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On the Regular version of today’s show …
I’m joined by Irene Fehr and we have a conversation about the three types of sex she believe all couples experience in marriage.
To learn more about Irene visit her site – https://www.irenefehr.com/
On the Xtended version …
Irene and I continue the conversation and move into the specifics of how you can create better connection in sex.
Enjoy the show!
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Pam Allan: You are listening to the regular version of Sexy Marriage Radio, smrnation.com. You've turned on Sexy Marriage Radio, where the best sex happens in the marriage bed. Here's your host, Dr. Corey Allan.
Corey Allan: In case you missed it, my.smrnation.com was launched last week, and the reviews are in.
Pam Allan: All the reviews? All of them are in?
Corey Allan: Every single one of them. I'm basing the reviews on the fact that the activity that's taking place, the interaction that's happening, the connections that are being made, the messages that are being sent, all point towards it's a hit.
Pam Allan: I love it. I like it.
Corey Allan: There's a lot of people jumping in there right away. Members that are part of the nation that they just listen, and that's where we're making the call out to you. If you listen to SMR or you're part of the nation, so head to my.smrnation.com, join for free. We'll let you in, and there's access to some topical conversations that are happening, announcements of events that are coming. But then also if you're a member of the academy or a mastermind group or some of the courses that'll be coming, there's a lot of information there and there'll be more coming out each and every week. So come join us.
Pam Allan: Yeah. I'm excited for how that's going to expand and grow.
Corey Allan: It's been so much fun to have conversations because I've been hanging out there.
Pam Allan: You have been.
Corey Allan: A lot.
Pam Allan: "Hey Pam," every day. "Hey, guess what just happened."
Corey Allan: Well, this is Sexy Marriage Radio. We're so glad that you take some time out of your week each and every week to spend it with us. We want your help, and the way you can do that is you can join my.smrnation.com and jump into any of the conversations about the episodes, ask questions, continue the conversations from things that we cover. You can also call us. (214) 702-9565 is the way you can get at the front of the line with any questions, topics you want us to cover or feedback at sexymarriageradio.com. Because what we want is this is listener driven radio, so you help steer the ship and figure out where we're heading.
Pam Allan: Yeah. Tell us what you want to talk about or questions you have or scenarios that are going on in your relationship.
Corey Allan: Yep. You also help us spread the word by rate and review, leave a comment. If you're a part of my.smrnation.com, you can invite some people. There's a little way, real simple. Send an invitation, spread the word to the people you know to come join us.
Pam Allan: Nice.
Corey Allan: Speaking of other things that are coming up and are going on, registration's open right now for the Sexy Marriage Radio getaway.
Pam Allan: Yeah. We're looking forward to that.
Corey Allan: June 17th through the 20th, and it's worth noting through April 15th is the early bird rate. It'll go up after that. My hunches will be full before that because with what's been going on and the pandemic and everything, we're not going for the normal-sized crowd that we've had. There's limited space. If you were planning to come and you're on the fence trying to figure out, "Huh, maybe," come join us. Go to smrnation.com/getaway, and that gets you all the information. It's how you can register. Save your spot, then you can call or register with the hotel to book your room. But come join us for four days of a fantastic time with Pam and I and a lot of other incredibly sexy couples. Hope to see you there.
Well, coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio is a conversation that I had with Irene Fehr, who is over the pond, I guess you would say, over in Europe and she has an interesting take on the different kinds of sex that couples have, right? So there are some that you start off right off the bat, then you usually may transition to the second one, but then where she's talking about, which I think is a fascinating way to frame this is getting to that third level is the real goal, right? Because if you stay in the first two levels, it will naturally wane if not fully die out.
Pam Allan: Which maybe where a lot of listeners feel like they're sitting crosstalk.
