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hosted by Dr. Corey Allan

Quarantine Sex #461

On the Regular and Xtended version of today’s show …

A conversation with Vanessa Marin, a fellow sex therapist, about the stress and issues couples will face in their sex lives during times of quarantine and uncertainty.

You can find more about Vanessa on her site https://vmtherapy.com/

Pick up her checkin for free here https://vmtherapy.com/checkin

Enjoy the show!

Got a question?

CALL US 214-702-9565
or email us at feedback@sexymarriageradio.com

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Corey Allan:
Straight from the inbox from episode 459, Pamela. Thank you for the episode. I listened to it several times to make sure I absorbed it well because we have long-term stress that's affecting our relationship. But what struck me the strongest was the following, and this was the episode we had with Dr. Prado. She felt so validated when Dr. Prado stated that the day-to-day grind, the daily to-do list, the never-ending list of things we need to get through can almost amount to significant stress and the impact of the day-to-day to-do list can be more negative to our brains than a single traumatic event.

Pam Allan:
Yeah.

Corey Allan:
And that's a great way to help people understand that what goes on in our life, it impacts us.

Pam Allan:
It does.

Corey Allan:
We can act like it even though when it's a known thing, we can act like it's not that big deal like a stoic role.

Pam Allan:
That one struck home to me. I'd say that.

Corey Allan:
She goes on to talk about, our listener does, the struggle and the chronic nature they have of, "Hey, I need you to get this done," and the spouse says, "I'll do it." And then he doesn't and how that just continues to create this issue.

Pam Allan:
Yeah. It just festers.

Corey Allan:
So she had written this all up to send and then heard this episode and adds a little update to it just saying, "Hey, because of this episode, I brought up this stuff again on how this was affecting me. So this past weekend we work together and accomplish several items on the list as usual doing the things together, had the same effect on us as a great date and it was a great weekend. One weekend doesn't fix all our issues but it was a nice break from them. Thanks for all that you do."

Pam Allan:
That's wonderful.

Corey Allan:
And it's the whole nature of married life sometimes, isn't it?

Pam Allan:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Corey Allan:
We get those glimpses in those, "Oh, this is why we're doing it."

Pam Allan:
Here's what it can be.

Corey Allan:
And hopefully that helps us stay in it to realize that yes, when we have stresses that are going on and we have these issues that happen, it does create some results in our brains that can really impact things. But being able to look at it more and more, and this have fairly been on the last several weeks, been looking more and more at what's my role in it, what's my responsibility? How do I move forward and play my part and is better?

Pam Allan:
Right. We've got to be proactive in that right now and really looking at it especially with so many stressors going on right now with people amid this COVID crisis. We don't even realize how the little things are affecting us. It's like the snowball effect, right?

Corey Allan:
Yeah.

Pam Allan:
And it's rolling down here really fast and all these little things just keep adding on and making that snowball bigger and bigger and bigger. You don't even realize it until it's just this giant mound and you step back right before it's about to hit the house or something.

Corey Allan:
Right.

Pam Allan:
So you really got to be proactive and figure out do I need a perspective change? Do I need to step away and see if I can step outside of myself and look in at who I am? How I'm acting? How am I reacting?

Corey Allan:
Yeah. There's a tremendous benefit to assume some seasons or some moments in my life where I take the role of a newspaper reporter and look at what's going on in my life from an outside perspective, from an objective perspective and ask the question in pondering why. Why do I do that? Why did I act that way? And just to be curious about it because you can start to find here's some avenues of maybe how I'm co-creating this and I'm not even aware of because it is good to know we could change the system. We can influence it differently and we can maybe get some different results in the long run. But you got to look at the common denominator for this whole thing.

Corey Allan:
And a common denominator through all of Sexy Marriage Radio is the SMR Nation and the fact that they show up each and every week to hang out with us. Thanks again for taking a little bit of time out of your week to join us wherever you are, whatever you're doing. If you're in lockdown or if life is returning to normal in your area of the world or trying to, we're so glad that you take some time out and if you've got something going on that you want us to address, some feedback that you want to share, some praise, how this works with you or in your world, we want to know. 214-702-9565 or as always been around for over eight years, feedback@sexymarriageradio.com is the inbox to let us know what's going on.

