The three major characters in No River Too Wide are not as diverse as they first appear.
While they are varied in age and outlook on life, Harmony, Jan and Taylor have one major thing in common. Each woman is examining exactly what she looks for or looked for when choosing a man to love.
Falling in love is a wonderful theme. We have an entire classification of genres dedicated to this: the romance novel. I wrote many romances myself and was happy to do so. But No River Too Wide isn’t a romance novel, although it certainly has romance in it. No River is about the way we select the men with whom we want to spend our lives, the men with whom we want to fall in love.
If you do a quick Google search on “choosing a mate” you’ll find more advice than any sane person could want or use. For instance Psychology Today proclaims that when choosing a mate, pay attention to the person you become when you’re with the person you love. (Good advice, I think.) Both Jewish and Christian websites stress the importance of choosing according to character.
Wikipedia explains it all scientifically: “Five mechanisms that explain the evolution of mate choice are currently recognized. They are direct phenotypic benefits, sensory bias, Fisherian runaway, indicator traits, and genetic compatibility.” Want to know more about that? (I didn’t.) You can find that article here.
No River Too Wide, of course, is a novel, and as the author I make more than a few observations about the relationships between men and women and what to watch for. Without ruining the story for you, here are a few:
- Learn to take care of yourself and be wary of a man who makes you feel incapable.
- Physical violence is intolerable, as is allowing your partner to isolate you from your friends and family.
- You can’t force yourself to fall in love. Logical choices are important, but so is physical and emotional attraction.
- Some things can be forgiven and should be. Some things mean you should walk out the door and never look back.
- Take your time when choosing a mate, because despite our divorce rate you’re supposed to be in this relationship for life.
- Trust your feelings and don’t let yourself be talked out of them.
- A bad relationship can’t be saved by your own good behavior.
Many years ago when I was a marriage and family counselor, not a novelist, I observed a number of troubled relationships. The one thing each had in common? The couple could not and would not listen to each other. As I sat there trying to help them untangle their lives, I always wished that I could have seen them together in the early days of their courtship. Did they listen then? Was “not” listening the result of years of friction? Or had they begun their relationship that way?
So to the list above I’ll add: Find a partner who listens to you, and in turn, listen to everything he says to you, even the things you don’t want to hear.
Especially the things you don’t want to hear.
Sometimes a man has no interest in listening: Jan and Rex. Sometimes a man and a woman are unable to express anything important that’s going on inside them: Taylor and Adam. And sometimes a man and a woman can talk about anything except how they feel about each other: Harmony and Nate.
What would you add to the list from your own experience?
No River Too Wide is now available at bookstores everywhere. Buying links are available here.