Corey Allan: There's a lot of times in married sex where I think we can hit that point where we're wondering, "What's going on?" Right? Her take, I think is a great way to help frame this discussion. It was a great dialogue that I got to have with her. Then coming up in today's extended version of Sexy Marriage Radio, which is deeper, longer and there are no ads, you can subscribe at smrnation.com/smracademy. I'm continuing the conversation with Ms. Fehr talking about what is the stuff that gets in our way from making it to that third level? What are some of the ways that we need to maybe look at this a little different to get beyond those first two and get to the deeper, more meaningful kinds of sex that she's framing?
Pam Allan: Now, it's kind of the solutions to get there. Yeah.
Corey Allan: All that's coming up on today's show. So joining me today on Sexy Marriage Radio is Irene Fehr. I mean, how would you describe...? I mean, you're a sex therapist, coach, you've got a presence online, you've got some videos out there. I mean, it's like you reside in the world of sex and trying to help people be better and deal with all that that surrounds. But I mean, is that kind of accurate on how to capture you the cleanest thus far?
Irene Fehr: Yes, very much so. I'm a sex and intimacy coach. Yes. Working primarily with couples and women and helping with the sex piece, but also creating the infrastructure that makes sex spontaneous and passionate. So very much a holistic approach.
Corey Allan: Perfect and that's very, very well needed in our world. Just more and more that it seems like, especially with the pandemic that's going on still around the world, for sure here in the states that it seems like it's just add this layers of oppression and struggle and structure and this weight and I think it's really playing out a lot in people's sex lives and intimacy lives.
Irene Fehr: For many, I think the pandemic created a call to action because everything that hasn't been working in their relationship was highlighted by the fact that they're now with each other 24/7, they can't make excuses like, "I have to travel or I have to work," excuses for working on their relationships. Yeah, in a way it added urgency and motivation for couples especially to work on relationships. Then for some, of course it added urgency to split up as well because they saw that's not working for them.
Corey Allan: Yeah. It uncovered a lot of those things that are just there, right? It seems like if we can keep the noise and the busy and the distraction, then we don't really have to deal with the there. But once that goes away, you come face to face with life in a different way.
Irene Fehr: Absolutely.
Corey Allan: So here's where I want to go with you, Irene. You had a framework on a video that I saw that was just an in-depth talk about the whole idea of the different kinds of sex. You've categorized it into three different types of sex and I'd love to just walk through that and unpack it because I think it captures an idea that I think the audience will likely be a little surprised thinking, "Maybe I'm further along in these categories than I thought, and lo and behold, maybe I'm not." So explain that and then let's unpack each one.
Irene Fehr: Great. I'd love to do that. First I want to frame this around the big idea behind separating sex into these three types. The big idea is that the sex that we have in the beginning of the relationship and the things that make up that sex is not what's going to help us sustain sex longterm. And that at some point, there are specific two types of sex that naturally die out in the relationship. It's really important to understand that sex will naturally die for most couples, and it's a good thing because it's the starting point, the birthing of this new type that's sustainable, that works for couples in a long-term relationship specifically. When I started working with couples, I started to see these patterns and I experienced this myself in my own marriage, where in the beginning of the relationship, there's this excitement and heat and the libido between men and women looks the same.
Both are excited to have sex. They can't keep their hands off each other. But then there's a shift that happens over time, sometimes over a couple of months, sometimes over a couple of years where there's less passion, there's more responsibilities, there's less connection, there's more resentment, and I call this inaudible the drift. The drift happens towards passion basically dying out altogether and couples doing it, just going through the motions. So the three types of sex explain what happens to couples, and I'm going to go through the timeline. There's a general timeline of relationships to separate these types. People will see themselves in each stage and then identify the motivators for sex and also the killers so that they end up not recreating the same problems.
Corey Allan: Okay, perfect.
Irene Fehr: In the beginning, when a couple gets together, they are excited. There's newness. There's a sexual attraction. There is attention from each other. So at this stage, passion happens naturally. The type of sex that comes out of this stage is what I call friction sex. Literally, it's all about the physicality of it. Wanting to have that physical contact, can't keep your hands off each other. This is very passionate and very exciting and like I said, libido here looks very similar in men and women. Both want it.
