Let It Go (and other Disney lessons for your relationship)
I was a child of Disney. Which is to say I’m an adult who could use a lot of therapy. My obsession went beyond normal, even beyond a respectable Disney expert who always wins at Trivia. No. I was much more than that.
I was the girl who recited obscure Disney movie quotes, wore princess dresses far beyond a cute age, and begged a few moments away from my girlfriends at the Mall of America to sneak into the Disney Store while they went to Victoria’s Secret. I was the girl who pined after Aladdin instead of Leonardo DiCaprio; who wanted to be asked to prom with a glass slipper; who cried at least once during every Disney movie, even though I knew exactly what was coming.
Yes. I was that girl. It’s a wonder my parents weren’t concerned; though they were probably just happy I wasn’t doing drugs (I wasn’t that into “Alice in Wonderland”).
As many children of Disney know, at some point in my adulthood I had to face the facts: my life expectations were based on fictional, fantastical stories. Peeling away each expectation was like loosing a bit of pixie dust, until no one believed in fairies anymore, and I was a dull, lifeless human.
I’ll never fly to Neverland.
I’ll never have mice friends who sing along as we do chores together.
I’ll never befriend a clock, teapot, and candelabrum. At least not talking ones.
The hardest of my Disney expectations to eradicate came as no surprise: the perfect, happily-ever-after marriage. I’d had only a few relationships, and none of them lasted long enough to really examine any lingering marital expectations.
Until I met him: my Prince Charming. He wasn’t a beast, or a man with a purple vest, nor a prince destined to a throne. He was, however, a beast at Ultimate Frisbee, humbly penniless, and the king of his peanut butter company. I fell madly in love, and we began our happily ever after…
You see where this is going, don’t you? It was time to face the deepest roots of my Disney disease. Don’t get me wrong, Prince Charming and I are very happy; but as you astutely know, successful relationships don’t come without effort. As I explored this new territory, ready to be shamed because of my secret desires to ride in a pumpkin carriage just once, I was surprised: Disney, despite its history of gender inequality, racism, and unrealistic expectations, came through with some very valuable lessons for my modern-day marriage.
Believe me, no one was more surprised than I! It may be that these lessons are a fabricated silver lining, justifying my years of indulgent suffering. And I’m ok with that. I’ve fully accepted the consequences of deluding myself and beg you not to pop my bubble; it’s giving me reason to believe that my reenactment of Peter Pan — complete with a Twizzlers for my hook — is valuable.
Now, I’m no love expert (I leave that to the trolls in “Frozen”) but my sweetheart and I have learned some things over the years that have made our relationship more easeful. Although he’d never admit it, it’s possible Disney is the mastermind behind it all. It’s also possible that “good communication” covers everything, but where would the fun be in that?
So, my friends, grab your faith, trust, and pixie dust, and let’s see what our childhood heroes still have to offer to our adult selves in: Let It Go (and Other Disney Lessons for Your Adult Relationship)
1. Be Prepared
This could apply to many aspects of a relationship (be prepared for having babies, being prepared to fight over squeezing different ends of the toothpaste, etc). Let’s reflect on what Uncle Scar and his nefarious band of hyenas have to say:
“Yes my teeth and ambitions are bared/ Be prepared.”
A fair warning. I don’t know about you, but in my relationship, aaaaaall my shit comes out. And so does my prince’s. Suddenly the prince and princess are on the floor scrubbing the sudden appearance of their piles of shit, trying to contain the mess before it creates a collective pile of shit. Uncle Scar’s message is a nice heads up: be prepared to face yourself and all those places you’ve kept hidden. I’m not sure why they rear their ugly lion-heads when I’m trying to have my happily ever after, but they do.
Knowing this, I try and stay “One Jump Ahead,” learning my triggers and mitigating disaster by excusing myself to go clear my head on a “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” before returning to the matter at hand.
