From the Headdesk Department

Book Cover In my limited experience, with just about any child rearing or parenting book that I’ve read, I’ve come away with about one or two pieces of really useful information, and a lot of things that were interesting but didn’t necessarily fit my life, or my family, or my philosophy (which currently is, “Everything is washable, and if it’s not, it shouldn’t live here”).

Here’s a book I absolutely will not order. No fucking way. If you see the cover, run the other way. Why? Because of this excerpt regarding the “casualty of hovering mothering” – the neglect of your sex life and your husband:

If you’ve ever watched a soap opera, read a romance novel, or seen a chick flick, you most likely have unrealistic expectations about marriage and relationships. According to these sources, they’re supposed to be full of thrills, romance, wealth, and of course, lots of heart-pounding sex. But countless marriages become fractured or end in divorce because of these unrealistic expectations.

Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously, are you kidding? Not to reveal way too much about my marriage and my husband, romance novels are probably part of the reason we have a happy relationship right now – because I’m very merrily reading literature (yeah, I said literature, bitches) that focuses on relationships, overcoming obstacles, and if the writer is good, hot nookie within the CONFINES OF A COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP. Motherfucking idiots. Unrealistic expectations, my ass.

What really sends me right over the edge into high blood pressure and irate grunting (Hubby: “What’s wrong?” *reads over shoulder* “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”) is that according to these boneheads, the cornerstones to realistic modern relationships are Partnership, Communication and compromise, Trust, Respect, and Intimacy.

Gosh, not a one of those is in your nearest romance novel.

Hey. How’d this dent get in my table?

[P.S. if you’re looking for really insightful books on the first year of parenthood, our go-to gift for all our new parent friends is Armin Brott’s The New Father, which had better advice than most of my new mom books, and was written with sensitivity toward both parents. And my man Brott knows better than to write about romance novels.]


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Nadia says:

    How dare you bitches want fulfilling monogamous relationships?!  How dare you?!

    *shaking head*

    Seriously…of all the things to blame… *sigh*

  2. 2
    Miranda says:

    full of thrills, romance, wealth,

    Wealth? Does this writer think people are getting married without knowing what the other person does for a living? “What do you mean you’re a dentist? I thought you were a captain of industry/pirate/vampire! This marriage is over!”

  3. 3
    Emmy says:

    Well shit…so that’s where I went wrong.

    Snuck into my mom’s romance stash as a early teen and got it into my poor, deluded head that there are men out there who are honest, trustworthy, and faithful. Men who are capable of loving one woman and ONLY one woman and are not out to populate the universe.

    I’m thinking class action lawsuit. But for those books, I coulda been happily married and raising my hubby’s bastard kids like a good wife, and realize that 3 minutes of sweaty fumbling is heart-pounding sex.

  4. 4
    Trix says:

    C’mon, you expect bitches, mothers, women to know the difference between real life and fiction? No, women are way too stupid to tell the difference, and to glean the gems from the better works, while enjoying the mindcandy as well. We all think eating junk food is perfectly healthy too, because McDonalds and Taco Bell tell us it is!

  5. 5
    eaeaea says:

    Of all the lame shit to be published as pseudo self-help to save your marriage – this is the WORST!
    (steam rising from ears)
    From the excerpt:

    -Sleep in a Strange Bed: With him!

    Well, duh!!!

    -Sneak Out: a short walk late at night after the kids are in bed

    Where I come from, this is a criminal offence called NEGLECT.
    (face now going red)
    Maybe if the authors read romance novels, they could understand the psyche of their target audience… GRRR!

  6. 6
    Faellie says:

    There’s a further fundamental error here.

    If you’ve ever watched a soap opera, read a romance novel, or seen a chick flick, you most likely have unrealistic expectations about marriage and relationships

    Most of the romances I’ve read are about the process of forming a relationship, not what happens when one is established.  It’s a bit like the difference between setting up a new business and running one which is already established – they need different but overlapping skills, effort and attention.  But apparently reading romance novels prevents us from recognising the difference?

    Romances I have read which centre on-going relationships or marriages seem pretty clear about the realities.

    Security word: thinking38.  Not just allowed or encouraged by the Smart Bitches, but essential.

  7. 7
    Inez Kelley says:

    Holy shit, what a freaking moron. Romances DO NOT lead to disillusion in marriage for women. Turn the concept around and you’ll see how idiotic that statement really is.

