The Fantasy Fallacy by Shannon Ethridge–Review

'I C U' photo (c) 2011, Walt Stoneburner - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


Shannon Ethridge is a kindred spirit. She’s written a number of books on Christian sex, and she’s just come out with another one that talks about a lot of issues we discuss on this blog: The Fantasy Fallacy. In it, she looks at why we are so frequently haunted by sexual fantasies we do not want, and what we can do about it.

Quite simply, this is a wonderful book that will help you understand better how you work, and will point you to true healing and true intimacy and true oneness–what God really designed for us.

And it starts by recognizing that often our desires for sex are not about sex at all. She says:

“The Sexual Revolution isn’t about sex at all. It’s about broken people using other people, desperately trying to medicate their own emotional pain through sexual acts.”

On the other hand, God wants us to GIVE to one another–not take.

So if we know that sex is supposed to be about giving to your spouse, and supposed to be a glorious intimate experience, what do we do when we’re tempted to read erotic novels, or to watch porn, or we get weird fantasies?

There are really two fantasy fallacies that Shannon is dealing with: the first is that all fantasy is wrong; and the second is that we need to be in bondage to our fantasies. She systematically demolishes both of these arguments in her book.

Shannon isn’t afraid to deal with these very real temptations that Christians have–Christians from all walks of life. The problem, though, is that often we can’t talk about sexual fantasy because we don’t know what it means. We think it’s automatically not Christian. But we all have sexual thoughts, and what’s the difference?

So she’s saying, the real issue is that if sexual thoughts and longings are from God, how do we channel them properly?

What do they mean?

Consider that: to fantasize about doing well in school means we’re smart; to fantasize about serving on the mssion field means we’re godly; to fantasize about improving our sex lives means we’re perverted. True? No, says Shannon. She says:

I absolutely do not think that all fantasy is wrong, but those fantasies that push beyond what is socially or spiritually acceptable are most often rooted in childhood trauma or unresolved pain.

Why did she write the book? To help people examine their fantasies, recognize the roots of the harmful ones, and invite God to heal their pain.

She gives lots of examples from her own life and lays herself bare. For instance, she tells of an instance when she found her head being turned she started to worry she wanted to have an affair. She spoke to a counselor and her husband, and her husband said, “this isn’t about you and me; this is about you and your dad.” So she worked on her daddy issues, and asked Greg just to hold her.

She talks about three types of sexual fantasies:

  • Autoerotic–come into our heads unbidden (not wrong)
  • Erotic–using our thoughts to turn us on (not necessarily bad, especially in marriage)
  • Illicit–something that’s wrong. For instance, 90% of people report fantasizing about someone other than their spouse. Does this mean it’s normal and we can say it’s okay? Nope.

What do you do if you’re addicted to fantasy? If you find that you need fantasy to get you aroused, even when you’re making love to your spouse? I talked about this at length in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and I was happy to see her with more or less the same advice, including:

Taking your time–if you resort to fantasy to make sex feel better, simply take more time! Sex doesn’t need to be over with in ten minutes. Or play music and open your eyes, to help get your brain off of your fantasy. Focus on your breathing.

The real meat of her book, though, came when she started to look at specific types of fantasies that we’re drawn to, and then helped us see the pain that was often beneath those fantasies to give us a strategy to deal with them. You can tell she’s a psychologist, which is good. She knows what she’s talking about, and she’s able to take what’s good in modern psychology, toss out what’s bad, and bring Scripture into it. She says:

“The core of our sexual longings is a much deeper spiritual longing.”

Sexual release is an incredible tranquilizer for pain.

But when we have to throw in danger or porn to get excited, we rob ourselves of one of the richest experiences of our lives.

She looks into the how and why we often gravitate towards certain fantasies and the spiritual longings they represent, and helps us to understand why our brains go there–”you can’t change the fruit until you trace the root.” Why is it that you’re drawn to this? What is the pain? Shannon gives a lot of very graphic examples of fantasies that people have told her in her practice, and how she’s helped them trace the root. Some may be disturbed by how graphic they are. I wasn’t. Honestly, you hear this stuff all the time in movies, or just looking through magazines today. And it was necessary, because so many people reading the book are carrying their pile of shame. And to see that there is a root, a logical cause, is such a relief. It helps you to see that you are not a freak, you are just someone in pain.

