Relationships. “Can’t live with them and we can’t live without them.”
Sex has always seemed nebulous and far off to me. I never got the infamous talk from my parents. Most of what I learned as a blossoming teen came from the cheap jokes of my classmates and awkward presentations in health courses. The media hasn’t helped much either. Throw in some squeamishness from Christians who are walking a hard line to stay pure, and you’ve got a big, boiling pot of confusion.
Trying to impress someone else isn’t a bad thing. It drives us to do more and to be more than we ever would have if we weren’t doing it with another person in mind. The more it’s possible that we might lose that person, the more we are usually willing to do for them. The people we try to impress most are usually strangers to us.
And so, Valentine’s Week comes to a close. To end it, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite ships from movies, television, and books. Let us know what romances you like to see develop in the comments below!
- Peony said Pam & Jim from The Office. No top 10 list would be complete without these two, and for obvious reasons. Fans of the show were rooting for them from the very first episode. Theirs is the quintessential office romance, but what I love most about this couple is how much they grew together. One of my favorite scenes is from “Paper Airplane” (season 9, episode 20). Their marriage was experiencing serious strain – gone were the inside jokes and Jim’s wistful glances to the reception desk. At the end of the episode, through a series of attempts to reconcile, they finally break past their frustrations and embrace, with 1 Corinthians 13 narrating over the scene. Their relationship has known tenderness, and it has also faced some very real challenges, and that speaks volumes to couples who follow in their footsteps. Because let’s face it, we’re all waiting for our Jim Halpert.
- Petunia said Cory & Topanga from Boy Meets World. Everyone wants a love story like theirs. Elementary school, then high school, then college sweethearts, then marriage. They’re touted as a “perfect couple” but throughout the show’s 7 seasons they dealt with some very real issues like cheating and Cory feeling emasculated. They fought but Cory always understood what being committed to someone was—working things out no matter what. Now their love story continues on the spinoff Girl Meets World.
- Peony said Leslie & Ben from Parks and Recreation. My favorite power couple! Leslie and Ben balance their government work, triplets, and one solid rock of a marriage. These two are fiercely selfless, constantly putting each other before themselves. When they were presented with the opportunity to run for governor of Indiana, they had trouble deciding who would be best for the job, both insisting the other was more qualified (season 7, episode 12/13). The way they support and encourage each other is downright admirable. In a culture that seems to find humor in dysfunctional marriage, Leslie and Ben prove that selflessness is not only more fun, but that it’s something to strive for.
- Petunia said Oliver & Felicity from Arrow: The crack ship that became the strongest relationship of the series, Olicity came out of nowhere but also didn’t. These two started as team members, saving the city from the bad guys, but became team members in a much deeper way. They stood by each other, but they didn’t let each other get away with bad decisions or damaging thought patterns, which I feel like is often romanticized and shouldn’t be. They remind each other of the light in the world, and they keep each other fighting to make sure there’s more light in it.
- Peony said Jo & Friedrich from Little Women: I know I already mentioned Little Women in the top 10 romance movies list, but I simply had to go into more detail on these two. They make my heart melt, plain and simple. Friedrich is a kind, sentimental introvert who slowly falls for the worldly, feisty Jo. But they aren’t just another case of opposites attract. Despite their differences, they work quite well together. Friedrich encourages Jo to “write from life, from the depths of your soul”, and because of that advice, she pens her greatest work. Jo’s passion moves Friedrich to step out of his comfort zone, leaving his quiet, solitary life to become a husband and father. They’re just so timelessly sweet together. It’s the old romance – I can’t get enough of it.
- Petunia said Peeta & Katniss from The Hunger Games: Love is hard in the Hunger Games, but they made it work, at some times better than others. They protected each other, and they got through the trauma together. They have a kind of unusual relationship as far as gender roles go, but I’m not against it. I rooted for them through three books, and was so happy when they made it, despite everything.
- Peony said Lucy & Ricky from I Love Lucy: There’s some interesting history here. Lucy and Ricky (portrayed by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) were the first interracial TV couple. However, they weren’t just written for each other – they were actually married in real life, which definitely added to their chemistry. When the show premiered in 1951, interracial relationships were not widely accepted, but America quickly fell in love with this hilariously beleaguered duo. They showed us that love means being silly together, and crossing some boundaries while we’re at it.
- Petunia said Betsy & Joe from The Betsy-Tacy Series: I read these books many, many times when I was younger. What I love most about them is how realistic they seemed, and now that I’m older I see how realistic they actually are. Maybe I love Betsy and Joe so much because I identify with Betsy so much, but the relatability of their off-on-off-on friendship/romance would be hard for anyone to deny. Betsy and Joe were attracted to each other from the start, even as just friends, but it never felt right. Until it did. The friendly essay competitions, the cherry blossoms, the tentative friendship, the letters they wrote to each other over summer break, the dance at the junior ball…<3
- Peony said Fran & Maxwell from The Nanny: These two toyed with my heart for years. They’re the couple you know will get together by the end of the series, but until then you have to wait in agony, crying out, just love each other already! When they finally wed, it’s so satisfying. Fran is bright and genuine, and loves the Sheffield children dearly. Shenanigans aside, Maxwell can’t help but fall for her. They’re clunky, offbeat, and I can’t help but love them. And to think – she almost quit on the first day!
