A Romantic Getaway; Fun And Romance For Adults

As an a adult, it is not unusual for love and romance, two important factors for maintaining a relationship, to fall to the wayside as you deal with everything from paying bills to working and raising children. However, it is possible to have fun in love to ensure the spark that brought the two of you together remains bright. Here are a few ideas designed to bring excitement and romance back into your relationship, regardless of what type of situation you are in.

Take a Romantic Getaway without the Kids

Even if you are on a strict budget, you can take an amazing trip. It just takes some creativity. For example, the beach offers the opportunity for fun in the sun, picturesque views, great meals, and more. In the offseason, you can usually find great deals, especially if you have time to sneak away during the week. You can go anywhere from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Tybee Island off the coast of Georgia, California’s Catalina Island or St. Michaels, Maryland.

If you prefer stunning views of the mountains, why not book a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains? Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Asheville, NC are great options. You can also head to the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma or the Rocky Mountains, which run through six states and have a number of cabins to choose from. Cabins are ideal because they tend to be somewhat isolated, yet have everything you could possibly need including a Jacuzzi and/ or hot tub.

Take a Romantic Getaway with the Kids

The truth is that it can be hard to get away without the kids, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun in love. More and more places are offering onsite babysitters. This can be well worth any added cost because they usually have an arsenal of age appropriate entertainment options that will keep your children happy, while you and your partner get time alone, which will keep you both happy.

If you can’t find an affordable vacation spot that offers onsite babysitting, you still have an option. Before you arrive call the place you will be staying and speak with a manager, concierge, etc. to find out if they have kids. If they do, ask if they have a babysitter they would recommend. If so, call them and see if they can sit with your children a couple of times during your stay.

If you are hoping to have some fun time without the kids while on vacation, be sure to book a family suite or a hotel with connecting rooms. If you are heading to the beach, opt for a beachfront room with a balcony. It’s the perfect place for the two of you to relax after the kids go to sleep. If you are planning a trip to the mountains, look for a place that offers in room fireplaces and/ or Jacuzzis to up the romance factor.

Don’t let the romantic spark in your relationship die out. Utilize the ideas above to ensure the flame continues to burn.

Visit at cityofeve.com for more ideas.

3 Ways To Have Animalistic Pleasure With… Your Spouse?

3_Ways_to_Have_Animalistic_Pleasure_with…_Your_Spouse_#1 copyWho is happier: the promiscuous lover, jumping from bed to bed with the frequency of a character from an ABC sitcom, or the monogamous person who only has sex with one partner?

I guess that depends what you mean by “happy.”

Believe it or not, scholars have actually researched “happiness,” specifically comparing the promiscuous to the monogamous. I talked about this a lot in my book Sex Matters.

That’s why this Psychology Today article particularly intrigued me. In this candid (and almost uncomfortable) article, Mark White, Ph.D., offers some honest insight into perceived “happiness.” He begins the article declaring, “it doesn’t take much to see that monogamy and promiscuity can each give a person happiness, albeit likely two different kinds”:

Promiscuity- thrill of the momen
Promiscuity, or “non-monogamy” as he calls it, brings “excitement of variety, the thrill of the unknown, and the pure physical bliss of sex, untethered by any emotional attachment or anxiety.”

Monogamy- longer lasting fulfillment
On the other hand, monogamy provides “a deeper, longer-lasting, and more fulfilling type of happiness that enhances any other aspects of one’s life.”

Which sounds better?

What if you didn’t have to choose?

Dr. White’s conclusion surprised me. In short, he suggested… why not get the best of both worlds and just have promiscuous thrill with your monogamous spouse? His exact words:

Of course, the ideal would be to find the more hedonic, animalistic pleasure with his or her spouse or partner instead of looking for it outside the marriage or relationship, and to a certain extent that can be done. (Psychology Today, 3/12/11)

As a person married to the same woman for close to 25 years, this made me almost stand up and cheer! I love when Biblical truth is revealed from the most unlikely sources.

So let’s look at three ways we can find animalistic pleasure with our spouses:

1) The “ideal” sex is good sex within a marriage. Note, not just sex within marriage, but good sex within marriage. Let’s be honest. Who wants boring sex? Dr. White seems to be endorsing kinky, wild, unrestrained, bed-breaking sex … all within the context of marriage. Even if you don’t agree with his wording, don’t disregard his insight. You can have hot sex in marriage.

Newsflash: It ain’t sin to have really passionate, uninhibited sex with your spouse (Tweet This!), enjoying each other to the fullest! Hot sex doesn’t require sin! Good sex doesn’t flow from porn! Bed-breaking sex doesn’t necessitate multiple partners! God designed you with all the pleasure sensors you need, just the two of you.

