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The “15 Second Kiss” Experiment

The “15 Second Kiss” Experiment 0

The “15 Second Kiss” Experiment

by

A few weeks back, I met a gentleman at church named Tim. Tim and his wife had been married many years (I can’t remember exactly, but it was at least 30) and weathered many trials through their marriage (cancer included).

Naturally I asked him what the secret was – as I usually do when I meet someone with an epic marriage. “How have they stuck together through everything?” – I asked him this knowing that we shared our faith and reliance on Jesus Christ.

He simply replied, “The 15 second kiss.

Intrigued, I asked, “What do you mean?“… though I suppose I could have figured it out.

He responded, “Every day, my wife and I always give each other a 15 second kiss. It’s long enough that you can’t fake it – it forces us to connect.”

I had never heard of purposefully timing a kiss. It was a novel idea I was anxious to try!

Our “15 Second Kiss” Trial

More kissing, less bickering

Selena and I kiss plenty, but we realized that we don’t often kiss for more than a few seconds. I’m not exactly sure why, but I do know it wasn’t like that when we were dating. We made out way too much and for too long when we were dating…

After my “sales pitch”, Selena and I agreed to try a few days with the “15 second kiss” rule. Here’s what we learned (or were reminded of)…

1) 15 seconds isn’t that long… except when you’re kissing

We burn 15 seconds all the time without thinking about it. We sit on our phones, daydream, work around the house, you name it – 15 seconds is a short amount of time for most tasks. However, when you’re kissing and consciously timing it, 15 seconds seems to be longer. And that’s a good thing!

At first we were both aware of the time because of the novelty of the exercise. It didn’t take long for us to simply get lost in the kiss. If other couples are like us, we get too busy to “get lost” doing anything. The 15 second kiss was a refreshing reminder that we can truly get lost in our affection for one another.

2) It’s nearly impossible to kiss for an extended period of time and not feel closer

Kissing is intimate. We found that as we “got lost” in the kiss, we were getting lost together. And when we were lost together we truly found each other. (Oh that sounds poetic…)

Kissing makes us feel closer; and since we always want to feel closer it makes sense to make purposed kissing a daily part of our lives.

3) It refocused us on “who” we are to each other

My husband is my best friend.

When you’re “kissably-close” to your spouse, smelling their breath, feeling their skin, you remember who they are as a person. It’s easy to begin seeing your spouse as a roommate or casual partner, but kissing reminds us of the distinctly human qualities (good and bad) that we fell in love with in the first place.

Kissing forces us to drown out distractions around us. We had to consciously tune everything else out and focus solely on each other – something we can all agree we need more of.

4) Kissing is a gateway drug

Kissing contributes to overall friskiness. We are both… ahem… more “intimacy minded” after the 15 second kisses than we are before.

5) Kissing refreshes and energizes us

Perhaps it’s just the friskiness, or maybe something else, but kissing is like an adrenaline shot.  We both feel excited and energized after a 15 second kiss.

Try for yourselves!

Whether you and your spouse are constant kissers or even if you’ve forgotten what a french kiss is, I highly recommend giving this exercise a shot. Feel free to go longer than 15 seconds, but certainly don’t go shorter – at least not after you try it a few times.

I’m confident it will have a positive impact on your relationship with your spouse. Give it a try and report back with your findings. :-)

FULL BODY, SEXUAL, MASSAGE

FULL BODY, SEXUAL, MASSAGE 0


Secrets of Being a Happy Wife

Secrets of Being a Happy Wife 0

Secrets of Being a Happy Wife

By

There were a few hundred couples in attendance at a recent marriage retreat, and I gave what I thought to be a transformative talk during a session with the wives. As I concluded and opened the floor for questions, I expected the women to ask me to dive deeper into some of the concepts I'd shared on the power of teaming up with your spouse to create the life of your dreams. Instead, a woman came to the microphone with tears running down her face and clarified that she really loved her husband and he really loved her — but she wasn't sure she would describe herself as happy.

She did her best to compose herself, wiping the tears on her cheeks, and she eventually asked her question: What do you consider to be a happy marriage?

