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Q: How do romcoms influence our view of relationships?

A: Romantic comedies are, by definition, feel-good tales. The storytelling formula is airtight: Man and woman meet; man and woman fall in love; conflict separates them; resolution reunites them—sometimes at a wedding. Happily ever after commences.

We gravitate toward these stories because they offer hope and idealized satisfaction. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying feel-good endings. But a steady diet of these films might have us looking at our real-world relationships critically. Here’s why.

Romcoms sell romantic idealization that’s hard to match in the real world. They’re built on emotion and the inherent thrill of “happily ever after.” A couple’s cinematic love story often ends at the altar.

But any married person knows that “I do” isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a new, shared story—one with unpredictable ups and downs. Certain moments might be movie-like. But valleys feel more like a gritty independent drama. No wonder it’s easy to watch romcoms and feel that our own relationships are messier.

So should we cancel our Hallmark Channel subscription? Not necessarily. But there are some questions worth asking if you’re watching a romcom: What am I attracted to here? What longings might this movie address that aren’t being met in my real-world marriage? How does a story like this cause me to view my marriage? In what ways does this plot set up unrealistic expectations?

There’s no single—or right—answer to those questions. But they might be helpful when discussing how you feel with your spouse after enjoying a date-night romcom.

by Adam Holz, director of Plugged In© 2021 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.

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We hope you enjoyed reading this article from the February/March 2022 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. This publication helps families thrive in Christ, offering time-tested solutions and reliable marriage and parenting guidance, even as it encourages, teaches and celebrates God’s design for the family.

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