My husband and me on our wedding day, May 17th 2002. Gosh, he’s cute. And we look like we’re 12.
Well, let me tell ya, I know all about that. As a teenager, I always assumed the guy I’d marry would be a lot like me- quiet-ish (only until you get to know me! LOL!), musical, artsy, a bookworm, etc.
My husband is none of those things. He makes friends with EVERYONE he meets, he can’t carry a tune in a bucket, he thinks crafting is an illness, and he once told me he’d rather slit his wrists and do pushups in saltwater than read a book.
He loves any and every sport, his favorite non-ESPN TV shows are Cops and Wipeout, and I don’t think he has ever read a single post I have written for this blog. He doesn’t even match my visual picture of my future mate- I had always pictured myself with a guy who was tall and kinda gangly (= nerd). Chad is average height (6 ft) and, well, beefy(= total jock). I never knew your muscles could get stretch marks until I met him.
So how on earth did we get together and what keeps us together?
Well, we met through the Young Single Adult program at church, and to make a long story short, what I fell in love with wasn’t his hobbies or talents. As I got to know him, I discovered that what really mattered to me had nothing to do with common interests; it had everything to do with real qualities and personality traits that would help to bind us together for eternity. I discovered a man who was thoughtful, kind, unfailingly loyal, respectful, hardworking, and filled with integrity. Once I learned these things about Chad, my “other list” didn’t seem so important anymore.
I realized how important those things are when falling in love after I watched the movie, “Robin Hood” with Russell Crowe. I’d have to say that this was probably my favorite movie version of this story (though Disney, the men in tights, and Kevin Costner will all always hold their own special places in my heart as well) especially because of how the love story between Robin Hood and Maid Marian was portrayed in this version. I thought quite a bit about how their relationship played out in the movie as I tried to pinpoint what it was I liked so much about it, and I realized that I liked it because it was based on real values. It wasn’t sparked by clever banter, shared interest, or a crazy twist of fate. Instead, events transpired that revealed those most important, core values in each character. Marian saw that Robin was a man of integrity and honor, and that he would fight for what was right, but he was humble at the same time. Robin saw that Marian was hardworking, loyal, strong, and independent, but that she was willing to submit for the sake of others. In fact, there was little conversation between these two (that was shown) but when they finally kissed I felt like cheering.
I think we all know those movies where the romance is either too obvious or too out-of-nowhere (I love me some Twilight, but I felt like the first movie just kind of invented their romance out of nothing- I was like, “Wait, when did they fall in love? How did that happen?”) and the question is, as writers, how do we get the characters in our stories to fall in love in a natural and meaningful way?
I think we can use the ‘Robin Hood Model’ (yes, I just made that up) and try to arrange a sequence of events in our stories in which an MC's true character can shine through. Not just the cliche thing with the hot guy tussling around with a group of young kids (awww) but real character-trying issues, and the more relevant they are to the plot, the better. How does he react when he sees someone in need? What does he do when faced with temptation? How does he respond to someone wanting to pick a fight? Does he do these same things when no one is looking?
I think that when we focus on these real, core values, we can make a love story that is realistic and draws the reader in. You want them to be able to fall in love with your characters at the same time your characters are falling in love with each other. So think about what your character’s most valuable qualities are and find a way to show them to their love interest and the reader. And go check out Russell Crowe as Robin Hood if you haven’t seen it yet- great flick for after your big Thanksgiving meal this weekend. :-)
So how did you know your significant other was The One? What qualities drew you to them?