Warning: Fifty Shades of Grey could seriously damage your relationship

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
12.18 PM

I realise that I risk being bound and gagged by a gaggle of angry acolytes for disrespecting their religion, but I really must say that the obsession with 50 Shades of Grey is getting on my nerves.

I can’t go into a mainstream bookshop without being confronted by a front-of-house display of this lowest common denominator “literature”.

And I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked “has your wife read it yet?” It is always accompanied by a conspiratorial look and a wink, guaranteed to make me blush and bluster.

Some would say that it is just a bit of harmless fun: titillation to add a warm glow to a winter evening. I disagree. I actually believe that literature like this can be corrosive to relationships.

Solid relationships are built on a number of foundations, including mutual respect, trust and fidelity.

That means – to the best of our ability – we should only have eyes, ears and even imagination for the person we have promised to spend our lives with. We should make them feel special, and place them at the centre, not the edge, of our lives.

Forgive my prudery, but when I’m sitting in bed reading about the history of the first world war or something similarly stimulating, I don’t want my wife to be flicking through 50 Shades.

And I very much doubt that she would want me to be reading Mayfair.

The minute that you start reading smutty books, looking at top-shelf magazines or watching X-rated films, it introduces an element of insecurity into a partnership.

It sows a seed of doubt in people’s minds – “he/she says she loves me, but does he/she mean it?” Worse than that, when someone is feeling down about how they look (and who doesn’t at some point in their life?), it is certain to exacerbate any issues.

The same goes for when couples watch TV and one of them tells the other how “hot” a particular celebrity is.

I’ve heard people say: “My husband really fancies so-and-so off the telly” or: “I’ve told him I wish he looked more like whatsisname off the X-Factor”.

It is all apparently harmless in isolation, but it is another drop of acid that corrodes self-confidence and mutual respect.

I think it actually adds up to unfaithfulness, which has many degrees, and is not as simple as a physical act.

It starts somewhere, and it is allowed to take root by the attitude of mind that considers it acceptable to leer at someone other than your significant other.

If you are married, remember the promise that you made to “love and honour” your husband or wife. My memory is not great, but I cannot recall any promise to “leer and lech until mutual mistrust do us part”.