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The Fantasy of Romance

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This is probably going to sound a bit extreme.  It is certainly up to you what  you do with this area of your life.   I am not saying you must do what I do.

But I am saying – this is something to think about and pray about.

“Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial.”  I Corinthians 6:12

I, personally, gave up romantic movies, romantic novels and love songs.

WHY,  you ask?

There is not necessarily anything wrong with some of these types of media…

BUT –

I ended up feeling deprived, resentful and/or jealous of the emotions the character gets to feel and the romance she has in these books and movies…  I started creating expectations that my real life man would treat me like the men in books, movies and songs do … then I got myself into trouble.

  • This can be an issue for me even with Christian novels that are rated G.
  •  It can be a problem with Disney movies.
  • It can even be an issue if I am reading marriage books about what husbands are “supposed” to do, or listening to sermons about how husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her.  In fact, I do better kind of skipping over the commands for husbands even in the Bible and just focusing on what God asks me to do.

Focusing on what I want my husband to do differently and how I want him to change can easily create great discontentment in my heart.  I do much better to focus on the good things in him and to joyfully accept what he offers me and who he is right now, today.  I also do much better just to focus on MY roles in marriage, not his, and focusing on my sin and my obedience to God, not his.

I try to remember that

“Expectations  are premeditated resentment.”

SO MANY OF US EXPECT REAL LIFE MEN TO THINK, FEEL and TALK LIKE THE ROMANTIC LEAD IN THE MOVIES OR IN NOVELS –

but these books and movies create an artificial reality – a fantasy.

In fact, some people would go so far as to say that romantic movies/books are “emotional porn” for women.

And then, if you start getting into erotica – well – then you are dealing with lust.  That is sin.  Pure and simple.  It contaminates your mind, hurts your fellowship with God and distorts your expectations of what sex and intimacy should be like in marriage.

WHY?  ISN’T THAT A BIT HARSH?

PORN AND MEN

Well, porn teaches men to expect things of women physically, sexually and emotionally that are not real – that don’t represent actual women.  In fact, the more deeply a man goes into porn, the less satisfied he becomes with his real flesh and blood wife.  It can actually get to the point where a man cannot be aroused by his own wife, or any real woman – but only by increasingly hard core levels of porn.  Porn destroys marriages.

It sets up unrealistic expectations and delivers an ungodly outlet for sexuality.

It works like a drug, giving the user a huge hit of dopamine exactly like illicit drugs do.  Porn takes a man’s eyes and then it takes his heart.  He actually bonds with it instead of his wife.  It can be pretty difficult for a wife to respect a husband when he withholds himself from her in order to give himself to images of other women.  THAT HURTS DEEPLY.  Wives are understandably left with huge amounts of disrespect, resentment and bitterness.  That bitterness/resentment  also destroys marriages.

ROMANTIC MOVIES/BOOKS/SONGS

Romantic movies and books teach women to expect men to be something emotionally, verbally and romantically that doesn’t represent real men accurately.  These things set up false expectations and contribute greatly to covetousness, discontentment, lack of gratitude and ultimately  – to disrespect for our men.  Women also have a cocktail of “feel good” hormones that surge when we read about romance or watch something romantic.

We can become so in love with the idea of “Hollywood romance” in a world of fantasy that we can’t be satisfied by real romance in real life with a real man.

The other important issue to consider here is that these types of media promote worldliness and the pleasures of the flesh, not to mention they often depict and promote sin (depending on the particular book/movie).  As disciples of Christ, we are no longer friends with the world, but friends with God.  We are not to be polluted by the world anymore, but to have our eyes on things above.

HERE IS HOW ONE WIFE PUT IT:

I think this is a far bigger problem than is acknowledged. It is extremely important for women to guard their ability to be satisfied, to be pleased with what they have. Romance novels feed desires that have no outlet in real life. I avoid them for this reason. 

In marriage, a wife must learn to feed her gratitude, not her lust.

All romance should be owned by her husband, no matter how romantic he may or may not be. Otherwise you are cultivating a taste for other men (real or imagined).

Women complain all of the time about the way porn creates expectations for women that are unreasonable.

