On the Regular version of today’s show …
An email from a listener who wishes we would have addressed the “you complete me” line differently in episode #431.
A caller wanting information about Sensate Focus exercises for their sex life.
And an email from a wife whose husband found a vibrator she bought and completely destroyed it.
On the Xtended version …
A conversation that took place with the SMR Academy about the idea of one spouse feeling like “I’m never enough” for you.
Enjoy the show!
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Xtended Version – Sensate Focus #438
Transcript of Episode
Corey Allan: Welcome back to another episode of Sexy Marriage Radio where we’re having straightforward, honest conversations about married life and all that goes on within it. That it’s about sex, but it’s about life, it’s about desire, it’s about love, it’s about romance. And it’s about how the times when the bubble gets burst and you realize there’s something going on different than I thought was going to happen. We want to cover it all here at Sexy Marriage Radio. And one of the ways we know where we’re heading with each episode is from you, the Sexy Marriage Radio nation. When you speak up, call in, email. Then you can leave us a voicemail at (214) 702-9565 is the way. We love to hear your voice and add it to the show. You can also send us an email at email@example.com and everything that comes through into our inbox is read. Some of it is replied to offline, some of it becomes episodes, some of it becomes topics that will eventually be covered.
Corey Allan: But for the eight years of Sexy Marriage Radio now it has really been listener driven. So Sexy Marriage Radio nation plays a vital role and help them create what this is. And so joining me again, as always is my wife Pam.
Pam Allan: Hey, good to be here.
Corey Allan: And where we are heading today, we’ve got several emails that have been, and messages, that have just been in the queue that we need to [crosstalk 00:01:51].
Pam Allan: Good. Excited to hear that.
Corey Allan: But also I need to say just a quick little housekeeping if you will, and almost a pseudo celebration, if you will. Yeah. At least letting everybody in the Sexy Marriage Radio nation know that two weeks ago we celebrated eight years. And that following weekend, so just a little bit over a week and a half ago, we topped 7 million total downloads as a show.
Corey Allan: Which that’s an unbelievable thing that here we are doing this in our living room and it spreads far and wide and it’s because of the listeners that it has become what it is today. So thank you so much the Sexy Marriage Radio nation.
Pam Allan: A lot of sexy people out there.
Corey Allan: So literally there are, and we are so glad that you spend time each and every week to spend it with us. We also ask, because of this, we want to help spread the word. So jump on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, however you choose to listen rate and review the show. Leave a comment that helps spread the word that Sexy Marriage Radio is a valuable source for quality information.
Corey Allan: So coming up on today’s regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio, like I mentioned just a minute ago, several of your questions and our answers. And on the extended version of Sexy Marriage Radio, which is deeper, longer, and there’s no ads, you can subscribe at smrnation.com. We’re going to dive into the idea of when one spouse says to another regarding whatever their wants or desires are. “Yeah, I’m just not ever enough for you. It’s just never enough.”
Corey Allan: And so we posed this question to the Sexy Marriage Radio Academy on a live Q and a call that took place this week. And got some input from them as well as our thoughts on the subject as well. So.
Pam Allan: Yeah. There was some great conversation [crosstalk 00:03:45].
Corey Allan: Some great conversation. And it’s a chance to hear how that whole thing unfolded, is what the extended content will be. And on that note, if you’re not a member of the Sexy Marriage Radio Academy, check it out. There’s been a vibrant conversation going on the last couple of weeks based on the topics we’ve been covering. And on last week’s show with Dr Jennifer Finlayson Fife. So you’re missing out if you want a little bit more in depth, the Academy is the way you find that. And that’s at smrnation.com/smracademy. So all that’s coming up on today’s show.
Corey Allan: So to start us off today, Pam, there’s an email that came in regarding the show that we did with Jeff Abraham who was the CEO of Promescent. It’s episode 431, The Challenges of Intimacy. And in that dialogue that we had with him, it spurred a comment from a listener that takes an issue, I guess, with the way something was posed. And then how I reacted to it.