Does this mean that it’s not sin? No, not at all. We then choose what we want to do when these thoughts bombard us. Will we entertain them or discard them? It’s easier to discard them if you understand them, and then rechannel them.

What I really appreciated about the book is that is was REAL. It was real about the porn industry; it was real about the struggles people  have (even Christians); it was real about our fantasies. Quite often we just don’t talk about these things, even though all of us, to some extent, struggle with them. It is time for the church to GET REAL and start addressing people where they are at, not just some sterilized version of what sex should be. Many of us are dealing with very real temptations and very real shame, and we need someone to point the way without just saying, “Jesus is enough.”

I’m not saying that Jesus isn’t enough; but sometimes it takes more than just that. It takes time to look at our pain. It takes time to examine our hearts and see where we’re crying out for intimacy, and why we feel drawn in wrong directions.

And once we see where our struggles lie, we can invite God in. We can develop strategies to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We can open up and experience an even greater degree of intimacy with our spouse. And we can finally be healed.

You can be healed.

No matter what shame you have, God is bigger than that.

God wants to take it from you.

You may not understand the root of it, but there is a root. Jesus wants to be let in, not cut out from one part of your life.

Will you let Him?

The Fantasy Fallacy is a great place to begin if you’ve ever struggled with sexual fantasy that you’ve wanted to get rid of. It could just be the tool that God will use to give you the answers, and the hope, you’ve been searching for.

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Comments

  1. So excited to read your review, Sheila! I think Shannon’s book is so needed to start up a discussion. It is so great to see so many of the bloggers sharing their thoughts and encouragement! So thankful for Shannon and for you Sheila! Blessings, Kate

  2. I love this post, but have a quick question. If “auto-erotic” is okay, what if it’s porn images coming into your mind unbidden? My husband watched porn from about age 9 (sad, isn’t it?) and is doing a great job trying to break that addiction, but he’s told me that some of the hardest times are when he’s at work doing his job (he works at a factory, so it’s repetitive and he doesn’t have to think that hard to do it) sometimes old images will pop into his mind. He tries to fight them off by singing a hymn to himself or thinking about something else (often me), but they still come. Any advice on how to deal with that?

    • Katie, great question! I think the key is that the images themselves are NOT wrong (as in you didn’t invite them in there), and it sounds like he is trying to deal with them. The problem is: there’s a root issue that keeps causing them to come up. It’s that root issue that needs to be dealt with.

      Looking at why and when and how he turned to porn can help. Recognizing the need that porn filled in his life can help. When you see WHY you were sucked in, and what the need was, then it’s easier to deal with it. It isn’t always just about singing hymns; sometimes it’s actually about looking at the root. Maybe he felt like he had no control in his life and the porn helped him feel in control. Maybe he felt like he wasn’t really special and the porn made him feel special. Maybe he felt like he needed excitement and the porn fuelled that. When you can see that you turned to it because you had this need to feel in control, for instance, then it could be that those thoughts start popping up today when you feel out of control again. So you go to God and say, “I don’t want to be in control. I want you to be in control. Help make me comfortable with chaos, and forgive me for wanting to control things.” Or whatever the root reason may be.

      But usually we feed sin because sin is a distortion of a genuine need that we have. When you identify what that genuine need is, it’s easier to take that thought captive, reject it, repent of the wrong thoughts, and then turn to God instead.

      I hope that makes sense; Shannon goes into a lot more detail in her book. But that’s the answer that she would give!

    • Abby Jensen says:

      My personal opinion is that those types of thoughts that just “pop in” can stem from spiritual warfare. Porn (sin in general) can open us up to those types of things. Satan may just be attacking your husband by trying to distract him, trying to get him to feel guilty, or whatever. When those types of things happen to me, I recognize them as something from satan, and rebuke him. “Get behind me, Satan”. We wrestle is not against flesh and blood… our adversary the devil prowls around seeking someone to devour. Praying through the armor of God and praying for protection can be helpful!