2) The more you lust after others, the less likely it becomes that the person lying next to you will meet your needs. Dr. White says it plainly. If the thrill of sex comes to you from that variety of the unknown, then you might be disappointed with the same ol’ thing. That’s an uncomfortable fact to think about, but I think it brings up an interesting observation: people who “look around” will only be as happy as the next big conquest. In other words, their happiness is contingent on happenings to happen. If these happenings don’t happen … no happiness. It’s a sad existence. The grass ain’t greener next door; fertilize your own lawn. (Tweet This!)

3) Monogamous relationships run the risk of becoming boring only when we stop putting effort into them. Dr. White admits the “ideal” would be to have hot sex in marriage. Then why does marital sex get such a bad rap? This stigma doesn’t reveal a design flaw in monogamy; I think it reveals our inherent selfishness and laziness. Satan loves this. He loves it when spouses are no longer creative and romantic, because when married couples stop putting effort into meeting each other’s needs… affairs become appealing. And that’s too bad.

Long story short: look to one another and you’ll discover the most satisfying sex you could ever have is with the person you’re already married to.


BSLN--Logo.pngLooking to increase the sexual satisfaction levels in your marriage? Check out the Best Sex Life Now Workshop. This 10 part video series will help you find deeper intimacy and experience better sex. If not, we will give you a full refund!

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Six Keys to Bed-Breaking Sex

Six Keys to Bed Breaking Sex - blogOne of my proudest moments in marriage was the night when my wife, Ashley, and I broke our bed while making love. Yes, you read that right: we had bed-breaking sex!

Now, the bed was really old and pretty fragile. On top of that, the bed was small and I was overweight at the time, so sheer gravity was working against the antique frame below. Still, we broke the bed during sex, and I think we can all agree, that’s pretty awesome!

I strongly believe more couples should be having “Bed-Breaking Sex.”

When you and your spouse improve your sex life, you’ll simultaneously improve your marriage. (Tweet This!) It’s as simple as that. It takes a lot more than a great sex life to build a great marriage, but it’s nearly impossible to build a great marriage without it!

As I’ve interacted with couples from all over, I’ve discovered that there seems to be an epidemic of unfulfilling sex (or sometimes no sex at all) happening in modern marriages. This tragic neglect or misunderstanding of sexuality has the potential to wreck a marriage. Don’t let that happen!

So how can you get bed-breaking sex? Every couple is different and there is rarely a “one-size-fits-all” approach to anything, but I’m convinced that these six basic principles would instantly improve the sexual fulfillment in most marriages. Give them a try! This is the kind of “homework” you’ll actually enjoy. (Tweet This!)

In addition to these six tips below, you should check out our new video series, “Best Sex Life Now,” on strengthening sex, intimacy and communication in marriage. It’s the most comprehensive resource we’ve ever had a hand in creating, and we believe this resource could revolutionize your sex life and other aspects of your marriage as well.

These first three apply BEFORE sex:

1. Make foreplay an all-day event.
Foreplay shouldn’t start thirty seconds before you plan to have intercourse (I’m talking to my fellow men out there on this one)! Find ways to flirt with each other throughout the day. Send flirtatious and/or thoughtful text messages to let your spouse know they’re on your mind. Those consistent little acts will help set the mood for romance later.

2. Tell your secrets.
One of the biggest barriers to true intimacy in marriage is a lack of trust. Your spouse needs to feel completely safe and secure with you to fully engage in sexual intimacy. Secrecy is an enemy of intimacy, so make sure you’re communicating consistently, openly, and honestly at all times. Your transparency will create trust and that trust will ultimately create better sex (and a better marriage).

3. Serve each other.
You should serve each other throughout the day so that your spouse’s mind can be freed up to enjoy the moment. Husband, this might mean washing the dishes or folding laundry. Wives, this might mean giving your husbands a back rub to help him relax. Find ways to serve each other and you’ll be building a bond of intimacy before you even get to bed.

These next three apply DURING sex:

4. Tell your spouse what you like (and what you don’t like).
Your spouse is not a mind reader. Be open and honest about what feels good and what makes you uncomfortable. Communication is vital to a mutually pleasurable experience.

5. Have fun!
If you’re not having fun while you’re having sex, then you’re doing something wrong! Bring your sense of humor. Be playful. Be adventurous. If it always feels like work, then talk to your spouse about the issues that might be holding you both back.

6. Be mentally monogamous.
Don’t bring outside “fantasy” into your bedroom. Both your body and your mind have to be fully present in the moment, so don’t allow porn or erotic romance novels to put images in your mind that will create fantasies that don’t involve your spouse. True intimacy requires monogamy (both physically and mentally).