Corey Allan: So the email goes, “Your guest, Jeff Abraham, made a comment about the line in the movie ‘you complete me’, which is from Jerry Maguire. I was surprised that you did not call him out on that. You may be a whole person when you’re single, but when you get married, you’re now a whole new person. God no longer sees two people, only one. From Genesis, ‘Than the two shall become one.’ You can no longer make independent decisions in God’s eyes. Every decision after that as a couple’s decision, whether it’s about money, time, or sex, it’s a joint decision. You’re no longer capable of making independent decisions.
Corey Allan: Every decision affects the other person in some way. You skim around this all the time. You reference high desire and low desire, independent values. There’s really only one and that is the desire level that we together agree upon. You say this all the time. If you’re going to agree to have sex, then you need to be fully present. You need to be one in the act. If only one decides not to, then there are sinning against their other body because there is no agreement.
Corey Allan: The flip side is that this is also as sin. One person does not get to decide that they can have sex anytime they ask, that’s also a sin against the body. It’s a mutual agreement that is fair to both. You also talk about boundaries which Paul talks about in Romans. One person may view something as sinful or distasteful and you should not force them to sin. It may not be a sin to you and I believe that God designed each person with their own unique moral compass. Outside of the 10 commandments, each person has to decide what is right for them and live by that, but not force or coerce someone to go against their nature. You should not cause another person to sin. Thank you for the show.”
Corey Allan: So, there is a big disagreement in this with what he’s proposing and what was not addressed. As far as he’s seeing or hearing on the show with Jeff. That, “You complete me”, I should have been upfront about it I guess is what he’s asking. On why did I not call that to task? Because the two shall become one. So there’s now not two independent people. There’s just one.
Pam Allan: So what’s your thought on that?
Corey Allan: I wholeheartedly disagree with the whole concept of the two shall become one, meaning we no longer exist as individuals.
Pam Allan: Right. There’s no independent decision, I can’t have my own decision.
Corey Allan: Yeah, I cannot buy into that. I see it as the idea of the two shall become one. Just to take the verse out from Genesis. This is, to me, a spiritual concept where we are one in spirit, but not one in body. Except for, and I think this is alluding toward the idea of the oneness that sex can create. Because male, female sex is actually a connecting of the bodies. And also it’s talking about the idea of the two shall create one, as in children. I think that can be added into this equation.
Corey Allan: But I fully believe that according to the way I see scriptures and the way I try to live my life and our life. Pam is a separate entity that is in charge of herself in and of itself, especially when it comes to her walk with God and Christ. If I stumble and she’s still strong, I don’t bring her down in God’s eyes. If I reject the faith and leave, I don’t bring her down in God’s eyes. I change the spiritual dynamic of our relationship. Absolutely. But I see that this concept of the two shall become one gets misused way too much in the Christian faith. As leverage for, we need to come to an agreement on this, we need to be in sync, we need to be in lockstep, we need to see eye to eye on that. And I just don’t believe that happens on human level terms.
Pam Allan: We talk about how many topics there are that there’s this gridlock. You don’t come to an agreement. And that’s half of the episodes that people email about saying, “Well, we’re just at different levels. We can’t come to an agreement.” How do you reconcile that with this interpretation of becoming one, you would get nowhere. You would make no decisions. And that’s hard.
Corey Allan: Right. And I’ll agree in theory that his idea of higher desire, lower desire, independent values and there should really only be one that we agree upon. Absolutely. That’s a goal, but I don’t think that makes it go away of that difference, that one of you is higher than the other. One of you’s lower than the other and there will be conflict and tension that happens in between it. And then when he gets into the idea of sitting against the body. If you force someone to be involved in something, yes you’re in an area where you’re wrong. But the pressure of wanting to do something with someone else makes it to where if you have two independent people, it becomes choice. Which ultimately I think every human being wants to be chosen, wants to have free will. And whatever I’m doing in the sexual realm with someone, I want them to choose to do that with me, not just placate me or be obligatory.
