On the Regular version of today’s show …
Think of today’s episode as a primer for everything we talk about on SMR.
What are our basic frameworks when addressing life and marriage?
How do we approach the idea of growing up in marriage?
In the regular version we cover Dr David Schnarch’s Four Points of Balance.
On the Xtended version …
We explore the principles of passion and desire and how they play out in marriage and life. These are natural dynamics found in every marriage.
Enjoy the show!
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Announcer: You are listening to the regular version of Sexy Marriage Radio, smrnation.com.
Corey Allan: Welcome to the show. I'm Dr. Corey Allan, alongside my wife Pam. We try to describe and dive into what helps marriages, what helps your relationship, how do you frame your conversation? And we do this through a variety of ways. Sometimes we have conversations with some of the world's smartest relationship minds, sometimes it's conversations between us, which is what we're doing today.
Pam Allan: You're a pretty smart relationship mind. Yeah, keep yourself in that category, I'd say.
Corey Allan: Well, I appreciate that. But the whole point of what we're trying to do is help you as the SMR Nation explore what makes your relationship work and how to have better conversations to go where you want it to go and just grow up and be better. 'Cause that's kind of an original idea that we have. The premise of SMR is marriage is designed to help us grow up. And if you're new to the show, while you're looking for a simple way to tell your friends about SMR, check out the episode starter packs. These are collections of our favorite shows organized by topics, and they help you get a taste of everything that's going on here. So go to smrnation.com/starter or search for our show on the Spotify app. If you got some feedback for the show or something we've missed, send us a message. Call us at (214) 702-9565 or email us at email@example.com.
Coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio, we're going to dive into some of the principles of passion.
Pam Allan: Okay. That sounds fun.
Corey Allan: I think it's going to be a fun conversation 'cause everybody wants more passion and desire in marriage. And on the extended content which is deeper, longer and there are no ads, you can subscribe at smrnation.com/smracademy. We're going to continue the conversation of the principles of passion and go even deeper if we haven't finished the conversation at that point.
So if you like what we do here, rate it. Please rate and review the show at Apple Podcast, Spotify or however you listen. Your comments help us spread the word and they help others frame their conversations about what goes on in their bedrooms and in marriages. Enjoy the show.
Pam Allan: "Hello, I'm relatively new to SMR and love what I'm hearing thus far. Since there are over 580 episodes now, is there a way I can get caught up with the main principles or beliefs of SMR or you and your practice as a therapist and coach? With so many episodes, I don't even know where to begin, but I'm intrigued with the framework you present so far. It seems so different than the things I've heard at church or even other marriage podcasts and resources. Thanks so much."
Corey Allan: Yeah, we're going to use this as a way to frame a dialogue, I think, more than anything because this came in a while back and we hear this quite a bit because SMR has been going for 10 years... Longer.
Pam Allan: Yeah, there's a lot of info.
Corey Allan: And there's a ton. And so there is this element of the people that are "Oh yeah, I'll binge it all." Yeah, that's some people but not every people.
Pam Allan: Yeah, that's a huge time commitment that not everybody has.
Corey Allan: It absolutely is. And so what we're going to try to do is just walk through what are some of the main premises, the main principles? And from the outset, Pam, because of the schooling I've got and how several of my professors and just the whole doctoral program is adamant about you must cite where resources and ideas come from. And so if you're new to SMR, Dr. David Schnarch is the one I have trained under the most in school and love his framework, love his view, and his take, and the way he approaches therapy and life. And so that's where a majority of this is coming from. It's my take on Schnarch, but I'm going to make sure it's from the outset he gets credit.
Pam Allan: Sure.
Corey Allan: He's now passed, unfortunately, but the work he's done is fantastic and so there's more resources out there from him. He's not a Christian, to say that upfront. His work is not based in the Christian truths in the sense, but it is still a fantastic resource to look at.
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: So for this emailer, one of the first things to do is just... This is how we start every show too, is check out the starter packs. That's a way we can... "Look, here's some of our most popular shows. Here's some of the topics we've got." That's an easy way to get started.
