The countdown began as the media and modern day America prepared for the opening day of 50 Shades of Gray. Talk shows buzzed and parties planned; romance business blossomed on this February Valentines weekend. I noticed the parking lots full at the local theater where they were showing the film multiple times in as many theaters. Marketing wise, what a brilliant idea – sex, love and romance – big movie and even bigger hopes and fantasies of many of the fans. I didn’t read 50 Shades of Gray until I had several clients reference it. I have to admit, I didn’t read it to the end. When I found out there were 2 more books following the main characters and got the gist of just how steamy and edgy it was, I could just imagine the rest. It didn’t take long to “get engaged” as I scoped out a few more sections at the end.
From E L James’s book, Fifty Shades of Grey; Ana is thinking during a visit to her mother: “What does Christian know of love? Seems he didn’t get the unconditional love he was entitled to during his very early years. My heart twists, and my mother’s words waft like a zephyr through my mind: Yes, Ana. Hell what do you need? A neon sign flashing on his forehead? She thinks Christian loves me, buth then she’s my mother, of course she’d think that. She thinks I deserve the best of everything. I frown. It’s true, and in a moment of startling clarity, I see it. Its’ very simple: I want his love. I need Christian Gray to love me. this is why I am so reticent about our relationship – and because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished…..and because of his fifty shades, I am holding myself back.”
Ana goes on to say that all is meaningless without his love and expressed her fears that he may not be capable of such love because of the abuse he experienced in his complicated relationship with his mother. Still, the sex is amazingly fierce, creative and prolonged. The scenes are filled with passion, youth, fantasy, and hope. I’m engrossed again…but wait! Today is Valentines Day, the day many couples will relate with each other in countless ways – beautiful and messy as the case may be. Most couples that I work with are seeking love and acceptance and priority – that feeling they are Number 1. When dreams fade, symptoms and problems begin. It can be a long and windy road once the bumpy road of frustration/conflict begins. But Wait! Can this relationship be saved? Can my dreams be once again resurrected? Can we once again feel the attraction or the passion or the warmth of positivity; that state of being that embodies trust and well-being, creativity and safety of soul? Many relationships fail – their intentions and abilities to do the work are not able to create a new style and foundation. The passion of the beginning, the unknown, the unbearable state of excitement and anxiety – the brain bathed in the love cocktail of endorphins and dopamine. Not all couples fall into this intensity of emotion but all experience the illusion of creating something good and feeling happy withing their relationship. Intimacy is that combination of confiding (sharing our thoughts and emotions) and physical touch. Sexuality is the connection glue – powerful. The combination of being open to explore each other’s bodies and minds and respecting one another’s differences. Most of us Mid-westerners were not brought up in these open/affectionate households. Stoicism – a family trait in many of our family lineages still rules. Being reserved, private and role-oriented. This worked to help us survive; it doesn’t help us thrive. We need to THRIVE! We can do it! But we can’t do it alone. In my practice, I see a common theme of misunderstandings and resentments that zap the zing out of a healthy sensual life and creates symptoms we do not want to have in our life. When they persist, we get sick…one way or the other so to speak. We all deserve loving relationships and to get our needs met. The book I routinely suggest is Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson. There, you can test yourself and learn the inside scoop on why our early childhood, stress and negative beliefs impact us so much. Just like Christian Gray, he had many shades and shadows to his life. Just like Ana, who was attracted to his complicated energy to experience “the wild side” of love and sensuality, sex and maturity. I have yet to finish the Shades of Gray series – to see the evolution of these 2 characters of fiction who have touched and inspired many, both positive and negative reviews to take note of these sides to our humanity.
I encourage couples to have massage tables, use fantasy and role play, experiment with passionate essential oils, and have or learn to have fun together. Many of us never learned that as kids – that was not on the top of the survival tool kit. Fun can be learned – I’ve seen it done. Start with intention, a beginners mind and avoid all judgement. If there are negative emotions, see them together as a sedgeway to learning something new. Seeking therapy is one tool but there are others as well. The first step is doing a Couple Check up. Know about your relationship! There are several on-line resources for this as well as resources for learning how to “spice up” your sexual relationship in a healthy and loving manner. Search couple check up and Better Sex.com., goDesana.com/newpath (romance oils) Awareness has turned on America and beyond. Let’s use this for the good and keep the chatter going.