I was at an event the other day talking with a group of women. We got into a conversation about “what do you do?” and of course my answer of “I write romance novels” peaked their interest.
A lot of questions were what I expected:
- How do you write those love scenes?
- Where do you come up with your ideas?
- How long does it take to write one?
But then a woman asked me something I’ve never considered before. She asked me:
Your husband doesn’t have a problem with that?
So I asked him. And he gave me a puzzled look.
Are Romance Novels Bad For A Marriage?
There’s the belief that romance books are “bad” books. They are dangerous books that give girls and women unrealistic outlooks on life. This theory is holding strong with feminists as well as religious groups. (I’m not trying to be overly general with this, it’s just what I’ve found in my search.) One group despises the concept of a man being the center of a woman’s world, while the other wants nothing to do with the sex scenes portrayed in the narrative. They put the wrong thoughts into a woman’s mind, after all.
I’m a progressive. A feminist. I’ve read romance novels throughout my life to varying degrees. I have an equal partnership with my husband. We consider ourselves to be humanists by nature.
We’re married, which means we’ve had our share of ups and downs. You can’t have a strong marriage without living through the good and the bad, especially after thirty years. Still, he looked at me and asked “Why would I have an issue with you writing romance? If it’s what you need to do at this point in your life, why not?”
Romance novels are, for the most part, written by women, about women, for women. It allows us to explore who we are as women. Who we want to be. Finding out what we can be. Pushing ourselves to be more of who we are.
When I began writing romance novels, I did so because I couldn’t find the books I wanted to read. (Which incidentally is why many romance writers get into writing novels.) I wanted to read more about second chances. I wanted to explore couples finding love again in midlife. I wanted to read about men and women creating strong relationships after divorce, death, caregiving – all of the things we’ve experienced in our 40s, 50s, and 60s.
I wanted a book that spoke to my heart. With people that had realistic views of the world. People who were facing difficult times, making changes to their lives, looking for a little reinvention, and had decided that they weren’t too old for love.
I want to write the books I want to read.
They have to speak to my heart, and be about women just like me.
I’m in my fifties. And I can tell you I’m just getting started. I want everything I wanted when I was in my twenties – a great career, a beautiful place to live, travel opportunities that can build up my knowledge of the world, cultural experiences, and yes, romance too – just not with the end being to settle down and raise a family. Been there, done that. Now I just want a great man to be there to support me as I have the best years of my life still in front of me!
If anything, I think romance – sex too – is a natural part of midlife. Can you imagine 40-somethings, 50-somethings, or 60-somethings finding a new relationship and NOT incorporating sex into it fairly quickly? So of course, my romance books have sex in them. I don’t write about my personal sex life. I don’t air my own relationship out on the pages of my novels. I listen to what’s going on in the world. And I write after asking: what if?
I don’t think romance novels are any more unhealthy than anything else in life. To have a great relationship means being honest and open. My writing has allowed me to explore more of who I am right now, at this point in time. It’s made me stronger, to do what I need to do at this point in my life.
And my husband reaps the rewards by having the best me I can possibly be.
If you’re in a healthy place, every activity you take on makes you a stronger person. If you’re in a healthy relationship, every activity you do helps you discover more of who you are, together.
I write romance because I have a story to tell. I write romance because it’s a great way to get a message out.
And right now in this world, I feel we need a little bit of happiness, something that can take our minds off of the bad stuff and visit a world where we revisit the good stuff. To help confirm that through it all, humankind still has a lot of the good stuff left to discover and share.
That helps me grow. And by growing, my husband benefits too.