      • I agree, Abby, but the thing is it sounds like he’s already been doing this for quite some time. That’s the issue here–he HAS been trying.

        Sometimes the problem is that we need to get to the source of the foothold, and repent of that, rather than just the thoughts. Certainly too much introspection can be dangerous, too, and can lead people into even more problems. But there are also times when discernment is called for–talking with someone who has discernment who can talk you through the root and get rid of it once and for all. When we can attack the foothold, then we can gain a real victory.

        It’s like the difference between treating the symptoms and treating the disease. I agree that sometimes it is JUST spiritual warfare; but when someone has already been employing the weapons of spiritual warfare, and has been battling this thing for so long, I think there may be something deeper going on that is worth exploring, you know?

  3. Interesting! I actually bought this instead of trying to review it or something:) I have had some issues with particular fantasies that I have that seem very repetitive and have never totally gone away over the years (10 years of a really nice marriage). These happen while we are involved physically. I am able to control it, but it ruins everything and it really affects my sex life with my husband. We have talked about it a bit, but I don’t think he really gets what I’m trying to tell him and how much it actually bothers me. Maybe this book with help. Thanks for sharing.
    Heather recently posted…Abreva® Battles Cold Sores and $25 Amazon Gift CardMy Profile

  4. II Corinthians 10:5 — We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

    I really have trouble with digging deep to find the sources of fantasy, etc. — as with young boys and exposure to porn, that alone can be the foothold for Satan, and revisiting for the sake of exposing it seems a very slippery slope. I wish I had the answer — I do know that a quick “get behind me Satan” (as Abby noted) takes effort to put into effect.

    When I experience painful memories, I pray them out, give a lecture to Satan in front of God, and He directs my thoughts. It would take work, but could someone struggling with thoughts like these — whether at work, sitting in an easy chair, or in the middle of a passionate moment — learn to employ them and fight from the top down, rather than digging for the root first?
    Amy recently posted…Tales of a Business Traveler’s Wife: LonelinessMy Profile

    • Amy, I commented on this with another comment, but I’d say: yes, certainly that’s everyone’s first step. But it sounds like he’s already done this. And let’s say we’re dealing with something really ugly–let’s say we’re dealing with unbidden homosexual fantasies, or unbidden violent fantasies. We rebuke Satan, the thought goes away temporarily, and that’s good. But it keeps popping up. And you’re wondering–what can I do stop it from popping up?

      Sure, I can deal with it at the time and not dwell on it, but what can I do to stop that thought in the first place?

      And that’s where figuring out where it’s coming from can help. If it’s coming from unresolved issues, then resolving those things can stop those unbidden thoughts. Or if you realize that it gets worse when you’re feeling isolated or stressed, then you learn better how to deal with stress so that you turn to God, rather than that sin inside you that at one point had you turn to porn or fantasy or something.

      Does that make sense?

      So we’re not saying one or the other; I think what Shannon was saying in the book (and I hope she forgives me for trying to speak for her) is that if you have these unbidden thoughts that you find terribly disturbing, and you wonder why you’re turned on by something that you really don’t like, sometimes it’s worth looking into the root that caused that so that you don’t have to be burdened by these thoughts anymore.

  5. This was a great review and I am going to definitely buy this book!
    Carroll recently posted…An odd weekMy Profile

  6. Anonymous says:

    I really like Shannon Ethridge. I’ve read The Sexually Confident Wife (excellent book), and Every Woman’s Battle – also good – although I wish the description of this book were better because it isn’t just for women who are trying to keep from having affairs. I would never in a million years betray my husband with my actions and I still found the book to be relevant.

    As soon as the Fantasy Fallacy came out, I grabbed it because needing to dissociate in order to orgasm is really my big issue. Overall, I was disappointed with the book. It was a good read from an informational standpoint (i.e. discussing the morality of sexual fantasies, etc), but I found myself continually saying “that’s all fine & dandy, but what can I DO about it?”. There were a few pages of suggestions, but nothing that I hadn’t already tried – except for “interrupting the reward cycle” by stopping a sexual encounter with my husband when unwanted thoughts came in, and there is no way I’m doing that. Add sexually frustrating my husband to the list of things I already feel guilty about surrounding this issue? No thanks. Not to mention the tossing & turning and frustration that would follow for me… stress is a trigger for dissociation – does it make sense to add more of it to my life? No. Maybe that strategy would work for some, but not in our bedroom.