The audience clapped their hands, nodded their heads and burst into "uh-huhs" all around the room.

I walked over to the woman at the mic, gave her a hug, looked her in the eyes and gave a simple response: "A happy marriage is whatever you and your spouse — and you and your spouse alone — consider a happy marriage to be."

Comparison squelches happiness

When wives consider their own happiness, one of their greatest mistakes is to make comparisons to others around them. The apostle Paul warned against this tendency when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:12, "When they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding."

Let's quit comparing ourselves with others and agree that a happy wife is a woman who recognizes that a happy marriage is defined by what she and her husband consider a happy marriage to be.

So what makes you happy? What brings a smile to your face and laughter to your heart? Do your husband and your marriage come to mind when I ask you those two questions? If they do, then you, my friend, already know the secrets to being a happy wife.

Marriages worth emulating

Four years ago, I traveled to 12 countries on six continents to interview couples happily married for 25 years or more. I reached out to friends I personally trusted and told them I was on a quest to discover the secrets of a happy marriage. I asked each of them to point me to the couples in their community who have shown an enormous amount of love for each other throughout the years. I wanted the couples to which everyone in their family would point and say they wanted to emulate their marriage.

In North America to South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia, I sat down with couples who were so in love they radiated. When they looked into each other's eyes, after a quarter century together, it was as if it were the first day they fell in love. I recorded every response during each of my interviews. When I returned home, I transcribed each recorded interview onto notepads, highlighting the common words and ideas among the various couples. I quickly discovered that no matter the longitude or latitude of their place of birth, regardless of having come from a loving home or a broken home, whether they were wealthy or poor, the secrets to a happy marriage and the secrets to being a happy wife were the same around the world.

What happiness looks like

After evaluating my international research, I discovered 12 common denominators among each couple, and I've included all of them in my book Happy Wives Club. Chief among the common denominators of a happy marriage was a commitment to creating with one another the life you dream about. I came to understand the importance of teaming up instead of turning against each other in hard times, and the importance of giving your spouse the same love and respect you most desire to receive. But most importantly, I discovered that you can truly live a happy life when you determine what happiness looks and feels like to you and your spouse, and then spend each waking moment creating that life together.

I'm convinced that the greatest marriages are built on teamwork, mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration, and never-ending portions of love and grace. A happy marriage doesn't mean you have a perfect spouse or a perfect marriage. It simply means you've chosen to look beyond the imperfections in both and that you choose, each and every day, to create a life of happiness with your spouse. The difference between an ordinary marriage and an extraordinary marriage is in giving just a little extra every day — for as long as you both shall live.

Fawn Weaver is the USA Today and New York Times best-selling author of Happy Wives Club: One woman's worldwide search for the secrets of a great marriage.
10 Ideas: Making Time for Your Spouse<br> <br>

10 Ideas: Making Time for Your Spouse

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10 Ideas: Making Time for Your Spouse

How to keep marriage on the front burner of life.
By Mary May Larmoyeux
Feb 06, 2015

My husband, Jim, and I have been married for more than 30 years and we consider one another to be best friends. Despite this, we have to intentionally keep our relationship and marriage on the front burner of life.

Finding time to be with just one another is important to Jim and me. But I confess, it’s not always an easy thing to do. And this isn’t just our isolated problem. It’s common in most marriages—regardless of age.

The following 10 ideas can help you and me intentionally make time for our spouse:

1. Cultivate a common interest. Your spouse should be your best friend, and friends enjoy spending time with one another. If you and your spouse have different hobbies, find something that you both enjoy doing and do it together. You may want to go bike riding, walk together at the end of a long day, play tennis, or learn how to ballroom dance. Shared experiences enrich marriages and deepen friendship.

“I realized that our relationship had to be a higher priority than my hobbies,” says FamilyLife President Dennis Rainey of his early days of marriage. “Barbara and I had to decide what we wanted to be at the end of our lives—two people who hadgrown old together as partners or two people who had grown old alone.”

2. Have a regular date night. If you don’t have a relative nearby who would gladly watch your kids, then consider swapping babysitting with a friend on a regular basis. For example, you would watch their kids on the first Friday of every month and they would watch your kids on the second Saturday of every month.

