Our 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.
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.
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.
Are 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.
This 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.
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.
In 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!)
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.
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?”
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?
Are 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.
Earlier in the week XXXchurch posted a video on Facebook entitled “Can overweight people have great sex?” This was a video outtake from our new video series Best Sex Life Now.
When we posted it, I thought nothing of it. In fact,
I think it’s a legitimate question.
However, within minutes of posting the comments started pouring in. And let’s just say most of them weren’t good. In fact, many were super-angry accusing the speakers in the video (Craig Gross and his wife Jeanette) of being superficial and poking fun at “fat people.”
This completely blew me away.
And let me be clear, one of the great things about this organization is that we all don’t have to agree on everything.
We understand the importance of talking about difficult topics and we realize that, in doing so, we will stir up conflicting opinions. In fact, there have been things we’ve posted before that I personally wouldn’t have posted.
BUT this video ain’t one of them.
Why? Because there is a lot of legitimacy in asking this question!
However, let’s clear something up:
Weight is not the issue. Fitness is the issue.
And yes, I believe that better fitness will improve your sex life. (Tweet This!)
And before you accuse me of “fat-shaming,” know this about me:
I’ve been super-skinny and in terrible shape.
I’ve been in single digit body fat % and been in great shape.
I’ve also been about 30lb over what I weigh now (which was considered obese) and in even worse shape.
And today I’m 43, I work out daily, am in very good shape, and I love it. I don’t even let up when I’m nursing an injury.
Because I realize now that, for me, a better fitness level equals a better lifestyle level.
So, I thought I would share with you five fitness benefits that will impact your marriage in a positive way. These aren’t for the purposes of shaming anyone who’s out of shape or overweight: these are just real benefits. Take ‘em or leave ‘em. Regardless, these are things I’ve seen in my own life; I can attest to their validity firsthand.
1. Better Sex – I thought I’d get this one out of the way first since many of you may already be pissed at me.
When I was 30 pounds overweight, I did not like the way I looked, but one thing I thought about a lot at that time was, “If I don’t like what I see, what does my wife think?”
Now the truth is, my wife has always loved me for me and will continue to do so. She still swears that I was “sexy” to her back then, and I believe her now. But back then I saw what I saw, and that robbed me of my self-confidence. And self-confidence is very sexy (ask anyone); lack of self-confidence is not.
Better self-confidence equals better sex. (Tweet This!) Maybe your fitness level doesn’t matter to your spouse, but I assure you: if you get into better shape, you will feel better about yourself, and that will translate to a more confident bedroom performance.
2. Longevity – Straight up: poor fitness hurts your life span. Sure, people in great shape die all the time, but statistics don’t lie. The better shape you are in, the better chance you will live a longer life.
Why is this great for your marriage? Well, unless your marriage is terrible, hopefully your spouse is in no hurry to see you cash out (and most likely neither are your kids). No one wants to sit around wondering if their partner is going to make it another five years because of their obesity problem. If you love your spouse, then give them some security. Give them the gift of a marriage that’s not marred by an untimely and early death.
3. Performance – Hey, when you are in you 20s, you can usually hang with most physical activities (even if you aren’t in good shape). But once you hit your mid-30s, that all changes. All of sudden you are huffing and puffing from walking up a flight of stairs or from chasing your kids around the house… and that sucks.
Better fitness means you will be in a better place to take on the word’s challenges.
Want to take a long walk with your spouse without needing an oxygen tank at the end of it?
Want to climb a scenic trail on vacation without needing an elevator for the trip down?
Want to be able to wrestle your kids without feeling like your chest is about to explode?
Get in better shape and open up a world of possibilities that you couldn’t fully enjoy when you weren’t.
4. Discipline – One thing fitness requires is discipline.
You need to be disciplined enough to say no to that second Krispy Kreme donut.
You need to be disciplined to drag yourself to the gym when it’s cold out and you’d rather stay in bed.
You need to be disciplined to push yourself on workouts so you can reach new fitness levels.
Fitness breeds discipline, and that discipline WILL spill over into other areas of your life.
Trust me, no one enjoys a spouse that lacks discipline. You already had a mother and a father. Your partner doesn’t want that responsibility.
Lack of discipline is a marriage stressor (Tweet This!), whether it is how you parent, how you budget, or how you eat. Better fitness instills a better sense of discipline, and that will appeal to your spouse.
5. Reduced Stress – One thing that we can agree on is that marriage brings stress. Add kids into the picture and holy crap… talk about a lot of stress.
Stress is linked to (not necessarily the cause of) almost every ailment or disease you can think of, whether it be cancer, high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, cholesterol, and so on. Stress is BAD. Period.
Being in shape (i.e. exercising) greatly reduces stress levels. In fact, exercise releases “feel good” endorphins, has been referred to as meditation in motion, improves your mood, disrupts anxiety, and improves sleep. All of these things help reduce stress.
Who doesn’t want less stress?
What marriage can’t benefit from reduced stress?
Get in better shape and you will lower stress—and improve your marriage quality at the same time.
Bottom line is this. Being in shape will improve your life. And yes, that will have, at minimum, a trickle-down effect on your marriage and your sex life.
No one is saying if you aren’t in shape then you are no good.
No one is “fat bashing.”
No one is saying you can’t have a great marriage and a great sex life if you are out of shape.
But, fitness will improve these things even more… sometimes dramatically.
By the way, here’s that video that caused all the “fuss.”