    What I did appreciate about the book was that it at least opened the discussion, and addressed the whole notion that if we just pray about something, we should be able to work through it. Prayer is first, but sometimes action is required too. I can pray for six-pack abs, but if I don’t get up off the couch and get to the gym, it’s probably not going to happen. During sex, it’s hard to “take every thought captive” because a big part of orgasm is letting go and relaxing. Can’t really relax when I’m telling Satan to get lost in my head the whole time.

    Anyway, much more to say, but I’ve rambled on long enough. :-) The most success I have had is in gradually retraining my brain. Instead of dissociating the entire time, I’ve been able to gradually reduce the amount of time that I pull fantasy in. If we take our time and incorporate the other suggestions in Sheila’s book, that helps too. I’m not free yet, but my chains feel a lot looser than they did a few months ago.

  7. Well, not to be a negative dissenting voice but I had the total opposite reaction to this book when I read it (and reviewed it on my blog). I was also really excited to read this because after Fifty Shades of Grey, the topic needs to be talked about. We need to have a conversation about these kinds of things. But my problem with the book was the extremely heavy reliance on psychology. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not anti-psychology. I think psychology has given us some great observations on human behavior and often can help with practical solutions. However, Shannon’s solutions for understanding the “why” of sexual fantasy was so strongly based in psychology that I almost felt like the Bible and the spiritual aspect of fantasy was a sidenote. Although not all sexual fantasy is sin, there is definitely an aspect of it that can be. I felt like there could have been a lot of discussion about focusing on purity, renewing your mind in Christ, how to take thoughts captive, etc and that was barely present. And some of it I thought was actually unbiblical and just plain bizarre. For example, Christians might like orgies because we’re yearning for the intense fellowship and intimacy of heaven??? Huh??? What about the presence and power of Satan? What about our flesh? What about sinful desires?? A woman might arouse herself come to orgasm by putting on a diaper because she was neglected in her crib as a baby???. Many of her solutions were simply behavioral adjustments (turn on music to distract yourself) which while practical, they don’t reach any heart issues. You aren’t going to change behavior permanently if the heart isn’t changed. I don’t know…I think this book could have been awesome, but I was disappointed.
    Elizabeth@Warrior Wives recently posted…Have You Stopped Believing In Your Husband?My Profile

    • Yes, Elizabeth, I see what you mean. I found the psychology parts very helpful because I think there is a big element of that–but there likely should have been more of the spiritual side as well. I would have especially liked more on how to develop that kind of close intimacy with your husband so that it makes the dark side of sexuality far less appealing.

      I actually found the diaper story quite compelling, and definitely fit with what I’ve seen with different people, too. Often it’s in our deepest areas of pain and neglect, especially as babies, that Satan uses things to twist us. The whole “Satan given a foothold” thing is often seen specifically in the things that we’re drawn to, not just that he has a opening to torment us. So, for instance, a child who is a victim of sexual abuse himself may go on to become a pedophile. Satan had a foothold when that child was abused.

      Or a child who was compeletely neglected physically by one’s mother could definitely yearn for that kind of attention–and that yearning can be perverted by Satan (the foothold) into something quite ugly. I did find that very helpful.

      Psychology can definitely explain so much about how our drives and yearnings work. What it doesn’t do is really tell us how to heal it. I think Shannon’s book does a great job of pulling back the layers and showing us how we can be drawn to things that we really hate. Why do so many people have fantasies they detest in real life? Why are we unable to stop looking at porn, or reading erotic novels? Why is it so hard to conquer sin? Even Paul deals with this. Sometimes there’s a deeper hunger that we need to recognize.

      The problem then comes in how SPIRITUALLY we deal with this. I could write a whole book on that subject myself (in fact, maybe I will; I’d love to write one on how PRACTICALLY you can stop fantasizing while you’re making love, for instance. And that practical would include PRACTICAL spiritual steps you could take).

