Come join the conversations in the SMRNation Community at my.smrnation.com
On the Regular version of today’s show …
Announcing that registration for the 2022 SMR Getaway is open now … come join us in downtown Indianapolis! Learn more and register here.
A follow up email from a listener about dealing with guilt and resentment.
A question asking if a spouse who refuses to address their role in a sexless marriage is actually better termed as infidelity.
On the Xtended version …
We’ve received several emails and messages about how the aspect of consent plays out in marriage. Today we begin the conversation on this tricky subject.
Enjoy the show!
The State Of Our Union: Weekly conversation prompts to have meaningful conversations. https://smrnation.com/union
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: Well, you're tuning in to Sexy Marriage Radio if you're hearing our voices-
Pam Allan: Welcome.
Corey Allan: ... right now. We are so glad that you tuned in to Sexy Marriage Radio.
Pam Allan: It feels good to be sitting here chatting.
Corey Allan: We've had a lot of life going on.
Pam Allan: Yeah. It has been. It's absolutely wonderful to be sitting here and talking with you and just recording. It's fabulous. It feels so good.
Corey Allan: There's a lot of travel, a lot of family dynamic things going on.
Pam Allan: Life. Life is happening.
Corey Allan: Thank you to the SMR Nation and those of you that have reached out asking and sending prayers along the way with dealing with aging parents and the season that that is. I've had several in the inbox from you guys. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's great to feel cared for and supported and known. With the SMR Nation, they are an in tune group of people. We are grateful that you spend the time with us. So if you're a part of the listening audience, then you are part of the nation. So we want you to help make this thing go, and the way you do that is you can call us at 214-702-9565, email us as has always been the case for almost the 10 years we've been on the air now.
Pam Allan: Isn't that cool?
Corey Allan: Feedback@sexymarriageradio.com or jump on our platform, which is my.smrnation.com and join the conversation, join the dialogue. There's a vibrant community taking place there, and conversations that are happening. This past June, we did the getaway. It's such a great opportunity because it truly is a getaway.
Pam Allan: It is.
Corey Allan: Right. Well, this is the earliest we've ever talked about the next upcoming getaway, but...
Pam Allan: Oh.
Corey Allan: We have breaking news.
Pam Allan: Breaking news.
Corey Allan: The 2022 getaway, we are inviting everybody to come join us in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Pam Allan: Such a cool city.
Corey Allan: We're going to be in the Weston in Downtown Indy June 23-25, and if you're smart, which the SMR Nation is. This is different because one it's in a new location. We've always had it in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. So now we're going to start moving it around the country. First stop Indy, June 23-25. But the other difference is we've got a different format we're going to roll out with this one.
Pam Allan: Do tell.
Corey Allan: Which will be a lot of fun because-
Pam Allan: Or you not going to tell. It's a surprise.
Corey Allan: No, normally we have gone from Thursday evening we get rolling and we finish Sunday morning so that you have plenty of time to check out and then make travel arrangements already and plenty of time to get home. So this time we're starting earlier on Thursday. We're going to actually get rolling at 2:30. So get there by noon, check in, register, check in at the welcome table, and then we'll be rolling by 2:30 with a social event that night after dinner.
Pam Allan: Because lots of people asked for that. That's been a-
Corey Allan: Friday will be as normal as we've had. Saturday will be as normal as we've had over the years, although we will institute the social gathering again on Saturday night of a dance and just a hang out time. If you want to dance, get out there with us. Come on, everybody can dance. You can move.
Pam Allan: So much fun.
Corey Allan: But then that'll be the official end of the getaway. Meaning Sunday morning is yours. Sunday is yours. We're encouraging couples, if you're planning to come join us next year, stay awhile on Sunday. See the city. Don't plan to get back right away. Get in later in the day or even stay a couple days.
Pam Allan: A cool city. We're right there. You can just walk to all kinds of places. They've got great restaurants.
Corey Allan: Yup, if you fly in, Uber or taxi to the hotel, and you will not need another vehicle.