Corey Allan:
And we also ask you if you'd like to show however you choose to listen, jump on, write and review, leave a comment. iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play, whatever means you use to find us, please help spread the word that married sex can be fantastic. It's not something that's just this treachery. That's just part of the whole equation. It could be a great thing because marriages can be great and that's what we believe in here at Sexy Marriage Radio.

Corey Allan:
On that, other things that we've got going on here real quick, the Sexy Marriage Radio getaway for 2020 we mentioned is canceled and we're postponing it. We have moved it now to June 17 through 20 of 2021. So same location here in the Marriott Solana. If you are registered and have already started the process, hopefully you received an email from me that can just be transferred over or you could let me know, we'll send you a refund but we hope that you will go ahead and mark the calendar 17 through 20 of 2021 in June of next year.

Corey Allan:
We're just going to make the call to move it that far out just to alleviate some of the unknowns that are going on in our world right now as we look forward into what things will look like as we come out of this. So coming up on today's show, this is one of the things that we've done a couple different times now where we have a regular version and an extended version and today we're combining it.

Pam Allan:
So everybody gets it all.

Corey Allan:
Because today, we're talking about sex in quarantine.

Pam Allan:
Okay, yeah.

Corey Allan:
And I think that applies to the SMR Nation and we want everybody to have the full show just because the content that we go over today is worth it on... You need to understand the systemic nature of what's going on and then here's some things you could do that can practically help because joining me on the episode today is Vanessa Marin. She was on episode just like seven weeks ago with me. She's a sex therapist out in California and so she hopped on the air with me so that we can have deeper discussion about how does this impact marriages specifically our sex lives, because there is a dampening that comes with this kind of an unknown and this kind of a struggle that one or both partners are going to be feeling and that's that's fairly normal.

Pam Allan:
Yeah.

Corey Allan:
So we want to talk straightforward about that. So there's still two versions, whichever way you join. If you listen to the regular version, that it's the same as is. If you're on the extended version which is usually deeper, longer and this time there's no ads, you can still subscribe to avoid the ads at smrnation.com. We're glad that you're a part of the academy and if you're not, this is a taste of what it's like. So all that is coming up on today's show.

Corey Allan:
Joining me today, again, Vanessa Marin was just on just like, what, six, seven episodes ago. And so one of the things that's been interesting with the way the world has unfolded with the COVID-19 virus in the way everything is altering and changing in the world and for sure here in the States, Vanessa reached out and said, "Hey, we need to do a show together on how this has impacted marriages and specifically sex lives because it is fascinating that this is having different results than some of the other stuff in history that's been a global thing that there's a different feel and a different pressure on marriages and people that some of the research I've been finding in the last couple of days is bearing that out as well. And so, Vanessa, thanks so much for not only initiating the conversation but coming back on the air with me again.

Vanessa Marin:
Absolutely. I know it's a really crazy time right now and I have just been feeling super inspired to try to provide as much support and resources as I can. So I just want to see if I could hop back with your listeners and give some more value.

Corey Allan:
Perfect. And so I want to just dive right in because there's a couple of different things obviously that have impacted couples with this. One is just its disruption of the daily life that if you're a listener in the SMR nation and you are currently under the quarantine or the encouragement of shelter in place or safer at home or as the Fort Worth mayor here in the Dallas area says, "You all stay home." There's all kinds of messages out there. It absolutely impacts life and I'm curious, because you're in California.

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. I'm in LA.

Corey Allan:
Here in the Midwest area, there's a lot of similarity because of big cities but there's also a different feel. And so I feel like from the two different sides of this equation with not only where we both live but also the male-female perspective and the professionals in what we do, what are some of the best things that people can... They're probably feeling and then what can they do about it relationally.

Pam Allan:
Yeah, I think it's really important to recognize that this is such a challenging time for our relationship. So obviously, we're really focused on the health crisis and everything that's going on around that as we totally should be. But I'm worried because I don't see people talking too much about the impact that's having in our homes and the reality is that there's an incredible amount of stress that's piled on top of our relationships right now. So I think it's really important for us to have specific strategies and game plans and even on the most basic level just to start opening up conversations with our partners about how do we get through this together. How do we make sure not only that we survive getting through this but I think there actually is an opportunity here for our relationships to thrive too.

