince Charming or Cinderella chances are they are a narcissist and are always looking for someone to validate them.

  3. Me and my x went through the mid-life crisis with no problems. After the children left home and started their own families, communication dried up. The problem here is that we were to busy bringing up our kids, they occupied our lives and suddenly boom!! they were gone. We found ourselves in a stale mate position and did not know how to cope after a marriage of 34 years. Things went form bad to worse and suddenly her boss gave her the attention she so much desired (communication) he made her feel good and desireble again and she fell for him.He divorced and we divorced because this was an act of adultery.She was my school sweetheart an been together for 40 years. The clear point I want to make here is that communication makes a relationship or marriage work. Well the down side for her and him is that she refused to marry him and he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease more than two years ago and is dying. Adultery no matter how you look at it always have severe consequences. So for all you young people out there if you want a happy relationship or marraige, COMMUNICATE!!!

    1. My husband started drinking again after a 14 year sobriety due to 2 deaths, one his mother that he said gave him the excuse to start. He’d been a alcoholic since 13 y/o and was sober when I met him 17 years ago. You can’t communicate with someone drunk every night for 5 years. You try, you sit with them talking but they don’t remember it in the morning. He claims I shut him out in 2021when his drinking and drug use was off the charts. He doesn’t remember me literally sitting or laying next to him making sure he doesn’t choke on his vomit. He doesn’t remember me trying desperately to get him help or the times he did me fighting to get our finances back on track. He used that as permission to go outside the marriage with a tramp who knew he was married and she claims he was unhappy as her excuse to sleep with my husband. She dumped him for another coworker and had 2 coworkers she’s toying with while living with a guy. Three men as that wasn’t enough she destroyed my marriage and laughs about it telling my husband she knows she’s more important to him then his wife. I put up with communicating to the wall for he was never home always with her claiming they are friends and working side jobs. He filed for divorce in May and still lives here claiming he hasn’t gotten a place to go yet, but he has time to drink every night still putting me thru torture. He was my fairy tale and I always believed in happier ever after. We had a beautiful relationship and we’re so in love for 15 years till he allowed the tramp to invade my life. I am destroyed beyond repair and now in debt with lawyer costs and him not being a grown ass man to deal with his finances. Communicate? You can’t when one refuses to sober or doesn’t remember when he’s drunk.

  4. I agree with Marie, sadly so. I’ve been working on my marriage after her ten year affair (one guy that I know of, I suspect more). I found out about this two and a half years ago and we’ve been working on our marriage ever since. I realize (now) the only thing that saved my sanity was the fact that I guess we were never in love, even though I did try for the last 8 of her ten years in the affair(s) to connect and have us fall in love with each other.

    She says she is in love but I don’t believe it. She shows no true repentance and all she wants is for someone to validate her . There was never a complete confession. She only fessed up to a few times in a few months. I found several smoking guns that prove otherwise. She does not show Godly repentance or remorse and all she wants is to move on as if what she did was just “a mistake”

    I don’t know how this will end up. I am saving money to move out and start a new life even if it is by myself. I do my best to treat her with respect, but I’ve been honest in telling her that I believe there is no love between us, since I cannot trust her again.

  5. That’s interesting. Do you think learning from fairytales would impact a child’s idea of relationship more than what they see their parents enact.

  6. I think it’s one of many factors. Parental patterns and modeling is another factor, which is probably highly significant. However, I’ve observed many children making decisions about relationships that seemingly contradict the parental pattern. How do we become who we are? Good question.

  7. I agree with Otto. I am trying to save my marriage before a divorce is finalized. Several times throughout 34 years of marriage, we have tried to make it work, but I never stuck with it. There have been no affairs. Communication and showing affection to my wife would have made all the difference. Now she believes it is too late. Bringing in Leia’s and Dr. Huizenga’s comments, I believe I was raised well to be a good, caring person. But the way that I typically show that I care isn’t right for my wife. I believe my parents did a great job, but I am trying to learn a different way to communicate, support, and react to my wife because she is worth it to me. In this case, I am the experiment. I believe that I can change. I want to change because my wife is worth it, the love of my life. If I understand the legal parts of it, I have two years to prove it. It’s just a shame that it has come to this. It will be very sad if I do not convince her.

  8. I always love that she doesn’t appreciate or accept his work! Really???? When a man like my husband puts his work his job and his friends at work ahead of me then no I don’t appreciate his work. I could care less. He quit his job to go chase his dream. Now I have no security no safety and no health insurance. Why would I appreciate that? Why would I appreciate and accept being told I am no part of and never will be of this company he is building for his retirement? Notice I didn’t say ours. I am also sick of hearing that his emotional affair with some low rent cashier was no big deal because he was never physical with her. He would have been but I caught them before. I caught them the weekend after our oldest child got married when he was going to go to her house supposedly to do pest control. He has admitted he was going to see if she wanted him. So no I don’t appreciate him out chasing women at work. I have come to the conclusion after two years of trying that I just want out. As for the wife not being a cute little men need to grow up and stop being shallow. No I am not at 49 a cute little thing. I am a woman who gave birth to three kids raised them took care of the house did what I had to do. Worked a full time job to support the whole family cause he lost his and couldn’t get another for over a year. I have a medical condition that even though I spend over an hour at the gym 3 to 5 days a week and stop myself from eating I still do not lose weight. But you know what I was there every day I was his biggest fan his cheerleader his support and always believed in him. I did every thing I could to make his life better. I am not doing it any more. Ok off my soap box here.

  9. Cheryl La Rocque

    Dear Dr. Bob Huizenga,
    We talked less than a year ago. My husband had left me for his mistress. I have learned that enduring abuse because I believed in marriage vows was the most unhealthy of situations. You said to have an exit plan. I did exit he did. Then I started the process of healing from deep depression and peeling back the layers of violence, abuse, poor communication skills and so on,,, I went back to University studying Women & Gender Studies Program… Cinderella story was my dream at the age of your daughter. I am still learning and undue the what I thought, what I think, what I know and How I came to Know…. I am discovering each of us are intrinsically interwoven by the fabric of our environment in all that encompasses. Bravo for the article on Cinderella. I still read your articles and share your information. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  10. After found out my husband of 39 years is having a special relationship with a woman 12 years his jounior- I start to realized that there is no happy ever after. I am very attractive woman in my age group people always said I look 10 years younger than my real age, my guy still want a younger one and someone who will be more comply to his wishes more than I. Guess it is hard to teach an old dog a new trick.
    I’m done with this marriage even after trying everything in the web, books , how to safe your marriage video, things does not get better . It takes two to tango and when my partner refuse to move I’m the only one dancing.

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