Commitment is what holds a couple together through the ups and downs of life, but it does not necessarily signify love. Love is what makes a person want to keep their commitment no matter what happens, and this may fade in and out during the span of a relationship. Commitment and love combined make a great relationship, but each can form the basis of a working relationship on its own.


But perhaps this isn’t the complete picture. While happiness is generally understood as a mood, there are other ways to understand happiness. Let’s look at an analogy, health. We know that it is possible to be wrong about our state of health. You may feel great but be on death’s door. People drop dead of heart attacks without warning. You go for your annual check-up with no complaints only to have blood tests returned with bad news.
But what about that consistency we all crave, which comes only from true commitment? That’s a lot harder. But absolutely possible. Commitment begins with desire. Each person has to want it and be willing to sacrifice for the other. It takes shifting the way we view ourselves and giving up something, in order to give to someone else. Thing is, it’s not as hard as you might think.
Robert Johnson, a Jungian writer, calls this “stirring the oatmeal” love, and describes it as: “…a willingness to share ordinary human life, to find meaning in the simple, unromantic tasks: earning a living, living within a budget, putting out the garbage, feeding the baby in the middle of the night. To ‘stir the oatmeal’ means to find the relatedness, the value, even the beauty in simple ordinary things, not to eternally demand a cosmic drama, an entertainment or an extraordinary intensity in everything. Like the rice hulling of the Zen monks, the spinning wheel of Gandhi, the tent making of Saint Paul, it represents the discovery of the sacred in the midst of the humble and ordinary.”
4In this paper I examine if this tacit assumption remains valid when the romance novel’s materiality is subjected to in-depth analysis. This analysis focuses in particular on the format of the category romance – the most conventional kind of romance novel – to uncover the fact that the genre’s materiality is fundamentally and functionally marked by tensions between conventionality and originality, pattern and deviation, simplicity and complexity. The double reading of the category romance novel’s materiality that is developed in this article and the perhaps surprisingly intricate relation between this materiality and the reader/public that is uncovered not only offer an overdue and innovative discussion of the category romance’s materiality, but also develop interesting wider perspectives for the study of the complex relation between genre and materiality in popular culture more generally.
You probably don’t talk about your groin injury or irritable bowel syndrome around the dinner table. Those conversations are usually reserved for medical appointments and the occasional funny story. However, if you find that you can speak with your lover about intimate bodily functions, you’re probably more than casual friends; especially if you find that typically private and personal conversations become commonplace between the two of you.

“When you exercise, chemicals are released in the brain that cause happiness,” explained Nancy Mramor, Ph.D., a psychologist with a private practice in Pittsburgh, Pa. “Fifteen to 20 minutes of walking and the chemicals start kicking in, and the more you do it, the stronger that reaction in the brain becomes.” For a double-whammy, take your walk in nature (or at least, in relatively fresh air and sunlight if you’re a city person). Studies show that putting one foot in front of the other outdoors ... even for just a few minutes ... can help boost mood.

Umbrella-related questions thereby resolved, the grandmother went on to explain the traditional Hmong marital custom of kidnapping. This is an ancient custom, she said, though it is much less in practice these days than it was in the past. Still, it does exist. Brides— who are sometimes consulted beforehand about their kidnapping and sometimes not—are abducted by their potential grooms, who carry them by pony to their own families’ homes. This is all strictly organized and is permitted only on certain nights of the year, at celebrations after certain market days. (You can’t just kidnap a bride any old time you want. There are rules.) The kidnapped girl is given three days to live in the home of her captor, with his family, in order to decide whether or not she would like to marry this fellow. Most of the time, the grandmother reported, the marriage proceeds with the girl’s consent. On the rare occasion that the kidnapped potential bride doesn’t embrace her captor, she is allowed to return home to her own family at the end of the three days, and the whole business is forgotten. Which sounded reasonable enough to me, as far as kidnappings go.