Corey Allan:
Absolutely. So I think first and foremost, it's just recognizing the normalcy of when things like this are happening and we're disrupted. The fact that you feel probably a little shorter or more on edge or irritable or moody or reactionary, I would put that in the normal category that that's going to happen. We're going to deal with this differently and so a lot of times our thresholds come down. And so it takes less to get us into a reactionary stance. But then there's this other element that you're describing as we were just getting ready to get on the air of it also is a physical disruption. If you are married to someone or are in a relationship with someone where you're not working outside of the house anymore and now you're at home, that's a different beast.

Vanessa Marin:
It's a completely different beast. So I've actually been working from home with my husband on the same business since 2015. So we've got some practice of doing this, but I remember when we first made that transition, he used to work in the corporate world. He was working for Google before he came to work with me on my business. He would leave during the day and even before I had my business when I was working some silly office jobs, we would both leave during the day and so you'd have an entire workday plus that commute time to just be apart from each other, to be interacting with other people, doing work, and we'd have all this space away.

Vanessa Marin:
And so coming back home at the end of the day, there was stuff to catch up on. "Oh my gosh. You can't believe what happened in this meeting today. Susan said the most ridiculous thing." It gives us a little bit of a chance to miss each other and now there are so many couples who for the first time ever are spending every waking moment together. And not only that, but there are so many additional tasks and responsibilities on our plates. So if you have kids, all of a sudden, you're the primary caretaker. Maybe you're also the home schooler.

Vanessa Marin:
You're trying to figure out how to work from home for the first time ever. You might not have other support that you usually have like you're a housekeeper now. You're the housekeeper too. So there's just so much more that we're doing with all of this added pressure and all this extra time together.

Corey Allan:
Right. And so based on your experience of doing close proximity presence with the spouse for a longer span thus far, what are some of the main things you've seen to help navigate that?

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. So I'm glad that we made that switch a while ago because now I feel like I have some good resources and ideas that I can offer people instead of just, "I'm in the trenches here with the other sex." So one of the things that we learned was making sure that we have separate work spaces.

Corey Allan:
Okay.

Vanessa Marin:
So we've lived in different apartment, small apartments and homes throughout our time together and so I know that this can be more challenging in certain spaces and others. There are plenty of couples living in studios. But as creative as you can get with whatever space you have, trying to create as much distance between the two of you is possible. So physical distance is great. If you're lucky enough to have a spare bedroom that you could turn into an office or a little nook in the kitchen that you can turn into an office, but as far away as the two of you can be from each other during the day. I know it doesn't sound very romantic, but it's definitely going to help maintain your sanity.

Corey Allan:
Absolutely. And that builds into some of the natural dynamic that you've had if you're going to different locations. Because there is a component in a reality of marriage that the good relationships have room to breathe. You have space that there's times where you're close together and then there's times where you got space and distance between you. And that's a natural ebb and flow of just a vibrant relationship of a regular relationship.

Vanessa Marin:
Absolutely. Even if you do have to be in the same room, I think we can get creative here too. Maybe there's a room divider that you have that you can put up, even hang a curtain there's a little sheet or something or make it so you're not facing each other because if you're having to look at your partner's face all day long as they make weird faces reading their emails or listening to them chewing their lunch, you're going to go nuts. So if you can even just be turning away from each other that can help a lot.

Corey Allan:
That's good. And it also seems to me the importance of having a set space. I mean some people probably are more of the creative ilk that wherever my mood takes me is where I'm working from today. But there is an importance because this is one of the things that's worked in our home for the last couple of weeks that we've been doing this here and now that Pam's working here too. We each have designated spaces in the home. This is where's my daughter... That's where her school goes. This is where my son goes for his school. I have a table, Pam's got the living room. So it's all just kind of set in that way we have kind of our own identified, this is my office and I think that's another structure component that's an important thing.

Vanessa Marin:
Absolutely. You can be flexible with this too. So let's say one of you gets the spare bedroom as your office but the other one that has to do a private conference call, you can swap out a little bit if necessary. But I definitely think that having a designated space especially if you've never worked from home before, that can be a nice piece of structure for yourself personally. So you feel like, yeah, this is my zone that I go to and this is when I get into work mode. And then you can also-

Corey Allan:
It seems that's an easy set up for, have a structure of time too like have office hours and school hours.

Vanessa Marin:
That was exactly what I was about to say. It also lets you leave that space when you're done with your working hours because I think when we work from home, there can be a real bleeding of professional time and personal time.

Corey Allan:
Totally.

Vanessa Marin:
So having a separate space where you say, "Okay. My day is over. I finished my task. I get to walk away from this space and go to some other area."

