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2 Tim 2:16 (King James Version)

“But shun profane and vain babblings…”

Have you browsed the bookstores lately in search of a book worthy of purchase? If you have, you will no doubt have some opinion of the latest material available. I typically enjoy reading non-fiction but occasionally I will receive a book from my mother-in-law or a reference from a friend about a particular book.

While on a date night with my husband, we agreed to stop at a bookstore before going home because we both love to read and are always in search of new reading material. As is our habit, he went one way and I went the other. When I made it over to the “African American authors section, I was surprised at what I saw. Maybe I just hadn’t been paying attention in the past or something but I was overwhelmed by the enormous amount of African American romance novels. I assumed that the books are geared toward women because the pictures I saw on the front were obviously meant to appeal to women. Never before had I notice such an influx of this genre of books. Where have I been?

I recently visited a friend of mine who has been separated from her husband for a few months and is struggling with being apart form him. As we sat and chatted, she confessed to me that she has really been missing him and wants him to come home. When I asked if she had told him, I unearthed one of their problems. She didn’t feel comfortable telling him that. She wanted him to tell her that he wanted to get back together. My next question was, “Why do you feel comfortable talking to me when I can’t do anything to get you back together with him?” After having a good laugh, at herself and how silly that sounded, she agreed that she should just tell him.

I couldn’t help but wonder what else she had been secretly hiding from her husband if she couldn’t simply tell him that she wanted to reconcile. After probing more deeply into the conversation, I found out that she wanted “the fairy tale happy ending.” When asked what that was, she immediately went to her bookshelf and brought back a book and read to me a very romantic ending to a book where the couple reconciled. Another unearthed problem. Knowing her husband very well, I told her that I didn’t think that he was going to ever act the way this gentleman did in the book. She looked disappointed.

I had to explain to her that her expectations for her husband should not come from a romance novel. While I was talking, an image of the books on the shelf came back to me. It dawned on me that she was not alone. If there are so many books on the shelf at this very popular bookstore, somebody is buying them. There are women who are expecting their husband, boyfriends, and fiancée’s to act this way. To put it delicately, it’s just NOT going to happen. The behavior of the men in these books is fantasy. No man that I know acts that way. I am aware that some men are very romantic and I give them ‘props’ for that but what this book creates is unrealistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment. Disappointments can lead to strife and contention….which in a marital situation can lead to separation and eventually divorce.

No woman should expect for a man to behave like someone in a novel but I began to realize that this is why some women remain alone and unhappy. When wives have this expectation for their husbands, it’s asking for trouble. We have to allow our husbands to become the men God created them to be and not some fictitious resemblance of someone else’s imagination. Fantasies have their place, but we should not expect our husbands to be able to live up to our “happily ever after dream come true” unrealistic expectations of romance. Let’s face it, when you’re writing a book, you try to make a romantic figure everything you’ve ever wanted. That sells books.obviously! The reality is, this fantasy man doesn’t exist. It’s fine to expect our men to be romantic at times, but everyday romance all the time is not a realistic expectation. What is “real” is living the rest of your life with your spouse and making the most of every day! Expecting every day to be a romantic walk through a novel is not reality. There are bound to be some bumps in the road.

God created every man and every woman, for that matter, different. We have to learn how to accept them and allow our husbands to be the men God created them to be. We have to love the creativity of our men to flow out from within and not expect them to be a certain way because it’s what we’ve seen. While we can communicate to them that we want to be romanced at times, we should allow them the liberty to do it their way.

Men too, have unrealistic expectation of how women too. They look at magazines and see women on television and expect their wives to live up to their fantasies. They expect their wives’ bodies to remain the same and for them to cease from aging. I guess that’s why there is so much cosmetic surgery but that’s a whole different subject. Here’s a tip: everybody changes. Fall in love with the person and the personality inside and not just the person outside. That way, you can expect love to endure. When we place unrealistic expectations on our spouses, it goes against God’s plan for us. When we define our relationships based on books and what others say our relationships will be, we are on the brink of trouble. The Bible gives a clear definition of how wives and husbands should be. Their character and their roles are defined. That alone should be our standard.

My friend has agreed to put the romance novels down for a while and concentrate on reconciling her marriage which is progress in itself.  Dealing with the reality of her situation will be painful but if she doesn’t deal with it, it won’t go away and it won’t get better.  And burying her head in a book full of fantasies won’t help either.

Our society has a myriad of literature that is entertaining at best but when we allow it to permeate minds and define our standards, it can be dangerous. We have to be careful with how we allow the enemy to gain a foothold in our minds.

2 Tim 2:16- 17 Avoid godless chatter because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. NIV

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