When I was a teenager, I LOVED romance movies. As a young adult, I discovered romance novels and saying I became addicted to them would probably be an understatement. I just loved to read page after page and watch a love story unfold and develop. Since they all pretty much have the same plot line, I knew that in the end they’d end up together, but my heart would break right along with the main characters when they had some huge fight that convinced them they shouldn’t be together. Then my heart would swell when they realized that their love for each other could overcome whatever issue came between them. I read so many of these books that I even considered trying to write one on my own at one point.
Then our small group did a marriage study that made me realize that I was damaging my marriage by reading book after book where a woman falls in love with the “perfect man.” A few weeks ago I wrote about having unrealistic expectations for your husband, and I realized a few years ago that I was creating those unattainable goals for my husband without either of us knowing it by reading all of these books. In a way I had fallen in love with the idea of these perfect men that are the stars of romance novels, when in reality no such man exists. I would have days when I’d finish a book and then almost sink into a state of depression because some imaginary character had the marriage I knew I’d never have.
Another big issue that the marriage study awakened me to was the unrealistic expectations I had in the bedroom. If you’re a reader of contemporary romance novels, you know that in some of those books half the scenes take place in the bedroom. There is certainly a market for those books, and I was once part of that market, but I’ve realized how unfair it is to my marriage to continue to read that type of book. In real life, sex just isn’t explosive and earth shattering every time, but including a scene where everything is perfectly acceptable just isn’t going to sell books. It took me quite some time to realize that there wasn’t something wrong with my sex life because I wasn’t always experiencing the all consuming passion that I read about time and time again.
I will probably never be completely over the desire to read romance novels, and I’m ok with that because I’ve found an alternative to the ones I used to lose myself in – Christian romances. I honestly had no idea there were so many of these books out there until I started looking. I’ve found that, in addition to being centered around faith, these stories are much more realistic and don’t create any unreasonable expectations that I’d be tempted to place on my husband. They are also much more wholesome and they don’t include the graphic sex scenes that did so much damage before.
If you’re a fan of romance novels like I am, I hope you’ll take some time to think about the quality of the books that you’re reading. Are they damaging to your marriage? Or are they inspiring you to love your husband with an unconditional, Christ-like love
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