Today I’m sharing the second of a miniseries on romantic misconceptions—our misunderstandings in the realm of romance and romantic fiction. Who wants romance? Uh…almost everybody, if the dozens of twists on the romance genre offer any indication. A romance sub-genre pops up under practically every fiction category in existence.
For example, take romantic suspense (admittedly, one of my favorites) or romantic adventure. How about YA romance… Christian/inspirational romance… historical romance… fantasy romance… or vampire/werewolf/zombie romance, anyone? (That’s a whole post in itself, for another day.)
However, as both readers and writers, we tend to hold some mistaken notions about romance in life and on the pages (or screens) of a book. Last week I talked about:
- Misconception 1: Romance is Sex
- Misconception 2: Romance is Not Sex
- Misconception 3: Romance is Problematic
So, continuing on where we left off…
Misconception 4: Romance is Problem-free
True love conquers all. The amazing heroine always gets together-forever with her perfect match.
Whoa, buzz, brake. A slippery pile of sentimental slush lies ahead. The ideal of a never-ending honeymoon is blatantly far-fetched, and I’m sure we all know that, right? In our heads, perhaps.
But on the other hand, in our hearts, we long to believe the ’70’s cliché that love is never having to say, “I’m sorry.” How I wish that were true, but in reality, love keeps on apologizing and forgiving, hundreds of times over.
Not only do we face relational problems every day, but life itself throws regular curveballs that affect the graciousness of our attitudes. Impatient (and ahem, lazy) generation that we are, we so often want to taste the fruit and admire the flowers without investing five minutes of effort or five drops of sweat into garden work. And if I encounter bugs or weeds or uphill toil, it’s not for me. I’m out of here.
In books, of course, an obstacle-free romance means there’s not much of a plot. But a well-told story can benefit and enrich our relationships by modeling godly ways to handle stress, conflicts, and misunderstandings.
Because in real life, the obstacles don’t end with the story. I believe God wants us enjoy lives of peace and joy, but the truth is, for most people, it takes a problem-filled journey to arrive there.
Misconception 5: Romance is the End
Romantic love isn’t everything. It’s not the end-all of life, for life holds so much more. While I wish that “happily ever after” experience for every one of my friends, I also hope we focus as much on making other people happy as on sucking the juice of life dry.
The goal or “end” of romantic love is more about looking in the same direction than gazing constantly into each other’s eyes. A common purpose and a shared dream in life usually serve us better than pressuring our loved one to keep us continually pumped.
Neither is romantic love the end of the story. In books, I always desire a happy ending. In fact, I wouldn’t write anything else—life already holds so much sadness, and I prefer to encourage and uplift. Perhaps that’s why I tend to work in series, where the characters’ story goes on past the kiss and the altar. Getting together in the final chapter only leads to the beginning of the next book.
Because LIFE goes on after “The End.” True love shouldn’t have an ending. “Here comes the bride” is only the opening line in the symphony of life.
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning…” said the Preacher of Ecclesiastes (7:8). How many people celebrate their Golden Anniversary with the same sense of delight and adventure as their 1st month? A few, if they make it there at all. My point is, shouldn’t the end surpass the beginning?
“Love is not just about finding the right person, but about creating the right relationship. It’s not about how much love you have in the beginning, but about how much love you have built til the end.” –Author Unknown
Plenty has gone awry with romantic fiction, but I’m still a Christian romantic. Rather than rant about the sappy unreality, let’s hold out for the sweet and sigh-triggering romances that mirror the Greatest Love Story of All Time.