- Petunia said Gilbert & Anne from Anne of Green Gables: It’s a trope, and it can definitely be overused, but the love-hate relationship never gets old to me. Elizabeth and Darcy brought us to Gilbert and Anne, and I’m so thankful that they did. Gil was in love with Anne for years, but she couldn’t see him as anything more than her closest friend. She was in love with a fantasy, but eventually realized that she never needed anything but what she already had in Gilbert. Whether it’s in book or film form, I eat it up.
What are your favorite love stories? Let us know!
With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, I thought it was appropriate to address an issue that many young people in the Christian community face today: learning to be happy for newly engaged couples while we endure the endless stream of “when will you find a boyfriend?” at every family gathering.
It can be hard to be happy for others. Maybe you’re wanting to focus on other things, but you feel distracted by the pesky desire to be in a relationship. Maybe you’re actually trying to find a partner, but not having much luck. Whatever the case may be, watching everyone pair off around you can be a source of stress and frustration. You may find yourself growing callous and cynical toward the blissfully unaware lovebirds, gagging at even the most subtle exchanges they share. This is all in good humor, of course. Hating love is the cool thing to do right now, especially if you’re a single twentysomething. So cast your stones! Boo and hiss! But be sure to counteract it with awkward jokes that mask how exasperated you really are.
Is it possible we’ve let this go too far? When scorn becomes the standard reaction to other people’s happiness, there’s definitely a problem, especially for Christians. It’s selfish, jealous behavior, and we need to stop excusing it under the pretense of trying to be funny. Singlehood will pass – why spend it being disgruntled? The Bible calls us to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). So let’s start rejoicing. Couples need love and support from their friends. Be genuinely happy for them. Attend the weddings with well wishes. Pray that their relationships will be centered in the Lord, and that they’ll grow in Him together. You’ll need prayers too, when your time finally comes. Trust me, it will.
In no particular order…
- Peony is hopelessly obsessed with The Everglow by Mae: Where to even begin? The Everglow has been a personal favorite of mine for years, for a blazing myriad of reasons. However, for now, I’ll have to try to focus solely on the romance. It’s about giving oneself fully and fearlessly to love, and it’s illustrated by idyllic lyrics, casting warm, whimsical light into the mind of the listener. It’s a song that has to be experienced.
- Petunia’s pick is God Gave Me You by Dave Barnes: A famous country singer later hijacked this song, which I will never forgive. I still love it though, no matter who sings it. It’s about being thankful for someone God has placed in your life to help you through things, even though you feel like you don’t deserve the someone.
- Peony’s inspired by The Only Exception by Paramore: One of Paramore’s softer songs, The Only Exception is an honest piece about the apprehension one may feel about falling in love. It speaks of a cynic who has only ever seen relationships fall apart, and this shapes her attitude toward love. Thinking that it will inevitably lead to pain, she becomes comfortable in solitude, not wanting to risk anything. But through the course of this vulnerable story, our beloved cynic comes to know sweet trust, and that sometimes our beliefs change for the better and brighter.
- Petunia can’t get enough of Poison & Wine by the Civil Wars: So, maybe this doesn’t qualify as a love song, because the lyrics leave you guessing as to whether the two singers are really in love or not. It’s a slow, acoustic tune, with some beautiful harmonies and soul-wrenching lyrics. Never over-simplistic, and hardly optimistic, I can listen to this song over and over without getting bored. Plus, I love everything by the Civil Wars, so that helps.
- Peony wants to dance to Candlelight by Relient K: The artistic genius is strong with this one. Candlelight is sweet, upbeat and clever. With a bouncing, rustic sound and lyrics that could charm the heart of any lady, this song is sure to bring a little light to your day. It may even make you want to go swing dancing. It makes me want to go swing dancing.
- Petunia gets all the feels from Love You Forever by Ryan Huston: ‘I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always.’ I love this song forever, and like it for always because it’s equally about friendship and romance. There’s nothing more romantic, in my opinion, than being someone’s friend no matter what life throws at either of you. As of this moment, this is one of the songs I’m considering playing for the first dance at my wedding reception. Not that I necessarily need to be worrying about that in the near future.
- Peony loves Every Little Thing by Hawk Nelson: This one comes to us from Hawk Nelson’s glory days. It’s the sweetest, most sincere song, and it’s sung with so much conviction that I can’t help but sigh “awwww” every time. This song made me want to be like the mysterious, spiritual woman that Jason Dunn was so smitten with, largely due to the fact that I wanted Jason Dunn to be smitten with me.
- Petunia adores When You Look at Me by Celine Dion: When I hear this song, the words and the melody and the voice evoke a sense of timelessness, of love that lasts no matter what goes on in the world outside. Although the words seem to convey an unhealthy amount of dependence on the object of the singer’s affection, I really appreciate the artistry of the song. It’s all very dramatic. And I’m all about the drama.
- Peony geeks out about Just Not Now from I Love You Because (A Modern Day Musical Love Story): I do love my musical numbers. Our leading lady, Marcy, admits that she wants to be in love, but recognizes that she’s not ready for it yet. She knows her emotional limits, and that it’s not wise to jump into relationships so suddenly. This song has been an anchor of mine for a while. It reminds me that it’s OK to take things slow and not give way to emotions that are often fleeting.
- Petunia jams out to Hold Back the River by James Bay: Oh, the Bayster. What a voice! This song is about reconnecting with someone you shouldn’t have let get away. The words are tender, the melodies are strong, and my heart is melting. Go listen to it. Stop reading this list. I’m appalled that you got this far without checking out some of these songs.