Pam Allan: And how do you get there again?
Corey Allan: Smrnation.com/starter will get you there.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: It's also on the Spotify app. You can find because it's all via Spotify, that that's all broken down.
Pam Allan: Just do a search on the starter pack on Spotify.
Corey Allan: Correct. Well, now, find our show-
Pam Allan: Find the show. Okay, gotcha.
Corey Allan: ... on Spotify. And then the other is, there's two different things I want to do with this. One is Schnarch has a framework that he calls the four points of balance. And so we're going to spend a little bit of time talking about that. What does that mean? Because this is how... If you put this all under the lens of marriage is designed to help us grow up, the psychobabble term he uses is differentiate, that we're trying to go through the process of differentiation, which is where I can stay close to somebody without losing myself, and I can be myself without losing the somebody. There's a tension that goes on in marriage, that's the drive wheel of our growth. So if you're looking at it through that lens, there's this framework then, that he has these four points of balance that if I'm struggling in some aspect of my marriage, one of the things I need to do is look at how's my balance? Okay?
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: And then from there we're going to move into the concept of principles of passion and desire. Because there are just some basic principles that if you look at throughout all of the history of what we've done on our show, these are just the basic concepts we keep referring back to. And so what Pam's going to... Pam's role today is she's going to be the role of the emailer and the audience to help frame it out as she hears it, also poke holes, ask questions, what did I miss? Because I don't want to keep it in theory even though it's real easy to do so because it's basically a theory.
Pam Allan: Yeah. So we want it to be applicable, right?
Corey Allan: Correct.
Pam Allan: inaudible want it to be understandable and not educator PhD geek-out.
Corey Allan: No geeking out today.
Pam Allan: I want to understand it. I don't understand it at that level. So, yeah.
Corey Allan: Right? Okay. So if you're looking at the four points of balance, that's how we'll start. And so the first-
Pam Allan: And back up again. The four points of balance, if I'm off in one of these things then my relationship is off? My...
Corey Allan: Yeah. This will create the struggles that happen in marriage. So if you feel like you are in a chronic pattern in your marriage, that it's like we keep fighting about the same thing, the same thing keeps happening, why won't they ever figure this out? What is it about? Why am I unhappy with this thing? Why is this a total frustration with this thing? This is where you're going to refer back to check your four points of balance and see because it's likely, this has been the case in our marriage, one of them's off.
Pam Allan: So it's like having a stool that I'm sitting on with four legs and maybe one of them shorter than the other?
Corey Allan: Great analogy. Yes. And so let... The four of them are, we're trying to create a solid flexible self, we want a quiet mind and a calm heart, we want to figure out how to be grounded in our responding, and then meaningful endurance. That's the four principles of the makeup and comprise the four points of balance and Schnarch's believed in these so heavily, he actually trademarked all four of these things.
Pam Allan: Interesting.
Corey Allan: So I'm giving notice that these are not mine.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: I'm honoring his because they're his. So the solid flexible self is this idea... We've landed on the idea with SMR that we want what... We're trying to create a more solid self, which is this idea of I know who I am and I know who I'm not. I have the ability to live by my core values. I love his addition of flexible self because it's not that I'm rigid. Solid does not mean rigid in human life. The only things we want rigid in life are bridges and roads, buildings.
Pam Allan: Please.
Corey Allan: I want rigid structures. But life as humans, if I'm a rigid human, that's not a fun person to be around nor be.
Pam Allan: No. It took me a while to really get these solid and flexible at the same time, but it really makes sense after time. I can live by that value.
Corey Allan: Right. And I can also adjust to the situation without losing myself. I still know who I am and I can persevere through hard times. That's the solidness plus the flexibility. We can figure out what do we need to do when we go wrong. What comes to my mind when I think of this is the years that we would do the month-long travels with the kids. And the very first year we did this, you sat down right before we climbed in the truck and you looked back at the kids, said, "Okay, we have a word for our month. Flexible."
