On the Regular version of today’s show …
A conversation based on two emails from listeners who are each struggling to understand and navigate a big gap in desire between themselves and their spouse.
On the Xtended version …
What is the difference between intention vs. action?
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Speaker 1: You are listening to the regular version of Sexy Marriage Radio, SMRnation.com.
Speaker 2: 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: Welcome back to another episode of Sexy Marriage Radio. I'm Dr. Corey Allan alongside my wife each and every week, Ms. Pam.
Pam Allan: Love being here with you.
Corey Allan: Where we're trying to have straightforward, honest conversations about married life and love and sex, and the frustrations and the successes and everything that goes on.
Pam Allan: All of that.
Corey Allan: And we want to hear from you as part of the SMR Nation. If you listen to the show, then you are part of the SMR Nation. If you want a little bit more, then we would encourage you to join the SMR Academy and get even deeper into the Nation. But with that, we want to hear from everybody. What's on your mind? What questions do you have? What topics do you want us to cover still? Because I'm still surprised that eight and a half years into this thing, more than that, we still have some things we still haven't covered.
Pam Allan: Oh, there's all kinds of things I'm sure we haven't covered. So send us those questions.
Corey Allan: And the thread we've been going lately the last year or more is trying to get specific with the questions that are coming in. And so we need the Nation to help steer where the shows go. And the way you do that is call us and leave us a voicemail at (214) 702-9565. If you're concerned about your voice being on the air, I can alter it. All you got to do is in the voicemail just say, "Hey, alter my voice, please." And I can easily do that and so you wouldn't even know it was you.
Pam Allan: Wouldn't that be great?
Corey Allan: Well, you probably would.
Pam Allan: Until you forgot your own problem.
Corey Allan: Problem solved. Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org where each and every email is read. Some are answered directly. Some become shows, which is where we're heading today with a few of the emails we're going to combine together because they're a bigger issue.
Pam Allan: So very similar items that can be answered together?
Corey Allan: Yeah. There's been a theme going on in the inbox lately of some serious gridlock, which is why two weeks ago we did... The extended content was on gridlock. The members of the Academy that were on June's coaching call, we did an extended conversation about gridlock.
Pam Allan: Right.
Corey Allan: Because that's a live Q&A where they get to unpack some stuff with us to help make it a little more specific and then carry the conversations further in a private chat area, which is... The wealth of information that's in there is phenomenal.
Pam Allan: It's fabulous.
Corey Allan: And if you want to learn more, go to SMRnation.com/SMRacademy. It's how you can find all that info. But we're going to just kind of combine. I'll give a global idea of what's going on with the emails, and then we'll answer those in the regular version of the show today. And then in the extended content, which is deeper, longer, and there's no ads, you can subscribe at SMRnation.com/SMRacademy, like I just said. We're going to go into the world of intention versus action.
Pam Allan: Wow. That's funny because I just was talking about stuff in the car earlier today about things that I intended to do and didn't follow through on. Right?
Corey Allan: Well then, the extended contents for you.
Pam Allan: Yeah. It's for me. It's for me, people.
Corey Allan: All that's coming up on today's show. All right, so there's been a theme, Pam, in the inbox lately and these are two emails that came in from wives.
Pam Allan: Right. Okay.
Corey Allan: So I'll just read them, and then we're going to answer them together rather than breaking them into two.
Pam Allan: Perfect.
Corey Allan: So it says, "Hello. My husband and I have a wonderful marriage. He has supported me through illness that occurred as a result of having our second child. I've had a low desire for a majority of our relationship, and he has a much higher desire. I've tried the new medication on the market to attempt to enhance my drive. We are also almost exactly opposite in our love languages. I'm words of affirmation, and he is physical touch," which that's a pretty common breakdown in a lot of relationships.
Pam Allan: For both gender roles, right?
Corey Allan: Yes.
Pam Allan: It's pretty common for the men to be touch and the women to be acts or affirmation?
Corey Allan: Or there's a lot of times where people are words and then the others touch is what I come across.
Pam Allan: No matter what the sexual or-
Corey Allan: Right. They're not necessarily gender specific. So she continues saying, "I'm trying to find a way to bridge the desire gap between us. He's the only one who initiates, and I feel guilty that he drives our entire physical and intimate relationship. Thanks for any advice."
