Erotica and the Bedroom: Is it the same as Porn?

By Melissa McVety

I’m a marriage and family speaker and teacher, and one of the topics I “get” to speak on is SEX!
Surprised womanWe, at Doing Family Right, believe in the value and beauty of sexuality in the God-given context of marriage. Maintaining passion and overcoming roadblocks are an incredible issue in marriages today. Now, I should tell you, I have personally come a long way in this area myself. If this was a topic I was supposed to talk on a few years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to do it with integrity; I would have spoken on the basis of book-knowledge and not out of my own experiences. This has not been an easy journey for me, and there has been more than one occasion where it nearly caused my marriage to dissolve.

For our marriage, sexual connection has been a major hurdle. I had no idea what a healthy view of sexuality in marriage looked like, and my past experiences and exposure to different things “tainted” my perspective and removed my freedom in the bedroom. It didn’t help that my husband had his own baggage from early exposure to porn.

The negative impact of porn on a marriage is becoming a widely discussed and understood issue, as are past sexual experiences and related baggage. Rather than rehash these issues, I want to bring to light a pitfall for women that is quickly overtaking our culture and hindering us as wives in the bedroom. The topic I have in mind is erotica.

By definition, “Erotica is literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/erotica) which is exactly what romance novels and movies often do for women. And our culture has a habit of falsely glorifying and suggesting such things can help us in the bedroom!

Although men are being torn apart by porn in our culture, we women can get swallowed up by romance and fantasy, allowing it to erode our love-making, healthy desire and passion for our spouse. Things like erotica; masquerading in books and movies, have a similar impact in the bedroom for women as porn can for men.

Instead of getting caught up in the physical and visual draw like men, we are drawn into romance story and characters. We are stimulated by our emotional and felt connections to the story. There is no question that some women are drawn to physical appearance as well, using men’s bodies as eye-candy and allowing our imagination to go wild (which I strongly encourage, when directed towards your own spouse) Although these visual stimulations can have a similar effect on women as men, the average female has a stronger allure when stimulated by the story and relating to the characters.

Erotica for women have been around for a long time, luring us into its trap. I remember my first encounter as a pre-teen reading my very first Harlequin Romance novel! I was not prepared for the effect that it had on me! It awakened a sexual interest within me that shaped many fantasies of what a romantic time in bed with a man would be like! And it left me hungry to read more (it presented something that isn’t real, or at the very least, not very common and left its imprint in my sexual framework).

We create a picture of an “ideal” sexual encounter and our desire and dream of that ideal grows. We bring these scenes into our relationships and bedrooms…and we wonder why we find ourselves dissatisfied; we compare our husbands to these character’s physique, romantic gestures and even their sexual performance. We are measuring our husbands against something that isn’t even real, justifying reading such books or watching certain movies to “help” and experience freedom in the bedroom.
How is this any different than many husbands’ use of porn?
Don’t get me wrong, communicating sexual desires, having fun together and exploring new things and sharing what is working and what isn’t, needs to happen between couples…on a regular basis! But there are healthier ways do this that don’t compromise true intimate connection. When we start turning to these erotic pleasures, we cheapen the experience and damage it long-term. We find ourselves trying to reenact imaginary scenes and can be let down. Then we risk taking things to the next level by fantasizing or imagining that we are in bed with someone else, that character in the novel or movie, in order to be “satisfied” in that moment. By doing this we disconnect with our spouse, while in the act of sex, creating a barrier. These barriers, if not restored, eventually can lead our heart to wander from our spouse, distancing our passionate flare for them alone. Doesn’t that sound similar to the effects of porn on men?!

Would we be ok if our husbands claimed using porn helped to enhance their connection with us in bed? Of course not! We know better than that, and research is proving that it does quite the opposite! But that is what we are doing…we justify our erotic entertainment, convincing ourselves (allowing culture to convince us) that there isn’t anything wrong with it because it isn’t “porn”, it’s different! Or maybe some of us don’t feel a need to justify it at all because it is so normal and common in our social circles? That kind of thinking shows how desensitized we have become. I know there are a lot more reasons couples are struggling with passion and true intimacy, but this is definitely one area that gets overlooked.

A Challenge to Wives

Are you frustrated with or even just dreaming of a better sex life in your marriage? I’d like to challenge you to improve it. Trust me, this works! Here are four ways to take charge of your own sexual destiny:

1. MIND -First of all, you need to change your attitude. You need to see that your sexual dissatisfaction or lack of interest is within your control to change.

2. HEART -Choose today to purify your heart. Commit to giving it all to your spouse. Remove the items from your life that are stealing what is his. Consider what books or movies or any other “helps” need to go to make room for only him.

3. BODY –Control what stimulates your sexual desire, and steer it in the right direction- towards your spouse. Be captivated by him, and allow him to be captivated by you.

4. SOUL –Repent and pray for God to remove these images and fantasies that have negatively gained access into the bedroom. Allow God to restore your passion for your husband. Pray into all these areas, asking God to help you and equip you.

The results are that you will strengthen your bond and build a life-long sexual relationship that is healthy, committed, passionate and alive. You will find yourself fantasizing more about your husband; arousing and awakening yourself to more of him, without the “help” of erotic sources.

You will feel free, excited and fulfilled like you never have before!

Melissa McVety

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