Thursday, June 30, 2011

Romance Therapy

I recently had a conversation that made me very sad. I take my mom to a widow's group every week, and the ladies there know I write, and what I write. Last week, as we were waiting for them to go in, one of the women told me how much she enjoys reading romance because she needs the Happily Ever After in her life. Great, but then she went on to say that she feels guilty when she reads one or watches a “fluff” movie or TV show because her husband - a “brilliant” man - couldn’t abide by anything you can’t learn from.


As we spoke, it became clear that for 42 yrs of marriage to this man, she had not been allowed to watch or read anything that he deemed a waste of time. In fact, those were his exact words.

I countered, believe me, though as gently as I could. I told her there are plenty of HEA romances that are not “fluff”, though there’s nothing wrong with that, either! It’s important to have an escape. I said that I've learned a lot from romances, with their vast topics and word usage. I also pointed out that there are truly brilliant people who not only read HEA romance, they write it. I personally know doctors, attorneys, PhD’s; graduates of Smith, Harvard, Tufts, etc., who are authors for Harlequin, Ellora’s Cave, and many other venues. God knows they need a break from the required dry reading they have to slog through.

All the while, what I was really thinking was how miserable parts of her life must have been. Or the whole of it, considering the conversation answered a lot of questions about this woman’s unhappy personality.

I’m writing this now and trying hard not to cry for her. Can you imagine 42 years of not being able to enjoy a few hours of simple escape through a romance book, a quirky movie, a sitcom that makes you laugh?

Her husband missed out, too, pure and simple. He never took that time to relax and just be. She said she would have loved nothing more than to sit on the couch holding his hand while watching a comedy. Something I take for granted quite often.

It’s too late for him, for them, but I hope she can find a way to enjoy these things without guilt now.


Michelle Polaris said...

This is sad, but I hope your conversation gave her the relief she might need to finally embrace new, fun parts of life. Even as we grow older we can always embrace new directions, open new doors. I wish that for her.

Wynter Daniels said...

Very sad that the woman wasn't able to just be entertained without having to justify the learning value of something.
I know it's a generational thing, but "being allowed" to do something in a marriage makes me nuts!

Dalton Diaz said...

I'm thinking it's time to intro her to some books, a little bit at a time. Figure out what she likes, etc.

Karenna Colcroft said...

That's incredibly sad. Having been married to a controlling man myself, I can't imagine living that way for such a long time. Hopefully now she'll find some new enjoyment for herself.

Maggie Nash said...

Oh how tragic. Both of them missed out on so much...that poor woman needs some fun at last!

Guilt isn't unusual after a spouse dies though. My mum was terribly guilty for a long time because she was enjoying being on her own and making her own decisions without having to check with my's a pretty normal emotion.

But this feeling guilty for enjoying something her husband disapproved of, well that's just sad.