I have a confession to make - oh yes, here I go again.I used to read mountains and mountains of Mills and Boon. You may never have read one, but you've probably heard about them. Tragic I know. My mother loved them too, so she never saw the harm in me reading them. I would. I don't want my children brought up on these types of books (hope I am not standing on some offended toes - but hey we all have our own flavour).
I know that this type of reading can lead to expectations that cannot be satisfied by my husband. The happy ever after - perfect orchestrated moments - moments only found in movies or books like these - and the alpha male (yes you know the one - always good looking, always successful and most of the time fairly wealthy too).
I did some research as I am no expert (seriously!), except in watching chick-flicks which I confess (OK this is the second confession) are some of my favourite movies. I love the happy ever after, the laughter, the fun - and yet at the back of my mind something always bothers me a little about these - and sometimes they bother me a lot!
But where does this leave my husband and my relationship?
Psychologist Dr. Juli Slattery reports she is seeing more and more women “clinically addicted” to romantic books, and that for many women these novels promote dissatisfaction with their real relationships. Some experts claim there are parallels between what happens to a man when he watches pornography and what happens to a woman when she reads a romance book. While other experts say addiction may be too strong a word, sex addiction expert Paula Hall agrees that romance books can become an “unhealthy preoccupation.”
And it’s not just novels. In 2008, a study at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, in Scotland, found that romantic comedy films promoted unrealistic expectations when it comes to love.
Dr Moore says “Pornography and romance novels aren’t (or at least aren’t always) morally equivalent, but they ‘work’ the same way. Both are based on an illusion. Pornography is based on the illusion of a perfectly willing, always aroused partner without the ‘work’ of relational intimacy. Often romance novels or their film equivalents do the same thing for the emotional needs of women that pornography offers for the erotic urges of men.
“And in both cases, what the ‘market’ wants is sameness. Men want the illusion of women who look just like women but are, in terms of sexual response, just like men. Women want the illusion of men who are ‘real’ men, but, in terms of a concept of romance, are just like women. In both artificial eros and artificial romance, there is the love of the self, not the mystery of the other.”
Here are some interesting reads, of people who have struggled in their marriage due to their interest and preoccupation with romantic novels.
1. I was addicted to romance
2. Are you in love with romance?
Now that is not to say that I don't read romance and watch romance and in fact if you are lucky - you may even find a review on a book of that genre. However, it is definitely not the only thing that I read or watch. At any given time I am reading 5 to 10 books. Crazy I know but it depends what I am in the mood for - a biography, a devotional, parenting book, marriage book, homeschooling book, novel. But there is a healthy variety. The problem comes when we start to live more through the lives of the novels we read, rather than our own lives
I especially enjoy a good crime novel but my eldest son loves to read, and often will pick up one of my books and start reading. One day, I had one of Michael Connelly's novels lying around and saw Declan picking up the book to read the back and my first thought was to rip the book out of his hands and hide it under my pillow. The scenes are often very graphic as many murder scenes are, just not the right type of thing for a child to read. So I changed my reading philosophy. I never wanted to worry about them ever reading one of my books again. I decided to only choose books, that should they fall into the "wrong hands", it wouldn't matter.
I have realised that so much of what I read, can affect my marriage, my children, my mindset and my heart. And if it is going to affect them, I want to make sure that its in a good way!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What are your favourite books? Do you like mystery novels or does historical fiction capture your imagination? Who is your favourite author?