“Fidelity and Morality” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Fidelity and morality.  They are two different words, yet they are intertwined, especially in association with relationships, partnerships, and marriages.  Fidelity refers to “faithfulness,” while morality can be understood as meaning the difference between right and wrong, or a reference to one’s personal values.  In a marriage, fidelity means being true to one’s spouse or partner, while morality can be described as acting in accordance to one’s values of right and wrong within that marriage. 

In my 41 years, including those 9 years within which I was committed to a serious relationship that resulted in marriage (and, unfortunately, later divorce), I will admit that there were a few occasions during which I was tempted to stray from my vows, to go back on my holy and blessed commitment to my spouse.  I am proud to say that while I never strayed or broke my fidelity, physically or sexually, I am guilty of becoming too emotionally involved on a couple of occasions. 

When spouses stop communicating effectively, cease to love each other, and no longer care about each other in many different ways – by words, body language, actions, degradations said in the presence of others – it is all too easy to look elsewhere for one’s needs and desires to be fulfilled.  When spouses and/or partners in any relationship do not understand, appreciate, love, or respect each other, their bond is deteriorating. 

Sometimes, one spouse tries very intently to maintain and strengthen the relationship bond, while the other is oblivious and uncaring about the problem.  At other times, both spouses may work at it and improve their relationship.  And, in other instances, both spouses may give up hope and throw in the towel because too much hurt and pain has already caused too great of a rift or distance between them that is irreparable.

Recently, a man whom I have known on a completely platonic level, asked me out to coffee.  He is someone whom I have known in my religious community for the past 2.5 years, and we both share the same religious faith.  He and I have always been friendly to each other, and have seemed to appreciate and respect one another, period.  He is intelligent, attractive, … and married with two young children.  Therefore, certainly “going out for coffee” in his mind is not merely and innocently going out for coffee.

Certainly, for a woman in my position of being divorced and single with a child of my own, I admit that I am want for a meaningful, personal, intimate relationship.  I would like to share meaningful events and experiences in my life with a spouse who thinks and feels similarly to the ways in which I do.  It would be nice to share spiritual, emotional, personal, physical, sexual, and even financial situations with a close and caring spouse.  It would also be wonderful to have a man in my life who would be a caring role model for my son.

So, while it is a temptation to become involved with this attractive, intelligent, spiritual man who is also my peer, I declined his invitation for coffee.  In my refusal, I also stated to him that I do appreciate his friendship.  However, he must understand that the platonic friendship is as far as it goes.  I am not one to sneak around and be dishonest.  I am not about to lie and go against my morals, values, and principles.  I try my best to be out in the open with everything, unless it is something that is seriously going to hurt or damage myself or my family in some way.

It took 2.5 years of this man’s friendly relationship with me for him to ask me out for coffee.  Even when I declined, he still held out hope that I might someday change my mind, as that is what he shared with me.  I pray for him that God will help him see that he has a good, committed wife and two wonderful, beautiful children.  While he may wish to fulfill his own unmet fantasies and desires, he does not realize what an affair would do to his own family or mine. 

I already know all too well that many men will say whatever they like just to convince a woman to go to bed with her.  Those men promise all kinds of things, and then, never deliver.  They want all the fun and pleasures, but not the true commitment.  I am not interested in that, and am not about to get involved in something that will hurt so many people, not to mention go against my morals and values.

When a person is married or in a committed relationship, fidelity is precious.  The fidelity that has been bestowed upon the couple has been done so in a holy and/or legal manner.  When we are not happy or things aren’t going well, it is all too easy to give up and throw in the towel.  I have even told my ex-husband that my own parents experienced worse trials and tribulations that we ever did, and they will celebrate 50 years of marriage this year! 

So, men and women out there, perhaps you don’t love your spouse in the same manner as you used to, but remain open-minded and do not become blinded by your unfulfilled or unmet fantasies and desires of flesh that are fleeting and temporary.  Look at and stick to your commitment – strengthen it, make it better…for yourselves and your children.

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Book Review of “Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction” by Dr. Mic Hunter (Review by Michele Babcock-Nice)

Book Review of

Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction

by Mic Hunter

(Review by Michele Babcock-Nice)

 

Dr. Mic Hunter has a wealth of knowledge and experience in psychologically-treating individuals who have experienced sexual trauma, sexual abuse, sexual dysfunction, and addictions.  He believes in the positive influence and effects of people practicing The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as adapting them to psychologically-based issues in addition to alcoholism. 

In his book, Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction, Dr. Hunter has again applied The Twelve Steps, as well as many valuable, beneficial, and thoughtful workbook-style questions in the treatment and recognition of family sexual dysfunction and individual sexual dysfunction as a result of the former.  Dr. Hunter identifies and describes family sexual dysfunction, including many different styles and characteristics of it that are helpful for readers to know, understand, and reflect upon. 

Dr. Hunter goes further by identifying and describing adult child issues related to family sexual dysfunction, unhealthy and healthy aspects of adult sexuality, and applying The Twelve Steps to family sexual dysfunction – as an individual – as a method of recovery.  He not only identifies The Twelve Steps for use in conjunction with recovery from family sexual dysfunction, but also describes how they apply to recovery and provides personalized workbook questions for individuals to answer in an effort to identify, recognize, contemplate, and recover from past sexually dysfunctional experiences.

