Top iTunes Marriage Podcast

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hosted by Dr. Corey Allan

Abstinence In Marriage #575

On the Regular version of today’s show …

A husband who has had a past struggle with porn and sex addiction is in the midst of an agreed upon abstinence period with his wife. She says it will take a long time before sex is introduced again in the marriage. What can he do?

A wife went through old voicemails left for her from her husband while they were dating and he sounds like a completely different man compared to now. How should she react to the heartbreak she feels now?

On the Xtended version …

A more dominant personality wife gets blamed for her husbands decisions and results when he followed her thoughts. He claims “when mama ain’t happy, no one is” How can she address this dynamic? 

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Call/Text us at  214-702-9565

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Speaker 1: You are listening to the regular version of Sexy Marriage Radio,

Corey Allan: Welcome back to another episode of Sexy Marriage Radio, where each and every week we answer the questions that are on the nation's mind. And they let us know what's going on, by they give us a call at 214-702-9565, is the inbox that we have used for over 10 years now, it's over a decade.

Pam Allan: Wow.

Corey Allan: Of that email. I was actually looking through.

Pam Allan: Wow.

Corey Allan: Because I save almost all of them that have come to the show. So I went way, way, back to what were some of the very first emails we got. You know what? 10 years ago, a lot of the questions, very similar to today.

Pam Allan: Pretty similar.

Corey Allan: Yeah.

Pam Allan: Again, nothing new under the sun.

Corey Allan: There's really not, but that doesn't make it any less important to the people that are asking the question.

Pam Allan: Exactly.

Corey Allan: Because when it impacts us or it impacts you, it matters.

Pam Allan: It's new to me, and that's what matters

Corey Allan: And you are the one experiencing it.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: And that's what matters.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: And that actually made me remember a quote from a fellow blogger friend, way back when too, that she and her husband, she was the blogger, and she made a comment that when it came to marriage, that when one partner in the marriage had a problem, the marriage had a problem

Pam Allan: I think that's interesting.

Corey Allan: Right. And that's an interesting way to think about it because it's real easy to kind of get into, "Well, no, that's your problem." "But no, no, no. It still impacts me."

Pam Allan: There is impact.

Corey Allan: And so that's what matters. And as part of the nation here, the problems that you face in the nation impact you and others, because there's other people out there that are going to be in similar boats or heading into that problem more similarly, or they're coming out of it. Because there's mountains and valleys all the way through marriage. And just when you get in a valley you know there's a mountain coming. And when there's a mountain, you know there's a valley somewhere.

Pam Allan: Potentially. Seasons of life.

Corey Allan: Well coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio, it's a couple of your questions and our answers, some themes that we've had over the coming weeks, over the past weeks. We're going to kind of continue that thread.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: A little bit with some of the answers that are coming up to the questions that are being asked, as well as there's a little bit of follow up to add to last week's episode from a member of the nation. And then on the extended content, which is deeper, longer, and there are no ads. You can We've got an email that came in and I'm going to capture it with the idea, it's a wife that she describes herself as more dominant, but her husband takes the stance of well, but when Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy. Which is a close cousin to the phrase, happy wife equals happy life.

Pam Allan: Which is a ridiculous phrase.

Corey Allan: And we want to unpack that in today's extended content. So all that's coming up on today's show.

Corey Allan: So this is an email that came in from a husband that says, "Hey, Corey, I love and appreciate your show. You've been a great help to me since I've been listening and I can't thank you enough. Can you discuss how a recovering sex addict can navigate long term abstinence in marriage in a healthy way? Here's my story for some perspective. I've been struggling with sex addiction, porn, and masturbation on and off for over 35 years. I did have a 10 year stint of sobriety during this time, then relapsed and struggled for four and a half years. I've been in recovery now for over three and a half years. I was completely sober for about three years then slipped by watching porn one night in August of last year. Had another slip on a night in November. As a result, my wife has decided that we should stop having sex until we can get some more counseling and healing.

Corey Allan: "We have since discovered that our biggest concern is not necessarily the masturbation or the porn. It's actually the way that I've controlled and manipulated my wife to get sex from her over the past 23 years of our marriage. What I thought would be a 40 day period of abstinence has turned into over four months. It deeply hurts me that we cannot be intimate in this way right now. I know I've done a lot of damage in my marriage and that I'm just reaping what I've sown, but it doesn't make this any easier.

