The most common description of a romance novel is the Happy Ever After. The courtship of a couple has a satisfying ending that speaks of a lifetime of romantic bliss. Whether the romantic themes in a novel inspire fantasies of real life experiences or soothe our souls, these stories have a purpose beyond the obvious.
Recently there was a CNN article titled: Unhappily Ever After: Why Bad Marriages Hurt Women's Health. The premise is that the stress of a bad marriage causes physical symptoms in women that lead to overweight in the abdomen, rise in the blood sugar, and high blood pressure. As women, we focus on the relationship and suffer deeply when it's not working.
The CNN article isn't advocating that more couples should divorce. Instead it shows that, if a relationship is hazardous (physically or mentally), then there will be physical consequences that are more likely present in the woman, than in the man.
Here's my take, as a non-medical or non-psychiatric, romance author. While exercise and counseling are advised and I wholeheartedly agree with such a remedy, I would also offer the average romance novel as a supplement.
The romance novel is like a power-packed, multi-vitamin. A woman would read a story that suggests ways to appreciate her mate and how she should be respected and not be taken for granted. She would read about sensitive heroines who trust their mates with their secrets, who aren't afraid to say what's on their minds, who share what they want in life, in bed, or in their hearts.
A woman could see a heroine who mirrors who she is or at the very least, some part of her. Maybe that heroine is who she wants to become. Immersing herself into the story, the woman can learn solutions to challenges that will test any union. She can seek that mentor, best friend, supportive extended family that provides a sounding board or good counsel.
But on the most basic level, a romance novel allows for a few hours to escape and enjoy a story that makes her sigh with satisfaction. What better way to de-stress.
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