My questions for the men:
1. In what ways do romantic books/songs/movies portray men emotionally that do not accurately represent how men think or feel in your opinion?
2. In what ways do romantic books/songs/movies portray men verbally that do not accurately represent how men express themselves?
3. What romantic expectations – or expectations of men – do these forms of media create in women that are difficult for men to meet in real-life relationships/marriage?
4. What things seem the most unrealistic about the male characters who are romantic leads in romantic movies/songs?
5. Have you ever seen a romantic movie where you thought that masculinity was portrayed in an accurate way? If so, what was it that seemed authentic in the portrayal to you?
6. What unrealistic expectations of men or what unrealistic romantic expectations do you find that women have (even if not from romantic media).
7. What things are romantic to men?
Please carefully, prayerfully consider what these men have to say. Are we allowing fiction and fantasy to alter our expectations of men? How does fictional romance impact our understanding of men in real life? What mindsets might we need to change to see men in a healthy, godly, realistic way?
3) Women are given the expectation that all men are capable of great spontaneous romance. That we can think up, on the spot, something that will sweep a woman off her feet. That we always know the right thing to say, and that if we make a mistake or error when talking with a woman, we will always for sure know the right words to fix it.
6) Women seem to expect that men will “just get them.” That men can read their minds. That men will know what women want without the woman ever having to making it clear. Pretty much all women believe that men think just like them (the converse is also true). Most women believe that men can sacrifice and sacrifice all day, every day – without consequence. That we won’t tire or decide that women aren’t worth it. Most women believe that men want the same things from them that women want from men. Or if we don’t, it makes us “lesser.”
It doesn’t fit exactly in one of your points, but here is another thing worth mentioning:
One of the most toxic effects of the romantic genre is that it instills in women the idea that any woman can get the man of her dreams. That Mr. Perfect is just waiting around the corner. Effectively romantic art makes the Perfect the Enemy of the Good. A man who is “good enough” isn’t actually good enough for her. Romance tells her that she can do better. The result of this is that vast numbers of good men are ignored or turned down by women who think that they can do better. But the truth is that they can’t.
So many family members, with fathers being the worst, tell their daughters that they are Princesses. And that therefore they deserve a Prince. Unfortunately there aren’t enough Princes out there to match all the so-called Princesses (some Evangelical readers might be familiar with the term “Daughter of the King”- that is what I’m talking about). The end result is again that good men get passed over- often for life, but sometimes only until women get old and desperate. The union that follows rarely ends well.
Women can indeed place themselves in the role of the woman in a romantic movie. In the process they can develop that thinking- that a man can and should and will love them despite anything wrong that they may do. This is of course poisonous, as it often gives women a perceived license to act however they wish.
All the media fantasy that you describe– whether for men or for women– is a sugar-coated concentrate substituting for some uncoated and mixed experience. The problem is not that fantasy is necessarily unrealistic as far as it goes– God can give us some very sweet moments (cf Song of Songs)– but that in our real lives the things we like in the fantasies only come with other things missing from the fantasy that a spouse likes and that God likes.
A woman or man who expects to go straight to what s/he likes — even if it is actually there to be had– will be disappointed. A woman or man with those expectations and an aversion to mutuality will be disappointed and mystified. Because these aversions are often hidden from those who have them, they can be embittered by what seems to them to be unfair.
1. In the movies, they portray them as kind of feminine (making it as if the man’s opinion is not as important or not important at all as the women’s needs). It seems that the man has to prove himself for her to fall in love with him, instead of her loving him for who he is; he needs to do extra stuff and go out of the way. It’s OK to do that sometimes, but to get a woman to fall in love with him? That’s not right.
2. Men talk more about what she is and what’s needed for her in the movies, but never mentions what he needs… it’s centered around her rather than a give-take relationship.
3. It makes men seem like they have to become a fictional character, which they could never do, because the characters are written in the eyes of a woman. In our human hearts, we could never do that… it puts an unrealistic expectation in his wife that an imperfect man could never meet.
4. Muscularly fit, poetic talk, 100% selfless acts, and heroic deeds. A man cannot slay a dragon that doesn’t exist.
5. I guess the only one I could say per se is Titanic. A husband SHOULD lay his life down for his wife, so that part. (They weren’t married, but…)
6. Their man needs to be a Prince Charming… he needs to always know what she’s thinking and know all of her feelings without even being told.
7. Video games… Nah, just joking! What’s romantic to a man is being encouraged to do his best, but not when his wife is telling him his flaws in a disrespectful way to force him to do better. Going out to dinner, whether it’s fast food or a five star restaurant… just time alone with his wife is meaningful. Getting it on is romantic too.
