Dear Dr. Romance: My wife is reading romance novels
By Tina B. Tessina on November 24, 2013
Dear Dr. Romance
For many many years, i have been the income earner for our 4 kids and my wife while she was home raising the kids. Day in day out I was working sometimes three jobs. I got into a career that took 10-15 hrs per day for the first three years - the money was great and I thought everything was going awesome especially since everyone was enjoying spending my money on lavish things.
Then my wife started taking courses in night school with her friend. Dressing nicely, make up the whole bit...for school? Then one course led to another, and she took some with my eldest daughter as well. Then one day i noticed that she was getting emails from a classmate who was male. It was pretty personal stuff like "what do you want to do with your life?" type questions.
I also found that she was reading tons of romance novels. we had it out, cried lots, and mended our relationship. She said i was always cranky and in bad moods. I guess from being tired, working always and coming home to a messy house and lazy teens did that to me. Anyway, she said she was going to stop reading romance, because it bothered me so much, and that she wouldn't email any "guys" from class.
1 yr went by and things have been awesome...until i found some new romance novels. They disturb me because they are fake, about affairs, etc...why read them? I confronted her and she said she would never stop reading them. It bothers me so much that she won't stop reading them. I feel belittled that she is reading about hunky guys and sex. I stopped facebook, I stopped the occasional drink of beer, I stopped lots of things because it bothers her, but she can't stop the one thing that bothers me. I've even said, I don't care what your read, just not that filth. It makes me feel bad. What to do?
I know she is not cheating because we are always around each other; unless she is occassional teaching at the school which she did lots of this past year. Help! Am I nutz, or do you see a problem?
Awesome for you may not be awesome for her. You are obviously an excellent provider, and most women want that, but when good providing means you neglect your wife, marriages tend to suffer. Romance novels are a women's version of porn, because women are not turned on by sex, but by romantic attention.
She's trying to get from books what she's not getting from you. The problem these books create is that real life can never live up to the romance novel version, so the books (like porn) can become addictive.
Your wife isn't feeling loved, wanted, needed. She probably feels pressured, controlled and not respected. She's somewhat emotionally immature, in that she's not recognizing her own needs and coming to you asking to fix the problem. Instead, she's escaping into romance novels to get her "fix" of affection and attention. Your own emotional immaturity shows in that you don't realize when you're being neglectful and cranky, and take charge of fixing that.
You and your wife need to have another "have it out" session, although I think it would work better just to say "I realize you're not happy, and I want to know what I can do about it." Read a couple of romance novels yourself, to see what she's looking for. I recommend couples counseling: use the "Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely" to find a good therapist. "Apology and Forgiveness" will show you how to take responsibility for your part in the problem. "Couples Can Cooperate for Success" contains guidelines you and your wife can use to solve your problems together and "Lighten Up - Cures for Marital Boredom" contains suggestions for adding some excitement and passion back into your relationship.
Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences has the guidelines you need to begin to listen and accept each other as you are.
For free relationship tips and courses, LoveForever.com
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.