With a little imagination, you can also plan some great dates at home … not only while the kids are sleeping, but also while they are enjoying pizza or watching a special movie.

3. Try new adventures together. We only live this life once. Try doing something different to force yourself out of the rut of normal day-to-day living. If you and your spouse would like to do something a little more daring, consider activities such as skydiving, scuba diving, mountain climbing, etc.

“When my husband, Jim, and I said, ‘I do’ 37 years ago, I never envisioned myself camping on a budget or whizzing through the countryside on the back of a motorcycle,” LaRue Launius says. “And Jim never imagined himself thousands of feet up in the air. But God has used these experiences, and countless others, to gradually knit our hearts together as best friends.”

4. Write love letters to one another and read them over a romantic dinner.Writing letters is almost a lost art form today. You may want to redeem it by regularly expressing your love to your spouse in a letter. Then read it to your spouse over a romantic dinner.

You could purchase special wooden boxes for your love letters. Or, record them in individual journals as a lasting reminder to your legacy of your love for one another.

If you’re not sure how to begin writing your letter, read “Tips for Writing a Notable Love Letter.”

5. Go on overnight getaways—without the kids. The possibilities are endless. Many state parks have great campsites and beautiful lodges. Staying at a nearby bed and breakfast can be a real treat. Also, hotels often have special weekend getaway packages.

Bill and Carolyn Wellons have written a getaway guide for couples titled, Getting Away to Get It Together. After being married for 10 years, they discovered a secret that re-energizes their relationship—regular getaways. “We may relax at a friend’s lake house, camp at a state park, or book a resort condominium in the off-season,” Bill explains. “God has continued to teach us to step off life’s treadmill and examine the health of our relationship. When we evaluate where we are heading, we reap a fabulous return on investment.”

6. Set aside regular time to talk with one another—without any distractions.Make time to focus on one another and talk about the day’s events. When our children were young, my husband and I tried to visit together for 10-15 minutes before dinner each evening—just the two of us. You and your spouse may want to do this after the kids go to bed. The important thing is to share heart-to-heart and face-to-face.

If the kids are in school, you may want to have lunch together once a week. Put it on the calendar and make definite appointments. I read about a pastor who did this for years. He had a standing invitation for lunch one day a week that could not be broken—lunch with his wife.

7. Read a book together and discuss it over coffee at a local coffeehouse or bookstore. Take turns choosing the books. If a movie has been made out of the book, read and discuss it together and then watch the movie. Compare the book to the movie.

You could also go through one of the HomeBuilders Bible studies® as a couple. Although these Bible studies are designed for small groups, you could do one with your spouse. Studies include Building Teamwork in Marriage, Improving Communication in Your Marriage, and Growing Together in Christ.

8. Be accountable to one another. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”

You may want to ask your spouse to keep you accountable in a certain area. For example, I have a habit of over-committing myself and having way too many things on the to-do list. My husband is great about bringing me back to earth and helping me establish a more balanced schedule.

Being accountable to our spouse requires one-on-one time—whether it’s over coffee in the morning or evaluating a to-do list together in the afternoon.

“Accountability gives each marriage partner freedom and access to the other,” Dennis Rainey writes. He adds that it means asking for advice and gives a spouse the freedom to share honest observations. “It means we're teachable and approachable. We both need to be accountable to the other because each partner is fallible and quite capable of using faulty judgment.”

9. Pray together. When we regularly pray with our spouse, our souls and hearts are uniquely knit together. Sadly, we’ll forget many of the ways God answers our prayers unless we write them down.

You may want to record how God answers your prayers in a notebook. Once or so a year, go on an overnight getaway with your spouse and review it together. Spend some time thanking the Lord for all He has done.

10. Tune-up your marriage at a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. Attending a Weekend to Remember will help you get away from the distractions of life and focus on one another.

“We had a wonderful time,” one wife wrote after attending a recent Weekend to Remember. “Everyone was so welcoming. We didn’t come to this as a couple who was looking to save their marriage. We came as a couple who needed a tune-up. We’re running good and would like to keep it that way.”

