Compromise. Commitment. Patience. There's no question, marriage teaches us about the importance of many things.  One of the most pivotal for me was the importance of reading. Oh it's not like I wasn't well read when I was single. There was a time when I could tell you every Hollywood celebrity that was abducted by aliens looking to take over the world. But it really wasn’t until I moved in with my husband and realized that our TV viewing habits weren’t compatible (for example, I dislike the Caddyshack, Clint Eastwood, and Planet of the Apes channels) that I became a voracious reader.

The books I read vary, though as a speaker and special needs parent, I’ll often read self-help, psychology, or parenting books to broaden my knowledge, though I sometimes need a break from those books.

“I didn't like that book on depression; I found it depressing."

During those times when I need a break from "heavy" reading, I seek out mystery or legal dramas. And, unlike a lot of women, I’m not a fan of romance or Harlequin novels, as evidenced by my lack of knowledge about them.

“Hey why is the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter commercial guy on the cover of that romance book?”

As an electronic reader (I like the big print option), I find books simply by downloading them from the best-sellers list.  A few months ago, I downloaded the number one ranked book. I had no idea what I was getting into, nor did I envision spending the holy season of Lent reading it. 

The name of that book? Fifty Shades of Grey.

At the time, it sounded, dare I say, "perfect?" At least according to the brief description, which said the book was about a young student who meets an enigmatic, handsome entrepreneur. Instantly, I was intrigued. As a business degree holder and entrepreneur, I love learning from other business owners. The gray tie on the cover reaffirmed that it was indeed a book about business.

Oh I was right; it was about business — monkey business. 

And In keeping with my philosophy to share wisdom from my imperfections, I will share what I, a G-rated Catholic girl, would have liked to have known before I engaged in this erotic and "banned in libraries" book.

  1. Not every "Play Room" is like the one in my home. In my "Play Room" for example, you will find toys and games, such as Chutes and Ladders. In Christian's, the main character's, play room, you are more likely to engage in a game of  Whips and Chains.
  2. Christian Grey is not real. I am amazed by the number of women who have fallen in love with this mythical character, making him the standard to which all men should measure up to literally and figuratively. There’s pretty much nothing he can't do – he’s wealthy, handsome, well endowed, and musically gifted. (He also writes very pithy emails.) A friend of mine proved my point when she summed up a recent date she had.  “He was nice and everything, Gina, but he wasn’t Christian.” I was tempted to tell her that Christian wasn't real, but felt that doing so would break her spirit. I figured I would break the news more gently, starting with a discussion about the Tooth Fairy and Santa and then working my way up to Christian Grey.
  3. The book is a trilogy. For some, this may not be a problem, but for the mother of two special needs children, who barely has time to change her mind, this is not ideal. My children resented the time I spent reading it. "Mom, I know I don't have my license yet, but I'm pretty sure it's not safe to read and drive."
  4. Gray ties are no longer conservative. At least not the way Christian uses them -- for tying up his lover. Note to men interviewing for jobs: go with the blue striped tie unless the interviewer is female. In that case, go with the gray and if she's reading this book, you may literally "have her at hello."
  5. Husbands who have no interest in reading suddenly develop a keen one. “Gene, Honey, why don’t you read to me tonight?"
  6. If you have Catholic guilt, you will not want to read this book. You can imagine how I felt during my last confession. “Father forgive me for I read the Fifty Shades trilogy during Lent.”
  7. Sales of sex toys and other products have soared because of this book. Prior to reading this book, I couldn't name you one toy, now I know them all from the book.
  8. This book has reaffirmed my policy to avoid spanking. Thank goodness, the time-out is still  a G-rated way to punish for parenting purposes.
  9. It's critical to choose your words carefully. For example, you will no longer hear me say that I'm "too tied up" to do something.
  10. On a positive note, the book contained no illustrations. I think that earned me one less Hail Mary during my Penance.

Though I finished the final book in the trilogy well over a month ago, I’m still a little gun shy about making future book selections. I’ve decided to play it safe and go back to what I’m used to, much to the disappointment of my husband.

"So Gene, do you want to 'read to me' again tonight?

"I don't think so, Mike. I'm not feeling right."

"Are you OK? You do seem kinda jumpy, Gene."

“I’m sorry, Mike. It’s this anxiety book. I think it's making me anxious.”

About the Authors

Gina Gallagher

Gina Gallagher is an imperfect award-winning freelance copywriter, speaker and co-author of Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid: A Survival Guide for Ordinary Parents of Special Children.

Patricia Konjoian

Patricia Konjoian is a videographer, speaker, author and lifelong dieter. She is co-author of Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid: A Survival Guide for Ordinary Parents of Special Children.

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