1For the last few decades romance has been the popular genre par excellence in the English-speaking world. With sales figures that average around $ 1.36 billion a year, a readership of nearly 75 million people in the U.S. alone and a 13.4 % share of the American consumer book market in 2011, the popular romance novel is by far the best-selling genre in America (“About the Romance Genre”). In 2010 a staggering 8,240 new romance titles were released in the U.S., and 469 of these novels became national or international bestsellers. Harlequin, the most important romance publisher in the world, “publishes over 110 titles a month in 31 languages in 111 international markets on six continents” (“About Harlequin”). On average, the company sells about 130 million books a year (“Over Ons”) ; since its inception in the mid-twentieth century an astounding total of over 6 billion popular romance novels have been sold by this publisher alone (“About Harlequin”).
And as we have the privilege today to rejoice with some of our brothers and sisters who are taking a big step of baptism, we get to see this pictured in baptism. Part of what’s happening… the water doesn’t save anybody. It’s Christ who saves by grace through faith. But when a person is buried in the likeness of his death, raised in the likeness of his resurrection, we get a picture of hesed love of God, the loyal, committed, covenantal love. It wasn’t anything that person did that earned that love. It was the free love of God committed to that individual to rescue them.
She was twelve years old, I would learn later, but tinier than any American twelve-year-old I’d ever met. She was exceptionally beautiful. Her skin was dark and healthy, her hair glossy and braided, her compact body all sturdy and confident in a short woolen tunic. Though it was summertime and the days were sultry, her calves were wrapped in brightly colored wool leggings. Her feet tapped restlessly in plastic Chinese sandals. She had been hanging around our hotel for some time—I had spotted her when we were checking in—and now, when I stepped
“Everyone needs something to look forward to,” Holstein said, and while dreaming about a fantasy trip, or a job you’d love to have 5 or 10 years down the road can provide a boost (as can having fun right-this-minute), there’s value in putting something tangible on your calendar within the coming weeks or months. The anticipation of having a nice experience coming up not-too-far-down-the road — like dinner at a new restaurant or a day trip to the country — breeds joy.

One of the very first signs of commitment in a relationship is when two people spend lots of time together. Outside of normal working hours and with all the things you could be doing in a day, there usually isn’t much time left over to spare. And since time is one of the few commodities that none of us can get back, the fact that you and your significant other choose to make time for each other on a regular basis is a good sign that you’re both committed.

Your body has three layers of muscles. When you vary your exercise, you give the neglected, constricted layers more attention. Since they’re weak, they have to work harder, so you stimulate development where it’s needed instead of going overboard on the parts you overuse. Chasing an endorphin high is not worth the risk of wearing out a part and needing a parts replacement. Variety is a great alternative and one of the best ways to feel better.

8One of the consequences of this system is that category romances are highly conventional. All category romance novels share the overall conventions of the romance genre,6 but within this encompassing generic framework each category romance also incorporates the conglomerate of conventions that characterize the line in which it is published. As a result, conventionality is pivotal to nearly every aspect of the category romance story and text. These conventions are, moreover, strongly enforced by editors and publishers, who act as gatekeepers guarding the genre and line profiles. Narratives that do not incorporate the various conventions are simply not published in the category romance system.7 The strong conventionality that consequently marks the category romance novel is often interpreted as a characteristic that renders the category romance an aesthetically inferior form, and it is frequently cited as one of the main reasons for the format’s low cultural status.8

34The stereotype-driven character of the category romance’s materiality ensures that the public is likely to follow the producers’ primary suggestion and interpret the book in generic terms as a popular romance novel. This interpretation is achieved via the repetitive material invocation of numerous widespread stereotypes that surround the genre in our culture. Although this strategy reinforces and perpetuates a very clichéd cultural image of the genre, one of its major interpretative benefits is that such stereotypes can be interpreted – decoded – by a huge and diversified audience. This public intelligibility of its material code is an important commercial consideration for a book that circulates in a wide variety of cultural and commercial spaces frequented by a wide variety of consumers.
This is where a lot of those so-called committed relationships (that were really just an agreement of temporary exclusivity) break down and fall apart. This is where it starts to require some compromise. This is also where true commitment starts, because it means that you're both willing to work things out instead of just breaking up at the first sign of anything that doesn't resemble the fairy tale.