Corey Allan: "I feel like something major is missing in our relationship, but I don't think that she feels the same way. I've asked her to give me a timeframe as to when she thinks she'd be ready to reintroduce sex into the marriage. But all she says is, 'It's going to be a long time.' We have a strong relationship, great communication and healthy connections in other ways and we are seeing a counselor to help us receive more healing, but I feel like we're stuck in the no sex zone. If you have any advice that can help me cope in a healthy way during this difficult time, I'd greatly appreciate it."

Corey Allan: So this is a tough one.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Because there's a lot of issues that are going on that play out in the relationship, but they're individual in nature. Because we've touched on this before with the idea of sex addiction and pornography usage and masturbation, that most of the time that predates the marriage.

Pam Allan: Which does in this situation.

Corey Allan: So it's recognizing it's not her fault. She is not responsible for it. There's nothing on her other than she has the collateral damage from it. But most of the time wives take this as what's this about me? It's personal. Right?

Pam Allan: Yeah. Well, and I don't-

Corey Allan: It's easy to internalize it that way.

Pam Allan: They do often and I'm not picking up anything here about that necessarily. So.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Pam Allan: Just throwing that out there.

Corey Allan: No, I get you.

Pam Allan: I mean, she hasn't given her input.

Corey Allan: No, absolutely. This is just one side of the equation. But a lot of times what will happen with couples when they go through trying to deal with these kinds of behaviors, these kinds of issues when they rear their head, is this is a difficult one because you have to reestablish your relationship with an aspect of your relationship, or you cut it out entirely. If you're an alcoholic, it's not pretty easy, but it makes more sense to just stay away from bars, stay away from alcohol, just cut it out of your life. Right?

Pam Allan: Sure.

Corey Allan: But if you want to have a sexual relationship, and you're a sex addict, you have to redefine that relationship to that aspect of your life.

Pam Allan: Right. But when you're married you expect for there to be sex happening.

Corey Allan: Correct. That's kind of an assumed part of the equation.

Pam Allan: And I may be derailing where you're going with this, but it seems like he talks a lot in we this, we that.

Corey Allan: Yes.

Pam Allan: And there's a lot of assumptions that they're both on the same page on all of these things when clearly they're not.

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: And I found it interesting that he says he's missing the sex. He's missing that aspect. But doesn't think that she thinks there's anything missing. Which is odd to me because if she's so adamant about there's things we got to get right before we can have sex again, clearly she thinks there's something missing.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Pam Allan: So I would think it would be important for her to kind of come out and figure out what it is that she thinks is missing.

Corey Allan: That's a fair statement. The problem with it with as far as the show is concerned is we have no idea where she stands, but it is imperative, I think, what what you're picking up on. It's important that he asks that question of, "Hey, give me the state of things as you see it, baby. Let me give you the state of things as I see it. So we see how far off we are on the goals we're working towards."

Pam Allan: That's all I'm going after.

Corey Allan: Perfect.

Pam Allan: Is he's got to get that information and realize, I think his perspective is off.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Pam Allan: There's something missing for her for sure.

Corey Allan: Yeah. And this is the thing that we have a tendency to do as humans. When we have things that are going on in our relationships that aren't going the way we want, or we have things that are going on in our lives that aren't going the way we want, of our choosing or not, of our doing or not, we have a tendency to Disneyland it, when that's not the real story. It's the idea of we have a strong relationship, great communication, and a healthy connection in every other way. Do you? That's a better question of what do we really not? What are the topics that we can't bring up? What are the topics we don't talk about? And does that then equate to a healthy relationship? And that's a moving target, I realize that. It's like average or normal. There's a huge variance in that of what qualifies for that.

Corey Allan: But I think it's important to be honest about, "Okay, I realize what's going on and I'm reaping what I've sown, but this is also an equation in our marriage that we need to make sure we see it the same way. So I at least know how you see it."

Pam Allan: Well, yeah. So back up. We don't need to necessarily make sure we see it the same way.

Corey Allan: Thank you.

Pam Allan: We need to make sure that we're diving into understanding how do I really see it? How do you really see it?

Corey Allan: Right. How far apart are we? What is the gap?