    Any MAN that watches a pornographic movie will not have a positive sexual experience with any real women.

    Uhm, yeah, so many men are turning down real life blow jobs to stroke off to porn instead. *insert sarcastic rolling eyes here*

  8. 8
    Aemelia says:

    WTF…well gee, it’s a wonder that my marraige and family have made it so long w/out therapy for my unrealistic ideas I pick up from my soaps & books & movies….oh the horror

  9. 9
    Rissa says:

    hahaha Inez *picks up eyes and rolls them back just in case they’re needed someday* And not every woman likes what the guy sees in a porno movie either. If a guy shoots anything in my eyes, face, or hair, I’ll bite his balls. Not cool.

  10. 10
    Maria Lokken says:

    First mistake was lumping romance novels in with soap operas… it’s all down hill from there.

  11. 11
    ev says:

    Guaranteed I won’t be reccommending this to any of my customers any time soon.

    Where I come from, this is a criminal offence called NEGLECT.

    Uh, here too. Although our parents used to do it when we were young, but it was a different time and place. Hell, if they sit outside after the kiddies are in bed and have a drink, someone might call CPS on them.

    Sounds like the idiot that wrote this one listens to Dr. Laura far, far too much. There’s another one who needs to be shot out of a cannon.

  12. 12
    Barb Ferrer says:

    *gently extracts book from Sarah’s hands, tosses into recycling pile*

    They have to wake up and be them every morning.  That’s punishment enough.  In the meantime, we’ll sit here and enjoy our unrealistic romances and unhealthy relationships.

    < /sarcasm>

  13. 13
    GL says:

    Ah!  So… this is where some of the moms that come to my work are getting tips on motherhood.  You know, it is not working well for them. IMHO, they spend far too much time on themselves but far too little on the children or the family.

    I was reading some of the excerpts on amazon and my blood pressure is sky rocketing fast.  Not only are they off base on the romance novel factor, they are also wrong in the issue of control.

    It really bugs me to read how loosing control can be good for you.  Where did they get that?  Is it working for them?  Constantly I see people who walk around with a chicken without it’s head.  Always trying to get everything done and yet not accomplishing anything.  Guess what 95% of the times the problems is?  Organization.  You don’t need to be a control freak to have organization and get things done.  A little planning goes a long way.

    Wealth? Does this writer think people are getting married without knowing what the other person does for a living? “What do you mean you’re a dentist? I thought you were a captain of industry/pirate/vampire! This marriage is over!”

    LOL! I thought that my husband was trying to hide his title from me; he really had to be a Duke or Marquis. I thought he was only trying to find love for who he was and not because of his title or money.  Alas the truth has been revealed, he’s only a computer guy!  I feel cheated and I’m off to divorce court!

  14. 14
    robinb says:

    Hate to say, but I think I just developed a vicarious crush on your husband, Sarah!  Great reaction. 

    “It’s good to be a little selfish” on the front cover should apparently be followed with “and a little stupid.”

  15. 15

    Dang, I’m glad I’ve got that sh*t behind me if that’s what passes for parenting advice these days!

  16. 16
    Patty H. says:

    These writers are willing to concede that a relationship needs ‘intimacy’ yet they scoff at romance.
    I think they have an extremely narrow view of romance, ie flowers and candy.
    My perspective is a little broader.  Yes I think it is romantic when hubby says he thinks I’m hot.  I think it is even more romantic when he reads our children a bedtime story.  Or even better, when he does the dishes doing while singing quietly.  Those actions come from ‘respect’ for each other and ‘compromise’ and ‘partnership’.  Romance grows from many things.

    These poor saps apparently have nevery experienced romance in its many forms and wouldn’t appreciate even if they did!

  17. 17
    Flo says:

    To make myself look like an ignoramous… for a long time (teens and early 20s) I thought that romance novels KNEW how it was done.  That relationships pretty much were HEAs without much work.  That all men came equipped knowing how to give you a rockin’ good time etc.

    Needless to say… that is NOT true.  Annnnd I know I lived a sheltered life.  I was more focused on playing trumpet than figuring out what boys and girls did.  So romance novels were my vicarious thrills.  Plus I have “Gullible” on my forehead. (Yes… I checked again to see if it was there).