 

best-sex-life-nowFor more ways to enhance your sexual intimacy, check out our newest workshop Best Sex Life Now with Craig and Jeanette Gross and Dave and Ashley Willis. This 10 part video series will help you better understand what great sex is really all about and how you can have that in your marriage.

Get the Best Sex Life Now!

 

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Accountability: Burden or Blessing?

Accountability---Burden-or-Blessing-blogI once had a conversation with Craig Gross about the word “accountability,” mainly because he wrote a book with Adam Palmer on the subject a few years ago called Open. It was about the benefits of vulnerability and placing yourself in relationship with people who could speak the truth to you when you needed to hear it the most.

During this conversation, I shared the results of a quick, unscientific poll, where I asked several people, all Christians, what came to mind (and what they felt) as soon as they heard the word “accountability.” Most of the answers were something akin to, “It means you give someone permission to condemn you or tell you when you screw up.

None of the people I asked had much to say that was positive about their experience of the word, and though I realize it was a pretty small sample group, the point they made was a legitimate one. “Accountability” as it has been used (and abused) in the Christian Church seems to be more of a problem word than anything else – but we still insist on using it, especially as it pertains to porn/sex addiction. Why?

Craig’s answer was simple: he said that the word had been “hijacked.”

I agree – the term had been co-opted by some sort of religious element in the church and was usually experienced as some sort of license to condemn. But Craig felt a need to redeem the word – which is a difficult task because of how fast culture shifts. But if we are to redeem that word, we have to start in this space of porn/sex addiction – the place where accountability is needed most.

We all know that the best element of this idea is this: a trusted friend comes to you when they see you struggle. They do this bearing unconditional love, vulnerability, and honesty without judgment. They respect your sovereignty, but also honor the trust you’ve placed in them and their perspective, so they aren’t afraid to bring it. We all know that this type of relationship is a sacred thing, and is usually built over many years of walking in the trenches together. It can’t be manufactured artificially. The great philosopher Martin Buber called this the I-Thou relationship – the type of relationship where a presence exists between two people that is inhabited by what Buber called the “Eternal Thou.” My reading of Buber puts the resurrected Christ in that space. Where grace abounds between two people, we see redemption and new creation.

Buber also talked about the other kind of, and more common, relationship being an I-It relationship. Buber said we “It” each other all the time, meaning the other person is never actually met; they instead become an object merely existing to confirm the assumptions and beliefs you already hold. When we exist in an I-It relationship, we are simply having conversations with ourselves, with a subconscious goal to remain unchanged. This type of relationship is characterized by the presence of condemnation and judgment. It is the type of “accountability” that most people fear. It feels like the opposite of love.

This is why, for accountability to work as an effective tool of transformation, it must be more about releasing someone than holding them to the fire. If a friend asks me for accountability and I receive that as some sort of mandate to drive him to a certain reading of scripture or some sort of moral conception of “purity” at all costs, then I have entered into an I-It relationship with my friend. I’m determined to make my friend an extension of myself and my own need to be in control.

But if I’m willing to sit in the tension of struggle, listen to my friend without judgment, and speak life from a spirit that transcends simple moral check-boxes – it is then that love is allowed to do what love does: illuminate the soul. No one in the world can deny the true experience of love when it is encountered. (Tweet This!) And for accountability to be a blessing and not a burden, it must be undertaken with this type of presence. It is then that the “Eternal Thou” dwells in the space between us.

It is not our jobs to carry each other’s baggage or to shame each other into grunting out some sort of new wave of self-control. It is our job to be present and be the embodiment of the truth that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can separate us from the love of God. (Tweet This!)


If you have struggled with toxic accountability in the past and would like to know more about what life-giving, healthy accountability looks like sign up for a free video preview of our new course Open – What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Accountable.

Get Your Sneak Peak Here.

 

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The 2 Questions You Need to Ask about your Accountability Group

X3-the-2-question-v2-2My first experience with an accountability group was over 20 years ago in my middle-school youth group. Three of us guys would get together with the youth pastor for a weekly “check-in.” Typically, my end of the conversation would go something like this:

I had a decent week. Maybe I looked down that girl’s shirt a little longer than I should have, but it was really nothing. I’m fine. It’s all good. Let’s go play Nintendo.”

In retrospect, I can see now what we were calling an accountability group was really nothing more than a handful of guys going through a pre-planned script so we could check another item off our spiritual to-do list for the week.

We wanted to get through the boring accountability part as quickly as possible and then move on to what we we’re really there for: MarioKart.

I have a feeling my middle-school experience probably wasn’t that far off from what many of you picture when you hear the term “accountability group.” And if I’m correct in that assumption, then it’s probably safe to say most of you aren’t all that passionate about the thought of being in accountability group at all.

