In recent months, I’ve seen quite a few blog posts and articles shared on various social media outlets like Facebook about the controversial book being made into a film, Fifty Shades of Grey.

While I couldn’t agree more that women should avoid this movie like the plague, I haven’t seen much on another movie that just might be more dangerous to the minds and hearts of women everywhere.

See, Fifty Shades of Grey is pretty in your face about its values and thoughts on sex and relationships. It promotes some very unhealthy dynamics, but those dynamics are not really hidden in any way.

Nicholas Sparks’ new movie, The Best of Me, is a lot more subtle. On the surface, it looks like a sweet movie, maybe even a date movie for you and your hubby. I mean what’s not to like about true love that lasts the test of time?

Beautiful Couple on bicycles

But the messages of this movie and others like it, are subtly undermining marriages because they set people up to fail.

If you aren’t familiar with Nicholas Sparks, he is the king of sweet romance books, many of which have been made into movies. You’ve probably heard of the movie, The Notebook, which was based on one of his books by the same name. (and yes, I watched it and yes, I cried at the end just like the rest of America!).

His latest book turned movie is The Best of Me. The plot is basically about high school sweethearts, Dawson and Amanda, who are separated by tragic events.  They are reunited 20 years later at a funeral of a beloved friend. Amanda, who is in a less than ideal marriage, indulges in an affair with Dawson before the two of them are parted tragically once more. This is pretty typical of Sparks, as his characters rarely have happy endings. In all of this, both Dawson and Amanda are portrayed very sympathetically and seem noble.

Amanda does have a difficult marriage. Her husband has drinking issues and is difficult to live with due to their daughter’s death. However, Sparks frames the story in such a way that it seems completely reasonable for her to have an affair with Dawson – since he was her true love and all. And of course, their love seems wonderful because it’s never really had to stand the test of every day life.

In these types of story, love is like some mystical Holy Grail, and if you are lucky enough to win the love lottery, you will meet “The One.” Once you meet “The One,” your life will change. Suddenly, you will feel complete. Your life will have purpose. Your love – because it is true love  and he is your soul mate – will conquer all.

All that sounds wonderful doesn’t it? You are probably wondering why I am being so bah humbug about true love. Well, I’ll tell you. While this is fine for movies or books, it doesn’t work so well in real life. What happens is the inevitable – those first ooey, gooey romantic feelings wear off. You might even feel – gasp! – unhappy in the midst of the reality of picking up dirty socks or financial difficulties or discovering your husband thinks you will be spending all holidays with his family.

In times past, people just sort of sucked it up and made it work, but in today’s society, true love is the ideal. Finding true love trumps the more boring commitment to your marriage, especially if you aren’t feeling so happy and fulfilled.

So, if you are unhappy the doubt comes in that maybe, what you’re dealing with is NOT the realities of married life over the long haul, but you just picked the wrong person. He must not be “The One.” Because if he was, surely your life would have a lot more rainbows and unicorns than it currently does.

This message that infidelity is okay if the circumstances are right is subtle and all the more dangerous for that subtleness. Unlike Fifty Shades of Grey which hits you in the face with its immoral message of anything is okay for an orgasm, movies like The Best of Me, frame immorality and sin in a way that makes “true love” and “fulfilling yourself” a worthy, almost noble goal.

It negates the hard work a good marriage entails by making it seem that if you are truly soul mates, a lifelong love will just come naturally.

It’s interesting to note that the vast majority of famous “great loves” all died pretty early into the process – you know, before they experienced the dirty socks on the floor, being up all night with the baby or the reality of you with the stomach flu.

While “being in love” is a wonderful feeling, true love is NOT just a feeling. It is a choice – sometimes, a hard choice.

We do our newly marrieds a disservice not to be honest that even if you love your spouse, even if you have a strong relationship, there are going to be days when they get on your last nerve. There are going to be days when you wonder if you made a mistake or when that suave guy at the office looks more appealing.

The thing is, marriage is really NOT about making you happy. It is about making you holy. Movies like the Best of Me give a false picture of what true love really is.

What lies have you bought into about love and marriage? I’d love to hear how God opened your eyes to them!

Blessings, Rosanne


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