Pam Allan: That's right.
Corey Allan: If you drive in, then the whole world, the whole city is yours, but all the downtown area is easily walkable. It's going to be a great time. So registration's open now, which we've never opened it up this soon. But at SMRnation.com/getaway. You can learn more. You can register. You can reserve your room with us because we've got a different format in the way we're running this one too. But the early bird discount is happening now. Take advantage of it because we want you to join us and come getaway with a new format and in a new city. Pam and I can't wait to see you there.
Pam Allan: Looking forward to it.
Corey Allan: Well, coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio is a followup email from a conversation we had where we answered a wife that had emailed in. So she's got a little bit of a report from that episode and then a quick question and then another question that's come in on the whole higher desire, lower desire, no desire dynamic that happened.
Pam Allan: No matter how many times we phrase that, it can be phrased in so many different ways.
Corey Allan: Well, this time it's being phrased as could when you go to an extreme of no desire, is that actually infidelity?
Pam Allan: Oh. Okay. Yeah, that's thought provoking.
Corey Allan: Then on the extended content today, which is deeper, longer, and there are no ads, you can subscribe at SMRnation.com/smracademy. This is the thread that's come through several different times via Instagram and then also email and voicemail. I had a call straight to my phone on this concept of what about consent when it comes to marriage and sex? Where does consent play into all of this.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: I have some thoughts.
Pam Allan: I'm excited to hear them.
Corey Allan: All that's coming up on today's show.
So Pam, this email came in from the wife who had emailed a couple episodes ago where she had really kind of woken up sexually, and her and her husband are in a really good spot. But there's an undercurrent of resentment and guilt for how long it took to get there. She's had trouble forgiving herself. He's had trouble kind of letting it go on how long it took because it's wasted time that we could've-
Pam Allan: Sure.
Corey Allan: All the could've, would've, should'ves that we can do to ourselves. So her response that she emailed in after that episode says, "Thanks so much for your insight into my question about guilt and resentment in marriage. You gave me a lot to think about. I've been seeing a counselor for the last year. And yes, so much of the guilt comes from the many, many times that I said I would do better and address my issues for my husband but I never did. You definitely saw that clearly. As we agonize for months, I kept saying that my low desire and inability to open up sexually, try new things felt like a block. I had no real reason for a lower desire. My husband was at his breaking point and asked me if I was absolutely sure that nothing had ever happened to me as a child. While under the surface laid a memory of a sexual abuse. It freed me like nothing ever freed me before when I faced it and dealt with it with my counselor."
"My husband had the insight to recognize that my experience as a child could've taken me to a place of being hyper sexual as a young person but for me it actually did the opposite. That abuse was not the only thing contributing to my lower desire, but it was the right place to start. I read book after book. My husband researched podcasts and that's how we found you and others. The process of listening together has begun an uncomfortable experience for me, but it got easier as we continued and worked through things."
"Your topics are so real and something that we did not communicate before. I needed something to help me set up a line of communication about sex. It was so hard for me to talk about it and to feel sexy. We've connected in a new way in our marriage through all of this, and we're in the best place we've been in a long time. We continue to listen, and I think that we will for as long as you're doing them." So thanks for that.
"I'm interested in your experience with other couples who might have had similar situations where healing prompted guilt and resentment. We're progressing, but these feelings creep in from time to time. And it'd be nice to hear what other people who have had a similar journey. If you have any other resources, you think we might be worthwhile, I'd appreciate it. Thanks for all the work that you and all the counselors like you do that help people like me and my husband. I hope you continue to shine a light on the dynamics of marriage, sex, and the issues men and women face all around it."
So I'm so grateful that people are engaged enough to not only ask the questions but then followup.
Pam Allan: Yeah, hearing the response and getting feedback like that goes so far, right?
Corey Allan: It really does because my profession is one of those. I see people in really rough spots professionally as a therapist. When they get to where the pain points gone and they've got a different way to look at it or different tools that really are helpful and they're off on their own, I would love to know later on how is it going? What happened?