To be honest, I wouldn’t be excited about a group like that either.

But what if that’s not actually what an accountability group is supposed to look like?

What if there’s a deeper, more meaningful, and significantly more beneficial model of accountability available to us?

I believe there is, and it’s found in the teachings of Jesus.

Instead of a mindless routine, your group can become a life-giving time of healing and connection, but in order to experience this type of group, you will need to consider the following questions:

1.  Does my accountability group encourage me to live in the light?

If we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

In my early encounters with accountability, I was never comfortable enough with the other guys to truly be honest about my struggles. I would tell them just enough to sound like I was being open and honest, but in reality I was hiding what went on in the darkest corners of my internal reality.

I had things I’d vowed to never bring into the light, as did the other guys in the group as well.

Sure, we all liked hanging out together, but none of us actually trusted each other enough to bring our junk into the light (Tweet This!) where it could be dealt with. We were all secretly afraid that if the other guys found out what we really did when no one was looking, they would reject us.

What we didn’t realize though, was sin behaves much like a cockroach—it thrives while it’s hiding in the dark. But once you expose it to the light, it runs away. In the same way, if you bring your sin into the light, it will lose its power over you.

2.  Does my accountability group encourage me to confess my sins?

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:16).

If “walking in the light” is the practice of exposing the hidden areas of your life to the community and council of trusted friends, “confession” is the practice of refusing to allow those areas to become hidden again.

For example, let’s say you’ve been struggling with pornography for many years. Like many who struggle, you’ve kept it hidden from everyone. Being honest about the scope of your struggle would be bringing it into the light, and the continual act of talking about and praying over your daily struggles would be confession.

x3groups-30 days-$1-select-groupsOne important thing to recognize though, is that confessing your sin is even more beneficial when you do it proactively. (Tweet This!) In other words, you can confess your sin before you commit it. This is one of the key distinguishers between a healthy accountability group and a lifeless one.

Rather than waiting to confess your sin until your next meeting when you “check-in” about the past week, pick up your phone and text a group member while you’re sitting in front of your computer and thinking about clicking on a link. Just a simple text such as I’m thinking about clicking on something I shouldn’t. Check in with me later to make sure I’m okay… will bring that sin into the light and break it’s power over you while it’s still only a temptation.

The other benefit of this proactive confession is when you check in at your next group meeting, you’ll be able to share how walking in the light led to a victory rather than only sharing defeats. Your modeling of biblical accountability will not only help you in your own journey to freedom, but it will encourage the others in the group as well.

I often wonder how things would have been different in my life if I’d found a safe place to experience biblical accountability at a younger age. Perhaps I wouldn’t have spent so many years hiding the shame of my addiction and isolating myself from one of the greatest resources God has given us for healing.

What I do know though, is it’s never too late to start being honest. (Tweet This!) Find an accountability group that offers you the opportunity to bring your sin into the light, confess your struggles, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

Opening up that first time will take a tremendous amount of courage, but let me assure you once you do so, “checking-in” with your true accountability partners will become one of the best parts of your week.


Having trouble finding the type of accountability group Steven talks about? A group where you can be as honest and open as you want to be? Join an X3group today and find out what it’s like to live in the freedom of grace and truth. There are groups for men, women , and spouses meeting daily throughout the week.

Join an X3group today!

 

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An Open Letter: Unveiled Wife

An_open_letter_Unveiled_Wife_-_Book_Review_-_xxxchurchOur friend Jennifer Smith of UnveiledWife.com has just written and published her story in a book titled The Unveiled Wife. Jennifer takes her book to a whole new level. Here at XXXchurch, we talk about porn addiction and how we see the destruction play out in the addicts’ lives (especially their marriages) time and time again, but rarely do we see wives of these men talk about themselves, their role in the battle, and how they play a huge part in the recovery process.

I’ve been there. The scorned wife of a man I loved more than anyone on the planet. A man I moved my entire life and career for, only to be left in the dust of his pornography obsession. I grew angry, bitter, resentful, and became filled with regret. I wish a book like this had been available to me in the height of that season of my life! Yes, I was finally able to work through the process and find healing, but it was long, it was difficult, and much of it was alone.

Jennifer’s bold and courageous decision to put her story out there for the world is going to heal a multitude of women if they will allow her story to get into their hearts and merge with their own. Jennifer is so transparent about her own struggles and the things she battled that it leaves one wanting to keep reading! It’s difficult to put the book down because of how much it resonates with the reader.

