When Happily Ever After Doesn’t Happen

I am a romantic at heart. Whenever I read a good love story or courtship account, I add “and they lived happily ever after” to the end, even if it is not written in so many words. I often look back on my own life forgetting all the troubles and deep heartaches and remembering only the golden days and laughter. I see through rose-tinted glasses. In many ways that is good. To dwell on the hard things in life brings a heaviness of spirit hard to shake. Believe me, I know: my life in many ways has not been easy. Dwelling on the good was one way I learned to cope.

I thank the Lord a thousand times over for the blessings He has brought into my life these past few months. In some ways it seems the end of my story is “and they lived happily ever after” for I truly am deeply happy in my new life and marriage. But on the other hand, I know my story has hardly even begun: many roads lie ahead that I have yet to travel. And certainly these past eight months have not been all roses: illness, miscarriage, and a long,cold winter in an unknown land. Yet God has been more than faithful through it all.

It is so easy to think that once we get married everything will be good. That hardships will grow easier and life will be rosy most of the time. That “happily ever after” will begin the day we say, “I do”. But what if something happens and happily ever after is not there like we thought it would be?

In my church back homeI knew a beautiful and godly young woman not much older than me. She had married the son of one of our pillar families: someone everyone admired and looked up to. They seemed so happy and she was such a godly example of womanhood to us all. And then one day, when their first little son was still very young, he just left….left his family, his church, and his wife. We all prayed fervently and hoped for restoration–she more than any of us–and for several years she waited. We all shook our heads and wondered how this could happen to her of all people. Even in the backs of minds that should have known better, we somehow fell prey to the belief that “happily ever after” should have been her reward. Did God not see her faithfulness?

Let me say this once very clearly: “Happily ever after” is not a reward for godliness. Marriage is not a reward for a life lived in obedience. Just because you do everything the “right” way, and wait patiently for God’s timing, for God’s direction, for God’s mate, does not guarantee that the path before you will be smooth.

Trials await every child of God: if you are not experiencing them now, you will. Godly families lose jobs, lose health, lose children, lose husbands and wives every day. We know this but we like to forget. We don’t ever like to think that we could be the next Job whom God allows bad things to happen to. We wince because these are such gloomy thoughts. But James says to “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Why? Because the testing of our faith produces something of far greater worth than a life lived happily ever after. It produces perfection in the truest sense of the word. A life hidden in Christ and sanctified for His glory. A life He is able to use.

Is our longing for a happy ending necessarily a bad thing? No, I think this is a holy longing as we wait for heaven and our true “happily ever after” in eternity. But it can cause us to lose our focus and forget what is really important–living life to the fullest now not someday. Do not pine for what others have been given, for with their blessings will come trials designed for them and their sanctification. Embrace life: the good and the bad. You might just find that your “happily ever after” has already begun.

broken so that His love may shine through...


  1. Wow. Words cannot express how much this article meant to me. You probably don’t even know how timely this came. I just experienced one of the most painful experiences in my life…a completely unexpected break up from a man I loved very much and who I believed I would marry someday soon. I am grateful for your encouragement and it gives me hope that God does truly care about every detail of my life, my pain included. Thank you, thank you for writing this. I praise The Lord for the glory He will get even in this difficult time in my life. He’s working…I can see it even if it hurts so much!


    1. Thankful it was timely, Melinda. It was for me, too, as I was scheduling it! <3

  2. Thank you so much for this article. This is exactly what I feel the Lord has been trying to teach me the last few months. I know in my heart that if I cannot find true contentment now, then it will never be any easier. Just today I was reading Proverbs 31 and meditating on verse 30: “…a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” We are to trust in the Lord and not worry. God’s timing is always perfect!

  3. You are SO right Elizabeth! Even though I’ve met and fallen in love with my future husband, I still face trials and heart ache. God never promised us a bed of roses, but He did promise to be with us as we walk through the hard times.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this post! I wrote an article called “More Than a Fairytale” that is being published in the magazine my family puts together – it’s somewhat similar to what Elisabeth says here.

    Just this morning, this phrase came to mind: “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away, Blessed be the Name of the LORD.” (From Job 1:21) So often we find ourselves questioning God – but He does all things for a reason and for ultimate good.

    I am not married and have never had a boyfriend (at age 26). I am learning that if God does allow me the position of being help meet to a husband, it will certainly not be a “happily ever after”! In anything and everything, there will be good times and bad. It is only through the trials that our faith and trust will grow and be strengthened. They also make us extra thankful for the joys and blessings. <3

    P.S. Thanks for this site. I check it just about daily. :0)

  5. ShelleyMariee says:


    What a wonderful post. Your last paragraph is such a good reminder- we really can lose our focus, and we really do need to live life to the fullest now, like you said. Thanks for the post!

  6. Oh, Elizabeth… this is so fitting. What an excellent reminder. God is faithful, no matter what comes our way. I remember well fostering such thoughts–that if I would only become content enough and learn to wait on the Lord enough, that’s when he would bless me with marriage. Then, on the flip side, I also thought that because I wanted to be married, God would probably make me wait for years and years so I would learn patience better. Neither is true. God does what is best for us, as he sees fit, and carries us along no matter the circumstances. I did have times of waiting, and have had lessons in patience I didn’t foresee, even if it wasn’t waiting for years to get married. And God was faithful, through all of it…

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