50 Shades of Grey – Lake Mary Marriage Counselor suggests 5 Questions Couples Should Ask.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and also the big screen premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey. Based on the best-selling novel by E.L. James, it is on track for a blockbuster Valentine’s Day weekend; it could even gross as much as $60 million dollars at the U.S. box office alone. Since its first release in 2011 as an e-book, it has gone on to become a worldwide phenomenon with over 100 million in total world sales surpassing author sales such as J. K. Rowling “The Harry Potter Series.”

Fifty Shades tells the story of Anastasia Steele, a college student, who falls in love with Christian Grey, a young billionaire with a troubled past who likes to engage in sex in a formal, controlling, stylised corporal punishment manner. The book and movie has been much criticized for promoting domestic violence on one hand but on the other for enhancing the sex lives of couples.
You don’t have to read the book or see the movie to understand its significance in popular culture but between couples it can certainly spark questions about the health of your sexual relationship.

Here are 5 Questions from 50 Shades Couples Should Ask:

1. Is There a Power Imbalance in the Relationship? According to Dawn Hawkins, the executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, if you take away the glamour, “Fifty Shades” is just a sensationalized lie, telling women that they can, and should, fix violent and controlling men by being obedient and devoted, and that, somehow, this is romantic. According to Domestic Violence Statistics, at least one in every three women in the world have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. For couples who are willing to talk about this and address the consent and communication patterns in and outside the bedroom, it can help to make the relationship more balanced and equal.

2. Are Both Partners Sexually Satisfied With the Relationship? 50 Shades gives couples an opening to ask healthy questions like, “Do I satisfy you sexually in bed, and is there something I can do to make things better?” According to a 2011 study published in The Journal of Integrated Social Sciences most couples are satisfied with their sex lives when they engage in a variety of sexual behaviors that include more kissing, foreplay, oral sex, experimenting with sexual positions and having sexual conversations.

3. Is There Enough Romance in the Relationship? In 50 Shades Christian begins his relationship with Anastasia with romance before it leads elsewhere. For couples who have been together a long time sex often gets routine and with stress of work and children the romance aspect of the relationship gets neglected. However, couples can re-ignite this by listing and sharing 5 romantic things they would like their partner to do. A wife might like flowers and chocolate but one of my clients once said the most romantic thing her husband can do to get her in the mood is to clean up the kitchen and put the kids to bed so that she has time and energy for him later in the bedroom.

4. Do You Have Any Sexual Fantasies? According to a 2013 iVillage Survey, a fifth of men and women surveyed who read Fifty Shades of Grey and of those who read it, 65 percent said their sex life did change as a result. In fact, men report a bigger change under the covers than women: 87 percent vs. 34 percent. How exactly? They had more foreplay (39 percent), had more sex (38 percent), bought sexy lingerie (38 percent), talked more about desires and fantasies (34 percent) and introduced more sex toys into the bedroom (34 percent). Sexual fantasies may also include a change in the location where sex occurs or who initiates sex.

5. Is There anything From the Past That is Impeding Your Sexual Response? Christian’s desire to control Anastasia stems from deep seated hurts in his past. When one has been sexually or emotionally abused it often reflects in one’s lack of sexual response in marriage. Women especially have a hard time relaxing, may experience pain in intercourse and may have flashbacks to the abuse during sex even though they love their partner. If this is the case, then martial or sex therapy is recommended to help couples increase their intimacy and to help heal the hurts of the past with a partner that is gentle and reassuring.

In order for couples to ask such delicate questions, the relationship must first feel safe for both people to be totally honest with each other. Each partner must be able to share and receive feedback without feeling shame, inadequate or have it affect one’ self-esteem. If you would like to spark such questions with your partner, it might be good to first assess the emotional safety of the relationship. Then ask your partner if he or she is open to such a discussion in a way that is non-threatening or demanding.

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Author: Lyris Steuber, MA, LMFT is a Lake Mary Marriage Therapist & Couples Counselor with Total Life Counseling Center. Total Life Counseling Center specializes in marriage and families and our experts can be reached at (407) 248-0030.