Pam Allan: Flexible.
Corey Allan: Because we don't know what's going to go wrong because something will. Well, that's life. So how do you get flexible with things and adjust without crumbling and caving and it's a catastrophe? You just figure it out. There's another element of solid flexible self as the idea of we don't have to be right. Because if you think about a lot of what happens in marriage and a lot of the emails we get, if you boil it down and are honest as the emailer or caller, you're likely holding onto the fact that, "I got to be right," rather than, "No I don't. I don't have to be right to confirm myself."
Pam Allan: Right.
Corey Allan: Right? I can hold on there and I said inaudible-
Pam Allan: Thank you. I didn't do that on purpose.
Corey Allan: Well, I'm feeling more solid because you said right to my statement.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: But it's that idea of I can have a stance and there's room for another stance.
Pam Allan: Mm-hmm.
Corey Allan: So it's that element of I can look at this through a process of how am I developing a more solid flexible self? And then I love if I add a biblical concept to this, I think the biblical idea is this is the idea that God wants us to develop more character and wisdom, not happiness and a good time. He's more concerned about our character and our wisdom. Now, a word from our sponsor Better Help. So Pam, throughout the course of our marriage, coming up on 30 years now, there have been several times that we would not be where we are without the help of good therapy.
Pam Allan: True that.
Corey Allan: So sometimes, and I look back on all of that and I think a lot of the times that I felt stuck was I was focusing on problems instead of solutions. And it's fascinating to me because even as a therapist, I can still get caught in that situation where I just focus on the problem and that's what bogs me down, weighs me down. And it's actually hard to train our brains sometimes to get in problem-solving modes. And that's where good therapy comes in. That's why I think people should try therapy.
And again, that's why each and every week when Better Help is a sponsor here at SMR, which they have been for quite a while. This is one therapist recommending other therapists because they're not always going to have a good fit with your therapist and Better Help is a great solution to try to help find better ways to look at the solutions to your problems.
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So Pam, there's also been several times throughout our marriage where we've chosen poorly with a meal and it's brought about acid reflux or-
Pam Allan: Heartburn.
Corey Allan: ... Just some major discomfort as we're heading to bed because heading to a horizontal position after-
Pam Allan: A big meal.
Corey Allan: ... a big meal, or if you do experience regular acid reflux, it's not something you look forward to. And when this happens with us, a lot of times one of us would wind up on the couch because that would be the place we could get the pillows to prop ourselves up or a recliner, was also a known solution in the past. And I think about it, some of this runs in your family because I remember your father having all kinds of times where he was sleeping in the recliner.
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Pam Allan: Right, and they've made an easy place for it.
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The second one in here is this idea of quiet mind and calm heart, which this is really tied to our emotions and how we live life and how we can get so flooded and reactive. And so his principle is you need to learn how to have a quiet mind and a calm heart. And this is the idea of controlling your anxiety or your emotions so they don't run away with you. It doesn't mean don't have them.
Pam Allan: Right. I mean we're given emotions for a reason.
Corey Allan: Absolutely.
Pam Allan: They can be perfectly valid and protect you in some regards. But is it more just about... Is this more about how I react or is it not even focused just on that?
Corey Allan: No, this is all about, I think this is how I go through life that obviously there's going to be different things that happen to us that can elicit responses that are emotional or anxiety-producing or based out of that. But there's also an element of how am I driven and led by some of my emotions and what I'm interested in, and even my anxieties, because there's some research out there that shows what I tell myself when I'm nervous or anxious makes a huge difference in the outcome of what that anxiety produces. If I tell myself I'm nervous before I go out for a public speech, I don't perform as well as if I tell myself the feelings I'm feeling are actually excitement in there too. Because it's not usually I claim one thing or another. It's a lot of things. But the idea of a quiet mind and a calm heart is handling your feelings and your emotions. And I love that word handling. Doesn't mean controlling. Doesn't mean managing. It means handling.