Jennifer writes about how she and her husband’s struggles with intimacy caused her to feel insecure about herself, and how that led to her lack of willingness to be available sexually to her husband. She also shares some very bold and what some would consider shocking things she kept hidden about herself. Jennifer shares that, in her suffering, God pursued her and carried her to a safe and intimate place with Him. (Tweet This!) As she drew closer to God and allowed Him to show her things about herself that needed attention and change, she learned a few important things about marriage and she shares those things in this book.

We recommend this resource to anyone whose marriage has been affected by pornography addiction.


For more on Jennifer and her story watch this video brought to you by Best Sex Life Now.

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What Russell Brand Showed Me About Porn

If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Twitter, then you may have seen this video of actor and comedian Russell Brand talking about porn. You probably have your own preconceived views of Brand, but whatever you make of what he says, you can’t deny that he talks about these issues openly and without fear.

What struck me about this clip from his daily YouTube show “The Trews” was how he talked about his own experiences with porn, remarking on how he had been obsessed with it as a teenager and also how he treated women as trophies. He was not afraid to be honest about how he has mistreated sex in the past for his own pleasure. He wasn’t afraid to be real.

Oh how we could do with more Russell Brands in the church!

I asked myself, how is he able to do this?
How can he be so forthright?
Is he not afraid of what people will say?

Then I realized something. Brand doesn’t fit neatly into the church, and his faith probably pushes on the boundaries of what many would consider normal. Still, I believe he has a deep spirituality that is connected to God and everything that Jesus stood for, even if he would not necessarily describe it always in those terms.

But although he may have his critics, he doesn’t have to fear the backlash or shame that openness can provoke in fellow Christians.

When we go to talk about these issues, a lot of times we are closed down or at the very least feel compelled to describe sex and porn in terms that don’t really scratch the surface of what’s going on. We’ll talk about all the ways it is considered sin, but we won’t have the important conversations which us allow us to connect deeply to our own sexuality and subsequently, with God.

Brand seems to dwell in a freedom that comes from not worrying what people think, and that allows him to live fully aware of his own demons and addictions. We can find hope and a fullness of life too, if we get on board with this same idea.

Here is how I think Brand does it and how we can join him: he acknowledges all parts of himself and the power they have to shape who he is. Even the ugly parts. And without the fear of being judged.

Let’s delve deeper into what this means.

At one point in the video, he describes how porn isn’t healthy and acknowledges that viewing porn prevents us from connecting with the world. I take this to mean with God and other people, and perhaps most commonly overlooked, ourselves.

Brand uses the word “dominion” when describing how we could just overcome porn by having dominion over ourselves. Rather than this being a seedy sort of BDSM idea, though, in this case it describes all the ways we piece together the good and wonderful parts of us that have been suppressed due to porn. Bringing to light all the pain we sweep aside because we are afraid of it.

When we repeatedly view porn we’re not just becoming disconnected from God but from ourselves.

When we are afraid of even talking about porn, then we are left stuck in a place where we can’t address much of the real pain that we carry that drives us further and further into porn’s dominion.

Anyone who has ever struggled with porn (or any addiction for that manner) will know this feeling all too well. The feeling of knowing this is the last thing that you want to be doing but never being able to stop. After the event, feeling shame and guilt and an awareness of the pain you live in. Of asking yourself, how did that just happen? Where did the time go? Why do I keep doing this to myself?

But this awareness of our pain is a gift. (Tweet This!)

Not because it shows us how much we need saved or forgiven, but because of this simple notion: if we can become more conscious of shame and guilt, perhaps it is possible to find freedom by becoming more conscious and aware of the possibilities that life offers, too.

Can we use this consciousness to become whole again rather than more and more isolated from ourselves?

When you engage in porn there are two versions of you at play. There is the “addiction has taken over, porn viewing” You and the “Spirit-filled, conscious, and connected to God and the world” You. Most of the time this Connected You gets suffocated and stifled by the Addicted You.

My friend Seth showed me a way of meditating which involved actively connecting these two parts again. I would take on the role of “The Watcher,” observing myself as I engaged with my triggers and then, when the time was right, stepping in to take control, comfort, and offer wisdom to the Addicted Me.

By taking on the role of the Spirit-filled “Watcher” and visualizing and verbally comforting and offering grace and love to the Addicted You, the part which comes from God’s Love is able to gently lead you back to where you were created to be the whole time.

It doesn’t simply shut up the addict in you, it redeems it.

By utilizing this practice, I began to learn how to connect the true side of me – the side that was always meant to be – to that side of me that takes over when porn starts shouting at me to feed it.

If this all sounds a little too out there or new age-y, I get it. It was completely strange to me also! But as I began to engage in this work, I realized there was so much I was unconscious of about myself and God. Sure, I may not have looked at porn in years, but in some ways I have only begun to scratch the surface of what freedom truly looks like. (Tweet This!)