Corey Allan:
And adding to that, the one thing that pops to my mind is the importance of a margin that for those of you that aren't used to working from home and you usually have that commute time to disengage from one before you engage in another, one of my clients actually came up with because he had to move to start working downstairs. This was years ago. But his job transferred and he was able to work from home and so he started working in the basement and it was such a disruption that he could never leave work. That's the way he felt.

Corey Allan:
And so he actually came up with the strategy of, at the end of the work day, he would walk up the stairs, go in, get in his car, drive a mile down the road and circle the block and come back, and then come in.

Vanessa Marin:
That's great.

Corey Allan:
He did that for a week and then that got his brain and a better reset of okay. But there's a benefit of go for a walk around the block after the business closes and there's then when you come home, you're re-entering into home life as much as you can.

Vanessa Marin:
Absolutely. I call them transitions. For us transitioning from one activity to the next. I love how he got creative with it. I think we were all going to be called upon right now to get creative with different strategies. But it also reminds me, there's a productivity coach named Brendon Burchard who has something similar and what he does is he calls it the release tension, set intention. So whenever we're switching from one activity to the next, he says, take a little bit of time to just release whatever tension you're holding on to from that activity at the end of your work day and then set your intention for how you want to show up in the next activity of the day.

Corey Allan:
Perfect.

Vanessa Marin:
I want to release all this tension from that tough work meeting, and this big project. Let me take a few minutes to breathe and let go and then I want to transition into being with my family and I want to set this intention to be very present and patient and loving. Whatever it is for you, but just that taking 30 seconds to do that can be super powerful.

Corey Allan:
That's huge because that's also mimicking some of the normal, because we are all creatures as humans. We get into a routine and for a majority of people, when that stuff is disrupted, it throws you off. So the more you can do to replicate it, and the whatever the meaning is that you can get as close to it, I think you all benefit. So if we've dealt with some of the physical ideas of okay, this is the space, this is the structure.

Corey Allan:
Now, we got to get into the relational because I know this is the thing that's disrupting people because I don't know if you've heard when all of this looked like it was coming and there was going to be this mass quarantine because I think it's the time we're recording this. I mean, I've heard from anywhere from a fifth to a third of the world's population is under quarantine right now, as far as encouraged to stay home.

Vanessa Marin:
A little wild, yeah.

Corey Allan:
Totally. One of the things I've heard is obviously this is impacting marriages to where the divorce rates are going up because of the tension. And if there are already some tension going on and there's a forced close confines component to it, most people, that's the last straw. But then there's this other speculation of, I wonder if there'd be a baby boom after this of will this turn towards all the sudden now we have this, what, it would be January babies that are coming along. I'm not so sure more and more as I'm feeling this out and I think it's because the stress and the unknown of what's going on is really a libido dampener for people.

Vanessa Marin:
Oh, yes.

Corey Allan:
So we got to go there and spend some time there talking about what do we do? How do we help people confront this better?

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. So for the vast majority of people stress is the number one killer of sex drives. So before this entire crisis hit, I work with a lot of people with low libido or feel like they even have no libido and often what we uncover is that the main thing going on is they're crazy stressed. So now we're in a period of time where we're experiencing even more stress than ever before, a completely different new kind of stress than we've ever experienced. So there's a lot going on. There definitely are some people who use sex as a form of stress relief.

Corey Allan:
Sure.

Vanessa Marin:
So I have this sex personality types model that I created and one of the types in the model is the decompressor and that's all about they look to sex to be that stress relief.

Corey Allan:
Okay.

Vanessa Marin:
But that tends to be a pretty small portion of the population. Most people do feel once they feel stress, they're just not interested in feeling sexy. So I think there are two main problems that most couples are facing right now. Neither one of them is feeling sexy at all. Sex feels like just the furthest thing from your mind or you're in a situation where one partner does not feel sexy and the other partner is looking for sex as that stress relief and then you're going to be butting heads with each other. The one partner is thinking, "You're crazy. How do you want sex right now?" And the other one thinking, "You're crazy. How could you not want it right now."

Corey Allan:
Yeah. You're exacerbating the natural dynamic of difference anyway.

Vanessa Marin:
Exactly.

Corey Allan:
Because I fully believe in the higher desire, lower desire continuum and one of you is always one while the other is the other. Neither one is right or wrong, but when these kinds of things happen, that bridge gets even further.

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah.