Pam Allan: That's a good clarification.
Corey Allan: Because I think personally speaking and professionally speaking, anger management is a misnomer. I don't think we manage anger. We need to learn how to handle it, steer it, use it, digest it, that kind of thing. Managing has this idea of I can actually control it. I don't know if I agree with that.
Pam Allan: Interesting.
Corey Allan: But I do believe we can handle things. Sometimes handling means I don't. I need help. I can't do this on my own. I must get away. I need to take a break. That's handling. It's soothing my emotional bruises, which this is a big one because how often does something happen in marriage and I blame my partner for the hurt that I'm feeling? "It's because you did this, that's why I feel that. Well, if you wouldn't have done that, I wouldn't have..." The round and round circular argument that can happen. And the way I can keep mindful of this more is I just monitor my body because our emotions manifest themselves in our body. We feel them. We experience them in different ways. And so the more I can get in tune, the more I can get an idea of what I'm really feeling and experiencing. Like our dog experiencing some emotions right now because she's hearing a siren as it goes by.
Pam Allan: Sirens. Thank you so much.
Corey Allan: So the biblical idea of this is I think the concept of being still. How do I settle myself? How do I be involved and engaged in things and be present?
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: Okay? Grounded responding is the third four point of balance. And this is the idea of not overreacting, which I think is a common thing. We all can understand how we can overreact to things in our world and in our life. But it's also not under-reacting.
Pam Allan: Which gives the impression potentially of I don't care.
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: I mean is that-
Corey Allan: Well, it-
Pam Allan: What is under-reacting?
Corey Allan: Under-reacting is this idea of I'm not even engaging in it. I'm acting like I'm totally removed, like I'm impervious, I'm shut off, I'm cut off.
Pam Allan: Or is this the person that's just, "Oh they're just laid back, they're fine, they don't care."? And they may not be that way?
Corey Allan: There could be an element of apathy associated with it. Absolutely. Because in the long run, what does that show? What is that to know? 'Cause what comes to my mind when I think about over-reacting or under-reacting is because these points are based off of, in large part, Murray Bowen's work, who's a family systems theorist that came up with a theory of family systems therapy and Schnarch built off of his work. And so his, Murray Bowen's, work was more on the family aspect, that you can be enmeshed in your family, which is where a kid's too involved in a parent's life, they're not in their own. The whole family has these secrets that no, no, we don't talk about what we do. It's outside... And it's just this element of it's too enmeshed. They're not independent people. You got a confused look. I'm going off of grounded responding is a way to talk about under-reacting and over-reacting.
Pam Allan: Okay. Yeah. I'm trying to-
Corey Allan: So family systems would be enmeshment, too fused or cut off. That's under-reacting. I'm totally cut off from the family. I've called myself a part of the family, but I'm not involved in it. Under-reacting is I call myself engaged in a situation, but I'm not reactive to it at all. I'm impervious to it all. Did I land that plane a little better?
Pam Allan: Little bit. I'm still... Yeah.
Corey Allan: The other idea of grounded responding is making modulated responses to the people's situations, events.
Pam Allan: I don't know what that even means. What does making modulated responses mean?
Corey Allan: It means it's appropriate in the reaction I have. Something happens in my life and I have what's deemed proportional to what went down.
Pam Allan: Oh, well, there. It's not over or under, it's-
Corey Allan: Correct.
Pam Allan: ... in line with it.
Corey Allan: I do make a response to it. I do engage in it. It's like this idea of if I get a B- on a paper I worked really, really hard for and the whole world is falling apart, that's not a modulated response as much because it's like, wait, I still did well, B-.
Pam Allan: And I act like the world's falling apart because I got B minus. Okay.
Corey Allan: Yeah, maybe that didn't land either, but we're trying our best because we got some things going on around here with some sirens and other stuff. It's like we need to make modulated responses while we're recording. The biblical idea of this to me is that this concept of, I think, is to help learning to love. It's hard to love if I'm over-reactive. It's also hard to love if I'm disengaged. So it's finding that balance, that medium point or the... I love growing up in an acapella church, the idea of harmony because I think that fits. Some people are more emotionally leaning, some people are more logically leaning or rationally leaning. But we need to have both. That's how we get grounded responding.