And then another email that we've got that says, "Hey, Corey. I've been listening to your podcast for about five years and it's been a great help. And I've heard some great topics, but one I've not heard is the pre or post-menopausal spouse at a young age." And while it may not seem like these two go together, bear with me. Okay? "My wife has gone through menopause at the age of 34 and her sex drive is completely gone while mine is remaining through the roof." Oh, sorry. This was actually from a husband, not a wife. I mentioned just a minute ago it was emails from two wives.
Pam Allan: You were skimming.
Corey Allan: That is a pitfall of mine. You are absolutely correct.
Pam Allan: Pitfall of skimming.
Corey Allan: "We still have sex every now and then, but the mere thought of sex is nonexistent to her and even a turn off sometimes. We've gone as long as four months without sex, and sometimes even six months. I've wanted to email for a long time, but I didn't know how. I try to work with her and try to understand where she's coming from, but I have these needs that I would like met, but everything going on, it's just not going to happen. She's ordered different things offline to try to help her libido, but nothing seems to work at all. And the doctors she goes to tell her, 'All of our husbands wish we had sex drives like a 17 year old.' I don't know what else to do. I need help. Thanks."
Pam Allan: So the MDs are really-
Corey Allan: Not helping.
Pam Allan: That response is zero help.
Corey Allan: Right. And so for that specific instance, I know it may not be something exciting to think about, but try a different MD.
Pam Allan: Yeah. Always second opinion. He made it sound like there were multiple doctors already.
Corey Allan: Maybe so. It's true because early stage menopause is one of those things that's not as common, and it is an impactful issue. Absolutely. So here's the issue then, Pam, with both of these is what we're talking about is the whole idea of what do you do when the gap is so big between higher desire and lower desire?
Pam Allan: Right.
Corey Allan: Right? Because the two things that jump out to me from these listeners is these aren't just easy solution issues.
Pam Allan: Right. You don't buy a product and it's fixed.
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: Yes.
Corey Allan: There's so many layers in this because even some of the medical stuff that can help, there are some people that are like, "No, I don't want medicine. I don't want that in my body because hormones will cause what this and that, and there are side effects and there's issues." And all of that's legitimate. And then the other things that comes into play, and this is more from the first email or from the wife that she says at the end of it, "He's the only one who initiates and I feel guilty that he drives our entire physical and intimate relationship."
Pam Allan: And I think that guilt is common. I'll speak firsthand on that. That at one point was what I had. Right?
Corey Allan: Yeah.
Pam Allan: And so I think that's very common for the lower desires, in particular a wife, to have that guilt. Come at it from a different angle, though, on what your role is. So I guess what advice would you give someone if they're in your office? Husband and wife, you're in your office.
Corey Allan: And someone says that specifically?
Pam Allan: And someone says that to you-
Corey Allan: The wife goes, "I feel guilty, he does all the initiations?"
Pam Allan: What would be your response to her?
Corey Allan: My initial response to that would be look her square in the eye and say, "Okay, so does guilt motivate you or not?" I mean, some of that's kind of setting the stage for where we're going with the extended content with intentions because a lot of intentions are born out of guilt, if you think about it. I don't want to feel guilty about this, so I intend to, or I felt guilty, so I intend to. And that's kind of jumping ahead to where we're heading, but there is an element of, if I feel guilty, obviously not enough to produce something that's a shift.
Pam Allan: Well, okay.
Corey Allan: And it's harsh, and that's why in my office is different because I can then watch how that lands and then know where to go next.
Pam Allan: Well, and I think that's just it. So many of us can't get out of our head where that is and we just don't understand that next step. That's why so many people listen to the podcast because they're like, "Well, what is the next step? Just sitting here in my own self-talk and my own emotions, I don't know how to get out of that rut." And that's where it's so important to number one, email in with questions like this, or talk to a third party, a counselor or a really good girlfriend that's gone through it or whatever the case may be.
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: And that's how we find that next step to say, how do I not let guilt drive me?
Corey Allan: Right. Okay. And I completely agree with that because this is the premise of, and you even teed it up at the beginning, how are you each playing your own role? How are you playing your part? Right? Because this is where, when we start to get into this whole concept of trying to bridge a gap, being the bearer of bad news that I sometimes am, there's lots of times in couples that that bridge is not ever... The gap doesn't ever get completely satisfied or shrink and go away. It just becomes, how do you stay in your lane and play your role better? How do you recognize your actions in the process? How do you recognize your dynamic? Because she even mentions with using the love languages. That's something that's rung true for a lot of people that it helps them understand themselves and their partner. But it's fascinating to me that maybe this is just part of the human condition and I'll suffer from this too, is I'll understand it about my spouse and it just makes it feel so much further away. Right? Because it's the whole, Uh, I can't do that. That doesn't make sense to me. And don't we get into this something, if it's foreign, we are very reluctant to even go there.
