Gimme some sugar, baby

One recommendation for a creative block is to change something. For the example of a writing book: write in a new location like a coffee shop, or write by hand instead of on your computer. Changing something works for other types of mental blocks as well and that’s why people find solutions in the shower or on a walk instead of while staring at the problem. I used this recently and when I switched up my typical fiction genre I was able to finish a few books.

I ended up reading several rom-coms about contracts and fake relationships. I’m not really sure why being bound to a man by contract, who has control over you, especially what you wear and how you present yourself, who is also domineering and reticent to be vulnerable, could be enticing. But if there’s good sexual tension and pay off—bring on the contracts, and down with the patriarchy of marriage!

Romance is not my favorite genre, but it is a little like sugar. It can sweeten stories, or make them cloying. Although, the notion of intense unending romance is probably a hindrance to successful marriages in the modern world. I know some who hate the genre with more passion than ink could print. I won’t insult romance, I know too many people who adore it, but I do want to tease it a bit.

Army of Darkness was a movie my young husband loved. It took me years to appreciate his humor.

I’m all for escapism, that’s why I read and non-readers watch beautiful people fall in love on screen. However, I’ll roll my eyes if you tell me you don’t read fantasy or science fiction because you like reality. Speculative fiction is far more diligent to be grounded with rules and plausibility. So, as long as you realize you’re actually reading fantasy when you pick up a romance—I’m all on board.

However, my big intrigue about the romance genre is how much the main character (MC) is looking for a god-type. In the mainstream, heterosexual romances I’ve read, the typical heroine finds someone who loves her exactly how she is, hot mess and all. She’s worth more than she realizes or believes. (That part I like.) The hero always has incredible wealth, ingenuity or connections and fixes everything wrong in her life. Or he protects/rescues her from something. Unless it’s a slightly more feminist version where he just cheers her on while she pays back her own student loans. This is tricky though, because if he’s inept or passive, it probably isn’t a romance.

But then the hero becomes a controllable god (and who doesn’t want that?) because he has some flaw to conquer and she has the key. Just knowing her or the fear of losing her changes him. I don’t think as a culture we’d be too interested in books where the heroine had to change. It would be an uncomfortable read if he wanted her to lose weight and go to college before he would date her. Her change can involve uncovering hidden beauty, though. If all she needs to do is exchange her glasses for contacts and flatiron her hair, then we won’t mind. Well, all you with smooth hair won’t mind.

And we get to read it all, knowing that if they’d just have that one conversation already, there would be no story. Did I mention he’s incredibly rich and waiting to shower you with it? That you can mold him? And you’re perfect already? Definitely imaginary-relationship porn.

Actually, I guess it isn’t new. Cinderella was rescued by the king (all she needed was a makeover) and Beauty in the Beast was held captive until she chose to stay. (Swoon here.)

Do you see how fiction seems to try and mirror the story of God’s pursuit? We are destitute and without hope, he has unlimited power and wealth, he offers a solution to our dilemma but we have to become a willing captive to him (instead of a slave to things or people in the world.)

Please don’t think I’m comparing our relationship with God to a romantic human relationship like the Jesus is my boyfriend idea. Obviously, God is not a boyfriend. We don’t get to pick out flaws and suggest change. (Something you have a little more opportunity to do during the dating period but isn’t a healthy expectation for after the vows.)

Wrestling with God in reverence can be part of getting to know him—but he is not malleable. When we try to conform God, we’re thinking of him as a peer in an unhealthy relationship. We can’t control him and I don’t think his goal is to make humanity feel like a princess.

I wonder if a preoccupation with romance would make it hard for a woman to find a mate. The man in your relationship is not a god-figure, he is your counterpart. You are both made in the image of God, you must both submit to each other. He was not created to rescue you. He was created for God.

Is it possible that inside our obsession with fairy tale romance is the desire to find a solution for humanity in each other instead of in God? If there’s sweet temptation, perks, and minimal pay off—bring on the bondage, and down with the patriarchy of marriage!

Thanks for joining the discussion!