Recently, my daughter married her long-time sweetheart in an intimate and very moving ceremony. The parents of both the bride and groom invited family and friends to a reception afterwards for food, festivities, and dancing. Everyone had a great time. The young couple eventually left for their honeymoon leaving a very large mess for mostly family to take care of.

As I looked at the monumental cleanup task in front of us, I couldn’t help thinking that this could be the last time for a while that the couple would enjoy something like this without sticking around until the end. Even as I stacked the piles of dirty dishes, I realized that the whole day was part of the celebration and subsequent work that accompanies giving birth to a beautiful daughter.

At the Eight-Cow Relationship, not only did we discover eight specific traits or cows necessary for a successful relationship, we also found that it is important not to have unreasonable expectations of what a relationship actually is. Part of that includes the realization that your fairy godmother didn’t move in with you and neither did Mary Poppins. You have to create your own magic and be ready to clean up afterwards.

I remember the first time my sweet wife surprised me with an elaborate candlelight dinner when I got home from work. She paid attention to every detail—fine china, crystal, linens, candlelight, and a menu fit for a five-star restaurant. It was magical. It had been a long hard day for both us yet she had found the energy to create something very special. It was the perfect end to the day… then I saw the kitchen. Sometime around midnight, we finished cleaning up. We then both turned into pumpkins and plopped into bed.

The mindset for a successful relationship includes the understanding that there will always be a mess to clean up. If you are lucky, it will only be a pile of dishes. But there will probably be emotional, financial, and health challenges that will need cleaning up as well. We found that when both of you realize this and then work together on the clean-up crew then the relationship stands a better chance of enjoying more celebrations in the future.