Pam Allan: Right. Be forced to do it.
Corey Allan: Right. And so you want someone that is freely choosing to be a part of it. And if I don’t have a self, I can’t freely choose. So there is this element of, I think we take scriptures and we try to make them work in areas where maybe they just don’t work, they’re not intended. And so we need to pull back at times to go more. Okay, what’s the context in which that’s written? How do I keep it within that context and maybe extrapolate the ideas out of it? Or the principles out of it? But there’s nothing in scripture that says, here’s how you do marriage. Other than there’s one that Paul talks about, if you choose to get married, there will be trouble. But all the others gives you principles. It doesn’t tell you the how tos, right?
Pam Allan: Principles of submitting and respecting.
Corey Allan: Right. But I think that’s also principles of society, of submitting and respecting. When you’re talking about rulers and authorities and bosses and parents and children. And all across the hierarchy of the way this whole thing is set up, that everything is a submission of something. And ultimately the goal is we each are in submission to God. And maybe that then challenges us to be better in how we treat and submit and respect others.
Nicole: Hey, Corey and Pam, it’s Nicole from SMR Academy. My questions today is about sensate focus. I might have said I don’t have much experience with it. We’ve tried and failed at it and was never actually seen a legit sex therapist. So if you could just provide more information on what exactly is sensate focus, and how you do it, that’d be great. My husband and I, we’ve been married for almost five years. We were sexually active before marriage and then my guilt got to me and so for three of the five years that we dated, we didn’t have any sex, no sexual touch. And I feel like that no touch mentality followed us into our marriage. My husband is still dealing with just getting used to the idea that he can actually touch me and be sexual with me now and we’ve been married five years.
Nicole: So yeah, we just want to get out of that rut really badly and have sex be more spontaneous and fun and just come more naturally. I’m thinking sensate focus may be able to help us and if you could just provide more information on what exactly it is and how we can do that, that’d be great. Because the times we’ve tried, we haven’t been able to fully get out of our heads and into our bodies. So, love the show. Thanks so much. Bye.
Corey Allan: Thank you for the call Nicole. Sensate focus is something from the 1960s that was created by Masters and Johnson who are some of the forerunners of sex therapy that actually were willing to dive into the arena that was not being covered, studied, researched, experimented with, et cetera. And they were ones that led that charge. And so sensate focus is a technique that a lot of sex therapists use to help couples address in some regards exactly what Nicole’s asking. The one caveat I would add to be aware of Nicole is sensate focus does not necessarily help create spontaneity. Sensate focus largely is designed to help with addressing the anxiety surrounding sex and sexuality and touch. Because we all can have elements of anything that we might do when it comes to a sexual arena can reach us to a point where we’re uncomfortable and the anxiety spikes. And that then leads to delayed ejaculation, premature ejaculation, an inability to orgasm, an inability to get aroused because you’re flooded.
Pam Allan: So sensate focus, does that mean sensation? Like it’s exercises on touching, spending time, caressing, is the technique along those lines?
Corey Allan: Right. So sensate focus is a behavioral technique. It’s behavioral exercises. Wherein a couple is given homework because this does not happen inside the therapist office. This is something the therapist walks them through, here’s what I want you to do. And then you have to set aside time to go do it. And then you come back to the next session and you talk about how it went. Here’s a couple of things I just found that are the easiest way to frame this. That there are several elements that are the foundation of sensate focus. It’s mutual responsibility between partners for addressing sexual needs and concerns. And the mutual responsibility is a huge component of that. That it’s both people being willing to do this. If one person is a very reluctant or really hesitant or even kicking and screaming wanting to do it, you’re not going to reap the same benefits.