    I can UNDERSTAND how morons like me with little *ahem* worldly experience can get into a relationship and then get confused and frustrated when it’s NOT like a romance novel.  Then you have to shed the expectations and fantasies and figure out where reality lies.  And that’s way harder to do with another person involved.  Happily Mr. Flo is a patient man and can wait for his dingbat of a wife to figure it out and then reap the rewards.  It just took awhile.

    *gets on the shortbus and rides off into the sunset*

  18. 18
    Joanna says:

    There’s another one who needs to be shot out of a cannon.

    Heh, lookit;
    It’s a comic about a monogamous relationship between a girl and her sidekick. It’s awesome and silly. It just so happens that the first comic ever is about shooting people into space with a rocket/cannon…

  19. 19
    cecilia says:

    These writers are willing to concede that a relationship needs ‘intimacy’ yet they scoff at romance.
    I think they have an extremely narrow view of romance, ie flowers and candy.

    Patty H, I don’t think they’re scoffing at romance as you would define it, judging by the suggestion that a couple sneak out for a quick walk after the kids are in bed.  (And for those that see that as abuse, geez louise. How much worse is that than the parents going to sleep at night at the same time?) I think they’re scoffing at expectations that they perceive romance novels are filling our silly little heads with.

    I’m not one to enjoy the bashing romance novels get, and yes, it’s true enough to say romance novels are about relationships and communication and overcoming obstacles, but honestly, a lot of them do represent very silly ways of conducting relationships and communicating and overcoming obstacles.  If we don’t like the sweeping generalizations that make them all sound bad, how fair is it to make them all sound profound?

  20. 20

    So, the reason my husband and I argue over who does the laundry is because I expected to be living out the rest of our married days on a pirate ship on the open seas, because I’ve been brainwashed by romance novels.  Thank God someone has an explanation for this bullshit.

  21. 21

    This is why they call us the SMART bitches.
    But remember, half of everyone is below average.

    I encountered too many women who expect life to be just like a Harlequin and are puzzled and cranky that it isn’t. They look at me funny when I say what’s kept my marriage together for 19 years is poverty, inertia and spite.

    It wasn’t romance novels that fed me unrealistic expectations. It was church. That’s why I still read and write romance.

  22. 22

    I think the problem with the sweeping generalization, cecilia, is that it is frame as an incredibly powerful mind-control thing.  Yes, there are people who believe that somehow relationships should be like that, but most women who read them realize that they are entertainment.  Nobody accuses men of having unrealistic expectations of becoming a secret agent man when they read spy novels.

    Apparently you romance writers have magic pens which enthrall us the moment we open a book (since the passage quoted implies that reading any romance, just once, might have the effect of turning us into HEA zombies).

    My pirate…er, partner…just got back from an adventure on a masted ship.  It was vastly less romantic than he imagined it would be.

  23. 23
    Theresa Meyers says:

    Yeah,  Sarah, this is why we love you Smart Bitches. 

    Unrealistic expectations like respect, monogamy, love.  Wow, yeah, that might be a little much to ask for.

    Today is my 19th anniversary…and frankly a great majority of the romance writers I know have longer marriages than the average population.  Humm, maybe they (and their readers) know something the average reader of this book doesn’t?  Someday I’m going to write a book about that!

    spaminator: closed29 (uh, yeah, that would be for closed minds that obviously need about 29 hits to the desk to wake up to the fact that women aren’t masochists out there willingly throwing away their lives thinking romances are ruining marriages.)

  24. 24
    Soccer Mom says:

    Looooooong time lurker bitch.  First time poster.

    It’s taken a lot to pull me out of lurkdom, but Oh. My. Freakin. Zeus.

    That has got to be the stupidest book I have ever seen.  Where to begin?  IDK.  Twelve dollars just to tell me to take some time for myself?  Seriously?  Srsly?  That’s the best they can do?  The advice is take time for yourself and give up on the idea of having a fizznucking good time with your spouse.  And don’t feel guilty.  That’s it.  The advice in a nutshell.

    What a stinking pile of moose shit.

    I’m gonna jump my husband’s bones tonight just because I can. 

    :puts cloaking device back on:

    Back into lurkdom.  Don’t mind me.

    spamalot: once58.  No, dammit.  I’m only 41.

  25. 25
    Joanne says:

    With 36 years of marriage *I was 14 when I married…. *sigh, that’s a lie…*… I can say without any hesitation that reading, particularly reading romance,  has had a lot to do with keeping my marriage, my mind and my relationship with my husband together and satisfying.