I think you’ve covered this topic very well in the past so, if I may, I’ll add just one point. The best way for any woman to start a relationship ( a real relationship, not an imaginary one) with a man is to first and foremost acknowledge him as human. That what she’s accepting is nothing less than a human being who has flaws. It’s when you think you just got Mr. Right and he does something wrong that you find the pain unbearable.
So remember, this is a human being before anything else.
In Christian circles there are a TON of “Christian” romance novels on the market now. Evidently its a expanding, booming market. Yes, it is geared to women, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Also, in light of the recent boom of decent, slick-produced “Christian” movies, and further yet, even our Christian pop-stars today have tattoos, and even ooze a sexuality that was unheard of a generation ago.
For the most part, I don’t really have a problem with this. It’s not the secular world, but it’s an underlying theme that CAN be taken out of context, and it has not helped relations between Godly men and women who WANT dating, love, marriage, children….that kind of thing today. This is where I don’t think it is helping. It could be setting expectations of what a Godly man is and what and how he is supposed to behave, what he is supposed do for a living, act and look like. Including his personality, and what words he says and when.
I – out of curiosity – browsed the titles, the cover art, the “write up” of many of these Christian-romance-novels on the back cover at a local Christian book shop here in my city. The Christian romance section was bigger than the Bible section in this bookstore. Thousand of titles! I even purchased two of these books and read them to see what “the big deal was.”
Every story seems to take place on the American frontier, post-civil war (1870’s). The Alaskan Klondike in the same period is another common setting. The heroine is holy, a Christian, but she just doesn’t understand everyone else around her, and how close-minded they are. She of course is beautiful, and has been passed up by Christian men because of her “strong independent will” and she never feels “the spark” with any of the men in her community of faith.
The love interest just gets out of the US Calvary (or leaves a roving band of cowboys / gets off a ship after traveling the world and decides he needs to settle down, but with who?) and of course they meet, and he never is accepted by the culture / church she comes from. Of course in the end, she is right, everyone else was wrong about the man she loves. She knew from day one, he was “the one” (soulmate). He of course is very tall, muscular, nice head of hair, and has a strong, solitary rebellious nature.
In the two stories I read, the love interest doesn’t even become a Christian. He may go to church with her once, or pray with her once – but I really didn’t see any conviction by the Holy Ghost. I really didn’t see repentance. I didn’t see a “turning away” from his past. Everyone else in the story had to change their opinions about him.
The love interest didn’t have to change. Neither did the heroine.
The cover art on all these novels doesn’t have “Fabio” on them but they evoke a sense of freedom, of longing, of standing alone….right or wrong. There is no foul language. No pre-martial sex (close enough in one of the stories I read, though). It’s safe in this realm, wholesome in all aspects which makes it marketable as “Christian” because the heroine professes “Jesus” and “God” in the story.
I think women need to take romance novels, romantic comedy’ movies and stuff like this for “what it is” A fantasy. It’s not the real world. To expect differently is a bit unfair, and maybe that’s why a lot of Christian women are single today as well.
The world we live in as Christians IS fallen. Isn’t perfect and that is why we profess Christ. To heal, help, and bring all our gifts and acts in the name of Christ.
From the reading of the two books, what I came to the conclusion was this: Our Christian culture has been fully integrated with “the worlds” view on romantic love, and romance. Endearment. Meeting the perfect guy, and God having created that one person especially and totally for you, to complete you. Everything that you have wished for can only be found in this one person. We Christians today tend to take the world’s view on this and then just add “God” to it, and it seems to make it okay.
It’s called the “soulmate syndrome” and anyone…Christian men or women denying its in our Christian-culture should really take a hard look at the graying pews in their church today. Not trying to be harsh, but its a truth.
Most of us know (and I am sure many of the readers of Christian-romance know as well) that there is only ONE person who can complete us. It’s our Savior, Jesus Christ.
A man can never accomplish what Christ did, and who Jesus was and IS. A woman can never fulfill the heart of man the way Jesus did to his followers (Disciples). Notice The Bible never makes ONE mention of what Mark, Luke, or Matthew’s wives “thought” about their husbands following Jesus. He was the completion. It was something that their wives could not even fulfill, or live up to. Same for husbands.
It’s just the concept of this today that causes me some frustration, and how we (meaning all) have let the world dictate to us what it means to be a Christian in love, or those feelings of endearment that we all so much want; but somehow the world has defined it FOR US, and we as Christians allowed it in, and its making too many single Christians…..single.
Is the idea of being Soul Mates healthy, biblical, and/or realistic?