Corey Allan:
And so you're recognizing, "Okay, stress and just the natural cortisol that comes from that in your brain will dampen everything."

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. It's really challenging. So my basic belief that I always come back to is that we each get to make decisions about our own sex life, whatever feels good for us. So there very well may be some people out there who are saying, "You know what, I just need my sex life to go on the back burner right now." That's perfectly okay. We get to decide what those boundaries are. But in general, I do think that it is worth us putting a little bit of effort into maintaining intimacy with our partner because the reality is regardless if you were super excited about sex or not, for most of us, after we've had sex, we are really grateful that we have, right?

Corey Allan:
Sure.

Vanessa Marin:
We feel very connected to our partner. We feel relaxed. Our mood is usually better. We feel more intimate. Sex just has so many incredible benefits. Not to mention, even health benefits. It can boost our immunity. It can decrease pain, get rid of headaches and cramps. It does all kinds of crazy stuff. But because it can be just feel so good for us afterwards, I do think it's worth making a little effort to try to connect even if you're not feeling interested.

Corey Allan:
And here's here's the one question that comes to mind with this train of thought, Vanessa is because I can almost hear that what we're describing with this is pleasurable sex for both sides. Not just one sided.

Vanessa Marin:
Exactly.

Corey Allan:
Because there can be a component of if it's lousy sex, then you're just further exacerbating an issue that's already there to where if she in this example were discussing is not orgasmic in it because there's no time spent going towards that or she's not after that. There's all kinds of factors, things could come up into the play in that. But what we're describing of getting the benefits because there is an element of orgasm that releases a lot of these chemicals. Things you're describing. The dopamines, the oxytocin, the serotonin. All of those things they're like-

Vanessa Marin:
All of the good stuff.

Corey Allan:
THat's just a little cocktail in your brain that just helps boost everything. Okay. So that's at least worth noting that that means you might have to as you put it, put a little more intention, a little more effort into making sure that's part of the dynamic during this season of what's going on.

Vanessa Marin:
Definitely. And I think it's also important to normalize here too that sex always takes effort. So we definitely have this big knit.

Corey Allan:
That is true. That is true.

Vanessa Marin:
Sex should be spontaneous and it just happens and it's natural. The reality is crisis or no crisis that it doesn't happen that way. It does require us to be really active and to make that effort. So maybe that helps make people feel a little bit better recognizing we're up against some different kind of challenges than before but it's the same sort of approach that we want to keep taking that you recognize that sex is something that we work on not something that we just rely on to work.

Corey Allan:
Okay. Perfect. And so if you're recognizing, because the other thing you mentioned right at the beginning of this little conversation was there are some people that would be like, "You know what, I think I just need to put this on the back burner because it's just I've got too much else or it's really weighing me." In my opinion, there's merit to be honest about that so at least you're not leaving your partner out there in limbo wondering, "What's going on?" Because how often do we fall victim to married life where we read our partner and then we add in all these other messages and meanings and all this stuff which not that they don't exist, but we've exacerbated it even more when if they would just come at me with this is where I really am at this moment.

Vanessa Marin:
Exactly.

Corey Allan:
At least I can get a little bit of a level set of what we do going forward.

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. It has to be a conversation. It's not just you deciding, "I'm not going to have sex while this is going on." You have to talk to your partner about that to make sure they know.

Corey Allan:
Fair point. Fair point. So when stress is one of the major things that does squash desire, what are some of the things that particularly the person that would be in the lower desire component of the relationship anyway, what are some things they can do.

Vanessa Marin:
Yes, great question. So one thing that I am talking about a lot right now with the couples that I'm working with is scheduling sex. So I'm a really big fan of scheduling sex for a lot of different reasons totally outside the crisis as well, but I think that it can work particularly well right now. So the idea here is that you and your partner are going to pick specific days and times that you're going to carve out for intimacy. Now, I think a lot of people and I will be honest. I used to hate the idea of scheduled sex too. I thought it sounded terrible, super clinical and boring. But I've played around with a lot of different ways of doing it so that it can actually feel a lot more fun and exciting.

Corey Allan:
Okay.

Vanessa Marin:
And I think one problem that a lot of couples think of is they hear scheduled sex and they think it needs to mean that they're having intercourse. But what I think especially now is let's get a lot more creative about what sex can mean. So you're not scheduling intercourse, you're just scheduling that you and your partner are going to spend time alone together involved in some form of touch. I think we need to lower the bar way down right now is just touch.