    For the smart bitches there is no need to explain that a new release from a favorite author has kept me from tossing a grenade through the tv screeen during March Madnesss.

    Nora Roberts has contributed many extra years to my married life by allowing me to read about murder and dead bodies in her books without my actually having to produce one in my living room when “he” has been an absolute ass. (I am never an ass, his opinion on this will not be solicited.)

    Reality? Reality is sitting in ICU waiting for him to wake up and the only thing holding your brain inside your skull is the next page of a novel.

    Real life? Nothing like a kid out for the night—- he was suppose to be home at eleven——when you can feel the color of your hair turning to gray as the hours move by so slowly that only some humor in a romance novel keeps you from screaming in fear until your heart stops.
    There’s so much mis-information there that I can’t even make a point, thank goodness I don’t have to.

    Screw the author of that tripe… scratch that. Don’t buy into the content.

  26. 26
    Erin says:

    I am so glad to hear you all talk like this.  I’m 26 and single, and people have actually told me that all the romance novels I read are going to have a negative effect on my marriage someday.  (If I ever get married, which isn’t said but is implied.)  I read this book back in college called “Marriable- Taking the Desperate out of Dating” that said that romance novels and chick flicks are porn for women and give us unrealistic expectations about men.  Since it was a book on Christian dating, it even went so far as to say that it’s kind of sinful to read too many of these books.  I would like to think that I’m smarter than that and can separate fantasy from reality, but I’ve been told multiple times through books and other people that romance novels have permanently messed up my brain.  I was starting to think that maybe the problem isn’t the jerks I date, maybe it’s the romance novels.

    Thank you for showing me that you can love romance novels and still have a happy marriage.

  27. 27
    Carrie Lofty says:

    From the excerpt: We’re not talking about manicures and endless loafing around the spa or in front of TV soap operas, or ignoring your children so you can advance your career or have more fun. (pg. 4)

    Sorry. Here I was working on my career. Didn’t realize it held as little importance as fun, hygiene, and escapist entertainment. Wait…

  28. 28
    shuzluva says:

    I was just going to enjoy everyone else’s comments on the utter stupidity of the so-called advice this book is doling out until I read Erin’s comment.

    Honey, DO NOT listen. Marriage is work, even if you marry a saint, and no romance novel is going to make or break it. My husband thinks it’s wonderful that I have a hobby (he considers my reading one of my hobbys), and he knows it relaxes me and makes me happy, which in turn, makes him happy. Don’t stop reading.

    Hah. My spam blocker word is trying21.

  29. 29

    I’m always a big fan of people who perpetuate the idea that being involved in primarily female pursuits (romance novels, knitting, not peeing standing up) is not only a gigantic waste of time, but so despicable that you can refer to it without even explaining yourself. So the author can refer to reading romance novels and not have to explain the mouth breathing stereotype she’s consciously perpetuating. Nice.

    The tone of the thing reminds me of one of my husband’s superiors, who, upon hearing that I was going back to school to get my second BA (he knows I write romance novels) said: “Wow. You must have a very patient husband.”

    To paraphrase a quote I’ve heard elsewhere,
    I read romance novels so that I do not kill people.

  30. 30
    phadem says:



    If yall could only see me now, face frozen stiff from laughter, tears of crocodile proportions, and I have to pee on top of that.


    I’d like to take this opportunity to firmly upbraid those that have never told me the damage my romance reading has been doing to my delicate psyche and even more precarious marriage (Oh the agony – if Id only known what I was doing!). I only wish more brave romance naysayers had stepped forward over the years. Surely my brain would still be intact!

    Thank you, to all that have. There were some, just not enough!

    To the cash register clerk at SAM’s who made sure to inform me that romances weren’t real, but fiction as I purchased scandal-ridden Linda Lael Miller at the tender age of fifteen – thank you! I was able to read those in a safe, fanciful bliss-laden bubble, knowing that it was all utter tripe and was well warned for any such future trash. But as we all know, fifteen is indeed a tender age, and much can be forgotten as we grow older.

    So now thank you to the writers of this swinging book – thank YOU for saving me from myself! My husband is swooning in relief as I type.

    Forget the whales – with more stereotypes and generalized assumptions in hand, we can rid the world of unreasonable expectations and save the romance readers!

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