Many moons ago, I made the decision to quit watching Romantic Comedies. It wasn’t something I announced; it wasn’t something I demanded others must do. I quietly stopped watching them, and I stopped suggesting them to my husband when he would ask what I wanted to watch. Let me tell you something…my marriage is better for it.
My husband and I are people that watch television to fall asleep. (Yes, we know it is frowned upon for healthy sleep. It is a habit my husband brought into our marriage, and I’m fine with it.) More often than not, my husband would ask what I wanted to watch and I would pick a romantic comedy. They are usually mindless and lacking a plot strong enough to keep me awake at night.
He would love to watch shows and movies that involve espionage, military coups, war, or sports. Most of those ended up giving me nightmares, but slap-stick comedies and romantic comedies didn’t interfere with my dreams. It was worse…romantic comedies started interfering in my marriage.
One of my favorites was, and probably still is, The Notebook. The underdog gets the attention of the wealthy and beautiful woman, life tears them apart, he never stops thinking of her, rebuilds a home using the rage of angsty love to fuel his endeavor. By happenstance, she finds out, goes to him, drama ensues, and love wins. We musn’t forget, plenty of rippling muscles and pearly white smiles.
There was First Daughter and Chasing Liberty, both movies where the president’s daughter and her secret service agent fall in love. Miss Congeniality, where the ugly duckling turns out to be gorgeous and she and her work partner fall for each other. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, where the work projects fall for each other. Clueless, where the polar opposite step-siblings fall for each other. Pretty Woman. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The Wedding Planner. Love Actually. Notting Hill. Crazy, Stupid, Love. The Proposal.
These movies were stories of forbidden love, grand gestures, choosing someone over another woman, the excitement of secret romances, and having to fight for love.
Let’s not fail to mention, nearly perfect physique for nearly all the main characters.
Here I was, happily married, wondering where the drama was. Why wasn’t he fighting for me daily? Fighting to win my love? Where was the angst fuelling our passion? The sideways glances that would make us blush when our eyes met? Why wasn’t he declaring to all how crazy he was about me? I started feeling unsettled in our marriage. I felt that we must be doomed. There had to be more – surely we weren’t destined for a boring lifelong relationship.
I resented my husband because he wasn’t doing those things. Let that sink in. My real-life husband wasn’t doing the things the fictitious characters were doing.
I resented that we weren’t what movies said we should be.
When that thought came into mind, I realized how ludicrous it was. How unreasonable I was, and I decided to quit watching The Notebook (I was watching it near-nightly after my husband had fallen asleep and was developing quite the crush on Ryan Gosling). I decided to start paying attention to how the movies were making me feel.
Were they making me wish our life was more movie-like?
Was the male lead making me look at my husband wondering why he wasn’t so chiseled?
Was I jealous of the non-stop date nights and road trips in the movies?
Did I feel the need to have excitement and drama and gossip in our marriage?
Was I focused on the fake relationship more than the storyline?
And if those things were happening, I’d just turn off the movie. It was my own little secret way of loving and respecting my husband.
When I started thinking back to those plotlines, I chose to think about the things my husband was doing. Instead of the grandiose gestures, he was helping clean the dishes from dinner, changing diapers, helping me shuffle furniture around, traveling with me, encouraging me in my faith. All while he was working, growing in his faith, finishing his degree, building relationships and encouraging others, taking care of me after surgeries, and providing for our ever-growing family.
We’ve had the excitement. We’ve had what the romance movies portray. He did pick me. We’ve had adventures across the globe. He has served, and deployed, with the military. We’ve had the family drama. We’ve had the babies. We fought our way through infertility, lived through depression, broken friendships, heartache, death, health issues, and hospitalizations.
He has lived with my own special type of crazy for 20-plus years. The movies leave out the best parts…the life after the whirlwind.