Pam Allan: Exactly.
Corey Allan: So it's great to hear the feedback that comes in to firstname.lastname@example.org, by the way. But what she's talking about is just this idea of how framing it makes all the difference in the world. Being able to have a language or a framework to address some of the things, which is what good therapists should be able to provide and what our show tries to provide is we think of ourselves as helping frame conversations that couples should be having and need to have, especially when you're facing real struggles in marriage. But her question of what do we do when these creep in still?
First, you recognize that's normal because the childhood issues that we have and even the marital issues that we have, they rear their head again. So what do you do when those creep back in? You acknowledge it as close as you can to real time because when we put on that mask, that's what helps kind of bury things. Our spouses often times reading that and so how do you show the courage to be able to say, "Hold on, I just had something where I lost it. It was a trigger. It was this memory. I got distracted." So just bring that to the forefront and then recover better together. That's what we do. That is the healing process in a nutshell.
Pam Allan: I appreciate her comment about when she talked about when they listen together. She said, "It's uncomfortable." It's an uncomfortable experience to listen together just to the show. That's so real, and I think that there's probably a ton of spouses out there that just don't listen because it is uncomfortable. Maybe one spouse can't get the other one to listen because of that. Maybe it's setting the stage to say, "Hey, I know this is going to be uncomfortable. But can we just try it? Can we try an episode or two?"
Corey Allan: And go even a little deeper and more personal though because I was having a conversation with... I'm opening up the round to the mastermind right now. So I'm in the process of talking to guys that are interested. And there was a quick conversation I had at the end of one of these conversations with one of the gentleman interested where he was so grateful and gracious for what we do. He's like, "I can't get my wife to listen, and it's really hard to even have these dialogues. It's very uncomfortable for her to start talking about it and be willing."
The thought just hit me of like, "You know what, buddy, that was Pam years ago too."
Pam Allan: Yeah, I think-
Corey Allan: Now she's on the air.
Pam Allan: Right, right.
Corey Allan: That's quite a difference. I mean, I had discomfort talking about this when we were early on in our marriage, and we didn't have a framework or a verbiage. It became a lot of the I don't knows and just frustrations. So it's just recognizing we all grow and we all get better. I love the way she pointed out in that email that we picked up all the times she said she was going to do better and never took the steps to try to make it happen. How often do we do that to ourselves in all kinds of areas? Where my best intention relieves a little bit of that pressure and angst in the moment. But deep down, I'm really hurting myself because I'm just not following through with that intention. We all can do better with that. That's our hope.
So another email that came in. This one's from a husband. This says, "Hey, I just listened to your July 28th podcast," which that was the delay tactics podcast that we did. "That I have a question related mostly to the second question, IE the new husband who was looking for a reset after his wife had lost interest in sex. In thinking about it though, I think my comment may also relate a little to the first topic that men are treated differently with sexual issues. So as I've listened to SMR over the years, a situation that comes up repeatedly is when a wife, call it the lower desire if you want, but it's usually the wife, completely loses interest in sex and the relationship essentially becomes a sexless marriage. This often happens when the couple seems to have a normal sexual relationship either before the marriage or at the beginning."
"Even in your recent podcast, both you and Pam basically just said, 'Yeah, this happens a lot.' So my question is why isn't there a stronger response when a wife or whoever is the lower desire partner totally shuts down the sexual aspect of the marriage? To put a finer point on it, why don't we call this infidelity? If a husband has an affair, that's universally considered an act of infidelity, and he's rightly vilified. But when a wife refuses sex altogether, how is it that being faithful to her husband in marriage? Why isn't there a greater expectation set? Is this a double standard?"
"To be clear, I'm not talking about imposing sex on anyone, nor would I ignore anyone's genuine trauma or baggage because that's generally where this discussion can head. If either spouse has these issues, then they need to be dealt with through therapy and healing. They don't need to be concealed until after the wedding. Such problems need to be handled for the sake of both spouses. But I don't see how a spouse is shutting down sexually and refusing to work on the problem is anything short of infidelity. Why don't we just call it that?"