Corey Allan: You could also, I'm guessing, add in the component of it's existence in both of them too, because it does seem like part of the passion you're describing that will naturally wane is the way we perceive our own libido because can't we amp that up? We've got the biological of the endorphins and the chemicals that are going on and the pheromones that can be going on, and then we can amp that up by the way we're viewing it, and then when it starts fading, we can diminish it even more by the way we view it like, "Something's going wrong." So I love the way you're framing it as, "That's a natural thing that's going to happen."
Irene Fehr: Exactly. It's a natural thing and we have to recognize that. We can enjoy it when it's there and understand it has a limited shelf life, but it's going away naturally. But without understanding this, what happens is that couples will naturally see these diminishing returns in their passion and they'll panic. They'll start wondering is it them? "Is it me? Is it you? Is it us? Is it our relationship? Maybe we're not attracted to each other. Maybe this is not the right match." That even exacerbates the dwindling of passion in that stage. But there's a couple of other things too that naturally lead to the death of friction sex in a relationship. So friction sex, because of the excitement and the passion is what I call good weather sex. It happens when everything falls into place, everything is great, you're in the mood, no one does anything weird that sets the mood off, no one says anything that's too heavy. So everything has to go pretty, pretty perfect.
Corey Allan: Right. It's just like a casual thing that it just naturally will unfold.
Irene Fehr: Exactly. But what happens is that when it has to be so perfect, people end up not speaking up around their needs and wants. So they start to hold back, which dampens the passion because they're not really fully there and they have a wall up and the emotional connection doesn't have a chance to develop if the walls are up, if people are not really sharing what they need. This is especially true for women at this stage. Women won't say what they really need because just, "Oh, the passion is so great. I don't want to ruin the mood. I don't want to scare the man." But then what happens also is that the sex gets repetitive.
You're just doing the same thing over and over because well, it was exciting, the first time and the second time and the third time, but by the 15th time, even 5th time, it starts getting repetitive. Here again, couples start to freak out and worry about their relationship because the passion is going away. We're doing the same thing and we're getting diminishing returns. With each time, there's just less passion, less excitement, doing the same thing over and over. The key here to acknowledge is that in friction sex, because it's about the excitement and the passion, there's little room for talking about your needs. It's too vulnerable. It's too much like it exposes you.
Corey Allan: That also seems to be the same kind of thing you touched on earlier, where it's like we've got this freedom and this flow going, and if I speak and make it too vulnerable or too intimate, I will disrupt that. It'll be waves in our journey that I... Why would I want to rock the boat when it's already fairly smooth most of the time?
Irene Fehr: Exactly. In the beginning, the hormones that are raging are there to actually make sure that we hook up with a partner and mate and prolong our species. All the hormones in us are telling us, "Don't tell the truth. Don't say anything." inaudible. Keep going
Corey Allan: Just keep it going. Yeah. Just keep it going like it's going. We're good.
Irene Fehr: Exactly. But again, this is limiting because in the end we all have needs. We all have things that don't go as we want them that create disappointments. We all need emotional connections. Without those things, this kind of sex ends up being transactional. "Okay, well, let's go down this journey to orgasm. I get what I want, you get what you want. I rub your back, you rub mine." But then the passion is already gone once you're down inaudible. Couples will try to... They'll spend a lot of money on toys and try different positions and do all these things to add more excitement and pleasure, but these are just... They're not going to really do anything.
Corey Allan: They're little stop gaps in attempts to maybe recreate something that we can't really recreate in that relationship, is what you're describing?
Irene Fehr: Exactly. As friction sex is dying, it's important to just let it die because there's not going to be inaudible to resuscitate it except drugs and alcohol. Couples are able to maintain friction sex even for decades under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Certain couples that I've worked with, once they decide to have sex sober, they have a very hard time because it's a whole different landscape, meeting, communication and connection that isn't there inaudible. But let's say a couple is naturally progressing from just that initial stage of the relationship towards a deeper relationship and falling in love. Then they enter this new stage, the limerence stage, and they also enter a different kind of sex, which is what I call validation sex. What happens when people fall in love is of course, you are love struck and you see your person as the most beautiful, best person in the world. There's a lot of validation happening because when someone sees us like that, we feel important, we feel cared for, we feel like we're the best. We are this person's person. Like someone gets us and wants-
Corey Allan: We like the way that we look through their eyes and it just boosts us.