Corey Allan: But if you’re both interested in this, you’ve got a higher rate of return of good good results. So then it’s information and education about function and sexual activity. That’s just the whole concept of how things are supposed to work, what should work, what’s wrong, what could get in the way. Because one of the first steps you do also is medical checkups just to make sure everything’s working. Because anytime you’re dealing with sex therapy, you got to look medically as well. A willingness to change and challenge your attitudes about sex. And this is the big one, getting rid of sexual performance anxiety because a lot of times where get into sex with an attachment to outcome. Where there’s a goal, it’s performance driven. And sensate focus is largely removing that attachment to an outcome because there’s really not an outcome you’re seeking other than the education of what you can learn by going through the process.
Pam Allan: Which sounds like, I’m reading something into this, so forgive me Nicole if I’m reading into it. But when she’s talking about her husband had trained his mind to see stay away. Right? And so it seems like there would be some anxiousness around that and potentially am I going to perform well if I’m feeling like I’ve had to stay away for so long and now I trained my brain that way. It’s not necessarily am I going to orgasm? But on the whole, am I just going to perform well for you?
Corey Allan: Right. And this is where sensate focus is it’s the mutual thing. Because a lot of times sensate focus, it’s built on the foundation of you take turns. One person takes time to touch the other while the other is just focusing on that touch and the sensations that it provides, the feelings associated with it. So this also last two points is it can help improve communication around sex and sexual techniques. Which, let’s say one of the best ways to do this is as you’re practicing sensate focus, talk about what’s going on.
Pam Allan: Get feedback about how that touch feels.
Corey Allan: I like that, I don’t like that. That’s really good. Harder, softer, lighter, whatever. Right? So that’s a great education for both of you. It can help reduce problem behaviors and roles and also, the homework is where it really lies, as far as the importance.
Corey Allan: So a lot of times when you’re talking about sensate focus, what it actually is, is you set aside time. Typically you’re talking 30 minutes to an hour where you equally divide the time where you start off at what helps you both relax and move into the situation. Often times it’s a hot shower, a bath, hot tub time, something that just helps you calm down, relax, walk into a good, warm, comfortable, inviting environment. Candles are lit, maybe some soft music’s playing and then it’s predetermined a lot of times. Sometimes it can be on the moment determine who goes first and that’s where they just get to lay and experience your touch. It’s not a massage, it’s a touch exercise. And a lot of times, when you’re first entering into this arena, genitalia is off limits. And we’ve talked about this before, it’s the following each other’s touch without the genitalia being involved.
Corey Allan: Where I love the idea of adding another layer to it where you put your hand on your spouse’s hand as they are initiating the touch to help your brain follow it. Same kind of concept, but it adds a little more of a connectedness. Sensate focus in and of itself is largely they touch you while you focus in on your body and what’s going on with you. Not so much what’s your partner is or isn’t doing. And that’s where some of the theory and differentiation in the Schnarch training I’ve got contradicts this process. Not necessarily contradicts it but isn’t as in favor of it. Because if you get to the true tenants of sensate focus, it largely is disconnected touch.
Pam Allan: Because I’m sitting there just focusing on the sensation and how it affects me.
Corey Allan: Yeah, I’m just going into my own body to the exclusion of you and vice versa. Because here’s also power in the idea of how do I touch you and just focus on the experience of what’s going on with me while I’m touching you? And so there’s nothing wrong with that. And my thinking’s changed on some of this over the years where I’m less against it. Because I can see a lot of value in the entry into now we can start bringing in more connected touch and some of those exercises. Because if I can’t even get in touch with my own body, as Nicole mentioned, then I’m missing a whole component of what marriage could be.
Pam Allan: Well and I think that’s what so many, and I’m going to say women here, I think that’s what so many women, I don’t know what I want. I don’t really know how I like touch. And so it seems like that could be a good avenue to figure that out.