© 2013 by FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.

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6 Steps for Resolving Conflict in Marriage <br> <br>

6 Steps for Resolving Conflict in Marriage

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6 Steps for Resolving Conflict in Marriage

There is no way to avoid conflict in your marriage. The question is: How will you deal with it?

Few couples like to admit it, but conflict is common to all marriages. We have had our share of conflict and some of our disagreements have not been pretty. We could probably write a book on what not to do!

Start with two selfish people with different backgrounds and personalities. Now add some bad habits and interesting idiosyncrasies, throw in a bunch of expectations, and then turn up the heat a little with the daily trials of life. Guess what? You are bound to have conflict. It’s unavoidable.

Since every marriage has its tensions, it isn’t a question of avoiding them but of how you deal with them. Conflict can lead to a process that develops oneness or isolation. You and your spouse must choose how you will act when conflict occurs. 

Step One: Resolving conflict requires knowing, accepting, and adjusting to your differences. 

One reason we have conflict in marriage is that opposites attract. Usually a task-oriented individual marries someone who is more people-oriented. People who move through life at breakneck speed seem to end up with spouses who are slower-paced. It’s strange, but that’s part of the reason why you married who you did. Your spouse added a variety, spice, and difference to your life that it didn’t have before. 

But after being married for a while (sometimes a short while), the attractions become repellents. You may argue over small irritations—such as how to properly squeeze a tube of toothpaste—or over major philosophical differences in handling finances or raising children.   You may find that your backgrounds and your personalities are so different that you wonder how and why God placed you together in the first place.

It’s important to understand these differences, and then to accept and adjust to them. Just as Adam accepted God’s gift of Eve, you are called to accept His gift to you. God gave you a spouse who completes you in ways you haven’t even learned yet.

We were no exception. Perhaps the biggest adjustment we faced early in our marriage grew out of our differing backgrounds. I grew up in Ozark, Missouri, a tiny town in the southwestern corner of the “Show-Me” state. Barbara grew up in a country club setting near Chicago and later in Baytown, Texas. Barbara came into our marriage a refined young lady. I was a genuine hillbilly.

It was as though we came from two different countries with totally different traditions, heritages, habits, and values. The differences became apparent early in our marriage. Take furniture, for example. Barbara had an Ethan Allen dream book and she was always looking at it. It was full of things made of solid cherry, solid walnut, solid mahogany. It was nothing for chairs to cost $189.95—per leg.

I didn’t understand why she wanted to go buy this kind of stuff when, in southwest Missouri, you could go to K-Mart and get a formica table with chrome legs and six chairs! And for a lot less than $189.95. You can eat off that kind of table for years and it will never show any wear.

So, how did we compromise? We bought an antique and I was expected to refinish it—which created an opportunity for another major difference in our backgrounds to surface. Barbara’s father was an engineer. He is mechanically gifted, can fix anything, and actually enjoys it. I’m convinced he could fix a nuclear reactor.

My dad had a background in sales. Fixing things was not his idea of fun. If bailing wire or a little duct tape wouldn’t work, he usually called the plumber or whatever repairman was necessary.

And so there we were, just married, with an antique table that needed refinishing. I went at it reluctantly, but I got it done. In some ways it saved our marriage in the early going.

Step Two: Resolving conflict requires defeating selfishness.

All of our differences are magnified in marriage because they feed what is undoubtedly the biggest source of our conflict—our selfish, sinful nature. 

Maintaining harmony in marriage has been difficult since Adam and Eve. Two people beginning their marriage together and trying to go their own selfish, separate ways can never hope to experience the oneness of marriage as God intended. The prophet Isaiah portrayed the problem accurately more than 2,500 years ago when he described basic human selfishness like this: “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). We are all self-centered; we all instinctively look out for number one, and this leads directly to conflict.