Irene Fehr: Exactly. And it feels so good.
Corey Allan: Yep.
Irene Fehr: Here, sex becomes about validation. It's wanting to give to the other person because it makes us feel good and they love us more for it. In validation sex, you can have a lot of passion. It can be sex that's love infused, that there's a lot of giving and generosity. It can feel like a warm blanket. It's the epitome of making love to each other. So it's a beautiful stage and very nourishing. Then there's merging. There is again, lots of connection. But the problem is that through every action, through every word, desire or request from our partners or to our partners, we're seeking validation. We're asking questions. "Do you love me? Do you desire me? Am I important to you? Do you care about me?"
Here's the thing. In the beginning, almost always the answer is going to be, "Yes, I want to have sex with you," which is, "I want to validate you." But as the relationship evolves, there's going to be times when we're pissed off at our partners, when we are tired, when we are not in the mood and with each no, with each rejection is going to send the signal, "I don't care about you. I don't want you. You're not important." It starts to be like this warm blanket, this validation, this love is taken away. Here couples will start to demand validation from the partners as opposed to wanting it.
Corey Allan: Now we're getting into some struggle area for sure because there's a major conflict that's about to happen.
Irene Fehr: Absolutely. This becomes then the battleground for attachment wounds. You'll have the pursuer, anxious type feeling like they're not getting the connection they need pursuing the other person who's likely to be the avoidant type who is running away. It creates this pattern with a lot of anxiety, with a lot of low self esteem. Then sex turns from an area of peace and connection to this place were couples are in a gridlock. Again, there's a lot of anxiety. There could be a lot of fighting. In this pattern of there's a pursuer and there's the avoidant or there's couples who would just resort to cuddling and being nice to each other and becoming roommates because this area is too anxiety inducing. Underneath all of this is a lack of security, both outer security in the relationship, but also inner security, feeling very insecure about themselves that starts this pattern.
Corey Allan: Right. To interrupt you just real quick, I know that... In Europe is where you're located. So I'm not sure if you're familiar with this phrase, but this came from an old cohost years and years ago, but here in the South and in the Midwest, the way you can describe this concept when it gets at its worst is it's two ticks with no dog.
Irene Fehr: I love it. Yes.
Corey Allan: Right? That you're needing something to get stuff from, but you got nothing to latch onto because you both are trying to just suck each other dry. I think we start to recognize this whole concept of, "Hold on. Now, what was once appealing and edifying, and I would love to give that to you, now I have this air of desperation, this air of leechyness, this air of clingy." I think there's parts of us that's part of our own survival mechanism I think that are like, "I don't know if I can get involved in that." So it's not necessarily a conscious, "No, I don't like you." It's more of just a reaction to it too.
Irene Fehr: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. And they're no longer fighting about sex. They're trying to get some semblance of, I don't want to say control, but some semblance of getting their needs met. Some semblance of like, "I can't have what I need," but they're not actually getting anywhere. Like you said, inaudiblethe two ticks with no dog, they're fighting each other, but they're not actually getting what they need. One of the reasons why it's really important to celebrate the death of sex is that we have to recognize that the patterns are the enemy here. Not us, not the partners, not each other. The key pattern to understand, "We're going at each other. We're not actually getting what we need and we're not the enemies." The pattern is, "We've gotten caught in this. We have to untangle this."
Corey Allan: So where are we trying to get to then? I love the phrase you just said, celebrate the death of sex. That's an oxymoronic statement if there ever was one, when you're talking about married sex and in show called Sexy Marriage Radio. But I'm going to agree with what you're talking about because it's a natural path process that you're describing. What's the third then? What's the what we're all really striving to get to maybe we're not even aware of it? How do you frame that?