So he's taking an interesting stance and a little bit of a strong one, which I'm okay with in a lot of ways.
Pam Allan: Fill me in on why you're okay with it.
Corey Allan: Okay. Because at face value there's this element of, and this is what we're going to be heading to also from a slightly different angle in the extended content today. But a marriage is a sexual relationship. It's kind of agreed upon.
Pam Allan: It's part of it, yes.
Corey Allan: Right. It's the one place if you have religious and moral and monogamous backing to it, it's the one place where this is happening.
Pam Allan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Corey Allan: So when it is not happening and it gets to that point of stake in the ground, I'm not willing to show up and deal with this, and I'm okay with you being frustrated about that, that's a breaking of the vow. That's a breaking of the covenant, right?
Pam Allan: Yes, I would say that when I took a vow to marry you, that would be part of it. Sex would be part of the aspect of me saying I do.
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: I would expect that.
Corey Allan: So I'm interested in the thought process, but then I have to get further into the idea of what is infidelity? Because that's the buzzword. That's the real big, "Oh, whoa." Because the reason I'm okay with this and don't think it's too far off is largely because inevitably if one person is in a sexless marriage, the person that's interested in sex that didn't sign up for celibacy, signed up for a sexual relationship with their spouse, be it male or female. Inevitably, the fork in the road is stay or go at some point. If I want that in my life and in my marriage and my partner's refusing, that becomes the gridlock issue of, "Okay. Well, I have a choice here." Those are the hard things to address because that elicits some interesting reactions to people when they hear that. They're like, "You would divorce over that?" Well, they would.
Pam Allan: Everybody comes across an issue where they say at some point, "Well, if this happens, crosstalk that's going to be my line in the sand." Nobody knows it until you get there. You get to those what you thought was a deal breaker, and you still hopefully can work through it.
Corey Allan: Right. Because what he's describing in his question is this idea of these are the things that rear their head later because when you're first getting married, everybody's on their best behavior or when you're dating, you're on your best behavior. Then things change and some of it can truly be because of issues that have now reared their head and surfaced because marriage has a way of doing that. It's close quarters. It mirrors a lot of childhood. It deals with a lot of things that can resurface, and there's replication of, "Oh, that's a similar pattern. Now all of a sudden that comes back." That makes it to where it shuts things down. It stops. It stalls. That is a reality of a sexual relationship because you're not just having sex with that body. You're having sex with the person that it encompasses.
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: There's all kinds of baggage and issues that we all bring into this.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: But what if we flipped this? Rather than looking at this through the lens of infidelity, what if we look at it through the lens of fidelity?
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: So you ask yourself the question of how am I practicing fidelity in my marriage? Because I think this applies then to both sides of the equation. That's not just the lower desire who's not interested in sex. That's both.
Pam Allan: Okay. Fill me in more on what you're thinking here.
Corey Allan: So the definition of fidelity, because this is one of those wordsmith things that's really troublesome is the idea of infidelity is the breaking of a vow and a covenant. It's kind of what's the popularized thought of it. That's what everybody thinks of when you hear it.
Pam Allan: Sure, yeah.
Corey Allan: But the definition of the word fidelity is showing up with all of myself.
Pam Allan: Faithfulness to a person.
Corey Allan: Yes. Full presence.
Pam Allan: Loyalty and support. Like you go to Merriam-Webster.
Corey Allan: Okay. That's what it says.
Pam Allan: Faithfulness to a person; cause or belief demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.
Corey Allan: Okay.
Pam Allan: How do you show loyalty and support in a marriage relationship? There's all kinds of ways, one of which I'm assuming when most people say I do would be this aspect of the sexual relationship.
Corey Allan: Right, right. That I will show up and grow in this part too because that's also built in to the common vows. For better or for worse. The assumption is there will be as little as worse as possible because I'm working on it.
Pam Allan: But there's also worse.