Marriage offers a tremendous opportunity to do something about selfishness. We have seen the Bible’s plan work in our lives, and we’re still seeing it work daily. We have not changed each other; God has changed both of us. The answer for ending selfishness is found in Jesus and His teachings. He showed us that instead of wanting to be first, we must be willing to be last. Instead of wanting to be served, we must serve. Instead of trying to save our lives, we must lose them. We must love our neighbors (our spouses) as much as we love ourselves. In short, if we want to defeat selfishness, we must give up, give in, and give all. As Philippians 2:1-8 tells us:

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

To experience oneness, you must give up your will for the will of another. But to do this, you must first give up your will to Christ, and then you will find it possible to give up your will for that of your spouse.

Step Three: Resolving conflict requires pursuing the other person.

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” The longer I live the more I realize how difficult those words are for many couples. Living peaceably means pursuing peace. It means taking the initiative to resolve a difficult conflict rather than waiting for the other person to take the first step. 

To pursue the resolution of a conflict means setting aside your own hurt, anger, and bitterness. It means not losing heart. My challenge to you is to “keep your relationships current.” In other words, resolve that you will remain in solid fellowship daily with your spouse—as well as with your children, parents, coworkers, and friends. Don’t allow Satan to gain a victory by isolating you from someone you care about. 

Step Four: Resolving conflict requires loving confrontation.

Wordsworth said, “He who has a good friend needs no mirror.” Blessed is the marriage where both spouses feel the other is a good friend who will listen, understand, and work through any problem or conflict. To do this well takes loving confrontation.

Confronting your spouse with grace and tactfulness requires wisdom, patience, and humility. Here are a few other tips we’ve found useful:

  • Check your motivation. Will your words help or hurt? Will bringing this up cause healing, wholeness, and oneness, or further isolation?
  • Check your attitude. Loving confrontation says, “I care about you. I respect you and I want you to respect me. I want to know how you feel.” Don’t hop on your bulldozer and run your spouse down. Approach your spouse lovingly. 
  • Check the circumstances. This includes timing, location, and setting. Don’t confront your spouse, for example, when he is tired from a hard day’s work, or in the middle of settling a squabble between the children. Also, never criticize, make fun of, or argue with your spouse in public. 
  • Check to see what other pressures may be present. Be sensitive to where your spouse is coming from. What’s the context of your spouse’s life right now? 
  • Listen to your spouse. Seek to understand his or her view, and ask questions to clarify viewpoints.
  • Be sure you are ready to take it as well as dish it out. You may start to give your spouse some “friendly advice” and soon learn that what you are saying is not really his problem, but yours!
  • During the discussion, stick to one issue at a time. Don’t bring up several. Don’t save up a series of complaints and let your spouse have them all at once.
  • Focus on the problem, rather than the person. For example, you need a budget and your spouse is something of a spendthrift. Work through the plans for finances and make the lack of budget the enemy, not your spouse.
  • Focus on behavior rather than character. This is the “you” message versus the “I” message again. You can assassinate your spouse’s character and stab him right to the heart with “you” messages like, “You’re always late—you don’t care about me at all; you don’t care about anyone but yourself.” The “I” message would say, “I feel frustrated when you don’t let me know you’ll be late. I would appreciate if you would call so we can make other plans.”
  • Focus on the facts rather than judging motives. If your spouse forgets to make an important call, deal with the consequences of what you both have to do next rather than say, “You’re so careless; you just do things to irritate me.”
  • Above all, focus on understanding your spouse rather than on who is winning or losing. When your spouse confronts you, listen carefully to what is said and what isn’t said. For example, it may be that he is upset about something that happened at work and you’re getting nothing more than the brunt of that pressure.


Step Five: Resolving conflict requires forgiveness.

No matter how hard two people try to love and please each other, they will fail. With failure comes hurt. And the only ultimate relief for hurt is the soothing salve of forgiveness.

The key to maintaining an open, intimate, and happy marriage is to ask for and grant forgiveness quickly. And the ability to do that is tied to each individual’s relationship with God.

About the process of forgiveness, Jesus said, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14–15). The instruction is clear: God insists that we are to be forgivers, and marriage—probably more than any other relationship—presents frequent opportunities to practice.

Forgiving means giving up resentment and the desire to punish. By an act of your will, you let the other person off the hook. And as a Christian you do not do this under duress, scratching and screaming in protest. Rather, you do it with a gentle spirit and love, as Paul urged: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Step Six: Resolving conflict requires returning a blessing for an insult.