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Really?

Pam Allan: Because there is a gap.

Corey Allan: Thank you. That's a better clarification. So that's one step is to have that kind of a conversation. And then the other is, so obviously sex with pornography, sex with actual sex addiction and the manipulation therein, in marriage, which is an aspect of what happens in marriages. Whether there's addiction or not there is a level of what nefarious things do I have going on to manipulate my spouse into an act that I want them to be a part of? And that's really the sole purpose. I don't care if they really want be a part of it. It's really I just want be a part of it. So uncovering that in ourselves just helps our own betterment of what I'm capable of.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: The lengths I can stoop to, if I'm particularly interested in sex with you. I know, "You know what? I'm going to surprise you with a beach vacation, and that's a good chance that that'll happen."

Pam Allan: Check that box is all I'm saying, right there.

Corey Allan: Thank you. And so, as we wrap up today's show and head to the beach. No, but it's recognizing, okay, again, suspending judgment on it and just seeing it as that's what I'm capable of. I'm capable of being a manipulative being to get what I want. So the same thing you're asking of her to where are you in this, own where you have been in this better. Of seeing it as, yeah, I have done these things because what he could find is, in some regards, it's not as negative as he's made it in his mind to her. It could be, she's like, "No, I've kind of enjoyed you've taken the lead in this regard. I've kind of enjoyed you've made this a priority in that regard." Take the sex and addiction and pornography out of it.

Corey Allan: But that's the higher desire, lower desire, differences.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: Of you help set the stage to make this a priority. That's a good thing. What's underneath it, no. How it plays out, that's where you need to clean it up a little bit. But it's kind of seeing the distinction in that of recognizing what you're capable of and owning that.

Corey Allan: And then the other component of it is asking yourself, sir, questions of, "What do I seek sex for? What is it really about? Is it an escape? Is it stress release? Is it anxiety relief? Is it help me sleep? Is it I feel boredom this way? Is it I like the connection with another person? I like the fantasy of it with the pornography that I've sought out." Whatever it might be, where you can ask yourself the questions of, "What's the real motivator that I've got with this?" So you can clean that up and express the sexual desire you have towards your wife in a cleaner way, because she's going to see it as, "I'm just a conduit to help your addiction."

Pam Allan: And that maybe stuck in her head for a while.

Corey Allan: Right. And so you can't, tell me if I'm wrong with this because we've had a similar journey with my past with porn and masturbation as well. That there's a difference between I could tell you my motivations, but when I show you more consistently, that carries a whole lot more weight.

Pam Allan: That's the difference maker right there.

Corey Allan: Right. But there still has to be an element of even if sex is off the table, as she sees it, and if she's laid this down of, "It's going to be a long time," I believe you can still express sexually towards her without crossing a line, without forcing anything, without making an agenda or being manipulative. I think you can still be expressive in ways of that part of you.

Pam Allan: Yeah. Obviously you know better than I, that all those things might be triggers. Every time there is a innuendo you're triggering something.

Corey Allan: Well, then this is where we get into the whole world of what we did a couple months back on the big T, little T, traumas and triggers of if every trigger means no go, third rail, we are lowest common denominator for the rest of our lives, as a society and as people and as marriages.

Pam Allan: Well, and that's where ideally they're already going to counseling together and you just continue to look at this as a journey. That it doesn't heal overnight. It doesn't heal in 40 days.

Corey Allan: But the biggest step to help it heal. Let's end it with this. Tell me what you think.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: The biggest step that I think of to help it heal in her mind and in yours, as the husband in this with the email, is learning better how to operate in a manner that is sexual without forcing it, without manipulating it, and handling regardless of how the response is if I get what I want. It doesn't have to culminate in sex. I still show that passion. I still show that aspect of me, and it's not tied to I have to have sex with it.

Pam Allan: I think it's more important in that situation though, to show in every part of marriage, and my gut is saying in that period, you back off from so much of the things that might trigger the bad sexual memories.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Pam Allan: And maybe I'm wrong on this, because I'm certainly not a counselor. I'm just thinking of all the ways throughout your relationship that you do show your intentions, right?

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: Here's my intentions of being a man of integrity throughout-

Corey Allan: And loving her well.

Pam Allan: Love me well, show integrity throughout every aspect, and react well.