It is time for us all to put aside the fear we have of talking about porn and sex and those parts we don’t like to bring with us to church on a Sunday morning. This fear is only holding us back and giving us an excuse to keep hiding behind shame and guilt.

So, I invite you to face every part of you – even the parts that terrify you – because that is where you will find the answers you may be seeking.

And it is there in the end, where shame and guilt are no match for Love. (Tweet This!)


For more discussion on porn and Fifty Shades of Grey (the movie that prompted Brand’s video) check out this week’s episode of Craig’s Car Ride below or get it on iTunes.

 

Paul Robinson is a writer who isn’t afraid to poke some of the boxes of church culture especially in the areas of sexuality, creativity, satire and peace and reconciliation. He’s also spent the last several years blogging content for XXXchurch.com and acting as an X3group leader. Originally from Northern Ireland he now lives in Detroit with his wife Brittany managing to successfully switch to driving on the right side of the road but drawing the line at calling ‘football’, ‘soccer’. You can follow Paul on Twitter or his personal blog.

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What I Don’t Understand About Fifty Shades of Grey

what i dont understand - blogspot

I don’t read fiction. Ever. I haven’t since high school, and even in high school, I opted for the Cliff’s Notes. When Fifty Shades of Grey came out, I heard about it (and have even commented on it over the years) but never opened the book. I never even skimmed it. I have friends who have and have filled me in.

I thought it was a fantasy book about a guy with some crazy desires for some violent sex. I was blown away to learn it sold 100 million copies, and when the movie grossed $260 million worldwide this weekend, I became even more fascinated.

So I went to see the movie. I went with my wife, to the noon showing at the mall by our house. It was packed. I can’t believe how many people were seeing this movie on a Wednesday afternoon.

So what’d I think?
I kinda didn’t hate the movie.
I did hate Christian Grey.

I didn’t walk out or picket, but I watched the whole movie because I wanted to better understand why this has resonated with so many. Why is Christian Grey someone that women are cheering on and fantasizing about? Why does my own mother at 66 years old connect with this story and feel like she “missed out” on something in her sex life.

As I write this, the movie finished two hours ago, and I’m still upset over what I just saw. Not some young woman being tied up, but Christian Grey himself. Let me explain.

Christian Grey was born to a prostitute/crack addict and put up for adoption.
Christian Grey was sexually abused by an older lady from the ages of 15 to 21.
Christian Grey was introduced to BDSM and forced to be a “submissive” for a number of years.
Christian Grey is very successful, rich, and powerful in his job.
Christian Grey has everything he needs and more, but deep down inside you can tell is not happy or fulfilled.
Christian Grey is used to getting what he wants and no one tells him no.
Christian Grey has had over 15 sexual partners that we know of.
Christian Grey does not “make love,” he “f*cks… hard.”
Christian Grey does not like to be touched.
Christian Grey gives things to get sex.
Christian Grey is abusive, controlling, dominant, and invasive.
Aside from his looks, money, and power, Christian Grey is the worst boyfriend imaginable.

Anastasia Steele is a virgin.
Anastasia Steele is infatuated with Christian Grey.
Anastasia Steele enjoys being pursued.
Anastasia Steele obviously is uncomfortable with the sexual experiences Christian Grey is wanting.
Anastasia Steele is constantly pushed to give in to the sexual requests of Christian Grey
Anastasia Steele is given more things in order to submit to Christian Grey’s sexual requests.
Anastasia Steele desires a relationship but gives sex hoping to get the relationship.

So, for those who have not read the book or watched the movie, you’re up to speed so far. Christian has a “contract” he tries to get Ana to sign, a contract that explains what she will and won’t do sexually and what she is and is not allowed to do outside the bedroom. In exchange for the signing the contract, she can move into the house and get all the benefits of being with Mr. Grey.

I get from the movie that Anastasia is not interested in sex so much as she is Christian Grey, and I think that is pretty normal for most women I meet that are pursuing men. (The famous saying, after all, is that men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love.) But in this movie, Christian is not willing to negotiate. He is not willing to show love or be attached. In fact, Anastasia is not even allowed to sleep in the same room or bed with him. She really is just his sex slave. She won’t sign the contract and at one point he gets so desperate he offers, “If you sign this, I will give you one night out a week as a couple. We will got out to dinner and go see a movie like boyfriends and girlfriends do.

Enough about the movie. Here are some takeaways and things I am left not understanding.

– Marriage only works when both sides give and both sides take, and sex is the same way. Men and women have needs and desires, and marriage and the marriage bed is a place to have those fulfilled. If you are with someone and they don’t take into consideration your needs and only demand things from you, then get the heck out of that relationship if you’re dating. If you’re married, then head to a counselor.

