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hosted by Dr. Corey Allan

Arousal vs Attraction #548

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On the Regular version of today’s show …

An email from a wife who wants to know if asking questions to her husband about his past struggle with porn will increase the temptation.

A voicemail from a wife wanting help understanding arousal and attraction.

On the Xtended version …

Pam and I work through a gridlock script from a member of the SMR Nation.

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Announcer: You are listening to the regular version of Sexy Marriage Radio, smrnation.com. You've turned on Sexy Marriage Radio, where the best sex happens in the marriage bed. Here's your host, Dr. Corey Allan.

Corey Allan: So, I'm curious, Pam... This is Sexy Marriage Radio, by the way, alongside my wife, Pam-

Pam Allan: Yes, it is.

Corey Allan: ...each and every week. But I'm curious, since we just came off of one holiday season, among the holiday seasons being Thanksgiving week here in the states, how many people in the nation are the ones that are listening to this podcasts or podcasts in general, while traveling to see family? And how many as you're listening, are there times when you're on your way there, you're anxious or worried or concerned or not quite sure how it's going to go so nothing really soaks in or you're driving home and you're anxious and concerned, worried about how it all went that nothing soaks and you're tired? Because family's one of those things that it's a blessing to get with them and see them. But it also, I'll speak for me, there's times where I think I'm so much further along from the "family disease." And yet when I get home, I realize maybe I'm not as far away from the family disease, because there's still a lot of similarities and patterns that they just seem to repeat themselves.

Pam Allan: They do. It's just that idea of love. I love being with family. I love the time together, but there's always that dynamic that keeps popping up and then there's responsibility, especially in the era of aging parents and the role reversal.

Corey Allan: Yeah, and this isn't a disparaging statement at all about families, this is just the fact that families are families. That's why I am completely biased that everybody needs good therapy and coaching because we're all born in families. Well, this is Sexy Marriage Radio. And to the Sexy Marriage Nation, welcome back. It's good to see you. If you're just now finding us, we're glad you finally found us. There is a whole slew of archive back there to work yourself through, to catch up if you want to. We love binge listeners that find us and try to catch up through everything.
But what's going on with Sexy Marriage Radio is we are a listener driven radio. And so, via your voicemails, which you can call in, it's (214) 702-9565, or your emails, which since the life of the show over 10 years ago to today, feedback@sexymarriageradio.com is the inbox.

Pam Allan: Yeah, that's been the heart of communication.

Corey Allan: Absolutely. So, we want your questions, your thoughts. We want to know what's going on with you, what we can talk about that would help you because this is listener driven radio. And to that end, we also ask you to help us spread the word. It's the holiday season, so the gift you can give your family members or your friends is grab their phone and subscribe for them. And that way, podcasts are showing up each and every week on Wednesdays that will help enhance and speak to their life, hopefully in their marriage, just to help every one of us be a little bit better, because that's what we're about here at Sexy Marriage Radio. And coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio are several of your voicemails that we've got in the queue. And we're going to try to just get through as many as we can. So, it might be two, three.

Pam Allan: So, It's not a hot seat.

Corey Allan: It's not a rapid fire.

Pam Allan: It's not a rapid fire. Why I called it the wrong thing.

Corey Allan: But we are going to see if we can get through several of these. And then on the extended version of Sexy Marriage Radio today, which is deeper, longer, and there are no ads, you can subscribe at smrnation.com/smracademy. We asked for the members of the extended content and the academy to email us in any gridlock issues that they've got of a script, if you will, of what you say, what they say, when it comes to addressing a gridlock pattern in your marriage. And we've got some and so we're going to work through them.

Pam Allan: Perfect.

Corey Allan: And that should be a whole lot of fun. And so, if you want to join us in this feedback@sexymarriageradio.com, if you listen to the extended content, send us in something about your gridlock issue and we'll help you see it in a different way, and what's some better ways to maybe frame it and phrase it. And maybe that moves you down the road.

Pam Allan: Looking forward to it.

Corey Allan: All that's coming up on today's show. A while back on Instagram, you did a post and some stories on a topic of pornography, and it got me thinking, and I have a question. My husband struggled with porn before our marriage. We haven't discussed it in a while and I'm a little nervous to bring it up. Have you ever been trying to actively avoid something and then someone talks about it and that temptation is heightened because now you're thinking about it? That's what I worry about by bringing it up now. Is this silly? We're usually very good about communicating and he hasn't mentioned it in a long time and our agreement has been that he'll tell me if he's struggling. So, I just feel torn about what to do. What are your thoughts?

