I was reading a book entitled Emotional Child Abuse, which deals mostly with the myriad ways that ill-adjusted parents can pass that along to their ill-adjusted kids, and I found an interesting passage on dealing with death:
"Parents whose relationships with each other are totally symbiotic are setting up problems for their children. The children may fear that if one dies, the other will soon follow suit. This does in fact happen sometimes. One subject’s father died of cancer, and her mother died a few months later of a broken heart. When parents are totally dependent on one another, the children may get the impression that life is completely worthless without an all-encompassing bond, that one’s profession and children and friends are comparatively insignificant, and that the death of a lover is an overwhelming, devastating tragedy from which one can never recover."
"When parents fail to heal from the death of their spouses, they bring their child up in a bleak, lonely environment, passing on a distorted view of death, mourning, and love."
This put me immediately in mind of Christine Feehan’s Dark ~~~
series, which by no means the only offender, but a particularly egregious example of the soul-bonding/life-mates/etc trope that paranormal romance has been flogging to death recently. Because in those books, and many others like them, that all-encompassing bond is
treated as the be-all and end-all of life. Which I think is one of the reasons why — despite the fact that it’s a bad, bad book in a genre I don’t read — I was driven to "fix" it with Dark Deviance
. (That, and Feehan’s total, blind heteronormativity. Her world doesn’t allow for the existence
of gay people.)
Instead, the main character in my story isn’t particularly in love with the idea of lifebonding, because all it’s done in his own life is produce a pattern of neglect, where the people who should have cared for him are instead caught up in their own romantic concerns. And why as an adult, he makes a conscious rejection of the ideal that privileges romantic love over all else. (Which doesn’t make Dark Deviance any less a love story, but it means he’s out doing things, running a business and kidnapping people and going to the opera, instead of sitting at home miserable about being single.)
The other party in that love story is more worried about the loss of autonomy that comes of falling in love in a canon where you somewhat literally have to do anything that your mate’s happiness requires. Which is also an issue that I felt needed to be fixed.