Valentine’s Day: it’s hard enough on its own, isn’t it? For those whose marriage has not survived sex addiction, it’s a day that seems to rub our singleness in our noses. The implication of the Valentine’s message: you’re missing out on the ultimate delight: romance. Too bad you’re such a loser.
Those of us who have been married to an intimacy anorexic or addict with a personality disorder may have experienced times when we were studiously (and pointedly) ignored on Valentine’s Day. It was the perfect chance for him to wound us and push us away.
Others of us have been victimised on this day… coerced (or manipulated) into playing a part in his erotic fantasies. 12% of the respondents to the 2014/2015 Survey of Wives of Sex Addicts listed as a major regret ‘going along with him in his addiction’.
I discuss this scenario in-depth in Beyond Betrayal, but for now, let me just say that when you allow your husband to use you as his ‘personal prostitute’, you are actually strengthening the addiction… which makes it more likely he will go outside the marriage for sex… not less.
The 50 Shades Connection
And speaking of coercion, manipulation and personal prostitutes… this brings us around to the worldwide opening of 50 Shades of Grey this weekend. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels triggered just at the mention of the title.
Like many of you, I haven’t read the books. Nor am I going to*. Still one can hardly escape knowing that the theme is the glorification of sex addiction cruelty and the subjugation of women. One can hardly miss that our society can’t get enough of this ‘entertainment.’ Yes hard-core pornography has now become mainstream entertainment.
Two years ago I created a workshop for teens entitled ‘50 Shades of Grey, One Shade of White’. In this workshop I talk about sex addiction, media and how intimacy — with God and others — is what meets all our true human longings: not sex or romance. The ability to experience intimacy, however, has a few prerequisites, one of which is freedom from addiction (this and the other three prerequisites are discussed in detail in the book).
While I was a single mom, I decided I was going to reclaim Valentine’s Day (a day 'The Lord has made') by making it a day to show my children particular love and appreciation. Part of the tradition — which the kids quickly came to embrace — was the making of some kind of special dessert. They in return would make me a card pouring out their love and appreciation.
I loved it. But still, there was an emptiness there.
Today I have a much more intimate relationship with God. His love helps protect me from the lies and rejection this world serves up on a regular basis – and particularly on days like today.
I pray that you will experience an intimate connection with Father God today and with others. May it be the kind of intimacy that fulfils your heart and soul and confirms to your spirit that what you have been given is so much greater than what the world is celebrating.
By the way, if you’re thinking ‘how obscene is it to link a movie like 50 Shades with Valentine’s Day,’ you are of course right… it is obscene. However, it’s interesting to note that Cupid is a symbol of Lupercalla whose fertility festival involved animal sacrifices, smearing of blood on people, whipping of young women (with leather thongs) and the prostituting of these women to Roman men. It might be obscene… but perhaps it’s also not so very out of the blue.
*If, like me, you didn’t want to read the books, but found yourself in a position where you had to speak about them with some degree of understanding, I recommend Shannon Ethridge’s summary.