Irene Fehr: Yeah. So when sex dies, you celebrate it because it actually has run its course, and we've run basically up to this point, up to the death. We've been running on expectations, on assumptions and on biological motivations. When the sex dies, it actually opens the door to creating a different kind of sex, not one that based on biological needs and motivations, it's not based on waiting for the mood to strike or leaving sexual desire to chance, but it's really based on a deliberate process of getting to know yourself, getting to know your partner, exploring what each person needs and wants and creating an infrastructure that works with the couple, that works with the evolution of the relationship. I call this type of sex connection sex because it's predicated on the connection. It's learning how to connect to your partner from a place of knowing yourself, knowing how to advocate for yourself without manipulation, without falling into the patterns that I mentioned and recognizing that this person in front of you, they're more than your husband or wife.
They're more than your partner in your household or mom or dad, that they're an individual person with desires and needs and wants and preferences and moods and feelings and all of that, and really getting to know each other like that as individuals, really seeing each other and building that connection. I love David Schnarch's work and I love how he talks about sex with your eyes open. That this is very much sex with your eyes open. It's being able to look at each other, being able to look at yourself and being able to truly connect from this place of individuality. There's three areas that I talk about that are very important to creating this. One is creating a securely functioning relationship. It's the security and safety piece of a phrase that I use, for the environment that needs to happen, which is a safe to be risky environment.
We need to create safety in a relationship so we can be risky with each other, so that we can really save the vulnerable things. So that we can really open up and put our walls down. So in this type of sex, there's so much trust, there's so much openness that vulnerability just flows. We're able to not just do the physical act of sex, but really show ourselves, our passion, the full enjoyment of sex, the eroticism, which is very scary for so many people to really let their partners see how much they're enjoying themselves.
Corey Allan: Right. I'm going to put a pin in this just real quick, Irene, because I think that right there is probably something worth exploring more in detail in the extended content here in a couple minutes. Yeah, because I think it's interesting because you're describing a process of knowing ourselves more and our partner. I think that's worth exploring in a greater detail because the things that are immediately coming to my mind if I'm thinking through just as a member of the SMR Nation, "Okay. How do I do that?" There's so much stuff. That's reasons why I've settled for validation or friction sex for so many years, and then wondered why there's something going wrong. But you were also mentioning, there's a couple other things that are worth noting with the connection sex, right? So what were the other two?
Irene Fehr: First one is securely functioning relationship, creating that safety. The second one is the courage to be risky in the relationship. Take emotionals to speak up, to say what you want, to say what you don't want, to say no to things that don't work for you. This risk is what creates passion. Because think of the question in the beginning of the relationship, with a new person, everything is a risk. Asking someone out is a risk. Sharing something about yourself is a risk. That's where the passion is in. So we want to recreate it, but we want to do it intentionally. We want to do it consciously. The courage to be risky in the relationship it's an intentional choice. The more you're willing to do that, the more excitement is going to happen in the relationship. That's where the passion is. A big way to be risky in a relationship is to honor and maintain a full tank for you to really take care of yourself, to take care of your emotional health and physical self.
Because one of the ways that we get caught also in validation sex is that we lose ourselves. We give up on ourselves. Again, the flip side is one of the biggest risks that we can do is to take care of ourselves, to really truly honor what we need. All of this then leads to the third piece, which is intentionally cultivating sexual desire and not leaving it to chance. What I teach the couples that I work with is a disciplined approach. Be keen to making a practice like yoga or meditation, doing things deliberately in your relationship, making time to be with each other, not as the husband and wife, mother or father, but as boyfriend and girlfriend. Taking time to explore each other, each other's bodies. Talk about feelings and emotion. Talking about desires. Very important taking time to do that. Again, deliberately setting aside time, not leaving it to chance, not leaving until the end of the day when you have no energy left and somehow you're still expecting amazing sex and your partner being so excited for you when you have nothing left. So creating a very different approach that makes time.