Pam Allan: Well, I'll speak to that one. From the wife who's walked those shoes before, doesn't matter if you bring it up or not, he's probably thinking about it.

Corey Allan: Temptations are temptations.

Pam Allan: Temptations is not going to increase or lessen the temptations that are there and the thoughts that are there. You can bring it up in a fabulous way to be a support to say that you care, this is on your mind. If it's something that is bothering you and you're just, man, maybe you have a gut instinct that really can tell that something's come up because we can read our spouses. We know when something's going on.

Corey Allan: Everybody has tells and there's maps that are involved that we know.

Pam Allan: Yeah. So, "Baby, hey, I just want to be here for you. How are you doing? How are you walking this path? Are you really struggling with the temptations and giving into them or is there anything I can do for you? And it's for me." That's how it was, the realization that the temptation's there, whether I bring it up or not. And if I don't want to address the elephant in the room, well, the elephant's just going to keep growing and growing and growing.

Corey Allan: True.

Pam Allan: Make it okay to talk about and show that you, as the spouse, can take whatever the answer is. If he says, "Yeah, temptations have been there and I've really been struggling, having a hard time with it," you need to think about that beforehand to realize how am I going to respond if he says it is a problem.

Corey Allan: So, brace yourself on the I can handle whichever way this may go. Because I also hear another component in this, Pam, that, yes, there's this concern of am I putting something in the thought process or the struggle, am I bringing it off front and center when maybe it's rocking along and it doesn't even exist. Where there's that element of, if it doesn't exist or it's no longer the issue, having it brought up to you won't be a concern at all. But the other component of this is, if I bring it up, will I get the reaction of when are you going to let that go? "What's the problem with that? I haven't had anything like that in six months." Because we can still get these negative reactions from our spouse who's struggling with something or has struggled with something and that's the truth.
And that's the fact of it that they still think of it as you're constantly holding onto the past, which then means the person bringing it up, like in this case, the wife. She has to embrace the fact that he might react to her in that way. She has to then own it as, "I've got a concern about this, it impacts me. I'm not somebody that's not affected at all by this. So, I'm looking out for me and us as well," and so there's just that element on both sides.

Pam Allan: There is, there is. I would want to ask the additional question of myself in that scenario if my spouse does react that way. Maybe it's on them because they're just being defensive and they're still figuring out how to handle it all. But I've got to ask myself, am I the person that keeps bringing stuff up? Am I the person that won't let it go?

Corey Allan: So, what's the motivation of it? What's the undercurrent that's driving the, I want to know? Because it can be a collaborative thing of we're in this together, it's a journey together, that what you do impacts me and vice versa.

Pam Allan: And I want to be here for you.

Corey Allan: But there also can be an element of, "I'm just watching out for you and controlling you," and it's usually self-preservation in some regards.

Pam Allan: Yeah. So, look at what your meaning is behind it. Why are you asking? What's your concern? And I don't think that in a scenario like that, silence is typically the answer.

Corey Allan: The way you framed it and phrased it just a little bit ago, Pam, it's the elephant in the room. The best thing we can do in marriage when it comes to elephants in our homes and in our relationships is name them, claim them, and at the end address them. It shrinks them, doesn't make them always go away, but it does shrink them. And when one person overreacts to your bringing up the elephant, that's about them more than it is you when it's coming from the goodness side and the collaborative side. And yes, as an aside, this was me reading an email as a voicemail, just to help close the loop for anybody wondering. That sounded just like Corey reading something there.

Pam Allan: Because you're pre-recording some stuff now just to plan ahead. Yep, thank you.

Corey Allan: Bingo. The art of marriage is really the art of keeping up to date with your partner, of staying on track with your own and each other's life goals as they emerge, exist, and change. It's about supporting each other and staying connected emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. Marsha Burger, LMFT. A great marriage doesn't happen by accident. Deeper connection with your spouse doesn't happen by accident either. Have you reached the point in your marriage where there's a slow creep of discontent or disconnect? When was the last time you talked with your spouse about anything other than the schedule, work, or kids? What if there's a way to be reminded on a weekly basis to touch base with your spouse?
The state of our union helps you remember and discover what brought you together in the first place. It's a tool designed to help couples keep the important from being replaced by the immediate. Plus, this works from your own phone. 52 reminders, deepen your conversation, dream and plan together. Go to smrnation.com/union. Connect on a deeper level today.