Corey Allan:
Perfect.

Vanessa Marin:
So that could be the two of you, you're just going to lay in bed naked together and hold each other. Maybe it could be that you're going to have a make-out session. Maybe it could be that one partner is going to masturbate and the other partner will just kiss them or something like that. We can have lots of different options that we choose from, so that way it doesn't put all this pressure on our shoulders, "I have to do it even if I'm not in the mood." It's like, "Oh, I have all these different options or I could choose from." And even if I'm not feeling sexy at all, the idea of cuddling with my partner, how bad could that be, right?

Corey Allan:
I hope that that's a good answer in the positive. Because there is a component, the same kind of stuff that we were alluding to that comes along with orgasms is also some of the same... You can get some of the same boost from touch that there's an element of dopamine.

Vanessa Marin:
And oxytocin.

Corey Allan:
And oxytocin that's released from good touch because I'm even thinking of it of when you do have times together, if you're watching a show that you carve out the time when it's not office hours or hey, heaven forbid, steal time during office hours to sneak away together a little bit. That can make it a little more fun and novel possibly. But sit closer to each other. Don't have your chair his chair or my space on the couch and yours. Actually, get closer to each other and put a leg across the other lap or put a hand on their knee or an arm around them or hold hands that all of those things are still movement towards the positives that you can get as far as the results of this.

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think engaging with touch throughout the day can be really, really beneficial. When all the news first broke, my husband, Xander and I, we were both feeling scared and overwhelmed just like everyone else and then a few days went by and I was feeling really distant from him and I realized we haven't been even touching each other at all. We've just been so freaked out and retreating into our own little world. And so he asked me for a hug and we hugged each other. And I remembered, "Oh yeah."

Corey Allan:
There you are.

Vanessa Marin:
"I love hugging my husband. This feels good." So we decided, okay, we're going to do a lot more hugs, a lot more touch than we usually do because we just need that support from each other. You can have touch throughout the day. That also takes away a lot of pressure on a scheduled sex date because that's not then the only time that you're interacting with each other. You have more connection throughout the day.

Corey Allan:
Right. Because social distancing, we're not really encouraging it in the marriage.

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah, I know.

Corey Allan:
Obviously, if there's a sickness going on, you want to take the appropriate steps, but in normal cases, a lot of the stuff that's being talked about on the community-wide isn't necessarily family. And for sure not maritally. And so it's so fascinating how we as the human race can get off balance and man, we start just overreacting and panicking and just shutting down and almost closing off. And this it goes back to the idea of why there's probably not going to be the baby boom in my guess from what I'm reading is because this is the whole thing of if this unknown that adds that dampening stress whereas during the war, obviously, the baby boom was helped by the fact, all these different soldiers around the world are coming home and so there's this, "Hey, let's make for lost time. You're awesome."

Corey Allan:
All the different things that you've missed when you were gone. But then there's this other component that I just read that in London, in the middle of World War 2, they thought it would really hurt the community because they're being bombed regularly especially every night, but actually what it did is it made people more resilient and it increased the amount of frolic play going on among the population because there was that element of two prongs of like, "Hey, we don't know if we're going to survive the night. Let's make the most of it." And the other of we're hanging around each other and we're all in this together. That's an aphrodisiac.

Corey Allan:
But you add in this element of the unknown, the "Hey, if I sneeze near you, grandma might die" component, then obviously that's going to be a, "No, I'll just stay away from everybody."

Vanessa Marin:
It's really interesting how our physical space bubbles even have changed. I went on a walk the other day and I came back home and I was so conscious on the walk of making sure I'm really far apart from other people being very conscious and safe, and then I come back into my house and Xander comes and approaches me and I felt that sort of like, "Too close, too close. Back away." I had to take a second to remind myself he's fine. We're quarantined together. We can touch

Corey Allan:
It's really hard to have real intimate sex when you're keeping a six-foot distance from each other.

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. It'll be a little bit challenging.

Corey Allan:
That is a hurdle. All right. So what are some of the other things that could just really help people when it comes to the sexual component, the intimate component of their relationship? What are we leaving out?

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. So definitely play around with scheduling sex, play around with trying to lower that bar to connection. And the other thing that I like about scheduling sex is that it gives you something that you can create some anticipation around. Another thing that I always hear couples complain about is I just don't ever think about sex. And again it's because we're expecting it to happen spontaneously. But I really recommend that people make an active effort to think about sex.

