Relationships

Should a Married Woman Binge Watch Romances?

June 28, 2017
Romance - Marriage - Binge Watch
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Confessions of a Hopeless Romantic

Confession: I am a hopeless romantic. Like it’s embarrassing, y’all. When I was a preteen/teenager/single adult, I would lap up Christian romances like honey. I read every Lori WickDee Henderson, and Janette Oke novel I could get my hands on. I blush to admit that I would regularly binge watch Kdramas and Bollywood movies and could watch the entire six-hour miniseries of Pride and Prejudice like it was nothing. Though many of these plots were admittedly formulaic and even cheesy, something about the innocent romance in each of them touched me to the core of my being. My heart delighted in the non-sexualized romance stories which expressed something that I longed for deep within my heart.

I know that part of that was my natural desire for my vocation. To be united to another in sacramental marriage. But more importantly, that hunger in my heart was for an eternal love. A love that I was created for; a love which only God could fulfill.

Romance - Marriage

Life after the “Ever After”

And friends, God is so good and faithful. After years of waiting, praying, and writing letters to my future husband, God, in his perfect timing, provided me with my loving husband. As I shared in my bio, for me marriage and motherhood have been the fulfillment of my greatest dream. It is 100% my greatest adventure. But all of my married readers also know first-hand that we don’t ride off into sunsets in real life. Like everything in life, our marriage is filled with highs and lows and it is a constant choice; one that is sometimes easy and other times very difficult. And as the years pass on it becomes increasingly easy to seek to escape the imperfections of real life by losing ourselves once more in the “picture perfect” of romantic films and books.

I found myself unconsciously slipping into this mentality last fall shortly after my family’s move to Baton Rouge. Our previous home had been in my hometown, surrounded by lifelong friends and an army of family. In fact, we literally lived down the road from my parents, meaning that whenever I needed company or was having a rough day I could just “pop in” for a visit. I had been spoiled. Now here I was, an hour away from my support system with two toddlers who were eighteen months apart. My son was at a particularly difficult stage and I felt like I was drowning from both the lack of community around me and the struggles of motherhood. Meanwhile, my husband was adjusting to a new job and the pressures that came with it. So here I was, feeling overwhelmedisolated and alone –a fatal combination.

My Lapse into Escapism

Romance - Marriage - Binge Watch

I wish that I could say that handled it all with wisdom and grace, turning to God and using my struggles as a sanctifying moment. But the truth is, without even realizing it, I began escaping. It started with me borrowing one Christian romance novel from my sister (which I knocked through in a day). All of the sudden I was checking out Christian and classic romance books left and right, and when I was in between books turning to my beloved period films or contemporary romantic films. And though there was nothing “steamy” or sinful about these materials, I quickly lost proportion. I was binge watching, escaping my struggles and feelings through the lives of fictitious characters.

I didn’t even realize what was happening until my husband came into our bedroom, wanting to spend time with me one evening. As we began talking he told me something which halted me in my tracks: “I have a theory that when a woman is reading or watching romances it’s because romance is lacking in her life.” My husband said these words without any animosity. Instead, he told me that he took it as a challenge to do a better job of romancing me in our day-to-day lives.

The Hard Moment of Truth

But I was stunned by his words. The last thing I wanted was my husband to feel inadequate or like I was escaping him. Suddenly, I had to ask myself some hard questions. Why was I suddenly so consumed by these books and movies that I hadn’t felt the need to watch/read and years? Were they a sign that something was lacking in my life? Was it right for me to be spending so much time in fictitious worlds as opposed to working on my own spiritual growth or family relationship? As the questions poured through my mind they all came to a single, uncomfortable answer: What I was doing was wrong. I had lost sight of my vocation and purpose.

Now don’t get me wrong. I will always love romance and I look forward to the day when I can watch/read Anne of Green Gables or Sense and Sensibility with my daughter for the first time. But binge watching/reading where hours upon hours in succession are spent immersing oneself in another world is unhealthy. Yes, we all need to unwind and relax, but always within moderation. What I saw firsthand was that by indulging myself in my romances–no matter how “good” or “innocent”–I was neglecting my spiritual life and marriage. I was escaping my problems/struggles instead of seeking God’s grace and my husband’s support to overcome them.