First Peter 3:8-9 says, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” 

Every marriage operates on either the “Insult for Insult” or the “Blessing for Insult” relationship. Husbands and wives can become extremely proficient at trading insults—about the way he looks, the way she cooks, or the way he drives and the way she cleans house. Many couples don’t seem to know any other way to relate to each other.

What does it mean to return a blessing for an insult? Chapter three of 1 Peter goes on to say “For, ‘the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it’” (verses 10-11). 

To give a blessing first means stepping aside or simply refusing to retaliate if your spouse gets angry. Changing your natural tendency to lash out, fight back, or tell your spouse off is just about as easy as changing the course of the Mississippi River. You can’t do it without God’s help, without yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit. 

It also means doing good. Sometimes doing good simply takes a few words spoken gently and kindly, or perhaps a touch, a hug, or a pat on the shoulder. It might mean making a special effort to please your spouse by performing a special act of kindness.

Finally, being a blessing means seeking peace, actually pursuing it. When you eagerly seek to forgive, you are pursuing oneness, not isolation.

Our hope

As difficult as it is to work through conflict in marriage, we can claim God’s promises as we do so. Not only does God bless our efforts based on His Word, but He also tells us He has an ultimate purpose for our trials. First Peter 1:6-7 tells us,

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

God’s purpose in our conflicts is to test our faith, to produce endurance, to refine us, and to bring glory to Himself. This is the hope He gives us—that we can actually approach our conflicts as an opportunity to strengthen our faith and to glorify God.


Copyright © 2002 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. Much of this material was adapted by permission from Staying Close by Dennis Rainey, ©1989, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved.

Next Steps

1. Read our most popular articles on marriage.

2. Listen to Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife, talk about "Becoming One: God’s Blueprints for Marriage" on a FamilyLife Today® radio series.

3. Attend a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. FamilyLife offers dozens of fun, romantic getaways across the country. Learn how to build intimacy, improve communication, and take your marriage to the next level!

Fifty Shades of Caution <br> <br>

Fifty Shades of Caution

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Fifty Shades of Caution

Women are asking whether they should view the new 'Fifty Shades of Grey' film or read the book series. I hate to see them falling into the same trap that has claimed so many men.
By Dave Boehi

A few years ago my wife, Merry, said to me, "I've been hearing about this new book, Fifty Shades of Grey.  I wonder if that would be good to read?"

"Well, it's a book about sexual bondage and sadism," I replied.  "Does that sound like something you want to read?"

"I don't think so."

It was an easy decision for Merry, but there were many other Christian women hearing about the book and wondering, "Should I read Fifty Shades of Grey?" Many women love stories about romance, and this book had become a national sensation—the book and its two sequels ranked 1-3 at the top of the New York Times paperback bestseller list. So many women were talking about the book that others wanted to become part of the conversation.

And now, with the release of the Fifty Shades movie on February 13, that conversation has returned on an even higher level.  "Should we read the book … and watch the film?"

For some women, the decision is simple once they learn the plot.  Others are curious and want to try it out, so to speak.  And others can’t understand what the fuss is about.  "This isn’t real, after all, it’s just fiction.  It might even spice up your sex life!"

When this article on the Fifty Shades phenomenon first appeared in 2012 (this is an updated version), it was obvious that many readers were facing these same questions.  "Your timing with this article is particularly interesting to me because of a conversation I was involved in this past Friday night," one woman wrote.  "Our small group had a 'Girls Night Out' at one member's home and this topic came up. Of the 10 of us, 7 admitted to already having read the first book … As they began to tell me about it, I was floored. I could not believe that they were justifying reading it and actually talking about it and 'dumbing it down' to make themselves feel better. I went away feeling embarrassed and deeply saddened by the conversation we all had."

Another reader said, "I brought up the topic in our women’s group at church and I was amazed at the number of women who have been invited into a book club just for the purpose of talking about this book, and who were invited by Christian friends. They said they heard that it was helping their sexual desire toward their husbands.  It was a discussion that started out as calling for us women to be the kind of woman in Titus, and being careful not to get ensnared by desires of the flesh that will only satisfy worldly desires. It ended on a negative note for the first time in five years. I was told that I was being too judgmental about a book that I had not read."