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: And everything else then sets the stage for that section.

Corey Allan: Well, this is-

Pam Allan: Of your life.

Corey Allan: That's perfect because I think where we can land this one, this segment, is understanding the difference of the way I'm going to rebuild trust with her in this area of my life is different than how I create room for the hurt that I've caused or been culpable in helping create.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And so I need to learn how to be a better student of the two, because the trust comes about with just operating more from character and integrity, being more transparent, being more clear, letting her map you, cleanly, even when it's not always good, but it's mapped. And then the hurt, dealing with the hurt, comes with showing I care, I'm compassionate. It's real. It's legitimate. But that also doesn't mean I have to minimize it or apologize for things or it's just if I'm doing the work I'm operating in a manner that allows me to walk alongside better, which then is the loving well, the caring for well, the creating something better, because you both are basically trying to create something different within the context of a relationship that's been around for a while.

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Corey Allan: So another email came in that says, "Dear Cory and Pam, I recently came across some old voicemails of my husband from back when we were dating. I swear it was from a completely different man. He would call me pet names, he had love in his voice, and he genuinely missed talking to me. I found myself swooning and melting at the man on the phone and I looked at my husband with his face buried in his computer and all at once my heart broke. I understand that the puppy love fades, but now it seems he doesn't even enjoy my company, let alone have the passion for me that he used to. For example, when we were dating he used to read to me and I absolutely loved it. He had a soothing voice and it was so nice to sit in his arms and listen to my favorite stories.

Corey Allan: "So flash forward to now. I ask him to read to me and he says he doesn't have time between work and school and our children, yet I see him playing video games until 3:00 AM. My heart is broken for what we've lost. I just want to be his biggest priority to him again because he is to me. I don't know who this man is and it's making me turn into a woman that I don't know. I'm snarky, sarcastic and bitter. We've been married for six years, each year feeling more distant. I don't want this anymore. I need to know what I can do to change my part in this. I just want to feel love and know that I'm giving my love to someone that wants it. Thank you so much for your time. God bless you both greatly."

Corey Allan: So this is in a similar vein that I'm recognizing the two messages coming in are, "Here's my predicament. Now what do I do?" Which is good. That's the whole message of Sexy Marriage Radio in a lot of ways is I've got to address the person I have the most influence over, which is myself.

Corey Allan: So what do you hear in this as we start?

Pam Allan: Well, obviously change. Things aren't different. Things are different.

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: Than when you're dating.

Corey Allan: Yeah. She recognizes the puppy love fades.

Pam Allan: She recognizes that. She recognizes that she's snarky, sarcastic, and bitter.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Pam Allan: And when I hear that, I think of the question that I ask myself. Would I want to be married to me?

Corey Allan: Right. And that's what she's kind of touching on too. And I think that's a cleaner way to ask that.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Of what she's saying at the end.

Pam Allan: Oh yeah. So I just start asking that question. "Okay, he's acting in a way that does not make me feel wanted or loved. How am I acting in ways that would not be lovable? And what can I do about that to start off?"

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: Yeah, things change. You got kids now. They've been married a little bit. He sounds like he's working and going to school. He's whipped and the video games are his way to, and I say whipped, you get tired.

Corey Allan: Well, his video games-

Pam Allan: I'm expressing my own issues here through this going I'm tired.

Corey Allan: Projections from Pam.

Pam Allan: Projections from Pam. How can I just find a little bit of me time for something that's not school, that's not work, that's not something I have to take care of?

Corey Allan: But if it's legit that he's playing video games till 3:00 AM, that's adding more fuel to this whole dilemma.

Pam Allan: Absolutely.

Corey Allan: Because now you're talking about sleep patterns being impacted for both of them possibly.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: So, again, I like what you're saying in this of, one, you ask yourself the question of would I want to be married to me? And then secondarily, I think you ask yourself the questions or you have to understand that I can have these reactions to things, that my reactions are what I need to look at, but what I'm reacting to is still legitimate.

Pam Allan: Certainly.

Corey Allan: It's still pain. It still hurts. Because this is not at all like saying, "Well, stop being snarky. Stop being bitter." No, that's not a reality of what life is.

Pam Allan: Yeah, you're reacting to something that is frustrating.

