…And unto my second post of the evening that has in part been inspired by “Christian Romantic Fiction”. Just a quick observation. All the protagonists in the books that I have come across are all European White. (Except for this one.) Even the ones that are supposed to be set in Biblical times and periods. Wow. Hmm. Now even though I don’t read this myself, I’m asking myself whether there could be a very obvious gap in the market… Thoughts, anybody? (I know that there is of course lots of “African-American” fiction, much of which will undoubtedly be Christian, but I have not ventured into that world at all and I have not seen any of it, at all, acknowledged on these predominantly White Christian fiction author and review sites.)
I must admit that I was also wondering whether I could try my own hand at writing some cough Christian romantic fiction of my own cough, especially if there is such an obvious gap in the market. But I just don’t feel it; I just could not pull together made-up sugarcoated stories like this, because I don’t feel that they could be as edifying or instructive as real life stories of real life people. So theoretically you could read hundreds of these stories without truly learning anything more about how real people work in real life, or how to handle your own real relationships. How could that be a productive use of anyone’s time, mine or the reader’s? OK, I must admit that I may already have tried my hand at this – ha ha ha – but that was different because it was after all an adaptation of a Fairy Tale…and my protagonists were also White (because it was easier!) – and it wasn’t particularly Christian, actually! (I would link to it but…let’s just not go there!)
But that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about in this post!
This is the simple issue that I wanted to discuss in this post: Bearing in mind that I don’t actually read these stories, so I am not in any real position to talk authoritatively about this subject: I was asking myself: would the heroes (and heroines) of these stories actually make good spouses – in real life, that is? Obviously the women who write these stories (and it is overwhelmingly women, of course – or men who work with female pennames and post up photos of their wives as their author photos!) – anyway these people will of course write their stories to give their characters “happily ever after” endings – unless the story starts within marriage, in which case there will probably be a few character lessons and obstacles in the path to the “Happily Ever After”. I’m sure that rare is the case where the ending is “Angrily and Endlessly Arguing ever after” or “Ever Teetering on the Brink of Divorce Ever After”. Obviously it is not primarily supposed to be “realistic”, rather it is like movies – primarily feel good entertainment, to give a satisfying mental buzz at the end.
So obviously in the stories they are triumphantly happy. But what would it look like to be married to such people in real life? And then I also ask myself: the scenarios that lead up to their eventual marriages – would those be good foundations for marriage in real life? From what I already knew, and what I have been able to glean, as in all good stories there is usually some hurdle, heartbreak or tragedy to overcome; as these are love stories, there are usually some twists along the path to their finally being able to get together. This is not what I am talking about as the foundation of their marriage. I’m talking more about the serious communication between these people, the friendship that they develop between them over the course of the story; their being real with one another. Approximately a week ago on this blog I linked to the 36 questions that will make you stay in love. In my post I described how I found this list of questions “laugh-out-loud” funny. That list of questions was written in response to this list of questions which apparently will make you fall in love in the first place, which I have not actually been able to bring myself to read, for fear of it just being too too cheesy! And yet the different between these two lists is so important. When I read the “Stay in love” list, while splitting my sides, I had cause to catch myself and think “this is real”. These are real, everyday, practical issues; these are the kind of things that truly cause frustration and irritation in marriage.
Whereas the “fall in love” questions are all more airy-fairy, poetic, philosophical. And yet these “deep issues” are the kind of issues that are addressed in romantic fiction, including Christian romantic fiction, I’m sure. I’m sure that in the books these characters are always able to eventually connect on a deep emotional level, but if such a relationship was to be transplanted to the real world, would these deep emotional connections result in marriages that are truly successful on an everyday, mundane basis? To be honest I myself am quite a deep person, and I crave that deep emotional connection with someone. And yet, I remind myself that I’ve also got to live in the real world, of bin days and arguments over house chores.
So question: if you wanted to find a man (as I do, naturally!) who could pull his weight in laundry duty as easily as he could pull you into his arms, or pull Bible verses from memory, what character traits would you look for before marriage? What would indicate that as well as being selfless and considerate about those big, overarching, profound, literature-worthy themes of life he would also be selfless and considerate in those innumerable tiny, daily issues of living together – those issues that mount up, and can possibly escalate to cause serious friction?
The answer to this for now is that “I don’t know”. However, I will be looking out for it, in all the interactions I have with people, and trying to keep my eyes as open as possible.