– Most people who abuse others were abused as children. The best available research suggest that 75% or more of those who commit acts of sexual or physical abuse against others were themselves abused as children. Christian Grey was abused as a child, a horrendous act that he never got over or dealt with or talked with anyone about. This has led him to some serious walls that have gone up in his life. and the only way he knows how to deal with it is to abuse someone else. He has done this to over 15 women and will continue. I heard this story was about sex, but this story at its core is about a broken man and his inability to love and be loved. How do people reading this book or watching this movie not see this? This is not a love story. This is not even an erotic story. (Tweet This!) This is a story of broken people continuing a cycle of dysfunction in their lives rather than dealing with their issues.

– The Bible says I have the right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial. I am not against being playful or doing things to spice up things in your bedroom, but the question I always have is why? Why do you think you need that? If both people agree to try different things in the bedroom, I am all for that. Christian Grey, on the other hand, is dealing with his pain by inflicting pain onto someone else who is visibility uncomfortable with it. He has trouble at work one day, so he sends Anastasia to the “play room” to take out his frustrations on her. If your partner is asking you to do something or try something new in the bedroom, my advice to you would be to ask why. The reason behind the ask is the deeper issue than the act itself. In a lot of cases it might just be a fun thing – or it might be a case like Christian Grey where he wants to avoid dealing with his own pain.

– “Why don’t you try things my way?” Christian never wants to try things Anastasia’s way. I think that would be a better movie, but he insists she does what he wants. If you are in a relationship and your partner makes demands and pressures you to do things you don’t want to do, then say NO.

Many people won’t understand this, but because I’ve seen the inner workings of the adult industry, this movie didn’t turn me on – it made me mad. (Tweet This!) The sex shown in the movie is violent and not love-making, and I don’t understand how 100 million people can read this book and think there is anything sexy about Mr. Christian Grey. If he was broke, ugly, and had a hard drive of porn instead of a “playroom” in his house, every women reading this would be freaked out enough to stay away from him forever. The books and movie have painted a sick disturbed man as a sex symbol that many, many women have gone crazy over.

So I leave even more confused.

Why? Why does my 66-year-old mom feel she missed out? Why is this unhealthy domination held up as an ideal? Why do so many men and women still not realize the greatest sex you can possibly have is by learning how to serve one another, discovering how to give to your partner and receive from them as well?

If you haven’t seen the movie or read the books, don’t. Instead of wasting that time examining this unhealthy dynamic, spend those hours talking with your spouse about sex. Talk about what you desire, what you think is missing. What your history with sex was. How you missed or messed up or abused sex prior to marriage. Talk about your expectations for sex and whether they’re being met or not. Don’t know how to start those conversations? We have a course called bestsexlifenow.com; watch the first video for free, and I assure you it will lead to so many productive conversations. Maybe even fifty of them.

 

*I was invited to speak at Daybreak Church about this topic. Please watch and enjoy. Then let us know your thoughts in the comments.

* If you want to download the audio version click here.


 

best-sex-life-nowAre you looking to spice up your marriage but in a way that’s healthy and helpful? Need a boost to your romance levels? Learn some ways you can increase the romance and start having the best sex ever with the Best Sex Life Now video series and workshop.

Signup today.

 

 

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Giving Up Porn For Lent

giving-up---blogspotThis week began the annual season of Lent, that time of year when Christians around the world give up something that they really enjoy in order to prepare for Easter. Some people give up sweets, others give up caffeine, others give up social media.

We’re thinking this a great time for you to give up porn.

For Lent.

The whole point of Lent is to clear something out of your life in order to make room for God. You’re intentionally removing something from your world so you can fill the space that remains with Jesus. And what better thing can you give up for Lent than the soul-destroying, eternally unsatisfying consumption of porn? (Tweet This!)

Sound good? Seems like something you’d like to do?

We can help.

We actually already have a 30-Day Porn-Free Challenge all ready to go for you. It’s completely free and will provide you with some encouragement as you journey through this season of having porn be absent from your life.

And when your 30 days is up, why not keep going all the way through the rest of Lent? And then, when Lent is over and Easter has arrived and everyone else enters a time of feasting and enjoying all over again the things that they’d given up for Lent, why not take a moment and consider how much better your life has been without porn?

Let this be a season that gets extended far beyond what you ever thought you could do.

 

Sign up for the challenge now!

 

Adam Palmer is a grab-bag of creative outputs: writer, author, editor, and musician. He is the blog editor for XXXchurch.com and collaborator on several books, most recently Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care About Your Size, Status, or Success with Craig Gross. He currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma, making music with his wife Michelle and raising a handful of kids. He likes Twitter, and you can find him there @ThatAdamPalmer.