29Even more so than other material aspects of the romance, the preview scene is marked by a double codification and is accordingly interpreted rather differently by the public and the romance reader. In the public’s interpretation, the extreme conventionality of the scene is the dominant feature and the scene is consequently interpreted as yet another code that signifies the novel’s popular romance identity. Because the scene explicitly evokes stereotypes of the genre that are particularly widespread in our culture – the first kiss, the typical tension between conflict and attraction that is widely associated with popular romances, the clichéd and euphemistic language describing sexual attraction, etc. – this interpretation is guaranteed irrespective of the reader’s profile. Indeed, even a reader who is only aware of the most basic cultural stereotypes surrounding popular romance recognizes in this scene the genre’s conventions and will correctly interpret it as a code for the narrative’s popular romance genre identity. In this process the preview scene not only invokes but also reinforces and perpetuates a number of the stereotypes already surrounding the genre, much like the clinch that is its visual equivalent.


Meeting the Hmong women that day in Vietnam reminded me of an old adage: “Plant an expectation; reap a disappointment.” My friend the Hmong grandmother had never been taught to expect that her husband’s job was to make her abundantly happy. She had never been taught to expect that her task on earth was to become abundantly happy in the first place. Never having tasted such expectations to begin with, she had reaped no particular disenchantment from her marriage. Her marriage fulfilled its role, performed its necessary social task, became merely what it was, and that was fine.

Gary Smalley was one of the country's best-known authors and speakers on family relationships. He was the award-winning, best-selling author or coauthor of sixteen books, as well as several popular films and videos. The Blessing and The Two Sides of Love have won Gold Medallions, The Language of Love won the Angel Award as the best contribution to family life, and his other titles have received Si ...more

We Americans often say that marriage is “hard work.” I’m not sure the Hmong would understand this notion. Life is hard work, of course, and work is very hard work—I’m quite certain they would agree with those statements—but how does marriage become hard work? Here’s how: Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life’s expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work. A recent survey of young American women found that what women are seeking these days in a husband—more than anything else—is a man who will “inspire” them, which is, by any measure, a tall order. As a point of comparison, young women of the same age, surveyed back in the 1920s, were more likely to choose a partner based on qualities such as “decency,” or “honesty,” or his ability to provide for a family. But that’s not enough anymore. Now we want to be inspired by our spouses! Daily! Step to it, honey!


During this time (and unless you married your high school sweetheart, you’ve certainly experienced some iteration of it before), you want to minimize pain and discomfort. So it helps for both of you to understand that commitment is not a part of love. It’s not a requirement of love. Your love won’t end just because your commitment does. Your love will probably subside in a reasonable amount of time, into a manageable piece of your heart and mind, which might at times re-ignite, and also might not.
And Lord, we get to watch that.  And I pray that as we hear these testimonies, as we see these baptisms that there will be many, many thanksgivings rising up to you from our hearts as we bless your name for your glory. And for those who don’t know what it’s like to be loved in a committed, compassionate way, may you draw our hearts to you today. May there be some in here who put their faith in Jesus Christ for your glory. Amen.
I think it means that someone is there for you no matter what.it should not matter what time of day it is or what the issue is if you need them they should be there.also they are the person that no matter what comes up you invite them to go with you they are your other half.you don't have to wonder who they are with you should be able to tell everyone that he is my guy. No waiting t I see who you will spend your free time with it is already understood.
Make time for “me time.” If you want to feel happier, then you have to spend more time thinking about yourself. This doesn’t mean you should be completely selfish, but it does mean that you should schedule times when you can just be alone with your own thoughts, ideas, and favorite activities. Your life may be hectic, but there’s always time to squeeze in a half hour or an hour here and there just to be by yourself, whether you’re taking a walk, writing in a journal, or just reflecting on the week.
36Genre is thus one of the most important organizational and interpretative pillars of the field of popular fiction, and it steers the mass communication that marks this field in the right direction. Given the industrial, commercial and communicative prominence of genre in popular fiction, it is in fact only logical that the category romance novel – one of the most (in)famous examples of genre fiction – emphasizes this generic identity in the public codification of its materiality.
Many of us have grown up to believe that happiness is an outside force we can’t control. We go about our lives waiting for happiness to happen to us! We believe if we perhaps find the right partner, wear the right kind of clothes, have the dream job, or go on vacation, we will achieve the happiness we long for. However, the reality is that happiness is a choice, a decision you can make to take control of your well being, and enjoy life to the fullest. They say money can’t buy you happiness and that is absolutely true! Here is a short list of 10 free things you can do to turn that frown upside down and start embracing happiness in your life!

