When I ask people why they read fiction I get answers like “to escape”, ” to learn” or to “be entertained.” All those are definitely valid answers and a growing body of research indicates that reading fiction promotes feelings of empathy which can make us better people.
But can reading Christian fiction help your marriage?
In addition to being a fiction author, I’ve spent much of the past two decades working with married couples and I’m going with a resounding yes. Here are the top five reasons why.
Starting with the “least important.”
5. Christian fiction can promote a deeper understanding of the opposite sex
To write fiction with authenticity, authors have to develop a deep understanding of the opposite sex. Just about every piece of fiction has at least one male/female couple (it’s the perfect recipe for conflict, right?).
If the plot is well written, you get sucked into the story, this maelstrom of emotions that allows you to experience life from the viewpoint of someone of the opposite sex. This opens the doors for a lot of “Huh, I didn’t think about that,” moments. Whether or not the characters in your book are like your spouse, the truth is you’re learning to think outside your own frameworks which can, in turn, deepen your understanding of your spouse.
4. CF offers hypothetical high-stress scenarios common to all
Okay, so I write historical/political fiction. I doubt any of you were a nurse that stitched up wounds on the front lines of WWI—but you have felt fear. You do know what it’s like to lose someone you love, or perhaps to feel alone.
How can you positively deal with these and other high-stress situations that can impact your marriage? Christian fiction can be seen as a sort of hypothetical counseling session. We learn through trial and error, right? But who says the errors have to be yours? I’d prefer to learn through a character’s mistakes. The novel’s characters make decisions in situations similar to your own that have positive or negative outcomes.
When we read a good book, we see elements of ourselves in the story. This allows us to learn what’s a possible good or bad response to a life situation we’re facing. For example, if there’s a financial stressor in the novel and the couple’s reactions pull them apart then perhaps the next time financials come between you and your spouse, you’ll be better prepared to successfully navigate that challenge.
3. Novels teach us coping strategies
Think back to that novel that really had you up till 1:00 a.m. turning pages. Odds are there were some powerful characters that were facing intense emotional/physical/spiritual hurdles. How did they overcome the pressure? Or did they?
You see, well-written fiction is the real-world just set in an imaginative way. As such, stories teach us through example.
2. CF novels can inspire us to become better spouses
By the end of a solid Christian fiction novel, hopefully the character has overcome the situation and is showing positive change. The themes of perseverance, enduring love, and forgiveness are immortal. When we see examples of people who have risen above heart-wrenching circumstances and still hold their husband or wife’s hand at night, it can inspire us to renew our commitment to our spouse.
When we see a man or woman showing understanding instead of justly-deserved retaliation, it can inspire us to do the same.
Whether or not the characters were real people, the truth is that well-written fictional characters are always real simply because they’re just like you and me.
1. CF presents spiritual messages that are relevant to your present or future situations
True Christian fiction ultimately points readers to God as the answer to life’s problems. But it doesn’t end there. Simply telling someone “God is the answer” doesn’t really help them deal with abuse, infidelity, or porn addiction.
Well-written Christian fiction takes the biblical principles and teaches us coping strategies through the character’s natural and spiritual growth. For example, Leila, the protagonist in the Northshire Heritage series, has to cope with the pain of her husband’s confessed infidelity.
Hopefully you’ve never been in a similar situation but, even if you haven’t, perhaps you’ve felt the pain of a different kind of betrayal or simply dishonesty in a relationship.
The point is that CF takes the scriptural truth and helps us apply it to our life.
So, ladies, the next time your husband says that another novel isn’t in the budget, smile and say “Honey, I’m investing in our marriage!”
See how I address challenges to relationships in my hit series, The Northshire Trilogy.
In the Dead of the Night is the fantastic finish to the action-packed, danger-filled Northshire Heritage series. If you like World War I fiction, I highly recommend this! I loved it.
P.S. How has Christian fiction helped you? I’d love to know. Send in a comment.