      Interestingly, Shannon quotes Leanne Payne’s book The Broken Image which is an AWESOME book. Have you ever read that? That really gets into some of our woundedness and how to experience healing from sin/pain. Ms. Payne really knew how to combine psychology and spirituality so well, and I so admire her.

      I think the mistake that Christians sometimes make is that we assume that something must be sin OR brokenness, but it can’t be both. On the contrary, what I’ve found is that it USUALLY is both. Usually people who are not broken in an area find it much easier to deal with sin in that area and conquer it, and don’t need books on how to do it. But when brokenness and sin are combined (which they usually are), the foothold that Satan has can be so strong. And we do need to understand both sides. I’d love to explore this whole thing further because I was so intrigued with what Shannon wrote, but I do think there’s so much more that could be said, and so much more help that could be given in this area. I think I just need to ponder it for a little while longer!

      • One more thing: take the pedophile example again. Does the fact that he was abused as a child make him any less guilty? No. And with some serious spiritual warfare and a commitment to God a pedophile can stop acting out, and stop indulging in those fantasies. But to truly make the urge go away more is likely needed–and that more would be HEALING. And healing can only come when we address the wound–the abuse that he suffered in the first place.

        See, I think for most deep seated footholds that Satan has in our lives we need both repentance and healing. Repentance may clean up the outer stuff, but to achieve real victory you need to address the deep inner stuff. Again, Leanne Payne has some amazing writings on how to practically do this through specific, intentional prayers and through specific, intentional repentance, forgiveness, and letting go of bitterness. It’s really great.

        • I get what you’re saying about sometimes brokenness (like the abuse in the case of the pedophile) influencing future behavior and future struggles and it’s very true that it happens. I think that my problem with this particular book was that a childhood wound seemed to be blamed for every problem sexual fantasy. It was like a blanket cure…just allow yourself to examine your “shadow self” and embrace whatever you find as the answer. It isn’t a blanket cure and it could be deceiving to present that as a fix all and lead people to believe that their sinfully broken flesh could never be the problem. I know that some people express that “Jesus is enough” as a dumb patronizing answer to some people, but isn’t it the truth that all healing can only be found in Christ? At the cross? Why should we put the Creator of our desires out of the picture until we self-sufficiently search our own hearts and THEN invite him in? It sounds like a pat answer, but it really is true that Christ is sufficient to heal our brokenness. He may show us practical ways to live out our lives, but it isn’t those practical things that fix it; it’s Him. I think we’ve lost a real sense of God’s power when we leave Him as a last resort. Shouldn’t we invite him in FIRST? (I’m reacting to your quote here: “Many of us are dealing with very real temptations and very real shame, and we need someone to point the way without just saying, “Jesus is enough.”
          I’m not saying that Jesus isn’t enough; but sometimes it takes more than just that. It takes time to look at our pain. It takes time to examine our hearts and see where we’re crying out for intimacy, and why we feel drawn in wrong directions.
          And once we see where our struggles lie, we can invite God in.”)

          I’m coming from the perspective of someone beginning training in biblical counseling (with NANC) and I feel like the kind of self-examination Eldridge describes could easily be deceptive and misleading.
          Elizabeth@Warrior Wives recently posted…Have You Stopped Believing In Your Husband?My Profile

          • Sorry, one thing in your comment I failed to comment on: the idea that we should invite God in FIRST. I totally agree, and I think Shannon did, too. What I MEANT to say, but didn’t say it well, was this:

            It takes time to examine our hearts and see where we’re crying out for intimacy, and why we feel drawn in wrong directions.
            And once we see where our struggles lie, we can invite God in TO THESE STRUGGLES. [last three words added]

            See, I think often we invite God in, but because we don’t know the root, we can’t really pray through those things. When we understand the root, then we can invite God in TO THAT SPECIFIC ISSUE and ask for His mind in it, and His healing in it. And we can confess our bitterness in that area of our lives, and give forgiveness where needed, and invite God in to help us in those areas.

            I’m not saying we shouldn’t invite God in first (I wish I had phrased it differently); only that the most powerful prayer that we can do is about specific areas of healing, and we can’t do that if we don’t know what those areas are.

