Romance Novels and Divorce: Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts

No relationship can be moonlight and roses all the time. And not every couple walks off into the sunset…


Nora Roberts is a well loved author who has written more than 200 romance novels and has amassed a fortune selling love stories to the adoring masses. And she isn’t alone – there are thousands of writers producing countless romance and erotica novels annually for an ever-hungry fan base. But why? What makes this genre so popular, and could it affect your chances for divorce?


Well, let’s start with the appeal of the books themselves. The heroines in romance novels are usually beautiful, desirable women who are pursued by suitors who conform to current ideals of male “perfection”. Men described as hard working, handsome, and emotionally unavailable. That is… until the woman of their dreams arrives. You get the picture.


Inevitably, the heroine is lavished with attention and sexual pleasure and, of course, the emotional commitment of a man whose barriers she bypassed without even trying. In a nutshell, she becomes everything that the average woman wants to be, and receives everything that the average woman wants in a relationship.


Fiction is fiction, never forget that…


The problem with these fictional romance fantasies, however, is that they’re exactly that – fantasies. Most husbands will never be that storybook character with a chiseled jawline and suntanned cowboy’s physique who will cater to your every whim. Why? Because most husbands are average human beings, not fictional demi-gods with six packs. But it’s just a story, you say. Like a movie. A pleasurable escape to immerse yourself in for a while when you need a break from life. Right?


Maybe not. Relaxation aside, there is something else you should consider when choosing a romance novel as your pleasure reading. Especially if you’re an avid reader and this is your prefered genre. It’s a known fact that whatever you choose to focus your attention on becomes, in turn, the focus of your attention. Sounds simple, right. Sure. But stop and think about it for a minute….


If you devote a good deal of your attention to fictitious characters and their perfect lives – lives that you long to have – and you find yourself comparing their lives to yours, you may be setting yourself up for a relationship failure.


The key here is expectations…


If you are allowing the false world of a romance novel to set the expectation bar in your head, you will always be disappointed. Every time. Why? Because  your marriage isn’t a romance novel. (And if that sounds depressing to you, then that’s a clear indicator that you may have a problem!) Your husband is a real man, not a fictional one conjured out of thin air and wishes. He has baggage and quirks and issues just like you do. And he’s not a perfect person, just like you aren’t.


Many women want to be thought of as beautiful and desirable, and want their relationships to be filled with moonlit nights and passion and roses. So ladies, let’s be real, you can have those things! No, really, you can! You just can’t have them all the time. (Expectations!) Real life is about balance. Acknowledging the fact that paying bills, and doing the laundry can coexist with candlelit dinners and evening strolls in the park. It’s all about what your expectations look like.


Unrealistic expectations created between the pages of a romance novel will, 9 times out of 10, go unsatisfied. Real expectations – the ones founded in an understanding of who your spouse is and what they are capable of, are far more likely to be met. So if romance novels are setting you up for disappointment, you may want to consider a good “whodunit” or historical fiction to keep you entertained instead. It may not be your genre of choice, but it may just save your marriage.