I want to add one last thing because also one of my areas of expertise is women's libido. This approach to sex is what creates space specifically for a woman's libido to thrive. It's that space without pressure, to explore, touch, explore different things, to talk about things and to get her partner's attention without the rush of the clock, especially for parents, this is so important. This allows her sexuality to unfold the way a flower would at its own pace and this is incredibly important. This is where so many women lose out in long-term relationships especially when they're parents. There's not enough time for her to take time. This approach accounts for that. You deliberately set aside time to also practice sexual practices outside of sex. So removing the goal from sex, it's not penetration or orgasm, but let's explore, let's play. Let's just be with each other. That creates that passion. So the big point I want to leave the listeners with is that connection sex is created. It's built. It's something that you make an effort to create the infrastructure that then enables spontaneity and freedom and enjoyment and passion.
Corey Allan: I love it. I mean, you're just describing the idea of intentionality, of focusing and carving out something that... It's so interesting to me because here's the way I have been framing what you're describing. That I've used the terminology of, if you look at the way we do life in a marriage as a hundred percent of a pie chart, if you will, 90% of what we do with life in a relationship is the treasury just doing life, right? It's the bills, it's the kids, it's the finances, it's the household, it's the jobs, it's the extended, it's everything. But we have that 10% that carried so much weight at the very beginning like you're describing with the friction, the passion. That seemed like that was the 90% because it probably likely was because our lives weren't that overlapped and entwined yet, but it's like we focus so much on that 10% to make us feel better about the 90%.
Well, that math does not add up. How do you start to, like you're describing at the end, how do I carve out some time and I make this a priority and an intention? I think that's where we need to go within the next segment is just, how do you do this? How do you start it? Not necessarily, "Here's the framework because it's not going to work." From what I'm reading from you in a sense, it's not a, "Here's a one size fits all," because if that's the case and you would have marketed this thing, then I wouldn't have been able to track you down because you would have been living on some remote island, the world's first trillionaire, fast as ever, because everybody's looking for the key. But on that note of how do-
Irene Fehr: I solve the sex problem.
Corey Allan: Exactly, I mean, it's amazing. It's crazy. I love it. On that note though, of how people can find you if they want to explore more, tell people where they can find you.
Irene Fehr: Yes. My website is irenefehr.com, my full name. On the website, you'll find a lot of different resources. I have a free three-video online course for women, how to want sex again. As I mentioned, one of my specialties is women libido and this is especially for women in a relationship. You'll also find a video talking about the three types of sex as well on there. There's also of course, resources about couples coaching and women's coaching should anyone would want to pursue that.
Corey Allan: Perfect. I love it. Thank you so much for the time you've spent with us in the nation thus far, Irene. I'm excited to continue the conversation here in just a second. It never ceases to amaze me that when we get a chance to interact with all kinds of people from all over the globe, other people that are in this space, trying to talk about marriage and sex and sexuality, that there are so many voices that are all heading the same way that we're really just trying to help couples face what goes on naturally in all marriages, what happens in sex naturally in all relationships and just break through, get to the other side and experience so much more.
Pam Allan: Right. Well, we're all human, right? No matter what language, nationality, whatever, relationships are relationships and the dynamics are there and there are no borders there.
Corey Allan: Conflict is inevitable, struggle is inevitable, peaks and valleys is inevitable.
Pam Allan: Right.
Corey Allan: So what we hope is that this is a time that really did help spark some conversation. On that note, if there's something that you want to take a little bit deeper or go a little bit of a different way with, we'll be hanging out at my.smrnation.com. There's a topical board about the episodes. We'll start a thread there, and if you've got something that's a question or something that particularly relevant that stood out to you, come join us. Jump into the conversation and bring a friend.
Pam Allan: Right. Right.
Corey Allan: Well, this is the Sexy Marriage Radio. We're so glad that you spent a little bit of time with us. So wherever you are, whatever you've been doing, here's to when we see you again, next time.
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