          • Anonymous says:

            But what if God’s healing comes through self-examination? Personally, I find that the more I understand something, the less hold it seems to have on me. The thoughts that went through my head used to petrify me and I would wonder what on earth was wrong with me. Once I got a bit of understanding on where they came from, those particular thoughts just evaporated. I think that’s what Shannon’s book was trying to get at. Her book wasn’t instrumental for me, but maybe it’s because I had already read one of the books that she referenced in her book (I don’t want to name it because although it was really helpful, it was also explicit).

          • Anonymous says:

            My comment above was in reference to Elizabeth’s note
            ” I’m coming from the perspective of someone beginning training in biblical counseling (with NANC) and I feel like the kind of self-examination Eldridge describes could easily be deceptive and misleading.”

            Sorry to monopolize on here today! It’s hard to shut me up on this issue! :-)

          • Oh, I don’t think all self-examination is wrong or dangerous. I think we’re called to examine ourselves and see where we are falling short or recognize areas where God wants us to work on, etc. Paul calls us to “examine ourselves” to see whether we are in the faith as well. However, let’s say you do struggle with unhealthy sexual fantasies. And if Ethridge’s belief is that it all stems from some childhood wound, you start examining yourself with the express purpose of finding that wound. Some people end up creating past situations that never happened and making subjective, speculative connections between their fantasy and some random negative experience that happened when they were young. And honestly, I think that sometimes God protects people by NOT allowing them to remember wounds and by allowing them to forget it. It could be like picking at a scab to reopen that.

            Obviously some unhealthy fantasy does come from brokenness (as in the example of the pedophile). I’m just concerned about this childhood wound thing being a blanket cure for everyone. There are spiritual aspects that need to be taken into account. I don’t think the book adequately addressed that…and now I’m getting repetitive so I’ll stop. :)
            Elizabeth@Warrior Wives recently posted…Get Hung Up on Your Own ResponsibilityMy Profile

  8. Thanks for the reminder that God is bigger than all, Shella! I needed that reminder today!

  9. I don’t think I’m sticking my neck out too far when I say that the word “fantasy” has received a liberal coating of modern meaning, which is actually the 5th meaning in the Webster’s dictionary. That definition relates to the psychological connections that we don’t manufacture consciously. The manufacture of fantasy to replay or repel horrific, traumatizing or painful events is a brain activity that helps people avoid or explain past experiences.

    The higher level meaning of “fantasy” relates to creativity and imagination. It is the word we use when referring to daydreaming of our husbands and what/where/when we may indulge in some sexual activity. That kind of fantasy induces small smiles, goosebumps and shivers of anticipation.

    In the present day, I think that the word itself holds a negative connotation because in our sexually-explicit, no-holds-barred world, fantasy has hit the skids because of the negative tones underlying the completely positive meaning. The psyche-powered fantasy may bring fear, sense of wrong-doing and suffering.

    The word is, for lack of better explanation, at odds with itself.

    Books such as this one, or blogs such as any one you run across online, must be taken with a grain of salt. The reader cannot simply swallow the medicine of any media source and pronounce him/herself “well”. We know that it isn’t that simple. I don’t plan to read this book, but if it gives someone a route toward healing and spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health improvement, that works … for him or her.

    I used blogs to find healing and for rebuilding marriage. I used books (including Sheila’s Good Girls’ Guide) to find both healing and rebuilding. I used phrases from sermons, verses from Sunday School lessons, and words of callers on Christian radio. The fact is, because I prayed and believed, God sent me what I needed. I had to listen for it, look for it and discern it, but none of the resources were like needles in a haystack. God provided.

    This book may be the salve for someone’s open wound or the first rung of a ladder toward climbing out of a pit of despair and self-loathing. I can’t comment on that, it’s not a topic I need to address for myself or anyone I know.

    That’s the difference in whether or not a book review feels helpful or not. If the subject matter really does not apply to a person, she may have a skewed understanding or worse, a negative reaction because the subject sits under the heading of “Distasteful.” I can’t judge the healing properties in a book like this on fantasy any better than I can judge a 12-step program for addiction of any kind.