Corey Allan: We often can flip that to say, "Well, you said for better or for worse, so that means you're in. This is the worst. You get it. You said I do." But what's fascinating to me is how this becomes such a heated thing because as people hear it, we all put our own lens on it, our own experience on it, our own... So it's like, "How dare you have that kind of..." But until you walk in those shoes and until you face the dilemma that these kinds of issues that are gridlock issues really require, we don't know what we would do.
Pam Allan: No. Yeah. Truly.
Corey Allan: That's why I've always had the hardest time trying to thread the needle on the microphone with this kind of a topic because ultimately it goes down the road of at what point does it become a deal breaker? Whether it be I was cheated on, whether it be there's pornography that they refuse to deal with, whether it be drugs or alcohol, whether it be laziness, whether it be job after job, or whether it be spouse refusing to have sex and to address that side of their life.
Pam Allan: Right because all of those things you would say is a breaking of the loyalty or support to that relationship.
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: Right. You're doing things that cause harm to this relationship. And at what point are you going to deal with those things?
Corey Allan: Right. Because this is what was touched on in the first email was the idea of how often and even the delay tactic episode, how often am I saying I'm going to do something, which maybe I've got the intention of doing it. But my track record is I won't. That's the stuff we have to face, and that's the stuff that inaudible refers to as critical mass. That's what actually changes the things is I reach the point in my marriage where I'm able to say this is the line in the sand. Doesn't mean I'm acting on it right away, but I don't know how long I'm willing to stick around for it. I'm closer to a breaking point. Because we say these things in code a lot of times, right? You need to stop that, please. Versus when all of me is at that point is I'm willing to address it and take the consequences and make the choices and deal with the fallout and be labeled the bad guy, all of these are the pressures of why people stay, not even to mention the commitment that we make to this process.
When I reach that point of, "Look, this is a self respecting move for me to see life through." We know people that have faced this and have stayed or left. I know people professionally personally that have had this where it's like, "No." They keep refusing. They keep refusing. They keep refusing. Whether it be a depression issue or whatever. That they just refuse to even address it. It's like, "I'm out." That's inevitably what you have to face, but I think of it in terms of yes, it is an issue that I think you could label it as infidelity. It's a breaking of the vow. So while that could inevitably lead to that kind of a decision, that could still be several steps down the road.
Are you making steps accordingly, or are you just buying your time to see that's where the fidelity hits the other side of this equation. Are you still showing up and loving well? Are you still pursuing what you're interested in? Are you still leading that aspect of your life and instigating or initiating things, even knowing full well you're probably going to get rejected? Are you still earning yourself in that? Because I see that as those are the markers to where they make those bigger decisions so much more of a no brainer. Because we all face real pressures that can happen in marriage like this on varying degrees, but the ones that really do hit it at this level, that's a really, really tough road. Everyone on the outside will give you all kinds of information what they think, but that's all skewed by the way they think.
Pam Allan: By their experience, by you name it, that is in relationship with somebody totally different than your spouse. So you've just got to think for yourself on this one.
Corey Allan: But I just think of it as marriage is always a choice, bottom line. So if I'm choosing to show up with all of me, do I have a spouse that's doing in kind? If I don't, am I willing to address that elephant in the room as cleanly as I can until it starts to become more clear about what are my real options? What are my real choices? Because I have a lot of different clients I've worked with where this was the issue until they framed it as such to where it's like, "Okay. I haven't been showing up real well though. I also haven't been honest on my side of like, 'Look, this is a deal breaker. You're losing me in this.'" That oftentimes can make it to where there's now an impetus to, "Well, hold on. I don't want to lose what we've got. Maybe I do need to face..."
Pam Allan: Well, that's quite a combo that you talk about there because if I haven't been being straightforward with where this really lies with me, number one, but number two, if I haven't been bringing my best self, if I'm not-
Corey Allan: That's a factor.
Pam Allan: If I'm not been someone that's worth having sex with, I've got to pay attention to that too because maybe-
Corey Allan: I'm part of the problem.