"IM is my medium," Burton says with a laugh. "If I can get a girl to respond to my chat message, I'm golden." The trick, he confides, is to deploy certain "social hacks" in the instant message. "Like smiley-face optimization," he says. "You can say anything to a girl if you put a smiley face or a wink after it. I've said things like 'You should come over to my house and have sex with me. :) :) :)' and it's fine because they just think I'm joking. And then, more often than not, they'll come over and have sex with me!"
The simple answer is that Kirby’s romance comics are not as accessible as his efforts in other, more action-oriented genres such as science-fiction, western or super-hero comics. The more complicated answer is that romance comics are too close to real life. After all, how realistic is it that a reader would encounter savage Indians, bug-eyed monsters or costumed supermen in their day to day lives? Uncluttered by such unrealistic distractions, romance comics are free to explore the more quiet drama of real life—the incidents, heartbreaks, and human conflicts that are actually encountered in the lives of their readers. Thus romance comics have had the perfect camouflage: Made up of the familiar details of daily life, they have not stood out. Instead, they have receded in the minds of readers as their more colorful competitors on the magazine racks have loomed ever larger in their more exaggerated presentations.
Love, as it turns out, is a feeling (no surprises there). We get tingly and joyful. We get excited. We love. We hug and kiss and wrap our bodies around each other because it somehow expresses this feeling. “I want to smoosh my body onto your body” is probably the best way I’ve heard this described, in one of the best explorations of this topic I’ve ever read.
Whether you are divorced, getting married, or even happily married, you just have to love how Liz looks at Marriage from every possible angle…especially from the perspective that since she'd been unlucky at it once, she was sure she never wanted to make that mistake again! Her absolute obsession with deconstructing marriage will entertain you and make you think about it long after you've finished reading it. She gives a cross-cultural examination to how people view and feel about marriage, and still, she can't conclude why some marriages work and some don't…only that she's terrified of being unhappy. The love of her life, Felipe, whom we met in Eat, Pray, Love, is unable to enter the USA and unless she marries him the miles of red tape will keep him out of the US for ever. In the mean time, they travel the world in order to stay together while working on making a life together in the US. She seems to think that if she turns herself inside out and reveals all her shortcomings, it will be best in terms of full disclosure. It doesn't matter, when someone you love so much loves you back the way you need to be loved, and that's what Liz discovers while wearing Felipe out and finally figuring out how best to be what he needs and how to provide that for him. They are a precious couple even if they don't fit the perfect rubric of what it takes to make a perfect and lasting marriage. Nobody does, nobody ever will, and in the end, this is a love story, built on the love stories of her parents and the strong women in her life. Marriage is not for the faint of heart, and this should be required pre-Cana reading.
Minimize your stress. Though it’s impossible to stop stressing out all at once, if you make an effort to minimize your stress, you’ll feel happier in no time. Start with the small stuff – clean and organize your space so you don’t get stressed out looking for something to wear every morning. Make your social calendar 25% less packed so you have more time for yourself. Avoid people and situations who cause you great stress. You’ll be surprised by how much of an impact this will have on your level of happiness.
Many of us have grown up to believe that happiness is an outside force we can’t control. We go about our lives waiting for happiness to happen to us! We believe if we perhaps find the right partner, wear the right kind of clothes, have the dream job, or go on vacation, we will achieve the happiness we long for. However, the reality is that happiness is a choice, a decision you can make to take control of your well being, and enjoy life to the fullest. They say money can’t buy you happiness and that is absolutely true! Here is a short list of 10 free things you can do to turn that frown upside down and start embracing happiness in your life!
Commitments to yourself can be difficult to enforce but will ultimately feel good. For example, I made the commitment to bring reusable bags with me when I buy food, but I kept forgetting them. So I added the commitment to go back to my car and get them if I forgot. The next time I found myself at the supermarket without the bags, I thought “I’m too busy to go back to the car.” Then I realized that I will always be busy, and I am a powerless person if I can’t even honor a commitment to myself. So I went back to the car to get the bags, and I never forgot them again because I didn’t want to waste time going back to my car. You will not want to waste time starting over with Day One. You will want to honor your commitments to yourself and thus enjoy a new happy habit.
Spend more time with your loved ones. Spending more time with the people you love – and the people who make you happy – is guaranteed to make you feel happier. If you’re feeling just a little bit down in the dumps, call up a good friend or family member instead of wallowing, and plan something fun to do later. You may feel like your mopey mood will drag people down, but instead, being with your close friends will lift you up and make you feel happier.
At first, it might feel silly to look for reasons to pat yourself on the back, and the reasons you come up with might make you uncomfortable. Still, commit to doing this whether or not it feels good. You can decide to be worthy of your own applause and enjoy the feeling, even if just for a split second. If it feels fake or forced, that’s normal, because the circuits that berate your accomplishments feel strong and true.