Vanessa Marin:
So if you have that little calendar on the date, could you take a few minutes just to think about, "Okay, we've got a few days until it's coming up. What do I want to do during that time?" So it might feel kind of funny or unnatural at first to be making yourself think about sex. But it actually really does help. It just carves out that little bit of space for you to play around with it and think about it a bit. So that can really help taking some time to explore your own body as well.

Vanessa Marin:
That can really help you feel more connected to your body, to your sense of desire and just trying to have the lines of communication open with your partner as well. If you feel like you can at least talk about sex, it's just going to naturally feel like it's a bit more top of mind for the two of you.

Corey Allan:
Yeah. I like the idea because it's one of those things that gives us a sense of control that brings back maybe a little bit of a normalcy or empowerment to our lives. And this is the dilemma, because I can already hear people of SMR Nation hearing this as they're listening, responding with some sort of like, "Yeah, but we've got two ends of the dichotomy going on right now."

Corey Allan:
I've got this stress and this unknown, and this volatility, and this uncertainty that's going to do everything possibly to squash all of this. But yet, I've got this benefit of what it could be if I could get to the other side of this thing. So in some regards, the way I think of this, Vanessa, tell me where you are with this is that's a natural dynamic anyway. It's just been compounded. It's just more magnified because that goes right in line with this idea of the way I frame what you've been describing about is sex doesn't happen by accident.

Corey Allan:
We don't just stumble into it. That's only in movies that it seems like, "How did that go from there to there?" Because the script said that's what they were supposed to do. That's how. But it's recognizing, okay, if that's the case of what's going on, how could I be using my marriage in my sex life and my sexuality to my advantage more to actually get the benefits of what it could provide rather than, "Well, I'm just powerless in this whole thing so I guess I just hunker down until it all goes away"?

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. I mean, I think that there really is an incredible opportunity in front of us to learn some foundational relationship skills here. So yes, we're all feared, we're all overwhelmed. We don't know what's coming next. Yes, we're all having days where we would just rather curl into a ball and bury our head in the sand and not do anything. But I do think that there is this amazing opportunity to deepen intimacy, to strengthen our foundation to the point that's why I said, where it's not just about surviving. Our relationship surviving this is about, "Can we even thrive?"

Vanessa Marin:
With these sexual skills, yes, it's the exact same thing that's always been going on in relationships. It's just compounded and magnified right now. So if your sex life before this crisis was really suffering because you were expecting that you were just supposed to feel desire out of nowhere and you were supposed to magically be the time-space privacy, energy, desire from both partners from this like for sex out of nowhere. Now, here's this opportunity to learn, "Hey, that's actually not how it works.

Vanessa Marin:
We do have to put effort into creating the sex life that's going to feel pleasurable and intimate and connecting for both of us." So how do we do that? And taking some of these skills and putting them to use. And then once this has passed, what an incredible foundation you could have for moving forward with your sex life from there.

Corey Allan:
Absolutely, because this is about also just taking charge of what's going on in your surroundings that you can be responsible for in a different way. Because I can almost hear the power and the importance of the stuff that's coming in to you as far as the media, the information, the noise, whatever it might be. It could easily be in the dampening category. Because I want to know more and I want to keep up with it. But if I've got a schedule tonight of, "Ooh, I need to be in a little bit better a headspace today," well, then do some proactive things to get yourself there more than just five or 10 or 30 minutes ahead of time.

Corey Allan:
Limit the information and do some things that are really edifying and uplifting. This is one of the things that's been fascinating for Pam and I is just a couple of days ago, we were kind of at odds in this little tension time and we've found the benefit of a walk that will help us talk it out. And almost have sometimes the strategy of we walk as far as it takes us to start feeling a little less tension and then we could turn around and start heading back towards home.

Corey Allan:
And so sometimes it could be a really long walk because we've been married a long time and that stuff happens. But that night, we were just trying to fill some time and I was like, "Hey, let's play a card game and I threw out one that she constantly beats me at." She's like, "Yeah. I'm really not feeling that one." I'm like, "Well, what if we did this game?" And it was another card game that we did as newlyweds and for years we played this at the beginning of our marriage and it's actually a bit... We played it. We taught our kids last night and played as a family.

