Friday, September 21, 2007

Cinderella Meets the Caveman

Think of a classic couple who typifies romance. Who did you think of? Romeo and Juliet? Tristan and Isolde? Heathcliff and Catherine? Lancelot and Guinevere? They are all examples that have stood the test of time and make the average person think of romance. But else do these couples have in common? They're all tragic; nearly every great romance from literature and history ended in tragedy.

Why is it that we feel for true love to exist it must face adversity and overcome great obstacles? Many couples in literature ended up dead and there reunited in their love, as if the only way they could be together was in death. Romeo and Juliet had to face their parents' enmity and Romeo's murder of Mercurtio and in failing to overcome these barriers to their love died. Similar fates await other classical lovebirds.

Society encourages the perception that true love must travel down a certain path in order to be considered a great romance. First the couple must meet. The meeting will involve a glance across a crowded room and an instant connection, a spontaneous jolt of chemistry with the following realization that they've each found their soulmate. Second, there must be hardship and adversity: a family, spouse, politics, war, etc. The couple must cling together believing each to be the other's only hope. Third, they must steal a few precious moments of bliss together. Romeo and Juliet's honeymoon, Lancelot and Guinevere's tryst in the forest. Last, the adversity must rise up and consume the lovers, splitting them through misunderstanding or death. Follow these steps and you are almost guaranteed a bestseller (or Oscar) and the romance will be elevated to Great. Read many of the romances on the market today and you'll find that they follow the same formula, albeit with a happy ending.

If these are the images we base our beliefs of love upon, is it any wonder that people are having such a difficult time finding love today? If everyone is waiting to catch a stranger's eye across the room, they probably aren't looking at the person sitting next to them. Many people are waiting for sparks to fly when they meet someone, and if it doesn't happen, it's not "the one." But in real life, great love develops over time, not in one shared glance or touch. And with such unrealistic expectations of romance, no wonder divorce rates are so high!

I find the story of my grandparent's love so much more romantic than any of the classic examples. They grew up just a few miles apart and attended the same church, but different schools. When she was eight and he ten, their schools competed against each other in a spelling bee. It came down to the two of them, and she won. (I have the book his teacher gave him as his reward: Uncle Tom's Cabin) He bought her 1930 class ring for $6, because it was during the Depression, and her family couldn't afford it. They did overcome many obstacles in their life together: her mother's opposition, money struggles during the Depression, Grandpa's workaholism. But in the end they were married for 58 years, and he still wrote "I love you" in her birthday cards. Their kind of romance is the kind I want for Jesse and I.

Cinderella Meets the Caveman by Dr. David E. Clarke is a scary Christian marriage guide. Scary because I swear the Clarke had video cameras in my house, and I really wish he hadn't shared my personal information with the world! :) The good doctor nails the communication problems in marriage square on the head. Most women fall into the Cinderella trap: we want our husbands to instinctively understand what we want and need without telling them. And men (at least mine) are Cavemen: as long as they have clothing, food, and sex they are happy. It seems simplistic, but it really is just that easy. I loved reading this book. I found myself laughing out loud so hard at some parts that Jesse insisted that I read them to him as well. We took turns blushing as Clarke nailed us to the wall with our flaws. The tone is humorous and he definitely gives it to each mate about how they fail at communicating with the other. I had never thought of communication as a problem in my marriage until I read this book. Once I started spotting mistakes I was making (that ended up escalating), I was able to use Clarke's suggestions to let Jesse know how I was feeling or what I needed. It was amazing to see the results work so quickly and so well. Jesse's currently reading the book now, and I'm passing it on to my newlywed best friend next. It's the rare Christian self-help book that gives such sound advice with so many belly laughs.

Tomorrow night is Homecoming. Molly asked a sophomore, and he said yes. Doogie's going stag, but I'm glad he's going at all. As a junior, this is his first. I'm going to the dance to take pictures there since the kids won't let me at home.


Anonymous said...

Hi Christy,

I was glad to read a really good reveiw of this book. I heard the author talking about the book yesterday on Christian radio and told my boyfriend about it. I told him that I will look for it and buy it for us, so we can be one step ahead of keeping our romance alive...

Thanks for the book review!!
Best Regards,


Izabelle said...

I will also tell all my friends about this book. :)