Pam Allan: And you're saying if I know, say, what their love language is and I just don't know how to respond, to speak to them in that regard. Is that what you're referring to?
Corey Allan: If I know my husband's love language is physical touch and I go over and sit down next to him with physical touch, what is the immediate thing I as the wife am going to be thinking when I do that?
Pam Allan: He's going to want sex.
Corey Allan: Exactly. Which it's not on my radar at that point is what she's describing. And that's what the second email comes in too, that it's not on their radar.
Pam Allan: Well, it's one or the other. I either go over and provide that physical touch or I don't do it knowing that he wants it.
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: Which one's better, which one's worse?
Corey Allan: Which one's more in line with the character and the integrity you want to live? Which one's more in line with the overall story of the marriage that you want to live? Because, again, does every single touch have to result in sex? No.
Pam Allan: No. If you're the one spouse listening to this podcast and the other spouse isn't and you're not having those discussions back and forth, it feels like, "Uh, if I touch him and we're not having these conversations, he's going to expect it and how can I move on from there?"
Corey Allan: So let's go there for one second because he's already expecting it. He's already looking forward to it. He's already hoping for it. So that whole prolonged, I don't want to have to say no, so I'm not going to instigate something, it's already a no if you're not instigating something.
Pam Allan: And it's just kind of passive at that point.
Corey Allan: So it's how do you start to see the dynamic that's right in front of you already? This is the one truism I'm starting to see more and more with clients over and over is they keep describing these gridlock things. So they keep describing these issues and these gaps that they've got between us. And then their thought is, "So what do we do?"
And so then I reverse it typically and say, "Well, then how do you avoid this issue?" We talked about that two weeks ago. Because if we're not being proactive about something, then we are actively avoiding it if it's something we know that matters and is important in my life, especially if I've professed it that it is. So how do you see it as it doesn't matter how sophisticated or manipulative or whatever the code is to be able to crack that thing, the reality is there's a difference. And so if I don't want to ask how's this going because I'm afraid of where it might lead as a conversation and then I don't ask it. I already know you want to have that conversation about whatever topic that is because I've been married to you for a long time. Right? And I know that matters to you.
Pam Allan: Yeah, it's there.
Corey Allan: And I know that's the words of affirmation kind of idea that that fills your cup. But if I feel like, "Well, if I start giving you words of affirmation, then all we're going to be doing is having conversations. And I don't always want to have to have conversation." And it's just that whole, come on. That's the dynamic between you. So trying to avoid it is just another way of saying no, it's unavoidable. That's why I wanted to combine these two things because the one message that needs to ring true to the SMR Nation is when we have these differences of higher and lower, they just exist. I'll personalize this, because you've said this in the 27 years of our marriage, you've said this, that where sex just isn't on my radar, right? This was a while back and this is even now.
Pam Allan: Yes. Yes.
Corey Allan: There's times where it's just, it's not even on your radar. It's not on mine all the time either, but it is a whole lot more than yours. So I can either be offended that my wife does not have sex on her radar, or I can look at the global picture of, are we moving towards a sexually satisfying relationship for both of us because she's responsive, because I can engage her. Because it does happen at times, she is engaged. And there's a bigger story unfolding with this whole thing that it's not that the problem where we face, I think, is a lot of times I get hurt or upset because you don't face the problem the way I do.
Pam Allan: True.
Corey Allan: Because you're not me. And so then it gets frustrating and then it's just real easy to go, "You know what? Forget it. I'm not even going to bring it up."
Pam Allan: True. I guess I'm struggling with the second email. Yes, it's a desire difference, but we're talking early stage menopause. Right? And-
Corey Allan: Okay. That needs to be explored a little bit more because-
Pam Allan: This isn't just high desire, low desire, this is-
Corey Allan: Early stage menopause, does that mean nonresponsive or does that just mean, it just has zapped any libido that was once there? And now if you went from a 2 to a 0.5, that's a big gap that just shifted in your own wellbeing. And then you as a human are going to be going, "What's wrong with me? I used to have this, and now I don't." I mean, that's part of what trips us up in marriage is because we all remember what it tasted and felt it like when we were dating and we were young and we just couldn't keep your hands off each other and you were just longing for the next moment and you're just infatuated. And all of that is buried deep down in that emotional memory bank in your brain that has no timestamp really to it. And we're like, "Why can't we have that?" And then when married life goes on further, we feel like it was a bait and switch on some topics and on some areas because it's like, "Wait, that's not the way it was."
