On Romance and Love and Not Marrying My Soul Mate and an Attack on Poor Mr. Darcy

Recently, I’ve been reading several blog articles dealing with the issue of romance, specifically regarding reading romantic novels and watching romantic movies/television shows.  It’s something I’ve felt God dealing with me about for a while now, but I’ve been having a hard time understanding what, exactly, was wrong with watching/reading this type of material.  I’m not talking about harlequins, that I can understand.  No, these articles were criticizing books like “Gone with the Wind” and “Pride and Prejudice.”  Tell me that I shouldn’t be reading Pride and Prejudice because I’m subconsciously comparing Mr. Darcy with my husband, and I‘m skeptical.  Tell me that I’m “dissatisfied with real men because they can’t measure up to the guys” from these books and I’ll laugh.  In no way have I ever been conscious of comparing my husband to fictional characters in a book (that’s the kicker, isn’t it?  It all happens on a subconscious level.)

I have recently come to believe that the problem with romance goes much, much deeper than a comparison between my husband and the main character in a book, however.  The problem with romance is that it gives me a false and unattainable ideal of what a relationship between a man and a woman should look like.  Rarely do we see a “romantic” movie or read a romance novel that takes us beyond the point of “boy meets girl.”  The “boy meets girl” experience is wonderful, and “falling in love” is wonderful.  There is nothing wrong with this, it’s an amazing, thrilling ride and it has every right to be.  But “falling in love” isn’t sustainable.  Eventually, you finish “falling” and move into the “have fallen” and the wild rush of emotions you felt while falling is over.  I’m not trying to say that romance isn’t important or attainable inside of a marriage.  What I am saying is that the “rush” of falling in love only happens once.  This is as it should be.

What we, as a culture, have done with our romantic books, movies, television shows, etc. is take the rush of falling in love and set it up as a standard by which all of our relationships are measured.  Watching and reading about two people falling in love  makes our souls go “ahhhhhh.”  We may recognize (if we’re already married) that we’ve already been through this feeling and that it isn’t going to happen to us again, but the “ahhhhh” of it continues to fill us with longing.  The problem, in my opinion, is not that we’re so much at risk of leaving our spouses for the next handsome, sensitive hunk that comes around.  The problem is that we’re subconsciously measuring what we have with our husbands to what we once had with them (the feeling of “falling in love”) and finding our relationships lacking.

Now, if someone had told me that a few weeks ago, I would have argued forcefully that I do NOT find my relationship with my husband lacking.  But when God began convicting my heart of these things I took a real, honest, hard look at my life and realized that I DO find my relationship lacking – I’ve just learned to “settle” and be content with what I have.  Take a moment to read my post entitled “I Didn’t Marry my Soul Mate.”  It’s an article that deals with the fact that I have chosen to love and stay with my husband despite the fact that he’s not everything I could ever want in a man.  On the surface, this seems like a wonderful thing (and in many ways it is.)  But underneath it all, for me, it’s really about how I’ve learned to settle with what I have, rather than what I want.  While it’s a good, even Godly thing, to be content with what I have, the problem comes from the fact that I’ve had to “settle” in the first place.  What gave me the standard by which my marriage doesn’t measure up?  Romanticism!  The unsustainable “ahhhh” that I was feeding myself in the books I read, and the movies and the television shows I was watching.

It irritated me when others tried to say that it was wrong for a Christian to read romance novels or watch romance movies because I “knew” that watching those things didn’t have to make a person discontent with their spouse.  After all, I’d learned to be perfectly content with my spouse despite watching and reading romance.  But it was a contentment that involved (to borrow an analogy from Mrs. P), looking over at the plate next to me, filled with steak and potatoes, and being resigned to my macaroni and cheese because I didn’t have a choice.  What gave me the “steak and potatoes” desire in the first place?  Feeding myself with an unsustainable ideal of what a relationship between a man and a woman should be.

Almost everyone will go through “falling in love” at least once (and hopefully with their spouse.)  But just like jumping out of an airplane, it’s a rush that ends when you get to the ground.  There isn’t anything wrong with this – “falling in love” can and should only happen once.  But there is a whole world out there to explore once we hit the ground that we’re selling ourselves short on, because we keep looking back at the plane, longing to “fall” again (1).

I was discussing this recently with a friend of ours, telling him that: “I just don’t see what the (negative) consequences are” (of watching romantic movies and reading romantic books.)  He turned the statement around, saying: “what if you don’t see what the (positive) consequences are” (of not watching and reading these things.)  Might there be  positive effects to be had, if I cease feeding myself this false ideal?