Speaker 3: Hello. Your podcast, as well as Anatomy and Marriage and Get Your Marriage On, those are my three that I love and reference all the time. Thank you guys so much for what you do. I just have understood myself and our marriage on so many levels and still learning. So, I appreciate that. I'm curious your thoughts on, and I would love to hear a discussion regarding arousal. My husband and I have been married 10 and a half years. We've got three kids. The longest time, I just kind of accepted our sex life for what it was, and even began to be convinced that I just didn't work correctly, that I was broken, those types of things that you discussed, couldn't figure it out. That led to doing some of my own research in regards to how to orgasm, how to figure that out, which as you can also imagine, led to viewing content that wasn't positive or healthy in the long run.
However, I was very surprised and completely caught off guard with how strongly viewing that process of masturbation to climax would result in almost immediate and really strong arousal. And realizing how frequent that had become, I let my husband in on that, what was going on and was able to slowly and eventually stop that, since that wasn't something I wanted to connect to my arousal, to our sex life, stimulation, orgasm. The frustration resulted in realizing how quickly that could happen, and obviously, that I wasn't broken at all, but not quite understanding why it wasn't as immediate and easy becoming aroused and climaxing with my husband.
We've since been able to incorporate a vibrator, which has finally allowed for mutual climax for both and mutual pleasure. I have no interest in pursuing, using, or doing anything with that same sex arousal that I experienced. And viewing that, I find myself off throughout the day, looking at my husband and thinking myself how attractive he is and just catches my attention constantly all the time. So, I guess my question would be thoughts and a discussion on the difference between arousal and attraction, being aroused by certain images, but most definitely, and fully being attracted very much for my husband and wanting to find that arousal and sexual climax with him.
It's difficult and even causes guilt, that I can't become as easily aroused with the man I love and my safe place. I'd just love to hear your thoughts on if you've ever experienced someone else talking about that and how to reshape, refocus what you know is possible.

Corey Allan: So, this is a loaded one in a lot of ways. There's a lot of hot button topics that she's addressing-

Pam Allan: Yeah, there are.

Corey Allan: ...and touching on. And it ended abruptly because she ran out time on the voicemail. The voicemail line is three minutes long. But there's enough in here to unpack. Let's break this down because there's several components we probably need to address briefly at minimum. One is her main question, of the difference between arousal and attraction. Another one I heard in there is where do our arousal patterns, tendencies, likes, dislikes, et cetera, come from, that this is where you start to get into the taboo, touchy, because now we're talking about fantasy in some regards. We're talking about triggers, instigators, igniters, that kind of thing, which there's going to be a politically incorrectness, likely overlapping some of this. Then the other side of it is how do I bring all of that, that I've learned about myself into my marriage. So, maybe it's all encompassed under one thing. Did you hear other stuff in there?

Pam Allan: Well, I imagine there'd be all kinds of things, but I think you're giving a good broad umbrella to cover.

Corey Allan: So, let's answer the last one first, of how do I bring all of this into the umbrella of my marriage? Because what I'm hearing of that is a very common thing of how do I make it to where all of the stuff that turns me on gets me going and helps me get to a point of a threshold where I achieve orgasm is solely encompassed from my spouse. And in reality, I don't think that happens. Because I think there are a lot of things that are attractive and triggering for us. This is where we've landed on the framework here at Sexy Marriage Radio, where do I steer these triggers? Where do I steer these arousals? Where do I steer these attractions? How do they culminate and actually play out in how I steer them towards the person I am with, because I can get this ping of something from all kinds of stuff in the world.

Pam Allan: I hear what she's saying and I'm trying to wrap my I head around. So, I don't know if I need to phrase a question differently or what, but I get it in that, yeah, steer this focus to your marriage, to your spouse, but if my fantasy in my head isn't about my spouse, it's about something else. Where do I stand with myself? Okay, great, we had a orgasm together and there was some connection there, but then I feel this gap between what was going on in my head and where I was physically.

Corey Allan: That's layering on question two to question three in my mind. And I get it, I think that's completely fair and valid, Pam, to see it as, I'm looking at it as the way I frame this with couples or with individuals that are dealing with this kind of a struggle of just guilt of, I feel guilty for the things that turn me on.