34The stereotype-driven character of the category romance’s materiality ensures that the public is likely to follow the producers’ primary suggestion and interpret the book in generic terms as a popular romance novel. This interpretation is achieved via the repetitive material invocation of numerous widespread stereotypes that surround the genre in our culture. Although this strategy reinforces and perpetuates a very clichéd cultural image of the genre, one of its major interpretative benefits is that such stereotypes can be interpreted – decoded – by a huge and diversified audience. This public intelligibility of its material code is an important commercial consideration for a book that circulates in a wide variety of cultural and commercial spaces frequented by a wide variety of consumers.
This is the type of love that is the stuff of countless poems, songs, films, and fantasies. The all-consuming, heart-skips-a-beat, shooting stars in the sky during a kiss, can’t wait until he/she calls, crazy kind of love. Most committed partnerships start here (romantic love usually doesn’t last more than a year), in the phase of intensity, “connection”, longing, focus, and feeling that is hard to describe and feels special. What a ride this can be! This is the stage where people generally describe being “in love” or “falling in love”, and is the stage of courting and being in a state of “fusion”.

Vacations usually happen over the course of several days and can sometimes take several weeks, so if you’re going to take company along you’ll want to make sure you really like them. You’re also making memories that last for a lifetime. Generally speaking, people who take vacations together not only enjoy each other’s company, but are happy to make memories together, so if you take vacations together it’s a good sign that you and your love are truly committed.