Protecting our Wifely Vocation

The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word to call. In the Christian context, it means specifically “a calling from God.” As a Catholic Christian, I believe that I was called to this holy institute of matrimony. It is meant to be my pathway to salvation–my refining fire. It is my sacred duty to help my spouse and children get to heaven. I believe that sacramental marriage is holy, and that’s why the evil one works so hard to destroy it.

So instead of binge watching the latest TV series or period drama, I’m doing my best to focus on the task at hand–namely loving my husband and children–to the absolute best of my ability. Do I fall? Often, but that’s what the road to sanctity is all about; picking oneself up again and perpetually seeking God’s mercy. That’s how we succeed in raising young saints. That’s how we create a truly romantic, honest-to-goodness, happily ever after marriage.

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  1. This is excellent!! I too am a hopeless romantic and always love a beautiful, clean romance. But I agree, there is a problem if I am binging on romance (books or movies), trying to immerse myself in a life that seems more exciting than my own. Reading about someone falling in love may seem more romantic than my day to day life, but in actuality the many “little” things my husband does on a day to day basis demonstrate what true love is really about because they show his strong commitment to me and our family. <3

    1. I feel the same way. It’s all the little things that my husband chooses to do Day in and day out that make our marriage work. I’m thankful for our season of falling in love, but am even more thankful the deep love that comes over time and through grace.

  2. Very true words. I can relate to that tendency to escape in books and movies/series, I have periods I feel more drawn to it than other times. Yes, there absolutely should be a balance! It’s good to live life in the here and now, to really embrace life as it is – just as God has planned for me. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Lori Wick and Dee Henderson were some of my favorites too! You give such a good perspective that I really hadn’t thought of before, and it definitely aligns with the years when I could devour numerous books a week! Thank you for sharing <3

  4. I haven’t had time to read any of those books recently, but I remember those use to be some I really enjoyed. It helps me see the time I chose to give something else instead of my husband. I find right now, watching romances can make my situation even harder.

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment, Cynthia. Yes, I find that those romances (even though good in themselves) can cause unhealthy comparisons and expectations if we let them. Seasons in marriage change, and it’s important for us to love our spouse in that moment the way we are called to, even if it isn’t “picture perfect.”

  5. Oh my goodness! Me, too!! I loved Christian fiction (especially Lori Wick and Dee Henderson) in high school and had all the period drama movies and got big into Bollywood in college (I just watched my first K-drama this past fall, haha). They’re fun, but yes- as I’ve gotten older, I just can’t go there that often because I don’t have much self-control in that area. If I’m into something, I can’t put it down until I’ve finished it. Even if I put it down, I’m still thinking about it and there with the characters instead of here with my family. So, I indulge (knowing what I’m getting into) every once in a long time, but not frequently. Good analysis of your self and situation!

    1. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in my nerdiness ;). I think you’ve made a few great points. Self-knowledge is so very important, and yes, occasional self-indulgence is ok. All good things in moderation, right?

  6. Your post is so convicting. I feel like music and movies or anything “pop culture” has contorted our perception of reality. Sometimes actually binge watching isn’t the problem, it’s way that we can get sucked into this fake reality and wish it were our own. I often find myself innocently watching a chick flick, but start wishing my husband would say a similar sentence to one in the film, or would dance in the rain with me, or something completely cheesey that he would probably do anyways, but movies and shows make everything seem perfectly peachy all the time. Anyways, I’ll get off my soapbox. I don’t even know if I made an actual point, but thank you for writing this!

    Sydney Meek | meeklyloving.wordpress.com

    1. Sydney, I think you made some excellent points here. We’re all so influenced by the media around us and it can taint our perception of what marriage and romance should be. Often times this happens without us even realizing it. I’m so thankful that the post resonated with you and that you took the time to leave a commment tonight. You can get on your soap box here anytime you like ;).

  7. That word, “binge” is at the heart of the problem. When we feel the need to binge on anything we are out of balance, replacing something we REALLY need with something that makes us feel better in the short-term. I love your husband’s kindness and your realization! Awesome post.

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