I am a big fan of romance novels. I love them. People getting together despite the odds, cheering on your favorite couples, all in the name of true love? What is not to like? Romance novels get a terrible name. For some reason admitting that you like them is like saying you are a brainless, simple girl who can’t do anything for herself.
You know who I blame for this? Feminism.
Thanks a lot.
But that isn’t my point.
Even though I love romance novels, I hate them at the same time. There is this trend of portraying unrealistic expectations of the opposite sex – men who are super heroes, not just physically, but emotionally. Both strong and sensitive in a perfect balance that all men should be able to achieve.
This is crap.
You know who writes these men? WOMEN. Women who perpetuate this idea of conditional love. They are doing us NO favors.
Let’s take a look at Twilight. I am only using this as an example because this is a book everyone is familiar with. (Before you get out your pitchfork, I am a fan. I have read all the books and seen all the terrible movies.)
Edward loves Bella so much he can’t stay away from her, BUT he wants to kill her all the time. Really? A real man would never put her in danger and he would walk away if he was harming her. THAT is true love. Sacrificing yourself for your love.
Edward is manic depressive, self hating, impulsive, and co-dependant. And this is what we tell young girls is love. Plenty of novels take this route: he’s rich, he’s strong, he’s the best at some physical activity. HE WILL SAVE YOU. But those are not the qualities I teach my son to have, or what I pray over him.
What these books need to say is he is steady, he is wise, he is disciplined, he is committed. But that doesn’t sell novels. That is where we, as women, have been fooled. That is not love.
My husband is the least romantic person I know. He doesn’t show me he loves me with grand, sweeping gestures and extravagant gifts or long talks about his feelings. Actually, that last one is laughable. He has never saved me from scary vampires or werewolves. BUT…
My husband goes to work every day and works sixty hours a week to provide for our family so I can stay home with our children. My husband comes home. EVERY. NIGHT. My husband doesn’t make decisions on impulse, but on prayer. My husband chose to marry a single mother and committed to a life with not just me, but my son. He is my best friend, and sometimes I want to punch him in the . . . arm.
Love is not a feeling that swells inside your chest or puts butterflies in your stomach. Love is the choice that you wake up every morning and look at the man lying next to you with stinky breath and say, I love you despite your pungent aroma.
But we have been lied to by novels – the cancer of Twilight – and by our own desire to feel the emotion that we somehow correlate with love. I love romance novels, but if I ever compare a fictional character to my husband, I will never pick up another one again.
Novels are fiction. Just as they should be.
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church, giving himself up for her.”
My husband gives himself up for me in little ways every day. And that is love. Quiet, unassuming, delicate, and committed. Not in flowers, but in the security of knowing that he is always there, even when I don’t want him to be. Not like Edward, or Heathcliff, or Darcy.