Q: I've heard that sexual fantasizing is bad for my marriage, but other people tell me it's okay. I don't know what to believe. Is it okay?
A: With the phenomenon of the New York Times bestselling book 50 Shades of Grey, lots of women are wondering what the big deal is with fantasy—is it a friend or enemy to marriage?
Let me tell you about two people I know. I met Mary through my life coaching practice. She almost divorced after 30 years of marriage because, "I hadn't been physical with my husband because I felt like it was detrimental to my spiritual walk with God. That may sound crazy, but I just couldn't be intimate with him without having racy thoughts run through my brain that made me feel guilty afterward. I thought surely God would never approve of my mental activities."
But then Mary sought counseling prior to signing the divorce papers. Her therapist asked, "If God designed your brain in such a way that you can become aroused simply by entertaining certain thoughts, could that be a blessing instead of a burden?" Rather than lose her marriage, Mary decided to lose her guilt instead. Her newfound freedom to enjoy the way her sexual brain works transformed their relationship. That was 22 years ago, and today their sex life is richly rewarding—even after 52 years of marriage!
Now meet Kayla. She and her husband, Josh, hadn't had sex in almost a year. They'd chalked it up to being too busy with three preschoolers to have any energy left for sex at the end of the day. Yet both admitted they'd moved in separate directions when it came to personal gratification: Josh toward pornography, and Kayla toward romance novels. Their sexual imaginations were indeed running wild, but not with thoughts about each other.
Isn't it interesting how in one case sexual fantasies enhanced a marriage, yet in another case they wreaked havoc. Here are a few lessons:
First, we are created by God as sexual beings, and arousal definitely begins in the brain. We simply can't reach climax while mentally drafting our grocery list or even reciting our favorite Scripture passages. We must allow our brain to venture into sexy territory in order to experience orgasm—something God designed the human body to experience. (Yeah, God!)
Second, those raised in Christian homes were often sent messages (overtly or covertly) that sex (including healthy sexual fantasy between you and your spouse) was anything but holy, pure, or natural. As a result, we may experience guilt, shame, and inhibition, as Mary once did. These negative emotions aren't beneficial to our sexual health, nor the health of our marriage.