    I’ve learned a lesson on staying out of it, I guess! :)
    Amy recently posted…Tales of a Business Traveler’s Wife: LonelinessMy Profile

    • Thank you, Amy! That’s very gracious of you. And I really appreciate your comments–especially the ones on video games. I’m still ruminating over that post and thinking of something to write in followup, because I think all of the comments help me clarify my own thinking quite a bit.

      So I appreciate you!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sheila, this blog and your book have been instrumental in helping me. Before I read your book, I had never heard this issue discussed anywhere. I thought I was completely alone and there was no hope for my thoughts to be any different. After reading what you had to say, it gave me the courage to actually face the issue instead of ignoring it, like I had for pretty much my entire adult life. So, thank you for what you do!

    • You’re so welcome! And you ARE NOT ALONE!!! I get tons of emails from women with the same problem: I can’t get aroused without fantasy. Honestly, it’s a huge problem. And I’m working on an ebook right now with practical spiritual help on how to overcome it. I had a bit in The Good Girl’s Guide, but I want to expand it because there’s so much more to say.

      • Just to clarify on “can’t get aroused without fantasy”, are you specifically referring to elicit fantasies (not about spouse) or just fantasy in general?

        It is interesting to hear the opposite sex talk indicate that fantasy is a pre-req to arousal. I think that most guys learn early on that fantasy is a powerful aphrodisiac. For me personally, I have had to gradually find healing in Christ for this area. I experienced a lot of rejection early on. Elicit fantasy become a way that I was “invited” into a richly, rewarding encounters of intimacy–all in my mind. It become freedom from rejection, the sense of being wanted, and of being treasured enough to be chosen for intimate connection. It seems awkward to write about it now, but the heart made something seem real that was only fantasy. In any event, seeking greater emotional intimacy with wife, taking thoughts captive, and actively trusting the Lord to touch my mind, conscious and sub-conscious mind, has been helpful for me.

        • Hi Nathan,

          Sorry, you’re right, I should have clarified that! In Shannon’s book (and in my book) we were talking specifically about needing illicit fantasies (rather than fantasies about your spouse) to get aroused. It really is very common. Many people think only men deal with that, but so do many women. And it does take going deeper with emotional and spiritual intimacy and learning to make your spouse the object of your affection, but that is difficult. It’s a hard thing to break, but God has done it for many! Glad to see that you’re one of the victors.

  11. Thank you, Sheila. I’m really glad I returned for another crack at a response. I’ve always known the art of writing to be cathartic, and today has proven a whole pharmacy of distinct avenues of learning.
    Looking forward to the video game follow-up!
    Amy recently posted…When You Meet Christ on the CurbMy Profile

  12. I just purchased it! Thanks for the review!

  13. I emailed my husband this review, and a link to the book. I think your words, and the book too, will really help him. He’s been struggling for years with things that I had no idea about, that all go back to childhood trauma and abuse. He told me recently about something he wanted us to do, that he has done by himself before and apparently loved it, but I just don’t want to do it and I feel that it’s wrong in a marriage, and it all goes back to his childhood trauma so I don’t think it’s healthy. He has thoughts and fantasies that are deeply rooted in pain. but he tells me now that I’m his ultimate fantasy, that nothing is better than I am, that I am perfect for him and to him and that he feels God created me the way I am for him. And he’s on the path towards healing now that things are out in the open.

    He actually used a testimony of his involving something that happened in our past, to help a man he works with who is experiencing the exact same situation. He knew without the guy telling him exactly what he was going through because of the look on his face and in his eyes, and the way he held himself – it was the exact look that my husband had a few years ago. And it turned out that he was right, so he has been able to encourage this man, and now there is someone for this man to talk to who has been through the same thing, when my husband didn’t have anyone to help him through it. I think that as my husband is healing, and after he heals, he will be able to help so many men with his experiences and his journey to recovery.
    Jenny recently posted…encouraging thingsMy Profile

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  1. [...] Love Honor and Vacuum (Shelia Gregoire): book review for The Fantasy Fallacy; also her book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex is a wonderful resource that discusses all things [...]

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