Well, yeah, it wasn't. And so was it an intentional bait and switch or was it just the reality of life bait and switch? Probably both.
Pam Allan: Really?
Corey Allan: I don't want to go deeper into that, but, you know.
Pam Allan: Oh gosh. Yeah, we could go off the deep end on that one.
Corey Allan: Well, again-
Pam Allan: It's for real, but-
Corey Allan: Well, let me touch on it just real quick because I do believe married life is based on choice. And do I have the honesty and the courage to be able to say to my spouse, regardless which issue it is and what's going on. If it's in my sex life and there's this whole, "You know what, no, I'm just not interested." Can I honestly say that's my call? Meaning, that's my deal breaker. I'm out. So if you want to go, got it, go. Most people won't do that. And then we start to feel trapped. We get emails about that-
Pam Allan: Right, we do.
Corey Allan: ...from people that have found we are listening ears. And so we get some rants and some vents because we'll listen and we'll respond to some of the direct emails on just, yeah, I get it because it is a difficult place to be. But it's recognizing that kind of dynamic is a reality and I can't necessarily manufacturer a way through it to bridge the gap, I've got to make a move towards it.
Pam Allan: And for the first emailer, making a move is getting past the guilt. In my opinion, right? In my opinion, it's-
Corey Allan: Let's change the verbiage just real quick. I love the whole concept of digest the guilt because there's some stuff in there that's going to be good for you. It can motivate you. You can turn that into something productive and beneficial. Some of it is shame-based, I'm not living up to based, whatever. And those are scripts that probably need to be confronted and discarded.
Pam Allan: And I guess that's the way I look at it is this I'm not living up to scenario. That's what I'm projecting onto this situation.
Corey Allan: A quick little detour, Pam. In our journey, you've made comments before on the show that the pressure and the dynamic of our relationship has called you in some areas to a higher level. Well, in guilt, a little bit associated with that I'm like, "I don't want to feel guilty if I don't take care of this side of the equation or I don't..." And it's almost, I'm confronting myself in this dynamic better. Guilt is a weird word to use here, but I think it fits because we live in a society if you were raised in the church, and especially if that church has any kind of conservative dogmatic history and I can't think of the word, but it's just part of the culture.
Pam Allan: We get it.
Corey Allan: Yeah, it's just part of that culture. Then guilt is a huge factor and weight in there.
Pam Allan: It is. I don't want to make it sound positive in any regard.
Corey Allan: Well, I think a component of it can be positive because it can drive you to something further. That's why I would ask this woman if her and her husband were in my office and she says, "I feel guilty that he does all the initiating." We would explore after my comment of, "Okay, how guilty?" Right? And we would start exploring what's the benefit of her not having to carry any of it because there's something. And so how do you start just clarifying the roles a little better because sometimes when a higher desire husband, and this goes back to the the second email too, when I recognize, okay, you know what? This is just my role. This is just who I am. This is where I've, this is what's helped me.
Pam Allan: I'm the pitcher, you're the catcher. Kind of that scenario, we do have roles.
Corey Allan: I'm the one that's going to have to step up to the plate, okay. And so the times where we hit lulls are the times when I don't play my role well.
Pam Allan: Well, and I guess that's it. I see the guilt as not playing a role well. And to use tha, to drive you to a different reaction. Not saying that every time that there is a proposal for a sexual encounter, that you're going to be up for it. But it's how that response comes out and what are you doing across the board? Right? So I I don't want guilt to be that driver.
Corey Allan: I get it. But the reality of a dynamic in marriage is that difference already exists. Those roles already exist. If you want to think about it, it's all ready a preemptive no when you're talking about the differences between a higher desire wanting to have sex and a lower desire not having it on their radar. So how do you have, then, a conversation about the role that each of us needs to play might mean the higher desire needs to just shore up how I pursue that part of our relationship better. And I lead towards it, knowing the pressure's already there, just make the pressure cleaner, make it more realistic, make it more out in the open of what's already there hidden.
