Romance Novel Love
Today is my wedding anniversary. I thought it would be a good blog topic since it is, in fact, a celebration of a happily-ever-after.
I’m very proud of my marriage. Not because it’s perfect. I know some people are blessed with meeting people who feel like soul mates right away, spouses who “complete” them and with whom they never argue.
This is not my marriage. I think those folks with perfect marriages are fortunate and I wish them well. But I secretly feel more proud of the marriage that I’ve got- one forged in fire and honed by relentless hammering by opposing views.
You see, I’ve got a romance novel marriage. People unfamiliar with our genre think that a “romance” is all hearts and flowers. That I write about the joys of great sex and exotic dates, picnics in the countryside and dancing until dawn. Whereas readers of the genre know that the exotic dates often end in tense disagreements and the countryside picnics only lead to the revelations of backstories so painful that they make relationships challenging. And while there is absolutely great sex, it always complicates an already difficult union.
Facebook has a status for these relationships. “It’s Complicated.” But it wouldn’t be a romance novel is there weren’t complications. My marriage has been full of them – conflicts, disagreements, challenges, demands and a few hurled epithets.
Yet romance novel characters work through the complications. They battle them and lose, but they go back and battle them again until they find a way through the difficulties. I love romance novels for just that reason. They aren’t about escapism for me. They aren’t about finding a soul mate so perfect for you that you don’t need to change. Romance novels are about finding ways to let love grow. The search for common ground that lets each partner be a strong individual while being part of a strong partnership. That feels real and relatable to me. I know that relationship because I have one!
Why, some folks might wonder, would you want a relationship filled with conflict? Well, I’m not sure that’s what I set out to find. But in a complicated world filled with complex decisions, we don’t often find smooth sailing with anyone in our lives – parents, siblings, friends or dates. And a spouse spends more time with you than anyone else in your life. Conflict is inevitable. I’m a modern woman with extensive professional goals in addition to my personal ones. I have high expectations (it’s the Virgo in me!) and too often, I think that I’m right (you see how I don’t say I’m always right? Marriage taught me that.). How many people could live with me and love me, year in and year out, even when I’m not at my best? Even when I’m at worst?
That’s where the compromise and the love comes in. Romance novels taught me about this long before I met my husband. But it wasn’t until I met him that I began to want to make those compromises for the sake of the brass ring. No, not the wedding ring. The real prize. The hug at the end of a wretched day. The joke that makes you laugh right at a moment when tensions were running high. A hand held while you watch your son take his first steps. Score his first touchdown. Drive his first car.
Those moments are so precious. All the more so for having come through the fire to share them together. I know that a happily ever after isn’t happy every day. For me, it’s a wonderful state of grace that you earn through commitment and hard work. Dedication and loyalty. And yes, a few arguments to clear the air. Those obstacles make the precious moments all the sweeter. I’m so grateful I’ve had the chance to hold the hand of the one I love for seventeen years while we share them.
***You can see what I learned from romance novels. What about you? Maybe you thought ton was a unit of measurement until you read a Regency. Or perhaps you learned all about military aircraft from your favorite romantic suspense authors. What has romance taught you? I’ve got an advance copy of my September Blaze, MAKING A SPLASH for a random poster.