My friend CD Reiss said something funny the other day on Facebook. “Correlation isn’t causation,” she said, and its certainly true in most things. “But when I read Filthy Vows by Alessandra Torre, my husband sure got laid.”
Once I recovered from the truth-laughter that inspired, it got me thinking—in what other ways does reading romance benefit my husband? I’ve certainly learned a few tricks from the books I’ve picked up, and I’ve definitely learned some good lessons.
As my good friend Melanie Harlow always says, so much of the conflict in romance could just be solved with a simple conversation. Of course, then the book would be over and there would be nothing to read. Most good romance novels thrive on drama.
But my real life doesn’t benefit from secrets and keeping things in. As many times as I’m yelling at the heroine in the book I’m reading, telling her to just freaking talk to the hero, I still don’t always do the best at this in my marriage. Now, mind you, the things I fail to communicate aren’t generally things like “I’m secretly a Domme” or “I might be pregnant with my ex-lover’s baby”, but it’s just as important that my husband knows I’m going to be late for dinner because I have an appointment downtown or that I already registered our daughter for school because I got tired of nagging him to do it. Forgetting to talk about those kinds of things is the source of most drama in my marriage, and the crazy crap that happens between the characters I read about due to miscommunication is a hard reminder to Talk More.
2. Ask for What I Want
This goes along the lines of communication, but it’s important enough, I’m bulleting it separately. You know when the heroine you’re reading (or even the hero) lays his wants out on the line, and you’re so excited you squee out loud? Yeah. That’s a real thing. And gees, my marriage has gotten better since I’ve started doing this. Then it really got better when my husband started doing it too. I’m not just talking about in the bedroom (though that’s legit a great place to do some asking). I’m talking about, “Honey, I really get so freaking tired of being the only person who puts the toilet paper on the roll so could you maybe take a turn or three?” And, yes, I rolled my eyes when I heard, “I’d really like to start having weekly date nights.” But those date nights have been fantastic and fun, and our love is a lot stronger because of it.
3. Fall in Love
After sixteen years of marriage, I don’t get the butterflies or the tingles or the goosebumps like the women do in the books I read (and write). We’ve been together too long. He’s seen me give birth. He pees with the door open. There’s not much mystery anymore.
But reading about couples at the beginning of their relationships, and even reading romance about married couples (I’ve written a couple of those) reminds me to look for the things I love about my partner. Because, truth is, I miss feeling that way. And when the heroine swoons over the way her hero brings her breakfast in bed or heats her car up before she has to go to work, I can either get pissy that my husband doesn’t do that for me or it can be a reminder to look at the things he DOES do for me. And when I do, when I remember that he always leaves a bottle of water for me in the morning on the dresser for my workout and that he rubs my arm when it gets tired from so much computer work or that he never fails to tell me I look beautiful when we’re going out, then I tend to fall in love with him all over again.
4. Get Dirty
Yeah, yeah, this is how the whole article started, but it’s a good one. This might be hard to believe considering how much of the sexy-times I write, but I’m not constantly walking around with damp panties and simmering lower regions. Dude, I’ve got three kids. I’m almost forty-five. I barely get aroused when I’m looking at pics of Michael Fassbender, and he’s the guy who makes me drool the most.
But reading about two characters I’m invested in get it on in kinky and romantic ways? I’m not going to lie. My youngest was conceived on that. (Thank you, EL James and Stephanie Meyers – I read both the last Twilight and Fifty in the same two-week period, and what do you know, nine months later…).
Bottom line: Romance gets dissed a lot, I know. You should see the looks I get when I tell people I write it for a living. You should hear some of the things people have the gall to say to my face. I’m not going to waste my time explaining this to them, but reading romance has been instrumental in making my marriage stronger and better. Hell, it’s improved me as a person! If knowledge is found in non-fiction and empathy in fiction, romance specifically is the place where empathy grows best. Hands down, empathy makes you a better partner, a better friend, a better lover, and a better human.
So romance it up! Your spouse is gonna thank you.
(You’re welcome, hubs.)