36Genre is thus one of the most important organizational and interpretative pillars of the field of popular fiction, and it steers the mass communication that marks this field in the right direction. Given the industrial, commercial and communicative prominence of genre in popular fiction, it is in fact only logical that the category romance novel – one of the most (in)famous examples of genre fiction – emphasizes this generic identity in the public codification of its materiality.
The characteristics of someone in romantic love “…include focused attention on the preferred individual, rearrangement of priorities, increased energy, mood swings, sympathetic nervous system responses including sweating and a pounding heart, emotional dependence, elevated sexual desire, sexual possessiveness, obsessive thinking about him or her, craving for emotional union with this preferred individual, affiliative gestures, goal oriented behaviors, and intense motivation to obtain and retain this particular mating partner.” (Fisher et al, 2010, p.56).
“Everyone needs something to look forward to,” Holstein said, and while dreaming about a fantasy trip, or a job you’d love to have 5 or 10 years down the road can provide a boost (as can having fun right-this-minute), there’s value in putting something tangible on your calendar within the coming weeks or months. The anticipation of having a nice experience coming up not-too-far-down-the road — like dinner at a new restaurant or a day trip to the country — breeds joy.
Committed love is built on a strong basis of mutual understanding. Now this may sound a bit obvious, and one may say this is a part of every relationship but mutual understanding goes much deeper. Love commitment is about understanding the unsaid words, unexpressed feelings and everything in between. Both partners in a relationship need to work upon and build the relationship nurtured with complete understanding.
Committed love offers rewards to couples who stay together. Some couples feel a commited love based on attraction. In this type of relationship your commitment comes from your desire to be with the other person or the romantic love that you feel, according to the article "Commitment in Healthy Relationships" on the North Carolina State University website. The rewards for true loves who commit to each other include regular support, affection and friendship.
16The category romance’s front cover is visually dominated by an image that takes up a focal point in the cover composition (see figure 2). In the majority of cases this is an image of a (scantily clad) man and woman locked in a passionate embrace.9 This image, known in the romance jargon as the “clinch”, graces the front cover of an endless series of category romance novels in always changing but essentially similar variations. It appears to be a very apt visual representation of what the romance genre is all about. Depicting a man and a woman in an intimate and often explicitly passionate clinching embrace (hence the name), the image is made up of visual renderings of the nuclear elements of the conventional romance narrative : the hero, the heroine and their romantic (sexualized) interactions with each other. In a way it also offers a visual representation of what is arguably the core fantasy offered by the genre, namely that of an overwhelming and passionate romantic love focused absolutely on one other.
Believe it or not, your social position changes constantly. One minute you feel like you’re in the subordinate position and the next minute you find yourself in the dominant position in relation to those you focus on. You hate the subordinate position, but when you’re dominant, that frustrates you too. You can learn how to feel happy by enjoying the advantages of wherever you are instead of focusing on the frustrations.
The romance genre was gutted. Nothing that resembled anything a real teenager might experience was allowed anymore. Even though the lovers in the stories looked like full-grown adults, most of these characters seemed to have no clue whatsoever on how to deal with an actual relationship. No comics that tried to show real problems and possible solutions to them were allowed under the Code, and although the genre stumbled along until the mid-1970s, it eventually withered and died.
He redeems your life from the pit. That word “redeem” has to do with buying back out of bondage, bondage to the pit of despair, the pit of sin, the pit of addiction. He buys you back.  He pays your debt. He lifts you up out of the pit. Ultimately that’s pointing to the grave. There is no grave that can hold the one whom God loves. He redeems your life from the pit. And here’s the part I want us to focus on for a few minutes.
a week to build up to a shared chuckle about traffic, and even that may stir up bad feelings that are curiously strong. But you will continue making neutral contact—neither venting anger nor rushing to please. In forty-five days, you will have built a new shared foundation upon which you both feel happier and better about. You may always need to limit your trust in this person, but you will be able to relax in his presence the way gazelles relax in a world full of lions.
Spend more time with your loved ones. Spending more time with the people you love – and the people who make you happy – is guaranteed to make you feel happier. If you’re feeling just a little bit down in the dumps, call up a good friend or family member instead of wallowing, and plan something fun to do later. You may feel like your mopey mood will drag people down, but instead, being with your close friends will lift you up and make you feel happier.
×