Corey Allan: But there’s also an element of figuring this out with sensate focus. I can also do this solo. I can practice and experiment with different ways to touch self. And it’s not just sexually or masturbation. But there’s an element of just how do I get in touch with who I am as a person and then how do I deal with the anxiety that actually can happen when another person is involved in that. And that’s where we get off the rails. Because you could get to where you’re really experiencing your body well, but when someone else comes into the picture, as their anxiety, or their facial expressions, or their word, or their pleasure or…
Corey Allan: Because this is one of the things that we’ve seen in several of the emails over the years of Sexy Marriage Radio that a husband’s trying to last longer, but when he recognizes his wife is really into it, that’s too much anxiety. It’s too much to last any longer. Because she’s so turned on. It turns him on even all the more, yeah. Which is the reality of it. And so it’s figuring out this is a venture into it. And I give you credit for asking the question, Nicole, because this is one of those things that you absolutely venture into it. Try it out and then have conversations throughout and after and how did that go? Where were you? Where was I? Because then the whole goal to me is how do I still steer this to where it’s each of us being involved in our own lives and each others in those moments. So that I recognize not only how this all feels, but who I’m with too.
Corey Allan: All right, so an email also came in in the past couple of months, Pam, from a wife. It just says, “Hello. I was wondering if you had an episode on toys in marriage, like the do’s and the don’ts. If not, I have some questions. I recently bought a vibrator, or a dildo, for lack of a better word, and my husband saw it and flipped out. Smashed it out with a hammer, cut it with a knife and threw it away. Flipped out. I hadn’t even taken it out of the box and had had it for three weeks. He said it’s a stepping stone to cheating. I never have, nor will I ever cheat on him. His mom cheated on his dad, so there’s a history there, but that’s not me.
Corey Allan: We’ve played with other toys in the bedroom, like an anal plug or a bullet. So I don’t understand this reaction. Like I said, it hadn’t even been opened. I bought it for the times when I want it, but he’s too tired. Thank you. PS, we’ve been married nine years, engaged for two before that date and on and off through high school, so we’ve basically been together for 14 years.
Corey Allan: Okay, so on the subject of, do we have any episodes on toys? Yes, we’ve got three or four through the history in the archives. Starting all the way back in episode 30, and 132. But the more pointed ones that are worth checking out would be episode 366 which is the idea of toys, erotica and fantasies. And then the other one that I think is most applicable is episode 344 which is when sex toys feel like a threat. And that’s one that is worth exploring because this sounds like that can be an element of what’s going on. Because if you’re talking about a vibrator/dildo that is the representative of the penis, there is this element in some men for sure that that is threatening. Because if you use that, what do you need me for? Right? Because the other things that they’ve tried, those are a little more specific in what they do. Right?
Pam Allan: Yeah. I’m curious if she told him she was buying it or if he just stumbled upon it and that reaction didn’t go well. Right? If he didn’t know it was there, that’d be like me stumbling upon a Playboy or something. I’m like, what the heck? Really? So sometimes how it’s introduced, I’m sure the two of them know the details, but…
Corey Allan: So in essence, you’re describing Pam, that it’s not necessarily the item itself, it’s the discovery of it that was the issue. Rather than had she brought that forward and say, “Hey, I’m going to do this because this is, because sometimes you’re tired and I’m interested and this is a means that I can experience a little more pleasure.”
Pam Allan: It’s an assumption. I don’t know.
Corey Allan: I don’t think you’re off based with that.
Pam Allan: She didn’t say. But if I stumble across something and didn’t know that you were even thinking about it, I might be thrown off and think, “Oh, what the heck, why wasn’t this a part of our conversation?”
Corey Allan: Right, so recovering from that is harder.
Pam Allan: Yeah. Potentially. So, maybe there’s a thought process there that…
Corey Allan: There’s definite truth to that, that having something disclosed to you even when it hurts or is threatening or you’re unsure, is far better than discovering something. Yeah. Because then you get into this. Because that’s where she’s onto it, even to the degree of, it’s the stepping stone to cheating and she’s like, that’s not us, but that’s his history. That’s what been exposed to.
