"...no bride in her right mind, if nature could produce such a wondrous creature, would want her wedding to be the Happiest Day of My Life. This would mean that everything from then on, such as the marriage itself would be downhill."

You gotta love Miss Manners. She tells it like it is, unafraid of attacking a multi-million dollar industry that is built around this dangerous and deceptive idea. The line between fantasy and reality has gotten seriously crossed.

The proof of this is that the latest company to hop on the bridal industry bandwagon is none other than Disney. The idea of a fairy tale wedding seems to take on literal significance as dresses are fashioned in accordance with favorite characters such as Snow White or the Little Mermaid. The line between fantasy and reality just got even muddier -- the line between a child's dream and (what should be) an adult's sober vision.

I don't want to be the wedding grinch. I don't begrudge any bride her wedding finery. But when the wedding is seen as the end, not the beginning, we're all in trouble. When marriage is sold as a Disney fairy tale, coping with daily challenges can be intimidating, especially since they are so unexpected.

Of course there should be happiness and joy on a wedding day. But it is the excitement of unrealized potential, of the possibilities unfolding. It should not be the thrill of achievement.

With our wedding day, the real work begins.

A wedding is not an accomplishment; it's a gift. A successful marriage is an achievement. With our wedding day, the real work begins.

It may be a labor of love but it is labor nonetheless. Our real life Prince Charmings are flawed creatures who frequently fall short of our expectations. I suspect that, despite our imitation of a Disney character in our gown, our behavior is also less than ideal.

So we adjust our expectations, we dig in our heels, and we work a little harder. And surprisingly enough, if we're really working at it, if we're not critical of our spouse but focused on the positive, if we are constantly look for ways to give, if we stop to take pleasure in each other, then we find ourselves happier and happier as the years go by.

We look back at that young couple on their wedding day and we marvel at their naiveté.

Yes, it gets better. Yes, your wedding shouldn't be the happiest day of your life. But unlike Cinderella, it's not magic.

The benefits are only enjoyed by those who make the effort. They're unconnected to gowns and flowers and photographers and fantasies, and directly correlated to our exertions. It's not a fairy tale vision. It takes more than dramatic rescues to create a lasting relationship.

But with constant effort, with constant attention to the needs of your partner, with constant focus on creating something special, with a constant evaluation of mistakes made and with resolutions to improve, with serious attention to this most important relationship in our lives, it is possible --despite the many challenges we will face -- to live happily ever after.