Dysfunction prevents the fulfillment of needs in a reasonable manner, and may include extremes of behavior.  This also applies to families.  In a sexually dysfunction family, there are attitudes, behaviors, or other interactions and communications that have a negative affect on the family members’ sexuality (p. 1).  Rather than enjoying sexuality, “they end up being hurt by” it (p. 1). 

Dr. Hunter identifies and describes “three basic extremes [that] are common in sexually dysfunction families: the overvaluation of sex, negative attitudes about sex, and sexual shutdown” (p. 2).  In families that overvalue sex, “sex is the most important thing in life” (p. 2).  People in such families have “sexuality as the predominant focus of most interactions,”  and “they sexualize their emotions” (p. 2). 

In sex-negative families, “sex is something to be feared, because it is seen to be dangerous, perhaps even evil” (p. 4).  Dr. Hunter shares that such families may “enforce rigid rules about sexual behavior,” and when a person violates those rules, he or she feels unworthy and ashamed (p. 4).  In the sexually shut-down family, “there is a nearly phobic response” to sex (p. 5).  People in such families are hard at work in repressing their sexuality, ignoring children’s sexual development, and pretending not to notice sexual develop changes (p. 5).  There are also families that combine the dysfunctional styles.

Members of the adult self-help group, Adult Children of Sexual Dysfunction (ACSD), identified ten main characteristics related to family sexual dysfunction when they were young, such characteristics affecting their behavior.  Some of these characteristics include experiencing confusion or shame about sexuality, a lack of healthy or nourishing touch, and the experience of difficulty in establishing relationships that are intimate (p. 8). 

Dr. Hunter goes on to identify, describe, and discuss each of the ten characteristics pinpointed by ACSD and provide his helpful, reflective workbook questions that personally assist individual readers in remembering and recognizing past sexual attitudes and/or experiences within their families.  A few of Dr. Hunter’s questions in relation to these described characteristics include: “When you think about the other gender, how do you feel?” (p. 24); “How do you react now to being touched by others?” (p. 37); and “What relationship patterns have you noticed in your life” (p. 47). 

Importantly in regard to the tenth characteristic of confusing sex with emotions, Dr. Hunter identifies and describes different types of intimacy, including physical, sexual, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  One of the results of the tenth characteristic may be that people “sometimes leave groups or end friendships when they start to grow close” (p. 71).  Also, those who sexually abuse children may misunderstand sexuality and sexual boundaries by stating that they are being intimate with the children (p. 71). 

Dr. Hunter states that “perhaps the most destructive consequence of living as a child in a sexually dysfunctional family is the development of a shame-based identity” (p. 73).  Even when the child grows into adulthood, he or she continues to be ashamed.  Such identities stem from relationships that are abusive or neglectful (p. 73).  In order to heal from the affects of such experiences, Dr. Hunter states that “safe, nurturing person-to-person interaction” is required (p. 73).

Following this, Dr. Hunter introduces The Twelve Steps as a guide for recovery from family sexual dysfunction.  He identifies and describes each of the Steps, as well as associating his helpful workbook-style questions with them.  For examples, in the area of powerlessness, Dr. Hunter asks the reader if he or she could obtain nourishing touch as a child (p. 81).  In relation to admitting our defects, Dr. Hunter asks the reader to write a list of his or her character defects and to give examples (p 109).  Regarding the experience of a spiritual awakening, Dr. Hunter asks what the reader understands about his or her past, and it’s effect on one’s present lifestyle and experiences (p. 129).

I recommend Dr. Hunter’s book, Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction, to those readers who are interested in discovering and healing from their past that may include sexual dysfunction, individual sexual dysfunction, and/or family sexual dysfunction.  I also recommend Dr. Hunter’s book for reading by anyone who desires to increase their knowledge about the impact, influence, and effects of general attitudes and behaviors about sex. 

For the person who is seeking to recover and heal from past sexually dysfunctional experiences, Dr. Hunter’s book is a treasure trove of understanding, knowledge, examples, questions, insights, and suggestions for recovery regarding it.  For the reader who may simply be interested in increasing his or her knowledge related to sexuality, Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction is a valuable work on understanding different attitudes, interactions, communications, and behaviors regarding it. 

Therefore, again, Dr. Hunter has tackled an issue that likely causes discomfort and pain for many, though he also provides the power of healing psychological understanding, insight, and recovery to it.  This is another of Dr. Hunter’s valuable books on issues related to sex and sexuality, and how readers can increase their enjoyment of sex by working through past experiences that may have been negative or dysfunctional.

Please Note: New copies of this book are available for $5.00 each by directly contacting the author at: Dr. Mic Hunter, 357 Kellogg Boulevard East, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101.

Reviewer’s Note: Quoted material is included in this review with permission by Dr. Mic Hunter.

Source

Hunter, M. (1992).  Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction.  Minneapolis, Minnesota: CompCare Publishers.