Romance novels and movies train a woman’s mind to want a dominant man who can magically guess what will please her and lead her to it before she has to say anything- and he is a top man, wealthy, handsome and he chose her! This is not the way it works in a Christian marriage. This is not the way it works in real life. This does not help Christian women properly value their husbands and the sacrifice and love that they show their wives and families.

Marriage is great at putting things in their proper place. A man gets sex from his one source, not from a constant flow of variety. Women get romance and leadership from one man, but it may not be exactly the way she wants it all of the time. She may actually just get the bare minimum in terms of dominance and romance and that is actually okay- if she can learn to be happy with that.

Romance novels are a way that a woman can be manipulated into feeling her leadership is necessary because if her husband was good at it, like the men in books are, he would be making her feel the way that the men in the books do. Of course this mainly operates at a subconscious level… but when you have weaned yourself from any artificial source of romance, it becomes clearer to you how it massively manipulates your romantic desires.

Supersizing of desire is a real problem.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

Many times, romantic movies/books help women create an idol of “feeling loved” or “feeling in love” that becomes the standard by which she measures men.

Feeling loved and being “in love” are awesome.  But when they become your entire goal – or these things become more important to you than the man you love, or more important than knowing and pleasing Christ – that is a HUGE problem.

If I think, “I MUST feel loved in this certain way or I cannot be happy and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get what I want…”  That is a BIG problem!

True contentment can be found only in Christ Jesus alone.  If I think I need something other than Him to be content – I need to allow God to search my heart.  There is very likely sin going on.

APPLICATION:

For me, anything that contributes to a spirit of discontentment, self-righteousness, pride, jealousy or unrealistic expectations has to go.  I don’t need help stumbling into sin!   I am perfectly capable of doing that on my own without any assistance.

Now, if I do happen to see a Disney movie or something, I am able to filter it and dissect the messages it is sending.  I still have to hear love songs when I work – don’t have a choice about that.  But I dissect the messages of those lyrics and compare them to Scripture and God’s truth.  I don’t even have a desire to read fiction anymore myself.  You know what?  I have so many more important things to do in the kingdom of God, so many ways I want to get to know God more intimately and I want to focus my energy on the real life romance I have and being thankful for my own husband – that I just don’t have the time to spend on fiction.

I personally would much rather spend my time in God’s Word, reading the ultimate Love Letter from Him.  That is seriously  MUCH more exciting than fictional romance to me now!

What about you?

Ask God to help you see your motives when you read and watch these things.  Ask Him to purify your heart and expectations to line up with His standards instead of lining up your heart with Hollywood.  Ask Him to give you wisdom about if there are things that may need to go from your life so that you can be more prepared to receive real riches and treasures.

If you can watch or read these things and not have any temptations – awesome!  But if you do have temptations to sin, then it is time to evaluate if this is a beneficial and God-honoring activity.

RELATED:

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50 thoughts on “The Fantasy of Romance

  1. Wow, God’s timing is perfect. I really needed to hear this… Not because I read Romance novels, or watch romantic movies, or fantasize, but because I am “comparing” how it used to be vs. how it is now. After 28 yrs of marriage, romance has definitely declined. My desires for intimacy have increased and his have decreased. My husband doesn’t even sleep with me. Stays up late (usually after midnite) to Skype with his “friend” (female) , then falls asleep on the couch and doesn’t bother to come to bed. Is it wrong for me to wish he invested in me and our marriage more than he invests in this other relationship? He tells me its just a friendship and they share common interests. I have given up hoping he’ll come up to bed – Cause I get disappointed when it doesn’t happen, night after night. I told him, if he wants to sleep with his wife, he knows where I am. I need to pray, cause feeling of resentment are coming up as I am writing this.

    1. Amy,

      You are not wrong to want your husband to spend more time with you instead of a female friend on Skype. That does not sound like a wise choice that he is making. I believe he is not protecting his heart and the marriage.

      How long has this been going on?

      What is your relationship with Christ? What is his relationship with Christ?

      How is the rest of your relationship going?

      Any addictions, mental health issues, infidelity, abuse, etc.?

      Much love to you! I am praying for you!

