I recently read something that referred to romance novels and soap operas as being the female version of porn. That got me to thinking. I've never been much into soap operas (they move too slowly for me) but I must admit I've been drawn into the "evening" version of soap operas. I've not read what would be considered traditional romance novels for quite some time now, but I do read the "softer" (if you will) romance novels.
Many times in the last few weeks the discussion of the differences between men and women has come up in various ways. The main theme has been that a man's way of showing love is through sex. He needs sex to express his love, if you will. On the other hand, women tend to need the love and romance in order to express their sexual desires. We are both looking for the same thing in the end, we just come at it from opposite sides. Which is what leads to so many misunderstandings in marriages regarding sex.
To make matters worse, the world seems to not only condone, but actually encourages things to make our expectations unrealistic in regards to love and marriage. Our already difficult relationships become impossible when we have expectations of our spouse that are not possible.
For men, this tends to be pornography. Some people may say it does not harm anyone. However the Lord has been very clear that sex is a gift for marriage that is to be shared between a husband and wife. Pornography is bringing someone else into that act. Sure it is not a real person of flesh and blood, however that is often worse. Viewing pornography and the resulting fantasies create the idea of the "perfect" woman in a man's mind. Not only physically, but also emotionally and relationally. No human woman can ever live up to these expectations. Not only is bringing pornography into your marriage disrespectful to your wife, it is unfair to her and yourself.
Now for the flip side of things. While I mentioned that men's focus is on sex, a woman tends to focus on romance. While pornography sets unrealistic expectations in a husband's mind regarding his wife, romance novels and soap operas create unrealistic expectations in a wife's mind about how her husband should be treating her. These things make us think that our man should always be romantic, always be ready to sweep us off our feet and cause those butterflies in our stomachs. They should always be able to take our breath away with a look.
In both cases, these expectations are created because we are focusing on what our spouse should be doing for us to make us happy. It is making the assumption that love is a feeling you have for that other person. The butterflies for us women, the lustful feelings in our husbands. Love is NOT a feeling. Love is a choice we make everyday. It is easy to love someone in the good times, when they look their best and are focused on doing things for us. But real love is making a choice every morning to love that person laying in bed beside you whose hair is all messed up, has bad breath and has not even acknowledged you as they grumpily get up to get ready for the day ahead.
This is especially important if you are in an unequally yoked marriage. You need to lean into the Lord even more to daily make the choice to love your spouse at all times, even when there is no outward reasons to do so. Your spouse does not know the unconditional love of the Lord as you do. They have no example by which to base their love. By getting your strength from the Lord to make the choice to love your spouse you are showing them the Lord's love. Believe me, no matter how much you may think your spouse needs to make some changes and is difficult to love, you are even more so to the Lord. But that does not faze Him at all. He loves you no matter what, with no unrealistic expectations as to who you are.
So this is making me rethink what I expose myself to. It has been obvious to me that pornography is not right in the Lord's eyes and not healthy for my marriage. But now, I'm beginning to see that there are other things that can be just as detrimental to my marriage that I may have been willingly allowing into our home.
We've all heard the saying "You are what you eat". In reality, we are what we allow into our bodies in any way. We are what we eat, what we watch, what we hear, etc. Everything we allow into ourselves leaves a mark on our hearts and minds. What is in our hearts and minds is what is revealed through our fruit, our actions and words. God wants us to be mindful of what we expose ourselves to, not because he is a controlling God who wants to make our lives miserable. It is just the opposite. He wants to protect us from ourselves and the evil that is part of human nature. He wants marriage on this earth to be a reflection of Jesus' future marriage to his Bride, us!