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Fifty Shades, the Christian Woman, and Renewed Marriages

December 8, 2012

Unmade BedI am a Christian woman who stands in awe of the impact the Fifty Shades series has had around the world.  I have read and re-read the trilogy, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  My hat’s off to E.L. James. The phenomenon of her books has enticed me to applaud it and review it in light of most Christian women denouncing it. Without wanting to sound overly dramatic, reading this book may just have set into motion a series of events that could save my marriage. One thing for sure, things have heated up in my bedroom in a very nice way with my husband.

Now don’t be “hating” if you haven’t read the book or are one of those who has vowed to never “sink to that level.”  Perhaps your reading tastes are more “high-brow.”  Good for you.  Maybe this just isn’t a genre you enjoy.  Or, perhaps you think this type of book is pornographic and wrong.  I respect your views.  You know what is good for you, and I am not here to convince you to read it.  However please, please, do refrain from commenting against the book if you haven’t read it.  Because frankly, you have no idea what you are talking about.

Why exactly has the Fifty Shades series spent 37 weeks at the top of the New York Times’ paperback best-sellers’ list? Random House CEO Markus Dohle announced this week that he would award $5,000 bonuses to every member of his staff, from “top editors to warehouse workers.”  Responsible in part: E.L. James erotic novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which sold more than 60 million copies, has been translated into 50 languages, all in less than 18 months. There will be a course at American University in the spring on the trilogy (National Review Online, December 7, 2012, Eliana Johnson).  Google Fifty Shades and you come up with hundreds of news stories, opinions and reviews.  While the initial furor is dying down some, the impact has been longer lasting and more enduring  than some of us are willing to admit.

Ladies, Newsweek  (April 16) put it perfectly on their cover: “Why surrender is a feminist dream.”  Of course it earned them some mighty vicious backlash for daring to speak the truth, especially the comment that we are ” at a moment in history when male dominance is shakier than … ever.”

Fifty Shades awoke in me a primal need to feel my man in control–manly and dominant.  I’d spent 20 years in my marriage, and a decade prior to that as a career woman, trying to “keep control.”  In the workplace, this quest for control was entirely appropriate.  I am an intelligent, educated person who had as much to offer as my male colleagues.  I was not about to allow myself to be dominated.  Countless other females held to this notion and one way or another, these men would come to question their position with women…  Yet from an early age, I personally felt wired to be married and a mother.  I often wondered if it would ever happen, but until I did I bought into the feminist lifestyle–outside the bedroom.  I was woman, hear me roar!  That is, until I allowed you to conquer me in the bedroom.  When I did finally marry, I brought that feminist career-woman attitude with me into the marriage.  I didn’t know how to be a wife, I couldn’t acknowledge my (natural and acceptable) need for my husband to be strong and protecting–that would be heresy!  I believe my marriage deteriorated slowly over the years because neither of us were living our true roles.  It sounds crazy, but Fifty Shades launched me into action–to learn more about what wifely surrender was (leading me to research Domestic Discipline), to think about how to respect my husband, and that the word submission was not the dirty word I had always misunderstood it to be.  And to accept, experience, and delight in the sense of peace and calm when I allowed my husband to take charge.

OK, before anyone scoffs, I am not so naïve as to think a man like Christian Grey exists anywhere.  He is a fictional character.  A man who anticipates his woman’s every need, buys her expensive gifts and cars, wants nothing more than to take care of her (as long as he can spank her), AND gives her amazing multiple orgasms and sexual escapades 3 times a day?  Nope, he doesn’t exist in one body.  Nor do many women arrive at the ripe age of 22 as sexually naïve as our heroine, Anastasia Steele–nor have multiple orgasm whilst loosing her virginity and perform a flawless blow-job her first time with a man–and seriously consider, “what the hell, I’ll take a chance on a contractual relationship with a sadist.”  Yes, I will admit there are many laughable parts of the book where I had my eyes rolling.  Dang, if only Christian would spank me!

One way EL James weaves her magic is in the detailed, sensory writing of the scenes of love making and yes, the fucking… this is where women find themselves captivated.  This is how a woman’s mind works… What are his words?  Where is his mouth?  Where are his hands?  What is this feeling he’s evoking in me?  I am feeling loved, desired and attractive by this man.  And above all, the delicious, full-on trusting tension of  “What is he going to do to me?”  I think it is only in trusting your spouse enough to be dominant that we can experience this delicious sexual conquest.

 Our heroine isn’t going to settle for pure submission.  She’s a capable, smart young woman, and Christian cannot ignore this.  Above all, is Anastasia’s bravery to tell her lover that she wants more.  More than cars and clothes and jets and vacation homes… and even more than fabulous orgasms.  She wants hearts and flowers and love.  She’s not going to settle for less.  She’s willing to make some sacrifices to “pull him from his darkness into the light,” but she nevertheless expects the payoff of “more.”

In the face of an utterly broken marriage, I dared to ask my husband for more.  Yes, more sex (we were having none); more variety in the bedroom (I like to be dominated, and yes… spanked); more of him being the man and taking care of the woman he loves.  More of him keeping me accountable in our marriage as the head of our household.

I have never felt more content and in love.

That these books have ‘reignited the pilot light of passion’ in many bedrooms goes without saying.   A purple prose pulp novel trilogy is shockingly reinforcing the bedrock foundation of family values: marriage and traditional roles!   The closeted subject of women’s sexuality and arousal that’s usually met with embarrassment, shame or jokes… no longer needs to be so.   (credit: 10 reasons ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has shackled readers By Deirdre Donahue, USA TODAY July 12, 2012)

As a Christian woman, I know that I am to avoid things that are sinful or lead to sin.  Reading an erotic book could be sinful if it made me think about sex outside my marriage.  But that it started me on a path of renewal in my marriage cannot be bad.  Sex was created by God for our pleasure (read Song of Solomon!).  God gave women a unique part of her body that has no other purpose but pleasure.  He created men and women in such a way as to confer pleasure to one another and to take joy in giving each other that pleasure.  The one-flesh union is the bond, the glue, that holds us together when all around us is trying to tear us down.

Tonight as I prayed at dinner (just hubby and I) among our many blessings, I thanked God for the pleasure of sex in our marriage.  I kinda think that God is smiling to see the smiles on the faces of this husband and wife…

…Regardless of the book that might have helped put it there.

If your relationship with your spouse has improved as a result of reading Fifty Shades, I’d love to hear your comments!  And yes, my DH did acquiesce to reading the trilogy at my pleading… and commented “they weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be.” ;-)  I seriously think he’s learned some new, very nice moves…  and it’s been fun to bookmark pages for him to read for “reference” when we’re looking for a little adventure. 

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