      1. They met on Facebook in February. We are both born again Christians, we pray together, worship together, but he also does it with her (more). I am learning to be a Peaceful wife and have made major changes in my relationship with Christ and my husband. We started taking a marriage class at church – his idea. Hopefully this class with bring to light “why” that other relationship is wrong as it relates to our marriage. I agree with you, he is not protecting his heart or our marriage. He tells me to stop bringing it up…it’s just hard.

        1. Amy,
          I have very strong convictions about not married people not having close friendships with members of the opposite sex. It just opens the door wide to temptation. But – you can only control you, not him.

          I am sure it is VERY hard. It would be for me!!!! Glad you are taking a marriage class and that he wanted to do it.

          What does he say he wants in your marriage or wants you to change, other than wanting him to stop talking to this other woman?

          What can you do to bless this man and meet his needs for respect – just to please Jesus – not expecting anything in return?

          Praying for you!

    2. I am not married but these these things do bother me. I just don’t know how to have a balance. I do not have a problem with fiction books because I don’t read them. But music and movies. Big problem. I’m sorry if I commented to someone other that April I could not find a place to leave a comment. There is no comment option.

  2. Romance novels were a big problem for me years ago. Yes, they can become a huge stumbling block to contentment in marriage. I also agree they can be emotional porn to women. Do wives fantisize about their OWN husbands will reading these books? Probably not. I know I didn’t. Thanks be to God, I was able to cut these out of my life and focus on the blessing of the REAL man God gave me. Comparison is an ugly game. I’ve even stopped getting magazines on home decorating because these fed my discontent of what I have. I spent too much time wishing for things to be different instead of thanking God for what He has already given. Thank you, April, for bringing this important topic to our attention.

  3. Great post as always, April. It’s interesting to think of romance material in comparison with porn. When you think of it in those terms you realize that it’s just an empty way to fulfill a desire for love, because men experience love more through the physical and women through the emotional. I’ve never really thought of it in that way, but it is so true! I pray we can all keep our hearts pure for our husbands and not get caught up in the expectations these things bring. Many blessings to you and all the readers today! 🙂

    1. Holly,

      It is kind of shocking to compare porn and romantic books/movies/songs at first. But then, when you see the purpose of porn – and how it becomes this addictive and illicit substitute to meet a man’s legitimate sexual needs outside of his marriage – romantic books and movies definitely can accomplish that same thing in us as women. Just like porn can leave a man dissatisfied and discontent with his wife physically, romantic books/movies can leave a woman dissatisfied and discontent with her husband emotionally – even spiritually.

      Heavy stuff, isn’t it!?!? 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Needed to hear this sooo much right now. Very hard to let go of the expectations we have and what the reality of marriage truly is. Thanks for this

  5. You are absolutely right. While I don’t avoid all romantic-type movies and music, I never really liked romance novels to begin with. I am really careful about what I watch/listen to and when I do watch and listen to romantic type music/movies. But they are definitely not my go-to for when I am down, depressed, frustrated with my husband, or when I need alone time. When something is causing me to stumble, I get rid of it or cut it out of my life. Sometimes it is harder than other times but I want to do whatever I can to protect my marriage.

    My husband & I make it a point to discuss issues brought up in shows/movies we watch. I also like to journal frequently about my thoughts, feelings, ideas, desires, expectations, and concerns so I can stay in tune with my inner voices and I’m aware of issues in my heart and our marriage quickly so they can be resolved. If something in a movie/song/book has triggered this, then I examine the merit of having that something in my life.

  6. I learned personally that reading such things does lead to resentment because those things make young females believe that they’ll find that perfect man and live happily ever; in reality there is no perfect man let alone there are a few good men that seem to elude us if we are looking too hard.

    This is what King Solomon warned when reading books, he knew that there was no end in forms of literature but, we need to be selective in what we read at all times because Romance novels are ones that can lead to resentment for, we try too hard to find that dream man only to find that he’ll never come for, he’s not real.

    I learned that if I get a potential suitor that has four out of the five characteristics that I am looking for then I am doing great but, so far I’ve found a suitor that has three out of the five characteristics that I want but, I am sure over time he’ll change and gain the other two that I desire.

    Thank you for this lovely post!

  7. So true! I’ve done the same thing! At first it seemed SO extreme because it is so normal to sit down with girlfriends and watch “chick flicks”.

