Fairy Tale or a Cinderella Complex?

Excerpt from Chapter 12 of
Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace

He pranced round the corner.

His arresting, mystifying air captivated me: suave, debonair, and oh, quite a looker. I thought, I’ll stroll on by and check him out. Quickly making mental notes: tall, dark, high cheekbones, broad shoulders–

He turned with a mischievous grin, showing dimples! I averted my eyes and sauntered on by. He whistled. A warm sense of elation swept over me as I thought: He seems older; more mature than the other boys I’ve dated. Surely, this one has already sown his wild oats. I didn’t grasp how much older until later. But at the time I didn’t care.

He was a native of West Indies, thirty-two years old and born on June 6, 1943. If he had claimed that a year after he was born they had named a memorable day on his behalf, calling it D-Day—the “D” standing for Don—I would have believed him. Starry-eyed, I hung on to his every word. He could have said he hung the moon, and I wouldn’t have doubted him.


photo credit: Brianna Garcia

That was me in another life.

Once upon a time, I envisioned men made decisions and had more power over women. So when he came along, I depended on him for my sanity, security, and stability. He would make me whole. Do you know, this theory makes women choose to stay in dysfunctional relationships?

I’ve since read that some women fear independence. Say what? Yep. Oh, they may think they’ve got it all together and are brave and self-sufficient enough, but the bottom line is they have an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others. This was obviously me!

I thought I had found myself a knight in shining armor and allowed him to whisk me away, and soon became a teenage bride to a sweet-talking, hard-hitting man twice my age. He didn’t show much love, nurturing, or tenderness, but was harsh and fed on my low self-esteem. His motto: “I’m the man, you’re the woman.” He had a twisted notion of submissiveness. Before I knew it, like a doormat, I was constantly being walked on while becoming subservient to his every whim. I did not respect him. I feared him. Yet, I remained in that relationship for fifteen enduring years.

My smile hid the pain in my heart, as well as makeup did the bruises on my face. It would be years of trials and four precious children later before I found the courage to stand on my own two feet and the courage to walk away from an abusive marriage.

A few years ago, the best help book given to me on marriage was: “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. He refers back to Ephesians 5:33: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” There are a lot of nuggets in this one book. Eggerichs suggested that love alone is not enough for marriage. In a nutshell: A wife has one driving need — to feel loved. When that need is met, she is happy. A husband has one driving need — to feel respected. When that need is met, he is happy.

I am happy to report that after being a single mom, I eventually re-married. For nearly 24 years, I’ve been married to a wonderful, caring, and loving man. God does answer prayers! I am grateful that through all our struggles we are committed to one another, no matter what. I’m no expert, but I can say no marriage is so good that it can’t be made better. We constantly work on this love and respect thing, as well as forgiveness, because neither one of us is perfect.

So I ask you:

  • What practical ways make a healthy marriage?
  • What is your idea of how love is expressed in marriage?
  • How important is self-worth?
  • Define some unrealistic expectations.

And while we’re on the subject of fairy tales … maybe I’ll touch on my thoughts on the Peter Pan syndrome at a later date.

© M.A. Pérez 2018, All Rights Reserved


Filed under Cinderella Complex, Relationships

11 responses to “Fairy Tale or a Cinderella Complex?

  1. My paternal grandparents were married for around 50 years. My parents were married for 40 years. I was involved in a Common Law relationship which became abusive and I was glad when he left. Since I’m rapidly approaching 60 I know that I will never get married. I finally had to admit that I don’t do well in romantic relationships. Not for me. I don’t date and rarely socialize but I am at peace with my singleness. Since I am a Loner and a Solitary I thrive on being by myself. Anyway I care for my brother Stephen who has Autism and you know that no man wants to deal with that situation.
    Sometimes with ever expanding disabilities I wish I had somebody to help me but I press on towards the mark of my high calling as a Lone Warrior. There is no Knight in Shining Armor except in Disney movies. As my Dad used to say If You Lay down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas. Those days are long behind me.

  2. I totally agree with Jordanne comment here. Growing up hooked on Disney I grew up believing in Knights in shining armours and that love at first sight and living Happily Ever After but now as an adult it isn’t that easy it takes hard work from both sides. I believe for a healthy relationship/marriage in my eyes is about balance from both sides of the relationship.

    • It does take two to make it work. One person can carry the load for only so far. Someone said marriage is a 50-50 partnership – I think it should be more 100-100. 🙂

  3. So glad you have found someone who makes you happy now – that’s what the fairy tales should be about!

  4. I always remember having this fantasy that my knight would come save me from everything and we would live happily ever after but growing up showed me that wasn’t the case and it take a work on both sides, finding someone that you can grow with and work on everything together. It’s so good you have a lovely, caring man now!

  5. I know when I was younger I had some deeply implanted expectation that troubles ended at marriage. Like it all depended on who I picked – and if I had trouble after that it was all my own fault! Ugh.
    I work at being a good partner everyday – and sometimes I even do a good job; we cannot become lazy after getting married!

    • I hear you loud and clear, Penny! I think I thought the same too. Maybe I did something wrong to deserve such unrequited love in my marriage, or maybe I was being punished from the Man upstairs! I know now that’s far from the truth! And yes, marriage will always take work just as being a good parent does.

  6. I’m glad you found someone who treats you right. I still hope I will find someone who loves me and who I love too, although at 38 that hope is getting much much smaller!!! I think that we all should strive for a relationship where we respect and love each other, it goes both ways!!

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. Don’t give up on finding the right one – he’s out there! Respect, Love & Forgiveness will go a long way in any relationship! Wish I knew then what I know now. Although my first marriage ended, forgiveness was extended long before he passed away. No one is perfect, but we all have redeeming qualities. Blessings!

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