And then the last one is meaningful endurance. That's the last of the four points of balance. And this is that idea of sticking with things when you accomplish your goals, doing what needs to be done, even when you don't want to do it and then absorbing hardships, bouncing back after defeats. This is that idea of sticking with it. Perseverance is the biblical idea that comes to mind. Any woman out there that has a child understands meaningful endurance.
Pam Allan: Anyone who started a business, anyone who has just been through a struggle in a relationship. I mean we're talking about this. If there's infidelity and you're both in there willing to work on this, but it's going to be struggle, well there's meaningful endurance on that because you know that it can be better on the other side. And that's struggle.
Corey Allan: Right. And so meaningful endurance is just the sticking with it to see things through because you know it can create something. Some of the things I love adding to meaningful endurance is Victor Frankel's work, Man's Search for Meaning, which is, if I can reframe suffering to actually will produce something that helps you recognize. That's what I think the premise to me for SMR, that's where this idea of marriage is designed to help us grow up because marriage comes with it. What comes with marriage is an inherent amount of suffering. I don't always get what I want in my life. And there's a little struggle that can come with that.
Pam Allan: Well, sometimes it's my own fault, right?
Corey Allan: Well, I don't necessarily think a suffering is a negative thing here. I think there's just a struggle that is involved in it.
Pam Allan: True, true. So I go back on this and look at these four things, these four legs of a stool and are there... In any situation, when you're counseling people, is there typically one of these that's so off all the time? Or I'm assuming it's a person-by-person basis, right?
Corey Allan: It is.
Pam Allan: Maybe this is a person that does not respond well. Or this is a person that isn't grounded. They don't know how to handle their emotions. They don't know how to handle what's going on within themselves.
Corey Allan: And here's the beauty of the way Schnarch has these framed. Grounded responding, if I have trouble grounded responding, I likely also have trouble with a solid flexible self. I overreact to things because I'm not really sure who I am and what I really believe. And so those can feed off of each other. It's not always the case. Sometimes it's situational. Sometimes I could have a really good idea of who I am and I'm just not responding well to things. So I need to look at, okay, wait, well, so yes, these are just markers. When I'm working with somebody or in my life, in our life, I kind of will look back at these occasionally and go, "Wow, I'm not meaningful or enduring right now. I'm kind of wanting to throw in the towel on that project. What's that about? What's this?" Sometimes that could be wisdom. Sometimes it could just be I'm tired. But the work's still there. Still need to keep going with whatever it is we're trying to create or become or evolve. I mean, if you're working out, I'm on a workout regimen right now. There's days where I don't want to do this, but after you do it, you feel better. That's meaningful endurance.
So the premise of all of this, Pam, to me, is for those people that are listening and for the emailer, it's become an observer of your life and ask yourself, "Where are you in these four things?"
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: That's can give you a clue maybe of, "Okay, I'm troubled with quiet mind and calm heart. I'm not real settled on things right now. I'm just kind of anxious about stuff." And then you just ask... If you can get that awareness, then you can sit down and ask some better questions of, "Okay, what could they be?" Because sometimes the simplest thing... What works for me when I realize I've got this little bit of undercurrent of angst, I'll have a time when I'll just get a cup of coffee one morning, I'll sit down with a pad of paper and I'll just start writing down what's going on. And typically after three or four, five things, it's like, oh, well, no wonder there's a little bit of angst. 'Cause when you add all these things up, those are big deals all together. If it was just one or two wouldn't even be above the threshold of noticing. Right?
So these are just great things to look back as lenses to figure out where am I in the different aspects of my life? And when I can do that, now I can lean back into shoring up whatever that might be which then helps us pivot into, all right, now let's talk about some desire and passion in my life. What are the principles that make up who I am and in my marriage that keep this whole process going?