The right place for sexual desire

Some people will say it’s unfair to criticize a book I haven’t read.  Usually I agree with that argument, but not when it comes to erotica or pornography.  Here are a few points to consider:

1. Erotic photos, videos, and books are all designed with one thing in mind—to stimulate sexual desire.  From a biblical standpoint, sexual desire is good as long as it’s in the right context.  But I think it’s safe to say that the creators of erotica and pornography are not very concerned about whether they help couples build stronger marriages. Instead, using these media invites men and women to fantasize about sexual relationships outside of marriage. That’s a dangerous path to walk. It leads to unhealthy comparisons with your spouse and a host of other problems. If the sexual relationship in a marriage is weak, reading erotica or viewing porn is not a good way to add some sparks.

2. Erotica and pornography promote a corrupted view of something God designed as beautiful.  Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says it well: 

Rightly understood and rightly ordered, marriage is a picture of God’s own covenantal faithfulness. Marriage is to display God’s glory, reveal God’s good gifts to His creatures, and protect human beings from the inevitable disaster that follows when sexual passions are divorced from their rightful place. 

The physicality of the male and female bodies cries out for fulfillment in the other. The sex drive calls both men and women out of themselves and toward a covenantal relationship that is consummated in a one-flesh union. By definition, sex within marriage is not merely the accomplishment of sexual fulfillment on the part of two individuals who happen to share the same bed. Rather, it is mutual self-giving that reaches pleasures both physical and spiritual. 

A man who directs his sexual drive toward the one-flesh relationship in marriage, Mohler writes, "is the perfect paradigm of God’s intention in creation." By contrast, a man involved with pornography subverts his sex drive toward lust and self-gratification.  "Rather than taking satisfaction in a wife, he looks at dirty pictures in order to be rewarded with sexual arousal that comes without responsibility, expectation, or demand."

3. The particular genre highlighted in Fifty Shades of Grey, BDSM, is even worse.  BDSM stands for bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. These practices are the opposite of the "mutual self-giving" that should characterize a holy, biblical sexual relationship in marriage.

4. The fact that a book is fiction doesn’t negate the damaging consequences of reading it.   Words can penetrate your mind in negative ways just as images can. In Philippians 4:8 the Bible tells us, "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Can you truly do that while simultaneously reading this book or viewing the film?

5. You don’t need to join every conversation.  We like to think that teenagers are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure, but sometimes I wonder if it’s just as bad for adults.  Think of what a mother tells her kids:  "If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do the same thing?"  The same goes for friends urging you to read erotica or look at pornography. 

Is it good for your marriage?

"I’ve been studying what God says about sexuality for 15 years," writes Dannah Gresh in a blog post titled, "I’m Not Reading Fifty Shades of Grey."

According to Him, there is only one who should stimulate sexual desire in me: my husband. Since that’s God’s plan for my sexual desire, anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be missing the mark of God’s intention. (Translation: It is sin.) Jesus said it this way: "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." The same is true of a woman looking at or reading about a man.

Erotica, especially the genre involving bondage and sadism, easily leads to a corrupted view of something God created as good within the context of marriage. It sparks physiological reactions that require greater and greater levels for fulfillment; it causes unhealthy comparison to a real-life spouse; and it leads men and women to be preoccupied with sexual fulfillment at the expense of other relationships, including their relationship with God. 

So you’ve got to ask yourself:  Is any of that good for my marriage? 

My hope and prayer is that Christian women, when faced with the temptation of a book or film like Fifty Shades of Grey, will "be watchful" and "stand firm in the faith."  Don’t fall into the same trap as men do with pornography.

Copyright © 2012, 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. This article is updated from the original, which appeared in the June 18, 2012 issue of Marriage Memo.

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Next Steps

 

1. Read "Is 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Dangerous?" an article by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery.

2. Listen to Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery on FamilyLife Today.

3. If your marriage could use a refresh, check out our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway.