This question again came from a coaching client, and I thought it was so appropriate in light of the whole 50 Shades of Grey discussion going on in the marriage field these days, that I would write a post with my response.
So, is there a right way? Is all fantasy wrong? Is role playing okay for Christian marriages?
Solo or shared fantasy?
First thing I think we need to determine is whether we’re talking about a fantasy you are having, or one you are sharing with your spouse. I think fantasies we keep to ourselves are dangerous. Typically if we keep something to ourselves, there are two possible reasons:
- We know it’s wrong, and we’re afraid if we share it, we’ll be rebuked.
- We don’t think our spouse can handle it, so we hold a part of ourselves back from them.
So, if you’re hiding it because you know it’s wrong … well, do we really need to talk about whether or not that’s wrong? Hopefully not. You should be working to rid your mind of such fantasies. Pray for God to take them away, and starve those neuropathways. Don’t let your mind dwell on those thoughts. Whenever they pop into your head, deliberately think about something else.
On the other hand, if you think your spouse can’t handle it, so you’re hiding a part of yourself … that one gets a bit trickier. I would submit that if you are hiding a part of yourself, then that’s always a bad thing. You are denying your spouse knowing who you really are. You are avoiding true intimacy. This constitutes a pulling away from your spouse in at least one respect.
That said, there are some marriages where one spouse needs to mature a bit. They either aren’t able, or willing, to deal with fantasies with activities that are perfectly normal and are not immoral. But, I think this leads us to the next question:
Who is the fantasy/role-play about?
I’m going to argue that your fantasies should only be about you and your spouse. Now, some will disagree with me, but I’m going to pull out the go to verse for this topic:
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Don’t you dare try to tell me that fantasizing about someone is completely different than looking at the real person. It’s not about the looking, it’s about what’s happening in your brain. A blind man can lust just as easily as a sighted man. So, if you are fantasizing about someone other than your spouse, then I think that’s akin to adultery.
But, I’m going to extend this a bit further. If you are fantasizing about your spouse, with some “tweaks” to either their body, or personality…I’m going to argue that that’s not a true representation of your spouse, and so I’m going to say you are cheating on them in those situations as well. Why? Because your fantasy is causing you to want something other than your spouse.
Now, if your spouse is typically not in the mood, and you’re fantasizing together that this day they happen to be all hot and bothered … I don’t think that’s an issue. I mean, it could happen. Everyone has good days and bad, right? But, if you are fantasizing that your spouse, who is typically fairly sex negative and has a low sex drive, now all of a sudden can’t keep their hands off of you and wants sex every hour on the hour … I’d be worried that this fantasy is going to cause you to feel some resentment and treat your real spouse differently. I don’t think that’s right, do you?
Likewise if your fantasizing that your spouse has different physical features (be it a different weight, height, bust, or other measurements), I’d be concerned that you’re not really fantasizing about yours spouse, but instead entertaining the idea of being with someone else.
What situations are you fantasizing about?
Also, I think it can be dangerous to fantasize about immoral acts. Fantasizing or role-playing scenarios that depict sex before marriage, adultery, threesomes, and the like I think cause us to become more comfortable with these situations, when instead we should be holding fast to our convictions that they are wrong.
So, what is okay then?
Of course, this is all just my opinion, you’ll have to make up your own mind. But, to me, I think some examples where roleplaying or fantasizing together are okay are things like:
- When the kids are grown and you have the house to yourselves.
- Being stuck together on a deserted island, or on a space station. Highly improbably events, but I don’t think anyone is going to be hurt by these.
- Activities you aren’t ready to try yet in bed, but the idea turns you on. For example: honor bondage is the practice of “pretending” that your arms are tied to the headboard. They stay there only because you have promised not to move them. It’s bondage … without bondage.
- A special event where the mood might be such that you would feel compelled to be a little more wild and let loose a bit more than usual.
- Being back on your honeymoon, both of you clueless about sex (except this time you get to benefit from your years of experience together).
All of these ideas don’t make unrealistic expectations of your spouse, don’t involve other people, nor do they glorify immortal sexual acts. Within those parameters, I think these are a few valid ways you can express your desire to incorporate fantasy into your bedroom activities. Of course, I’m sure you can come up with much better ideas than I did above.
What are your boundaries when it comes to fantasy? Have you ever talked to your spouse about them?
12 thoughts on “Is there ever a right way to use fantasy or role-play in marriage?”
Excellently put and couldn’t agree more. I have fantasies they all involve my husband and they all involve things we could do or have done together. I believe this honours God, my husband and are perfectly safe and normal. My husband is quite aware that I fantasise about him and I tell him what I’m thinking, he finds this flattering just like I find it flattering that he is thinking about me in that way too. Songs of Solomon is full of a man’s and woman’s fantasies of each other, I believe that this kind of thinking further strengthens the marriage bonds and brings even more enjoyment to sex and intimacy. I like the term “honour bondage.” I don’t like or agree with bondage but I think this is a nice way to bring a bit more excitement into the bedroom without crossing a boundary. Thanks for mentioning it.