Pam Allan: So you're equating desire and passion to making up who I am?
Corey Allan: No, I'm equating desire and passion as part of what comes with the relationship and our lives. If I can start to look at it as a whole and I figure out who I am and I'm operating within that whole, now all of a sudden I can lean into the dynamics that are naturally at play in marriages and in relationships.
Pam Allan: Okay, and by looking at who I am, you're not talking just this whole first point of balance, this solid, flexible self-
Corey Allan: Right. I'm talking about inaudible-
Pam Allan: You're talking about everything all together.
Corey Allan: A whole operating process of how well am I functioning? Because again, it's so easy. The thing that comes to my mind, maybe this doesn't land. I've had trouble landing planes and with our concepts today.
Pam Allan: Well, and granted my brain doesn't work like yours does.
Corey Allan: Thankfully.
Pam Allan: So yes, I'm always asking the questions going, "Wait, back that up 'cause I'm not following." But-
Corey Allan: But what comes to my mind-
Pam Allan: I work on a fourth grade level.
Corey Allan: ... is when you made the shift to the tax world from the corporate world as a CPA, we had no idea what tax season was going to be like, the first one. You made it for the second. You started in August, which meant you had the first deadline, which is a little bit smaller of a season.
Pam Allan: Little bit, mm-hmm.
Corey Allan: And when we hit the very first one, we didn't know. We had an idea, but we didn't know. And midway through, looking back after eight, nine years now, I know during tax seasons give me about the sum total of about a week of just being in a bad mood, during those times. I'll just-
Pam Allan: For you, not for me.
Corey Allan: For me.
Pam Allan: For you.
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: And I'll just have times where it's just like, god, I'm just off today and yesterday and the day before.
Corey Allan: Yeah.
Pam Allan: Okay. And that's largely seasonal. It's situational because of the circumstance of what tax season does for us.
Corey Allan: Yeah.
Pam Allan: The first time I was experiencing that, you picked up on it when we were on the phone and you're like, "You okay?" It's like, "No, I'm not okay. I'm sick of tax season." You reacted with, "Well, do you want me to quit? Do you want me to go back?" You over-reacted. I'll just throw you under the bus.
Corey Allan: Because it was quick. It was a knee-jerk, quick, not grounded responding.
Pam Allan: Mm-hmm.
Corey Allan: That's your own being about a situation rather than now we can, "I'm just sick of tax season." And you'd be like, "Me too."
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: Because it's a more modulated response. A more solid, We made this choice, we're going to stick it through and we're going to figure ourselves out as we go through it. That's ourselves going through a process of life together by choice. That's how I think these four play out.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: What we're going to talk about in the extended content here in just a minute is what are some of the dynamics that are natural in every committed relationship that push at and demand our four points of balance to continue to see us through? That's what's coming up next-
Pam Allan: Okay. I'm looking forward to that.
Corey Allan: ... in the extended content.
Pam Allan: Good.
Corey Allan: Well, that was definitely, like you just mentioned as we were wrapping up the extended content, this was a ton of information if you made it all the way through both the regular and the extended. Because again, the extended content was stuff that I spent two hours unpacking at the getaway.
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: Last year we tried to do it in 20 minutes. I think we went longer than 20 minutes.
Pam Allan: A little bit. A little bit.
Corey Allan: Well, if you like the show, you can help us out by rating and reviewing SMR on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or however you listen. We always appreciate your comments because they help spread the word about the show and they help others frame their conversations about what happens behind their closed doors. Transcripts are available in the show notes on each of the episode's pages. Also, our advertiser's deals and discount codes are available on each of the episode's pages at smrnation.com. Please consider supporting those who help support the show. Greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. And this is a good starter for the starter pack, today's episode, because this is one of those things that helps frame everything that we've done over the 10, almost 11 years-
Pam Allan: Yeah, it's lot.
Corey Allan: ... we've been in existence. So thanks for listening, and we'll see you next time.
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