Pam Allan: Yes. Kudos to her for recognizing, okay, there’s something he experienced in his past and it’s very hurtful. And [crosstalk 00:26:53]
Corey Allan: And so this is an element of, I was going behind his back in a way. And while she could see it as, it’s not a threatening thing, I don’t see anything wrong with it. There’s nothing moral that I’m doing that’s on a front to him. Which is one of those differences of I can see something on a different scale than my spouse is going to, and it doesn’t necessarily mean I have to come down to their way of doing it. That’s what we’re going to talk about in the extended show of the moves that we make. Trying to get more comfort in the stability of my relationship, rather than recognizing I got to do it for myself too on look at my role in this.
Corey Allan: So there is an element of how do you just recognize that if this is something you’re interested in exploring, then bring it forward in the conversations. To at least keep him involved in the conversation about, here’s my rationale, here’s what I’m planning, and I’ll even go so far as to let you know when it’s used or you’re willing to be a part or, there’s a lot of different ways you can still head down that road without forcing it. But at least be more open about this is what I’m looking for and this is why.
Pam Allan: Yeah, and it’s worth a… How would you recommend if a couple comes into your office and that’s his reaction, pounding it with a hammer and totally demolished in this thing, right? That’s a statement as well. How do you respond?
Corey Allan: Yes. The first question, if they’re both in front of me, is asking him, what’s the meaning of that item to you? Because it’s likely not because it’s a vibrator. It’s something else. It means something else and that’s what he’s even alluded to it. It’s a stepping stone to cheating. In some regards, it’s an overreaction because this goes into that myth we have, that happens in marriage a lot, that if I’m not involved sexually than my spouse is going to go find it elsewhere. Well, that’s looking at your spouse in a pretty low regard. That they have no moral structure. They have no character. They have no integrity. That ultimately, yes, that could happen, but you could be the most sexually involved person in the world and a spouse could still go elsewhere.
Corey Allan: Right. So I cannot control another person no matter how magical my genitalia may or may not be. Does not mean they’re going to stay involved with me. It’s their personal choice. Right? So, it’s being able to see it as what is the meaning underneath that and she’s already onto it. Okay, there’s a bigger picture that we’re talking about here. So how do I at least acknowledge that dynamic, not have to live accordingly to it all the time, because that’s tiering to the lowest common denominator. But I got to at least acknowledge where they are. And bring it forward and then make my next step. Because maybe it’s not a toy that’s more like the dildo in the phallicness of it. Maybe there’s a toy that’s like the bullet, that can still get the same job done. Maybe there are some other things that provide the pleasure and the release that you’re looking for when he’s not interested, that he’s also on board with too.
Corey Allan: And maybe there’s a route that hasn’t been explored just because you need to both come at it from a less reactive stance and a more, here’s where I am, here’s what I’m looking for. What do you think? And then we see where we go next. Well it’s been a while since you and I have done a full show it seems.
Pam Allan: It has been. We’ve had a lot of guests and…
Corey Allan: The end of second busy tax, busy season.
Pam Allan: End of tax season, I appreciate you being flexible with me.
Corey Allan: So it’s fun to have you back on the air, babe.
Pam Allan: Yeah, it’s really nice to be here.
Corey Allan: I’ve missed doing this with you. Well has been Sexy Marriage Radio. If there’s something that we left undone or you didn’t like the way we took it, we want to know. Because I hope over the years, at Sexy Marriage Radio, we’ve at least proven we will handle and want the push back. There’s a lot that we can learn from each other. And so Sexy Marriage Radio plays a huge role in that. So thank you very much for showing up each and every week to spend it with us. So wherever you are, whatever you’ve been doing, I hope that this week is a fabulous one for you. See you next time.