Corey Allan:
It's been one of those things that's like, "Oh, that's been such a different little pressure release and bond that it's just us sitting on a floor playing a card game that has a lot of good memories and nostalgia built into it. But it's such an amazing boost that something just like that can provide and it just allows us to use the resources and the skills we've already got."

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. Super sweet. I mean, I think for me the word that just keeps coming up over and over again is creativity. Can we try just playing around with things a little bit, trying new things, trying to come up with creative solutions to stuff. If we can approach these challenges with that creativity, with an open mind, there's actually a lot of joy that we can experience right now even with all the chaos.

Corey Allan:
Totally. So Vanessa, tell the people in SMR Nation that are hearing you for the first time because they missed the episode seven weeks ago, and even if they didn't and they heard you and they want to know more plus something that you've got that just came out, they can help in this time, tell people how they can find all of that.

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah. So you can find me over at vmtherapy.com. It's my initials vmtherapy.com. And actually if you go to vmtherapy.com/check-in. It's just one word, check-in, we have put together this free guide for couples that we're calling with simple daily check-in that every couple must be doing right now. So it's a five question super simple straightforward check-in that you can do with your partner every day. It just takes a couple of minutes and it is definitely going to help decrease your stress, increase your connection and build intimacy. So Xander and I have been doing it every single day and just really, really, enjoying it, and I know that it can absolutely help. So I'm excited to offer that for free to everyone.

Corey Allan:
That's fantastic. And all that information on where you could find that. I'll put it in the show notes. So if you're listening to this, don't try to write that down while you're driving. Safety first.

Vanessa Marin:
Yeah, please don't.

Corey Allan:
Vanessa, thanks so much again for coming back on and helping just give some real practical information that I think everybody's facing and if the more I think we can have times where we can collaborate and help other people see it as, "You know what, hold on. There's a lot of benefit you can do. There's a lot of different things that you got at your fingertips," pun intended. They can help you out and so thank you so much for the work that you're doing and the help that you are in times like this.

Vanessa Marin:
Thank you so much for having me back on. It's really been a joy and I appreciate you providing this platform and being able to connect with your listeners.

Corey Allan:
Absolutely. We'll catch you again soon.

Vanessa Marin:
All right. Take care.

Corey Allan:
So what jumps out to me, Pam is how they're such across-the-board on how people react to things that are so beyond our control.

Pam Allan:
Yeah.

Corey Allan:
That for some people life is pretty much what it was and is, and they're just trying to act like or live life like it is and has been.

Pam Allan:
That's how they cope.

Corey Allan:
For some, it's a, "Let's be stoic about it and it's not going to impact me." But deep down it could be really impacting you and you're not just even aware of it. And some they're in panic mode. It is one of those things that's recognizing man. Humans, we have a lot of different things that happen and how we want to respond to things. I don't know if there's a right in this as humans, right?

Pam Allan:
Sure.

Corey Allan:
If you look at the complexities of who we are as people. A lot of times it's not necessarily, "This is the right way," as a psychological way to address things or the emotional way to address things.

Pam Allan:
Yeah. I don't know is there a right or wrong way to react because you might be inflaming a situation.

Corey Allan:
I think there's wrongs.

Pam Allan:
Gotcha.

Corey Allan:
But I don't know if there's a hard and fast right way. Because that's the same thing we talked about here in marriage and the whole journey is if anybody could come up with the roadmap and the actual, "Here is the code to have a great marriage," trillionaire right there waiting to happen.

Pam Allan:
Sure.

Corey Allan:
But there's not right as far as universally one-way. So I mean for us, and for a lot of the SMR nation, the right is knowing there's still a God in place and salvation is still there through his son. And that provides hope and clarity. But when we get into the human existence side of this, it is a whole different realm of how people try to deal with it. And so what we're hoping with SMR is that you see you're not alone in a lot of these and then the other thing is how do you just start to see it as, "Okay, wait. What really does matter? What's the important stuff in my life? And how do I carve out some time to make sure I'm doing that and dealing with that, and addressing that, and being a part of that?" Because your marriage can be an ally in this, so can your sex life, because there's some tremendous properties and bonds that come from it.

Corey Allan:
So our hope is find your way back to it if it's been dormant for a while or enhance it, if it's already going pretty well. So this has been Sexy Marriage Radio. Wherever you are, whatever you've been doing, thanks for taking some time out of your day to spend it with us. If we left something undone, let us know, 214-702-9565 or feedback at sexymarriageradio.com. See you next time.

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