When our shit does comes out, my prince and I have a choice: we can tackle one another to the “Fathoms Below,” or we can have a pleasant conversation about the things we find, well, unpleasant about each other. Although we haven’t tried whistling at the same time, I imagine the effects would be phenomenal. A successful whistle-while-we-work-it-out conversation might go like this:
Prince Charming: My sweet princess, do you have a moment?
Princess: Yes, of course, dashing prince. Whatever is it?
Prince Charming: Well, you see, I love you very much.
Prince Charming: And I’m so grateful for all that you do.
Princess: (Churlish giggle)
Prince Charming: And I could also use more of your help.
Prince Charming: You see, building a new castle for us is quite a lot of work, what with planning passive solar, recycled gray water, and finding a dragon-door for Spot.
Prince Charming: I would greatly appreciate it if you could invest more time in helping me plan our castle instead of binge-watching Game of Thrones.
Princess: Hm. That seems like a reasonable request. Thank you for communicating your thoughts directly instead of dropping passive aggressive hints. I would be happy to help. Is it alright if I finish this episode to find out what happens to Jon Snow?
Prince Charming: Of course, my love.
I make a stunning maiden in distress. Seriously, I put those tower-bound princesses to shame. It’s not something I’m proud of, being a professional Poor Unfortunate Soul. I spend most of my life pretending it isn’t true. But it resides in my bag of shit, and I need to be prepared for it.
The thing is, no one likes a victim, especially not my prince. When I play my Poor Unfortunate Soul card, I’m actually being selfish. I’m wanting “Mine, Mine, Mine”: what’s best for me, which usually equates being mooned over or pitied; possibly seeking attention or affirmation. And what happened to the Poor Unfortunate Souls in Ursula’s cave? That’s right. They were turned into nasty water-slug things.
The best cure for my Poor Unfortunate Soul syndrome is for my prince to chase me up a mountain, buckets of water dangling on the ends of a stick across my shoulders, singing “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” with a sexy, disapproving scowl. Hey, whatever works.
At the end of the day, be it a tough day or a great day, we’re usually reduced to utter silliness, communicating via animal noises (idiotic ones, not sexy ones). It’s weird. It’s feline. It’s because “the cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at.” I have no idea what that means, but it sounds like wisdom. So does, “Oh, a rinky-tinky-tinky.”
So long as we’re on the cat theme, it seems important to include the sassy cats of Lady and the Tramp. How I wish I could throttle those miserable creatures. Still, in their sass resides a nice nugget of marital advice: “We are Siamese if you please/ We are Siamese if you don’t please.”
These puuurfect beauties don’t give a furry rat’s patootie what anyone else thinks about them; they’re thick as thieves. No matter how bizarre or sadistic one cat’s impulse is, the other goes along with it.
I’m not saying I’d encourage my Prince to eat our host’s goldfish, or steal milk from their baby. There is a line. What I do take away from this high-pitched chant is that my prince and I have made a commitment to be together, through thick and thin. We’re both going to make mistakes. We’re both going to have heinous, regrettable reactions. We’ll probably be talking things through (see “Whistle While You Work”) for the rest of our lives. But when things get harry, I stand by him, and he does the same for me. No matter if you please, or if you don’t please, we’ve agreed to tackle this thing called “life” together. Ba-bum-bum-bum.
I think we can all agree that Baloo is Buddha’s reincarnation with claws and a honey-smeared snout.
“Look for the bare necessities/ The simple bare necessities/ Forget about your worries and your strife”
Baloo has mastered the art of simplicity, of Elsa’s “Let it Go.” There’s only so much time in this life. Do I really want to spend that precious time angry because I found another wet towel tossed on the bed? Or do I want to hang up the towel and move on with my day, choosing to forget about that unnecessary worry? I don’t need conflict. I don’t need anger. What I need is love. That’s my bare necessity.
When in doubt: “Kiss the Girl”
When in doubt: “Hakuna Matata”
When in doubt: “Let it Go”
When in doubt: “Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally/ Golly what a day!”
May you live happily ever after.