Pam Allan: I want to be pure to my spouse. I want to be pure to-

Corey Allan: To my commitment and the covenant.

Pam Allan: ...the covenant, what my faith is. And maybe those in our minds don't jive.

Corey Allan: I think our spouses are the source and the target of our sexual energy. They're the target of it, they're not the sole source of it though.

Pam Allan: They're not the sole source.

Corey Allan: And that's where I want to at least start the conversation, because I think there's a difference. And for a lot of people, when they're really trying to uncover what are the areas of my life that do bring about arousal, what are the things I'm attracted to, what are the things that really get me going? And sometimes I venture out into some of the areas that's like, "Oh, I had no idea that'd be such a turn on." And then you got to wrestle with that. And I think that it's the wrestling in and of itself, that produces the goodness, not the fear of not even doing the wrestling though.

Pam Allan: Good point.

Corey Allan: And so, I think this is where it starts to get... This is so much easier to do when I'm talking to people one on one in that regard, because we have a little more freedom to explore. On a podcast, there's going to be this element of, "Are you saying it's okay to..." I'm not doing a blanket statement with this of any fantasy you got, if it gets you going, go for it. No, but I think there has to be an element of, I can't be so averse to the reactions I get when I think about these fantasy, to not at least have the courage to ask myself the questions of what's underneath it that got me going. Be curious about it. I think that's different than condoning it and saying it's okay. But I think it's my question to be curious about it is a good one, of what is it that could have been something that's such a turn on with this?
What is it about the feminine? Because she even made a comment of learning the orgasm route through masturbation of watching some videos or reading about it, got her aroused because it was almost the same sex thing. Because if a woman trying to learn, she's probably watching women in some regards, because some of those how-to videos out there are very graphic. It's not porn, it's "educational graphic," but it's full on display. And so, there can be this element of, "Oh, I'm really drawn to that." So, rather than it being the picture, what's the meaning of it that you're drawn to? What's underneath it that you're drawn to? Because I think that's what our fantasies can be something that's trying to uncover, is what is it about that particular fantasy or thought that is so arousing.
Now, what's underneath it? That's the deeper question to have the courage to explore it, because then that gets into the first question of the difference between arousal and attraction. Because I think there's a lot of things in our world that are attractive.

Pam Allan: True.

Corey Allan: But not all of them will spark something the pituitary gland to get the sexual juices flowing. And this is where it gets so nuanced.

Pam Allan: Sure, sure. So, if you're attracted to your spouse, but not necessarily aroused, do you see that very often in your clients that are coming in?

Corey Allan: Yes, I do. And then I started asking the questions of okay, at what point does, if you see it as, man, he or she is an incredibly attractive person, but it hasn't really started an encouragement process and a lubrication process, an erection process, any of those kinds of things where you start feeling the body responding. Then you ask yourself some pointed questions of, okay, look at our history, when did it kick in? Because a lot of times for the lower desire or more importantly, the responsive desire spouse, it's a mind decision, the body then follows and catches up maybe.
So, you ask yourself, what was it that got you there, that got you engaged and then going in that moment to where all of a sudden now that attraction could have turned to a little more arousal? But I think there's also an element of realizing our spouses aren't always going to get us going, even if they're incredibly arousing to you. There's some times where it's just like, yeah, it didn't get there today. But then you start asking yourself more questions of how does this thing need to unfold for it to be beneficial for me and for us. Does it always have to culminate in orgasm. Dr. Steven Snyder would say, no, that's like icing on the cake.

Pam Allan: But what if she's someone that the spouse just never arouses anymore? Right. We've been together 10 and a half years and when we were dating and maybe early on, but now, goodness, three kids have come. And for the last five years, I find you attractive, but I'm just not getting aroused. And I mean, you're doing life together. And so, every time you're together, maybe it's a punch list of stuff you feel like has to get done.

