[excerpt from the upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Exposed the 'Princess Myth' for All Women]
The doubts that Diana had on the eve of her wedding only grew during her honeymoon. “What is clear now is that she barely knew her prospective bridegroom,” Tina Brown shared, nor the man who became her husband. And Charles did not know the complex nature of his bride; he had been charmed by a pretty girl who “professed great interest in everything he said and did, manifested great sympathy and understanding for the trials and tribulations of his life…and crucially, she made him laugh,” Penny Junor stated in Charles: Victim or Villian? “But it was all a sham,” the author concluded. The honeymoon Charles planned at his beloved Balmoral—when Diana had talked about her love of the country—began revealing her insincerities. Unfulfilled expectations can be one of the causes of upset; but unfulfilled expectations that were based on a fragile fantasy to begin with can lead to disaster.
“‘We will content ourselves by stating the simple fact that some honeymoons are failures.’” This prophetic line—as far as Diana and Charles were concerned—is from the early 1930s The Bride’s Book, or Young Housewife’s Compendium written by “two ladies of England.” It’s all about the proper dress, accessories, wedding etiquette, trousseau, and honeymoon protocol. With regard to the honeymoon, the ladies said that they were not going to “‘look upon the black side’ of this ‘institution’” and deemed that more honeymoons were successes than failures. (But how could they really be sure?)
Even if you know your fiancé well (even if you’ve lived together before marriage) the honeymoon “rite-of-passage” can reveal some surprises. For a woman preparing for her marriage, even with no pressures like Diana (no hint of an “arranged” marriage, or worldwide expectations of a “fairy-tale” marriage, or giving birth to the heir to the throne, or the blinding attention of the press) there is still a natural transition (and not always an easy one) for two people “getting to know each other” on a deeper level.
“The first years of marriage are about getting use to bumping into each other’s warts,” a long-married friend told me in the first months of my short marriage. She knew a bit about the subject after 25 years of marriage to her childhood sweetheart. And that was over 20 years ago and she recently shared that she’s still learning something new everyday!
Perhaps the key is to stay curious, flexible and open to discovery—and have a sense of humor about whatever you discover (about your partner or about yourself.) Looking back, what I didn’t do was find my own grounding and purpose, nor did I give my partner the room and encouragement to do the same.~
[Another excerpt from the upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Exposed the 'Princess Myth' for All Women, will be posted soon from "The Honey Month" chapter.]