    But I recognized how it was causing me to stumble (movies, Christian novels, and love songs!) and saw the similarity of how it equates to men watching porn. Talk about a plank in my eye! We can be so judgmental of someone else’s sin while doing the same, or worse!

    So thankful God revealed that to me! And so many other things! He has been cleansing me of this filth and sin I have allowed to take over! He has called me to holiness and purity, and I know He desires to continue working on me to prepare me for the restoration of our marriage!

    I love that you continually post truth that Christian wives so desperately need to hear! Please keep my dear hubby and I in your prayers!

  8. Another lovely post. 🙂 Manly romance in real life is FAR better than any fictional/commercial idea. A man who cares for me will certainly and easily outperform a faceless entity trying to manipulate and profit from a large group of women. May all ladies be blessed with open eyes and grateful hearts. 🙂

  9. I found I had the same problem, even with Christian romance novels. I noticed I became more unhappy with my husband while I read them, & maybe it was the Holy Spirit that gently pulled me away from wanting to read those kinds of stories anymore.
    I watched a video on YouTube called The Science of Pornography Addiction. It’s like a 3 minute dry-erase board lesson that cuts to the heart of what it does to your brain. I recommend it.

  10. April-

    I think that there are many kinds of lust.

    One definition of lust is a desire that overcomes you. You can lust for food, for money, power, sex, or… the feel-good hormones from reading romance novels.

    I think women are more susceptible to emotional lust and men are more susceptible to sexual lust, but I think they are equally sinful, in that they both prevent a person from living right.

    Here’s an interesting thought, could gambling be a sort of “financial porn”?

    Before there were multi million dollar lotteries, the average person had no real cause to imagine he might become obscenely rich.

    The proliferation of lottery options now means that the lotto ticket is a kind of “financial playboy magazine”. It gives the person a token, or point of fixation to imagine himself becoming rich. And we all know how chronic lotto players are usually the poorer citizens.

    Just another kind of lust, I would say.

  11. I would consider marriage counseling and talk about why your husband feels the need to talk to a female on facebook. It is the proverbial elephant in the room and it does allow a doorway into temptation that should not exist in a marriage. God commands husband to love and protect their wives, and part of that is respecting her too, and quite simply behavior like this is disrespectful.

  12. This is a great article…it is definitely dangerous to start comparing your husband to other men, real or fictional.
    But I have a different perspective on the romantic songs/movies/books.
    When my husband and I watch a romantic movie together (skip the inappropriate scenes!), I actually feel MORE love for him. The love between the characters reminds me of the love I have for my husband, and it fills me with joy! (The Notebook is “Our” movie, because our real-life love story is similar…my parents tried to keep us apart)
    Every cute love song I hear on the radio (especially those 50’s tunes) makes me think of my husband, and I wish that I could kiss him right then. I sing it loud, as if I’m singing to him, miles away at work.
    My husband is certainly NOT perfect!
    He has a temper…he doesn’t always let me get what I want…he doesn’t write me love poems, or always express his love vocally…and he unfortunately isn’t yet a Christian…but the sweet things that he DOES do are enough to make me feel like I married Prince Charming, and that we are living a fairy-tale romance.
    Maybe I’m a sap…or my head isn’t quite in reality…but my perfectly imperfect husband makes me feel like I’m living my own sweet romance! : )

    Romantic entertainment is not good for you if it gives you feelings of envy and disappointment, rather than happiness and thankfulness.
    But for some, it may be a positive experience.

  13. As a Christian wife you must accept that you have no way out if your husband is not cheating on you or abusing you. You can do all that God wants you to do but that does not mean your husband will ever love you, romance you, take care of you, or even talk to you. You are not required to find satisfaction in your husband’s disobedience to God’s word but that does not entitle you to your own sin. As long as he consents to live with you, your only hope for change is in the Lord. Maybe your God honoring pursuit of God will sway your husband’s future actions, but that may never be the case. Find a God ordained way to cope and stay in constant prayer. Let the day’s own trouble be enough for the day, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Read non-fiction books, educate yourself, stay away from marriage, love, romance, or any media of the sort, it will only remind you of what you want and don’t have. There is a purpose for all things and if God wants your husband to change, he will. Until then, give it to God and move on with your life.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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