Once upon a time, my husband listened to a romance audiobook with me. I downloaded Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade for a road trip, and he got sucked in. It was the cutest thing ever. He said stuff like…
“Matthew McConaughey could play a good Ty.”
When Ty rode his Harley to the bakery where Celia works, Jim said, ” Let’s go ride our Harley to a bakery for breakfast.” So we did.
And while at the bakery, he asked, “What was the name of the bakery in the book, again?” I said, “Cream and Sugar.” In response, he pointed to this sign:
As an avid reader of romance, I knew what to expect from the “hidden baby” trope in the story, but this was all new to Jim. So it was fun to see it through his eyes. I’m glad he got a glimpse into my world and the kind of worlds I work to create.
But I think all men could learn something about women from reading romance. For starters:
- Women want passion, which doesn’t have to mean sex. I remember watching my 8th grade reading teacher dance around the classroom with a copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel clutched to her chest. “The next chapter is so passionate,” she sang. So we raced home and read what we expected to be a racy scene, but the following day we called her out. “They don’t even kiss!” But now as an adult, I want to dance around the room with The Scarlet Pimpernel, swooning over the passion of a man who loves a woman so much he would kiss her footprints after she left.
- Women want to feel valued. Right after my best friend and I went through our divorces, we made the mistake of watching Dear John together. While the hero is away at war, the heroine marries someone else. When he comes home and sees her again, he wants the best for her, so he sells the coin collection he inherited in order to fund her family’s medical expenses. My friend and I bawled at the realization that though we’d both been married, neither of us had ever been treasured.
- Women are not helpless. As much as we want a hero to be willing to sacrifice himself for us, we are resourceful and will find a way to pursue our goals with or without him. Of course, he’s going to be better off with us, because guys have weaknesses too. This is what I loved so much about my favorite novel I’ve read this year, Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but we girls don’t have to give up our dreams for the guy.
- Women are relational. I just read an article where the author points out that if The Bourne Identity had been written by the female character, it would have been a romantic suspense. And I love this idea. The story would be just as good, but it would talk more about thoughts and feelings rather than karate kicks and motorcycles. Definitely one of the ways men and women can balance each other out as mentioned above.
- Women are beautiful. I watched a Netflix rom/com recently where the strong female character wears glasses, and in the IMDB trivia, it said that the director didn’t want the character to get contacts as part of the cliché makeover scene. She’s beautiful with her glasses on. Just as Dumplin’ (another Netflix movie with an overweight heroine) was beautiful. Just like I was beautiful when I stepped outside in the snow this weekend wearing my bathrobe, husband’s shoes, and scary post-chemo hair. Next to my beautiful baby girl who just turned 18 (but has always looked like Rapunzel), I felt more like the comic relief. However, knowing Jim still sees me as beautiful on my worst days is what creates a happily-ever-after.
I told Jim I was writing this article and asked if he had anything he would like to add. Now that he’s listened to Becky Wade’s novel and helped me plot many of mine, what had he learned about women?
“Women like singing Christmas carols.”
I laughed. Because he’s not wrong. Per the movie director’s request, I just had to add a Christmas caroling scene to my novel optioned for film. So we’ll make that an honorary number six. But only because Jim has already mastered the first five.
What else do you think men could learn from reading romance? (I especially want to hear from you guys!!!)