The Fiction of Romance

Post 1 of 4 in Realities & Fiction of Romance Series

Last fall we switched our TV provider and with it came access to a new channel—which has sucked more hours from my life than I want to admit. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s many a night was spent with this channel. I am a sucker for Christmas romance movies and this channel had them available in droves throughout the season. Actually this channel has mastered the feel-good, lightweight, family-friendly, romance movie and, as cheesy as they can be, I still keep going back for more!

I actually prefer to watch these above most other genres—much to my husband’s dismay! He and my son love the fast- paced movies, like Star Wars and Avengers, with connections and plots interweaving themselves throughout complicated story lines and lots of action. While I enjoy a good action movie every once in a while I am finding the greater the intensity level of the movie the longer I stay keyed up about it afterwards. My brain connects things and thinks about complicated life issues every day – so I don’t find it relaxing to put that much emotional energy into watching TV…The Hunger Games disturbed me for weeks! My mom new TV would be an issue for me when, as a child, I would pray for the characters…sometimes I still have the urge to pray for them!
When I was in high school and college I liked deep movies that made me think, cry, and inspired me in some way. Now, at almost 40, I’ve experienced enough life to know that it’s often heavy and difficult, with so much more gray than all the black and white boxes we would like to put everything in. I don’t find it relaxing to watch all those realities for entertainment anymore.

While I have Netflix-binged on 3 to 4 series over the last couple of years, I really don’t want to feel like catching up on TV is an item on my ‘to do’ list, so I try to avoid getting sucked into any new series. I don’t want to give up so many hours of my life watching someone else’s story instead of living my own.

This all brings me back to the new channel and cheesy romance or romantic-comedy movies. I watch these because in two hours it will all be wrapped up with a happy ending bow and I can move on—no praying necessary! No additional emotional energy spent, and my brain didn’t have to work hard…that’s when I actually feel like I’ve relaxed.

There is a problem with having an overly large diet of romance stories, weather on screen or in a book—they have the side effect of discontentment and unrealistic expectations. Our entire culture feeds us a steady diet of ridiculous relationship expectations. I have spent my life watching, reading and studying relationships—yet even I find myself wistful for things only found in the movies when I have watched a few too many of them.

February is the month of love so I thought it would be an excellent time to look at some of the fictions and realities of romance. There are so many false ideas that swirl around us on a regular basis and unrealistic expectations we’ve let ourselves develop, all of which steal the joy that can be found in our relationships. So during the next couple of weeks we will look at the feelings, the fighting, and the fantasy of romance. My prayer is that you will discover a renewed sense of what real love looks like as we go. I hope you will join me for the journey.

How much of the romantic genre do you spend time in?
How does it impact your expectations and desires?
How have you been disappointed by romance in life?