I don’t know about you, but I love a good, old-fashioned love story. Boy meets girl, he sweeps her off her feet, they fall madly in love and live happily ever after. What’s not to love?
Unfortunately, the problem with romance movies (and romance books and television shows…) is that if you watch too many of them, it may just start affecting your own marriage as well–and not in a good way.
Oh sure, they seem normal enough on first glance. It is perfectly normal to meet a man, fall in love, experience a conflict, overcome it, and get married. But all too often, romantic movies only give us an over-simplified or romanticized version of events–and our brains don’t always fully realize that.
In romantic movies, the problems are never very big and they never last very long. The couple doesn’t have to fight for their marriage; they simply wait a few days and everything works itself out in time. They don’t solve real problems; they just conquer a minor battle. Everything always works out in the end.
And not only that, the characters are often unrealistic. Both are usually pretty likable, without any major character flaws. Forgiveness is always easy; after all–the couple loves each other! The woman is always pretty and the man always does his best to sweep her off her feet. Any differences they have usually end up being nothing more than a minor quirk the two can laugh about later.
No, real life doesn’t always work that way.
Instead, real life is full of real people who have real problems. They have huge fights and they wonder how they will ever make it through. They don’t always grow old together, and a simple glance or well-timed fond memory simply isn’t enough to fix every single problem.
And yet, when we watch romantic comedy after romantic comedy, that’s exactly what we expect to happen. Shouldn’t loving each other be enough? Shouldn’t we be able to easily solve every problem? Shouldn’t we be happy?
Whether you realize it or not, when you watch tons of romantic comedies, it can have an effect on your mindset. It can set you up for discontent and disconnect when you realize that your real life and your real marriage don’t, and probably never will, measure up.
The truth is, marriage isn’t always happy. And when we start to see the plot lines of romantic movies as “normal,” suddenly our marriage doesn’t seem so normal. It seems like something is wrong, but we don’t know what it is. We don’t know how to solve real problems–we’ve never seen it done before. What do you mean you can’t just wait a few days til everything works itself out?
Now of course, this is oversimplifying things quite a bit. Romantic movies aren’t horrible, and watching a few is pretty unlikely to ruin your marriage. But, I do think that we need to be careful that, when we watch them, we enjoy them for what they are–a story.
Your life is never going to look like a romantic movie. It’s not supposed to, and expecting it to is only setting yourself up for failure. You will have heartbreaks. You will have problems. You will wonder how you will ever make it through. Real life problems don’t always have an easy solution.
But that’s okay. Real life is far more beautiful than any story anyways–as long as you learn to accept and appreciate it for what it is–quirks and all.
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