Monday, August 21, 2006

Flags Are Not Flaws

I had an interesting evening last night. I met with a co-ed book club in Frisco which is FAR north of Dallas. I was looking forward to the meeting because I've only met with one other book club that was co-ed and the discussion was pretty tame. The title of my novel, When A Sistah's FED UP, makes most men have a knee jerk reaction that it's another "male bashing" book. One, it's not. I selected the title to appeal to the primary audience for romance novels which is females. Women purchase about 80f novels. However, all my characters have flaws because that's reflective of life as I know it. Can the couple grow with or around those flaws is the question?

Anyway, one brother launched an eloquent diatribe about how the divorce rate is not really related to communication problems as reported in most research. He believes people should make sure they're marrying the right person initially. There's some truth there: however, I married in my early twenties. My ex and I both changed a lot. I think a statement that concrete doesn't leave room for growth and change which, hopefully, occurs in the same direction, but not always. That's where communicating about expectations and disappointments comes into play. But, that's just my opinion.

I do believe you need to invest considerable time getting to know your prospective mate: make sure you share interests, core values, and goals at a minimum. However, I know personalities, goals, and feelings often change as family dynamics shift and saying "never" about anything is inviting temptation. So the gentleman goes on to talk about how we need to pay more attention to the red flags that pop up early in the relationship. I'll amen that. People will tell and show you who they are if you listen long enough. That new love and all consuming passion tends to make us blind to the flags, but they are often there. Another person suggested we go into relationships thinking we can change our partners' flaws. Yes, there are some cosmetic things we can work on, but you are what you are. Country boy. Princess. Perfectionist.

In my novel, the main characters are college sweethearts who get married young because the wife becomes pregnant. She gives up her career aspirations to raise the children, but later returns to college, then, law school, and eventually becomes Mayor of a mid-sized Texas City. So, the group agreed the fact Mayor Henry was in college pursuing a degree should have been a big red flag to her husband who really wanted a homemaker like his more traditional mother. Does he really have a right to resent her ambitious nature?

For most of the very polite meeting- (most book clubs spend a lot of time screaming their opinions)-, I was whispering with the nice lady next to me as we commented on the others' observations. Meanwhile, this red flag debate was getting heated. There were the usual comments about women having unrealistic expectations for a potential mate. These remarks came from males and females to my surprise. True, some women AND men have a laundry list that's a bit too long when it comes to finding a partner. Most mature adults are willing to tolerate the imperfections (flaws) in their loved ones because they know they, too, have areas of weakness.
After three hours of point-counterpoint, the woman next to me said the most profound thing I've heard during my entire book tour this summer. She said, "Flags are not flaws." That's deep. I tend to agree.