Yes, I’ve watched that ultimate wish-fulfillment holiday chick flick, A Christmas Prince. So has my teenage daughter. Six times. Netflix recently called out the many people who have watched it every day since it was released — and asked, “Who hurt you?”
To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 11, 2017
Even as I was snuggled on the couch on a cold winter’s day, watching the syrupy-sweet movie with my daughter (my first time, her fourth – yes, I know I was enabling her), I was thinking “This is so cheesy… why do I like it so much?” Whether you’re a multi-watcher of cheesy movies or a mocker of those who are…. why do those plot lines appeal to so many of us so much?
It is because they call to our deeper desires. We all can fall into the trap of idolizing a fairytale romance, especially women. Which is one reason it can be so sneakily dangerous to our real relationships! It was interesting that when I was investigating what makes the happiest couples so happy, I learned some key tips to remember as you watch the next Hallmark movie.
1. Celebrate what your real-life man offers, rather than wishing he’d behave like a mythical one.
One of the most crucial secrets I discovered in my research was that the happiest couples have realistic expectations of their spouse. They are far less likely to be disappointed because they expect and celebrate what is within the realm of the possible. The hero of a Hallmark movie may eagerly talk with the protagonist about her feelings while decorating a Christmas tree … and recite poetry … then play her a special song on the piano … hold her hand as they look out into the snow and drink hot cocoa … but the average American male is far less likely to do one of those things, much less all of them!
The reason a real-life, smart, capable teenage girl or 40-year-old woman is drawn to multi-watch romantic movies is because it hits all her notes of being swept off her feet, and – even better – by a man who pursues her, is always understanding of her weaknesses at all times, always attentive, and always has that listening ear unconditionally. And yet in real life, the man might be doubting himself, not sure what she wants from him, busy with work, and not knowing if she even wants to be pursued – and probably even has no idea how!
My husband would never do anything that sweet, we might think, as we watch the handsome prince go on romantic walks with the female protagonist. In the snow. Around a castle.
Yet that silly passing thought when watching a movie, can turn into a seed of bitterness. Don’t let an over-the-top portrayal of the perfect sensitive man cloud your appreciation for your real-life husband.
2. Hang out — and have fun
Here’s an idea: try to watch these Hallmark-style movies WITH your spouse!
Now, guys, you may prefer the idea of having your toenails ripped out one by one, but giving it a try won’t kill you. Not only is it beneficial to spend time together (another secret to a happy marriage), but it can also spark conversations as you watch and laugh together. Ladies, share with your husband what appeals to you — or doesn’t appeal to you. Men, listen and engage with your wife. Laugh at the absurdity, and also explore the avenue toward real, authentic conversation.
3. Love the one you’re with
At the end of the day, your spouse is your spouse — for life. The happiest couples believe they hit the jackpot and treat their spouse accordingly. So your husband doesn’t own an inn in the charming town of Snow Falls, reaching out to the homeless and running charity auctions? So, what do you love about him? Take a page out of the 30-Day Kindness Challenge and find something you can praise. Even the most difficult spouse has something admirable. Even the most difficult marriage has something to celebrate.
Watch Hallmark movies with a discerning eye and a gracious spirit toward the leading man (or lady) in your life, and you’ll enjoy all the cheese with none of the whine.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average, clueless people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge demonstrates that kindness is the answer to pretty much every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.