by Tim Hogan
A friend recently asked me, “Tim, I want to get my wife to read 50 Shades of Grey so she’ll
want more sex and improve our stale sex life. What do you think?” I told him what I’ve told the two dozen people who asked before him. “Yes, you should honor your legitimate longing for more passionate, intense, ecstatic and mind-blowing sex with your wife. No, you should not use erotic fiction, such as 50 Shades, to get you there.”
What Makes Erotic Fiction Poison for the Mind
Like watching porn, erotic fiction triggers a rush of brain chemicals that alters sexual desire. In 50 Shades, the author uses novelty (i.e., having sex in strange or risky places) and domination/violence (i.e., inflicting pain during sex) to increase the brain’s arousal centers. The increase in neurochemicals dopamine and adrenaline does create more physiological arousal and intensifies sensations. This increase in intensity is easy to confuse with an increase in intimacy. But this neurochemical manipulation creates more problems than it solves. Here are two of the more immediate problems.
First, this behavior essentially poisons our soul. A foundation of Christ-centered thinking is that the human body is sacred. So, what we do with our body we also do with our soul; the two are inextricably linked. This is especially true with sexual expression: Every intimate gesture is pregnant with meaning. To intentionally use domination and pain destroys something sacred, even if there is mutual consent and the intention is to activate higher levels of pleasure.
Second, porn and erotic fiction often create sexual addiction. Using other people’s sexual behavior to arouse us stirs intense feelings of lust apart from intimate connection. The body quickly gets used to this new, higher level of disconnected intensity, and then naturally desires stimulation at “the next level.” This is how people go from innocent experimentation in an honest attempt to energize their marriage into the world of sexual addiction, and even BDSM (Bondage-Dominance, Sadomasichism).
So, instead of using 50 Shades, I suggest that couples try dozens of other strategies to energize their sexual relationship. Here’s a list of my top four (there are many more!):
- Explore how sex became stale and make a change. An overscheduled, stressed and disconnected life will express itself in the bedroom.
- Create a habit of playfulness, fun and connection. Solid connection and friendship are the bedrock of great lovemaking.
- If this has been an area of longstanding frustration, consider creating a season of increasing sensuality without sexual release. For example, for the next 3 weeks touch each other more and make additional eye contact. Learn how to give (and receive!) a pleasurable sensual massage and/or sleep naked together, with an agreement to postpone lovemaking. This can create safety and help keep you focused on your own sensual enjoyment in the present rather than focusing on the goal of climax. After a time these new habits will revolutionize foreplay.
- Face resentments you might have towards your spouse and get rid of them. Find a pastor or therapist to help you if you can’t do it on your own. Nothing kills good sex like resentment.
In short, we can be grateful for the popularity of 50 Shades to have awakened us to our longing for deeper connection with our spouse. Now let’s get there in a way that honors our sacred connection.