I’m about to find out.
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(1). It’s interesting to consider this in light of the recent discussions we’ve been having about finding our “soul mates.”  How many relationships end because those involved jump out of the plane fully expecting the experience of jumping to go on forever?  We assume that the one we’re with isn’t “the one” because we’re no longer experiencing the fall, and up we go, to try jumping out of the plane again (with someone else.)  As our friend put it: relationships mature and develop, and falling in love is a part of that development, it’s not the relationship itself.

“If we never stop trying to jump, God can never take us scuba diving.”

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Related Articles:

I Didn’t Marry my Soul Mate

When You Meet Your “Soul Mate” – and your married to someone else

I Didn’t Marry My Soul Mate (was I supposed to?)

Entertainment: Does it have a place in the Christian life?



 

 

This entry was posted in Consecration, Femininity and Womanhood, Love, Marriage, Miscellaneous, Separation from the world. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to On Romance and Love and Not Marrying My Soul Mate and an Attack on Poor Mr. Darcy

  1. Mrs. Parunak says:

    AMEN!!! Rina, this is awesome!

  2. Jo says:

    So if a romance novel/movie followed a couple long enough to acknowledge that their love had “landed,” would you then view it more favorably?

    • Rina says:

      Jo, I’m not categorically opposed to “romance” – for instance, the movie “Through the Shadowlands” (the story of CS Lewis and his relationship with his wife) was one of the most beautiful “love stories” I’ve ever seen and a movie I definitely want my children to watch some day. I don’t know that I can just give you an all-encompassing standard of what God is showing me I should and should not participate in. I’m just going to have to “play it by ear” and see where God is leading me in this. But I can say that about 95% of all the “romantic” media I’ve been participating in in the past is not something I will continue to participate in. I guess if I had to make a blanket statement about the issue it would be this: does this book/movie/song/tv show glorify God and my marriage, or am I participating in it for the sole purpose of entertainment? If the latter, I can’t think of any reason to continue in it, and there may be many reasons to discontinue.

  3. Jo says:

    (My husband won’t let me watch that movie anymore b/c I cry like a baby at the end! ;) )

    I agree that most modern romance stories present an unbalanced and unbiblical model.

    Do you, then, not believe that there is a place for entertainment in the Christian’s life?

    • Rina says:

      Jo, you’re asking some great questions that are going to end up needing to be answered in their own blog post! :) You bring up some “food for thought,” both in this comment and the last one. I’m going to think and pray on this and get back with you, as soon as I can.

  4. Rina says:

    Jo, thanks for asking such great questions. I’ve been thinking on them for a while now, and here is my response:

    http://intostillwaters.com/2010/09/16/entertainment-does-it-have-a-place-in-the-christian-life/

  5. Again, completely agree. I myself had to cut out romance novels (my weakness were the Amish based ones by Beverly Lewis, isn’t that sad?), because I caught myself becoming discontent with my own “life of romance” with my husband. Life for us has become much better since rooting that out of my heart!

  6. Patti says:

    Rina, so glad you touched on this. Our Pastor actually preached on this about a month ago. Trust me he even talks about how he thinks Jesus followers should have the hottest sex of all (in marriage) but he said that his wife came to him after reading reviews and he spoke about how she was not going to read it, (not beccause he told her not to, but because she didn’t feel right.) I haven’t gotten into it at all, but I know a lot of people who have and I don’t think that is good for #1 marriages, and #2 singles. He basically said that it is like porn and this is what I got from your blog. One of the main things about porn besides lusting after other people is the fact that when people watch it, they expect more from their spouses and mainly they expect perversion from their spouses. I think a healthy sexlife is awesome, Brandi and Tyson for instance, but outside of marriage, NOOOO. I have not been perfect in my life, but now as a person trying to live a godly life, there are so many things that affect how you look differently at things. Steve also preached about how just because we fall in love with someone doesn’t mean we should marry them. We have to pray about who God is going to send for our mate. He talked about being friends first and then if it is right, love will come after that. Sometimes when we are thinking we married the wrong person, we should not look at whether there was someone else out there that would have been better, but the fact that God placed that person in your life at the right time for a reason. My husband is not romantic, he is however,, a wonderful provider and father. I’d rather know I don’t have to worry about those things than get a dozen roses for no reason. He does things every once in a while, but I don’t expect them because of experience.

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