Happy to help!
Yes, I agree with you, fantasies should be of your spouse just the way they are. I know that sometimes my husband has a fantasy that we try out, but in real life it just won’t work. Most of the time, he just wants something unrealistic, like being met at the door with me without clothes…not going to happen. I’ve got kids here. Other times, I just fantasize about the things we do together. I’m not real creative. 🙂
Good for you posting on this topic. I know a lot of people think that if it happens in your mind, then it isn’t harming anyone. I disagree. It can be very harmful if you have unrealistic fantasies that you allow to consume your mind.
“More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
I think you could totally pull this off as an awesome surprise for your spouse…get a friend to take your kids one night, make a candlelight dinner, throw on some heels and meet your hubby at the door sans clothes. It would probably be the shock of his life…you can do this!! It would be a great surprise and mean a lot to him I am sure:)
These are excellent thoughts on when fantasy & role-playing might be OK. When our fantasies take us away from our spouse and the sanctity of our marriage, then they are definitely wrong & sinful. When our fantasies are within the bonds of our marriage & are not degrading to either person, then they can be fun to play out.
Thanks Brad, I’m glad you liked them.
I’m probably a little more liberal about acting out fantasies together. The way I look at it, we don’t get all worried over kids playing cops and robbers thinking that one of them is going to turn out to live a life of crime, or worry that the kids playing house are going to become teenaged parents. Take the pretend out of either of those situations and it is not fun, the fun is in the pretending, knowing that it is not real but acting it out with friends. Plays and movies have somebody who plays the bad guy, or actors who pretend to be in a relationship they are not. At some point you have to recognize that people get the difference between fantasy and reality and one is not a threat to the other.
I’m never going to be a high school quarterback, she’s never going to be a head cheerleader. We are not going to be promiscuous teenagers, that just isn’t a possibility. But if we play act something like that out it bonds me to her and her to me. It is still taking place inside the context of our marriage and we are still very much focused on each other and you could argue that it defuses temptations from external sources. It’s fun because it’s with her and because it is not real, so seeking it for real with some other person is a very different thing.
Now if I asked her to make herself look and act like some other woman I know so I can pretend I’m with that other woman, that is wrong, but a generic make-believe fantasy cheerleader/nurse/librarian/playboy bunny/slave girl or whatever a different matter in my mind.
Latter day I could NOT agree more. Live a little people. Understand that if your husband or wife is asking for a REALISTIC fantasy that is easily attainable, it’s for a reason AND they want you to give it to them not someone else. People need to loosen up and actually try to look at what the apparent love of their life is asking for instead of what THEY feel like giving. There should be respect in the needs of a man and a women yes but to just not try something and deny your spouse a very achievable desire when they are committed to you forever and expect them to not be let down or disappointed is flat out selfish. There is nothing wrong with stepping out of your comfort zone for your spouse. I’ve done it for my wife and she for me and we are both glad we did. It shows commitment, love, trust and desire. I know that everybody is different but I have read so many forums on sex related topics both Christian and non-Christian and so many times one party has this idea in their head that they don’t like something that their spouses asking for or they are not comfortable with it and they just don’t do it and it’s usually something that’s not that crazy have a request into me the thought of not having something for the rest of my life or at least not having my spouse at least try it if I feel that it’s not going to inflict mental or physical damage is hard to grasp. I don’t have to luckily because my wife’s fantasies fit mine perfectly for the most part.
I have no problem with fantasizing mentally about my husband, it helps me get in the mood and be prepared to get creative when we make love. I have found though occasionally it might be more exciting and arousing in my head then when we actually hook up (though honestly we really are blessed with a super fun fulfilling love life) and then I feel a tiny bit of a let down. I tend to over analyze things, but I feel that this is one area I have to be careful in so I can honor my husband and enjoy him in the best way possible,
Jay Dee, are you implying that play-acting is not healthy for a Godly Christian marriage? If my husband, for example, plays the golf pro and I the novice player, and things get hot, is that wrong? If I dress as a nurse (which I’m not), is it any different to dressing in revealing lingerie? Or wear a corset which completely changes my body shape so I am not longer “me”?
How can it be okay to play with toys which go places only male body parts were meant to go, but not be okay to play “pretend”?
We have been married nearly forty years, are empty nesters so have the house to ourselves and are just having a bit if fun. I, for one, am not fantasising about anyone else and I’m pretty sure he’s not either. However, where I was once certain, I am now beginning to be confused by the warnings in blogs I read so I would appreciate it if you expand further. Doesn’t it ultimately come down to us standing before God ourselves and allowing the Holy Spirit to be our Counsellor and to convict us of our sins?
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
I’m saying I’m weary of play-acting situations that we know are sexually immoral as it doesn’t seem to fall in line with God’s counsel for us. At least, that’s how I read the Bible. You must make your own judgement and follow your own convictions, as you said.