And so how do you start saying some different things or instigating some different things? Or, in the case of the premenopausal, early menopause, how do you lead the charge on, "You know what, honey, this is something I want to really search to find answers together." And she's going to have to be on board with some of that because it's her body, but there's this element of... Because we will hear these things. This happens between us. We'll hear these things. When one of us steps in and says, "This is what I want to do." And it feels too invasive or too like you're telling me what to do, we react poorly with those things. It's like, "No, no, no, no, no."
Pam Allan: In general. Yeah. I think that's common.
Corey Allan: Again, how do I see that actually as? That's the pressure of a marriage, driving us forward to something bigger. Because gridlock issues like this, they are designed to help you have to determine what are you willing to choose for your relationship without blaming your spouse for your choice?
Pam Allan: Because when I can take the blame off of someone, it just lightens everything, right?
Corey Allan: Well, I start to then put the pressure and the real power where it needs to focus first. It's not that my spouse is innocent in all of this too, because you can get deeper into the weeds. That's where we get some intentionality, some cruelty, some of those darker sides, which are in the history and the archive of SMR. But that's the concept of, "Okay, if I'm going to choose this and I'm going to do this, but yet I blame my spouse, I'm playing a manipulative game. But if I choose it and I play it well, and I know I'm going to still get hurt and I know I'm going to get rejected and disappointed. But man, when I really own my choices, I recognize there's a cleaner power I bring to that equation." And it's not going to solve it. But I think it gives us paths that are a little cleaner and clearer. And then the gridlock pressure gets tighter, and that's the struggle with this sometimes.
Because I make a move, that doesn't make it always easier. Sometimes it gets even tighter. Cause some of the emails we've been having coming in, the way the emailers are framing it in their mind and they feel like their spouse is the immovable object. If they're not willing to make some big moves for something they really say they care about, they're basically saying to their spouse, "I don't really care about it. You don't have to believe what I say." Right?
Pam Allan: Talk about gridlock.
Corey Allan: And that's the struggle. So it's just, I wanted to spend a little bit of extra time today, this week on... These go together because the gap that we're trying to bridge sometimes is pretty expansive and it stays that way. So how do I start to see it as maybe it's the big gap isn't as big a deal as I've made it out to be? It's just the reality of us. So how do I reframe my role in it and how I'm leading in it and how I'm conducting myself in it and see if what I'm getting is actually pretty good and moving more towards a common goal?
Pam Allan: How often do you see when people start working on these types of issues that the gap does stay stagnant? I mean, it stays where it is today versus-
Corey Allan: Well, again, I don't think you can quantify it. I think it changes because you've lessened the importance of how you had quantified it and you start looking at the dynamic of who you are within it. And that's different because then you start to realize, "You know what? The sweetness of what we really have when I put it all in and focus, that takes a little pressure off of this one gridlock issue." And it's I'm not willing to throw it all out because of this one gridlock. I start to get into the deeper meanings of things, and then I start to ask myself the questions of how am I defining my life? How am I defining my value, my worth, my identity? And if I'm going to get caught up on this one little thing, I better be willing to go all the way with it. Otherwise, why? Right? And maybe I need to re-examine, what's the one little thing.
Because on some of these where you're talking about sex and the differences, when the husbands the higher desire, and you're trying to bridge the gap, do you always have to bridge the gap with your vagina? Can you meet his needs as a higher desire for release in contact with other parts of your body? So it's just there's aspects that those are creative ways to redefine the meaning to see what's the value in this that maybe we can really find? But we've just been so caught up on we're so far apart rather than yeah, you are. So what do you do now?
Pam Allan: Email us with your next question. That's what you do now.
Corey Allan: Well, this one felt different.
Pam Allan: Did it?
Corey Allan: It did mainly just because we tried to lump up things all together at the beginning rather than break them into a couple of different segments like we normally would.
Pam Allan: Yeah. I liked it.
Corey Allan: And so yeah, this kind of took me back to the archives-
Pam Allan: Yeah. A little Shannon and Gina days.
Corey Allan: ... when we used to just have a topic and that's where we went the whole time on the one deep dive, if you will. And so this one with the extended content was even a deeper, deeper dive.
Well, this has been Sexy Marriage Radio. As we always say, if we left something undone (214) 702-9565. Don't intend to call, actually call.
Pam Allan: Do it. Take action.
Corey Allan: Wherever you are, whatever you've been doing, thanks for taking some time out of your day to spend it with us. See you next time.
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