Hallmark Movies

Posted on January 3, 2017

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Happy New Year to you.  I hope that the year is off to a good start for you and that your resolutions are intact.  Liturgically, we are still in the season of Christmas for a few more days.

Among the many rituals surrounding Christmas, my wife is quite fond of watching Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.  On the whole I don’t mind them as long as the leads are likeable enough that I actually want them to get together.  My needs in such entertainment are fairly simple: the male character I most identify with should end up with the girl, and she should seem like a good catch.

Fairly consistently, you know when the two main characters meet that they will end up together.  One of them probably already has a significant other whose fatal character flaw will be revealed during the course of the film.

The plots hinge on a short list of recurring themes:

Theme 1: One or both parties begin the relationship with a lie or deception.

Theme 2: One or both parties are rude to the other at the first meeting.

Theme 3: There is a misunderstanding that threatens the relationship.

Theme 4: Unbeknownst to the woman, the man in the story is secretly a prince of a small country.  His mother, the queen, is disapproving of his choice in partners.

Somehow, these films always go through the age old, 1) boy meets girl; 2) boy loses girl; 3) boy gets girl.  I have no objection to this for romantic movies, but it does not always work that way in real life.

As you might be looking at New Year’s resolutions, let me offer some commentary on these themes that might help with your relationships.

Theme 1: One or both parties begin the relationship with a lie or deception.  Never lie to your partner (or anyone else for that matter).  What happens when you lie to your partner is that in calls into question everything your partner knows about you and the relationship.  Dishonesty is inherently damaging to relationships.  It undermines trust.  It is hard to ever experience real intimacy without trust.

Theme 2: One or both parties are rude to the other at the first meeting.  Two things that tell you a lot about a person is how they treat others who a) are not in position to help them, and b) are not in position to fight back.  In every interaction, we have the opportunity to be a blessing to the other person (who is fearfully and wonderfully made and bearing the image of God).  Do not repay evil for evil.  Honor everyone regardless of their station in life.

Theme 3: There is a misunderstanding that threatens the relationship.  It is a normal part of the human experience that we take the data we get and we make a story of it.  This is how we make sense of our world.  The problem is that the story can often be wrong and not what is really happening.  Before ending an otherwise satisfying relationship, it might be helpful to check your assumptions, to test the story against reality.  This is generally a straightforward process.  Talk to your partner about it.  Clear the air.  If the story you were telling your self turns out to be true and it is a deal breaker, so be it.  If not, you may have saved the relationship.

Theme 4: Unbeknownst to the woman, the man in the story is secretly a prince of a small country.  His mother, the queen, is disapproving of his choice in partners.  If you are the woman in this situation, RUN!  If your significant other’s mother is continually rude to you and he does not stand up for you, is this really the man you want?  If he is so hopelessly enmeshed with mommy, it is going to be a problem in your relationship.  If you are the man in this situation, man up.  Even if your mother is the queen, she does not get a pass for being rude to any guest you should bring home.  Honoring your mother does not mean failing to have boundaries.  “Mom, you can be nice to my guest, or my guest and I will celebrate Christmas elsewhere.  If you have a concern about the relationship, you can speak to me respectfully about it.  But I still will make the decision about my relationships.”

If we distill all of this down, the solution is 1) be honest; 2) be courteous to all; 3) clarify misunderstandings; 4) maintain healthy boundaries with your family of origin.  It might not make a good movie plot, but it makes for better relationships.

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