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Confessions of an Overweight Lover

confession x3 Church blog - retina blogspotIn the first 5 years of my marriage, I gained 65 pounds, and none of it was muscle.

My wife, on the other hand, gained nothing. (In fact, we’ll celebrate our 25th anniversary next year and she just keeps looking better and better.)

Me? Well… there was just more of me to love, right?

When I was overweight, I always liked to make little jokes like that. But are they jokes… or are they excuses? (Tweet This!)

Offended

When my friend Craig Gross posted a video interview ( Can overweight people have great sex? ) the comments began pouring in. Countless people were offended, claiming Craig and his wife were focusing on the external instead of the internal.

Really? Think about it. Because I know most of you have seen both extremes.

On one hand we’ve all seen that person who becomes obsessive about their appearance (or maybe you’ve been that person!). They look in the mirror and are overwhelmed with being too fat, too short, too pale… you name it. They look at the models on magazine covers or the celebrities on the red carpet and feel like there is no way they’ll ever measure up. They let their looks become their identity. This isn’t only mentally unhealthy, it’s spiritually unhealthy. Few would argue this.

On the other hand, we’ve also seen what happens when someone “lets themselves go” physically. The list of consequences is large, the biggest being weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. (You can read more on that here) It’s not easy to talk about this kind of indulgence, but the Bible does: it condemns a lack of self-control and gluttony, sins which tend to get ignored in the church.

And what about in the bedroom?

Who’s going to bring that up? (Oh… someone did last week, and they got drilled!)

I wonder how many spouses want to bring it up but never do?

A Wake-Up Call

My dad had a heart attack a few years ago, and so we all decided to lose some weight together. I lost 30 pounds and even got rid of a bunch of my “fat clothes.” My wife was overjoyed. In the middle of an intimate moment in the bedroom she reached her arms around me and began feeling some of my muscles. She said, “Wow. I can reach around your body!” (She didn’t really mean for the words to come out like that… but they did.) We both began laughing, but it provoked a candid conversation. I begged her to be honest with me, and after some coaxing and cajoling, she shared that it was much easier for her to be intimate when she was turned on physically. She assured me she never loved me any less when I was big… but let’s be honest. Abs are more attractive than blubber.

Jonathan-before-afterOffensive?

On our wedding day we said the words “for better or worse,” but she kept getting better while I got worse. (Tweet This!)

How is that fair?

Before you get offended at my wife, or me, please consider God’s design. My guess is that Adam and Eve probably weren’t flabby.

This is where someone always chimes in with, “Well, I’m just big boned.” I remember hearing a comedian making fun of that phrase. He jested, “Where are all these big boned people when they die? Have you ever seen a fat skeleton?

Discipline

For me, it all came down to discipline. I gained weight because of two things: bad diet and lack of exercise. Sure, I had a ton of good excuses: I was working hard in ministry, I was raising my kids, I was trying to be a good husband… a good chubby husband. But what good is an employee who is messing up the health plan with his diabetes? What help can a dad be when he dies at age 52? (Tweet This!) What kind of character does a husband reflect when he figures his wife should just love him for who he has “grown to be”?

Last year I messed up my shoulder and had to get rotator cuff surgery. Two things happened: I had to stop my favorite forms of exercise (and didn’t do the forms that were available to me), and I ate whatever I wanted. After all, I was depressed from the injury and lack of exercise.

I lost muscle and gained weight.

In January, my wife and I had a heart-to-heart conversation. She asked me, “Jonathan, please lose the weight. I love you and I don’t want you to be unhealthy.

A noble request.

I vowed to her, “Lori, I’m going to change my diet and exercise until I get to the ‘healthy’ zone on my doctor’s weight chart (a zone I hadn’t seen in over 20 years). This time I won’t stop at 10 pounds overweight. This time I’ll keep it off.” She almost did a back flip.

I called up my dad and asked him, “Do you wanna join Weight Watchers with me?” He said, “Yes! I was just waiting for someone to do it with me.”

We signed up and have been dropping pounds since. Last week I worked out five different days (three of them on the road). I’ve lost almost 15 pounds as I write this, and I’ve got 17 to go to hit my goal. (I’ve got abs under this layer of chunky… I just know it!)

Are you an overweight lover?

Are you convincing yourself, “it’s fine!”

Who do you need to call?

 

best-sex-life-nowAre you looking to increase the marital fitness in your sex life? Not sure where to start talking about these sensitive topics? Learn more about these things and how to take your sex and intimacy life to a BRAND NEW level in our newest video workshop Best Sex Life Now.

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