Corey Allan: Sure. But this is also where I think it's important for both spouses to ask themselves some pointed questions of what am I expecting in regards to my partner when it comes to our sex life. Am I expecting them to just be totally engaged and responding to everything that I do or am I expecting them to show up and be engaged according to how they are and want to be that it's a fueling on both of us, but it's not the source coming from each of us? Or in the sense that it's all from you or it's all from me or the vice versa. You can start to uncover clues of these things by just being an observer if you look at your history. And now she's realized it is achievable and it's accomplished through the help of a vibrator, which is incredibly beneficial for them and it satisfies that goal for both of them. So, fantastic.
But keep it going to see what's the deeper connections that I've got going on. How am I following the connections with each other, not just attractiveness or not? Because when you start to see each other behind the eyeballs, there's a whole nother depth of energy there. That, that's where your story of three kids together, the family we're built, the life, and the experiences we've had, that could become something that's arousing in time. Because you start to realize, look at the profoundness of what we're doing and what we've done. That's not necessarily sexual, but it can easily become it. Because that's more than just physically having sex with each other, that's tasting the essence of each other and that's a whole lot deeper.
And I think this takes it to where all of the things that are out there that could be things that get me going, again, it comes back to where do I steer it. How do I take those dots captive? How do I act on those and how do I see this as a growing process? Because there can be components of, I find my husband incredibly attractive, but if he had a little bit more of a swagger or a little bit more of a touch or a little bit more of what, now all of a sudden, maybe we're onto something with arousing. And that's just kind of looking back at your history. What's peaked your? Ooh, that sent a shiver. Ooh, I love that sway that you had when you walked past. I loved that outfit. I loved the way you confidently addressed that. Now all of a sudden you're getting themes.

Pam Allan: Let me ask you this, because you're talking about a change that the other person would have to make to connect attraction with arousal. And those are things that maybe you can tell them what it was that led to that other, the additional, the arousal. Are there things I'm supposed to be doing within my head? And I guess that's looking at what the meanings are behind things.

Corey Allan: Yeah. And being willing to not pass so quick of judgment on the things that have worked in my "past," to then move those down towards better parts of goodness and better parts of the way I want to be. Knowing I may not completely get it, but when I'm given my best, that's better and I'm growing and I'm moving beyond. Because I've heard this phrase and I think this worked both ways, with both genders. I think far too often in married life, we settle for I just want to have sex, rather than I want to have sex with the person I'm married to. There's a difference in those two statements, in those two drives, in those two desires, because one's just about getting off. It's a total one-sided act in a sense thing, versus no, no, I want to experience and taste the essence of the person I do this life alongside. There's a different meaning there. There's a different connection. There's a different depth there.
And a lot of times the best way to start that process of journeying towards that, follow each other's connection when you're touching each other. Follow their hand with your mind. Have them follow yours with their mind. Follow the act, open your eyes, connect each to other with the eyeballs. That's the whole process of growing in confidence, in connection with each other, while at the same time holding on and maintaining yourself.

Speaker 4: Pam, this is a suggestion for Corey. I hope he can be solid enough to hear it. And as he states in a few recent episodes, words matter. So, in that vein, I've listened to every episode. And Dr. Allen finally gave me the courage to mention that Corey often says especially, which is not a word, instead of especially. So, please take this suggestion into consideration and yeah, love the show. Thanks for all you do. Signing off, John Doe. Thanks guys, bye.

Pam Allan: Thank you, John Doe. There are things that people do and say that are distracting.

Corey Allan: Oh, yeah, especially this.

Pam Allan: He just did that on purpose, John Doe. I read that and I immediately thought of George Bush and all of the harassment he got, new Gilbert and things like that. So, thanks for the call in. We'll work on annunciation of words.

Corey Allan: Words do matter.

Pam Allan: They do matter.

Corey Allan: Especially. Yep, I get it. And I catch it in my own mind at times too, but I appreciate it. We keep saying, we want the feedback, bring it. We all can be better for it and we're going to leave it at that. I love that we have a relationship with an audience that's so ingrained that he even used me in there. "Corey gave me the courage to call up and call out Corey."

Pam Allan: That's awesome. That's that's awesome.

Corey Allan: I might need to rethink my plan a little bit if I'm trying to get people to stand up for themselves. We're all going to be better then.

Pam Allan: What's funny, I love that he addressed it to me so that I could talk to you about it. Because there's other things that I've, hey, you say this a lot, how about you stop saying this so much.

Corey Allan: And John Doe, this is not the first that this has been emailed in before from the past. When I heard it too, I was like, I think someone else has pointed this out too. Maybe it was him from the past and he's never let it resolved enough. But this has been Sexy Marriage Radio.

Pam Allan: Fix it now.

Corey Allan: Wherever you are, however you've been listening, we thank you so much that you took some time out to listen and spend it with us. So, we'll see you next time.