Pam Allan: I'm part of the infidelity here because I've not been loyal in other ways. I've not been supported in other ways. So it's that whole big picture. A lot of people start listening to this podcast with the intent, we hear this all the time of, "I came to figure out how to change my spouse." And they realize the real story just behind life in general is what is it about me? That makes such a positive influence on those around us. What can we do?
Corey Allan: Right. No, I think I love the idea of these can be deal breaker things. But what if we flip it to where how am I really showing up? How am I bringing me and letting that pressure be cleaner because that's what has the greatest likelihood of listening some sort of change for one or both of you.
Pam Allan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Corey Allan: So before we transition to the extended content today, Pam. This is what we've done in the past where we can set the stage via the email that prompted the idea because this is something that's come up several times in Instagram and some of the different things with the Q&A's that I do with Kristen Zuker sometimes or @SexyMarriageRadio on Instagram. I just refuse to touch it because to write about it in a short timeframe is incredibly difficult.
Pam Allan: Can't address everything you need to.
Corey Allan: Because the idea of consent is a real issue.
Pam Allan: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Sure.
Corey Allan: It matters. It matters in marriage. But I think this is an email that helps frame it, and then we'll answer it and talk more about the idea in our take, my take in the rest of the extended content. So this is email from a wife that says, "My spouse and I have enjoyed your podcast. We started listening just before we got married several years ago. Many episodes have helped shape our ability to communicate about sex, which was a great help, especially considering the purity culture we were raised in and the lack of any real sex education. But in response to the episode released on August 4th, I just want to add a thought that came with some concern."
"I would venture to say that you have one of the top most influential sex education platforms among particularly Christian and the last episode, 100% should've been started with at least an acknowledgement of consent. Rape culture in the church is unfortunately prevalent and problematic and too little is ever done about it. Marriage does not equal lifelong to consent to all things. Many of us think of things like only being okay with missionary position as extreme, ridiculous, unreasonable, et cetera, but can you understand how someone could have a firm boundary around not wanting to try anal or other less vanilla things? The reality is what we feel safe with is a spectrum, and if a person suddenly breaks our boundary, then they are no longer a safe person in our mind or body. That can even cause trauma."
"I understand these gridlock issues are incredibly sticky to navigate. But just like we hopefully are teaching our kids bodily autonomy and the importance of consent and safe people, those concepts don't just disappear in marriage. I'm going to confess that I've had one of the most negative reactions to the August 4th episode and wanted to unfollow the podcast on the spot. But I paused and remembered that I've appreciated your work and support your cause, so maybe it was worth reaching out to you to share how some of your listeners maybe receiving your presentation of these thoughts."
"If you don't consider consent in marriage to be foundational, I would just suggest that you be upfront with that. PS, I do appreciate your work and want to say that I love that Pam is on the show. As the female, I am actually the higher desire. But while you are good at nudging us out of comfort zones, Pam is a saving grace to your show to soften the edges and keep my husband and I listening."
Pam Allan: Thank you.
Corey Allan: She brings up several points that I think are worth unpacking.
Pam Allan: Yeah, definitely.
Corey Allan: Then we'll deal with that and more right after the break and the extended content.
Well, it feels like this episode was one of those that was like, "Wow. That was hard to get through," in some areas. Just I think some of the concepts that are going on in my head as we're talking about what we did in the extended content with the idea of consent, what we did with the idea of infidelity. Some of these are just really hot button issues.
Pam Allan: They are.
Corey Allan: There's this avenue in my mind of I don't want to be flippant about things because there's real pain associated with it. I don't want to be cavalier about these things because there's real issues that come from it. They are real and they exist sadly. But how are we just being better to face them more cleanly is what I'm hoping we can achieve, and I'm hoping we landed that today. So if we didn't at any point in the episode, whether it's the extended content, which already said this as we were wrapping that part up, or the rest of the show, let us know. Feedback@sexymarriageradio.com or be bold, give us your voice 214-702-9565. So wherever you are, whatever you've been doing, thanks for taking a little bit of time out of your week to spend it with us. Come join us in Indy in June 2022. See you next time.
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