We’re told at a very young age we’re supposed to meet and fall in love with our soulmate, marry, live in a home with a white picket fence and have at least two kids and a dog. Fairy tales in books and in the movies paint a picture of a life happily ever after where our dreams all come true.

Because we’re given such an idealized image of what our adulthood is supposed to look like, we think we have to follow a certain path in order for everything to perfectly play out.

If we deviate from this path, things are likely to fall apart. So, we set out with a plan to find a fairy tale partnership and set the bar high. We’re looking for that perfect Prince Charming to magically appear.

Well, if you haven’t noticed, life doesn’t always go as planned. And, people aren’t perfect.

So, while we can have an idealized understanding of what our happily ever after should look like, we have to be adaptable and accepting of real-life complications. And, our expectations have to jive with this.

When you meet someone you connect with on a level that you haven’t before, your mind may automatically fast forward to your future together and you may start fantasizing about all of those things you were hoping to one day have.

This is healthy and natural. It means you’re excited about what’s to come, and you want to start moving in that direction.

You may start perusing wedding catalogs and taking an added interest in every baby you spot while out and about. You may even start to have some more serious conversations with your meant-to-be mate if you think he may be the one. If you’re both looking forward to the next chapter, this can feel invigorating.

It’s okay to make some plans. You’ll want to have enough forethought to ensure you and your partner are on the same page about the ‘big stuff’—i.e., where you want to settle down, where you’d like to take your career, whether or not you both want children.

These are the things that can really make or break a relationship. They’ll need to align (maybe with a little compromise) to build a solid future together.

When you start to move into the next stages of the partnership, though, don’t get hung up on the details. If you’re both on board with the big stuff, you shouldn’t let smaller obstacles completely derail your plans.

Maybe your partner wants a two-bedroom starter home, and you’re looking for a four-bedroom forever home. Maybe he wants to wait a while before expanding your family, and you can’t wait to get started.

Then, there are the quirks you’ll begin to notice when you’re really getting to know another person. Maybe he snores or leaves the toilet seat up. Maybe you eat everything on your plate one at a time and he shovels it all in. These are the things that the fairy tales leave out but they’re a very real part of life. No one is perfect, and it’s important to love the total package. When you do, imperfections can be alluring, too.

It’s also important to understand that there are certain things we simply can’t predict or plan for. Life is largely unpredictable. If you lose your job or your spouse does, you may have to relocate. If you have a hard time having kids of your own, you may end up adopting.

Your goals today could be completely different five years down the line. Looking back, were you the same person five years ago that you are today?

It’s important to always keep one goal in mind despite life’s ups and downs—hang onto your happiness. If you’re lucky enough to find your soulmate, you two can be lifelong partners as long as you’re both willing to ride the waves together. This will require some tough conversations from time to time. It’s inevitable, but you’ll make it through as long as you’re both unwilling to give up.

If you’re on the same page about staying committed to each other and loving each other unconditionally, everything else will work itself out. Years later, you’re likely to look back and smile at the memories, good and bad, because it’s your story, and your happily ever after is everything you dreamed it could be.

Why You Can’t Plan Everything In A Partnership