Valentine’s Day. For those whose relationship 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 a man who is intimacy adverse (as most sex addicts are) may have experienced times when we were pointedly ignored on Valentine’s Day. It was the perfect chance for a wounded man to lash back and push us away.
Others of us have been victimized on this day: coerced or manipulated into playing a part in his porn-inspired 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 here let me just say that when we allow our husband to use us as his "personal prostitute," we are actually strengthening the addiction. This 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 to the worldwide opening of 50 Shades Darker this week (the second blog post I ever wrote for Beyond Betrayal was about the opening of the 50 Shades of Grey movie in 2015). 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 or seen the first movie. Nor am I going to.* Still one can hardly escape knowing that the theme is the glorification of sex addiction, sexual violence and the abuse 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 porn and sex addiction 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 (discussed in depth in Chapter 17 of Beyond Betrayal).
A Day the Lord has Made
While 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 shields me from the lies around my identity this world serves up on a regular basis – and particularly on days like today. The world may say I'm unlovable, undesirable, and insignificant. But God says I'm his princess daughter with whom He desires to spend every moment of every day. He says the same to you.
I pray that you will hear His words of truth about you this Valentine's Day. May they fill your heart and soul and confirm to your spirit that intimacy with Him is vastly greater than what the world is revelling in.
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.