Corey Allan: But instead it's addressing, as clean as you can, what it is you're seeing, of not under the auspices of, "I just want you to be like we used to be." Because that's not dealing with the spouse I have. That's dealing with the spouse I wish they were. And one of the biggest things we keep coming across with the show is this idea of I need to address what's present, not what's missing. Because now you get defensive of, "Well, you used to." Well, of course, because he maybe deep down wishes he would do that too. But he's gotten into the comfortable husband mentality of, "I've already got you. I don't have to work to swoon and get you around as much anymore because you've already said I do."

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: And that's an excuse, but it's a reality of what's possible still. And so it's looking at this, how do you address what they are, what's going on, as clean as you can, of, "I feel like I'm not appreciated. I feel like you don't even want to be around me."

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: "I feel like you don't spend the time devoted towards me. I get I'm competing with this and I'm competing with that." And then once you can frame it that way, you make sure you're handling your 100% of the equation as best as you can that does fall into the, "Would I want to be married to me in the way I address these things? Would I want to be married to me in the way I pursue something that I believe is valuable and important and worth wanting to be with?" That's that idea of if I really do want a passionate marriage, I better make sure my life is passionate too.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Right? That I'm living a passionate life outside of my marriage as well. Because I can't put too much stock on one person or a relationship filling things that I don't do myself. The picture that comes to my mind, I don't hear this in this email, but the picture that comes to my mind and when I think of some of the different clients and the threads we come across in the world today are, "I've fallen out of a boat and my arms are flailing around and I'm needing rescued and someone from the boat throws the life preserver, the round life raft to me, that's on a rope, but it's six feet away from me, and I'm mad that they missed."

Pam Allan: Instead of swimming to it.

Corey Allan: Instead of swimming to it because they've done what they could, they just missed. But I can still likely make the six feet.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And that's the I earn integrity with that, which that's worth wanting. That's worth valuing. Whether he sees it or not, you earn you. And so when you look at this of, "I know what's missing and and it pains me because of what I see now." What's your self-respecting moves to address that and also present something that's more what you want it to be?

Pam Allan: And I guess what are the moves? Right? Leave the sarcasm behind, leave the snarkiness behind.

Corey Allan: So figure out how to react in a better way.

Pam Allan: Figure out how to react in better ways. I think there is some calling out of, there are general health, a good night's sleep.

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: Goes a long way. So do you actually call him out your sleep patterns?

Corey Allan: Let me give you this then.

Pam Allan: And your video games.

Corey Allan: Because you asked what's the better moves? The first one is the times you recognize you've reacted in a snarky way or a bitter way. How quickly do you come back and own that?

Pam Allan: Apologize for acting that way.

Corey Allan: And say, "You know what, honey?" And you don't have to say this in your mind. "I'm not taking back what I'm reacting to. I'm taking back how I reacted." That's entirely different. "I was snarky with you on that. That's on me. I'm still frustrated by what went down."

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: "But you didn't deserve the snark." That's a self-respecting move.

Pam Allan: Or, "I shouldn't have been snarky."

Corey Allan: Yeah.

Pam Allan: In your mind you might think they deserved it.

Corey Allan: But if I'm wanting to be loved.

Pam Allan: But if I'm wanting to-

Corey Allan: How difficult is it to love somebody that's snarky?

Pam Allan: If I want to be on a team together, figure out how to make that work.

Corey Allan: Because there needs to be some honesty, and the best thing you can do is lead that charge with how you conduct yourself and then you see who you're really with.

Pam Allan: Yeah. How would you want to be reacted to?

Corey Allan: And do they really want to be with you or not then? That's the real picture. And you can tell that by when you start lifting that way and dressing life that way, most of the time it puts a lot cleaner pressure on my partner to act accordingly and deal with their side of the dilemma or we really then are facing what we're facing.

Pam Allan: Yeah. And it's not like it's easy to do that.

Corey Allan: No.

Pam Allan: It's hard to be the first person that takes that, for lack of a better phrase, that grown up move of reacting well, of owning what you see in yourself that may not be super lovable.

Corey Allan: Right.

Pam Allan: It's hard to be the person that takes that first step, but how proud you'll be of yourself for taking that step, for making those moves, it's a good feeling.

Corey Allan: Yeah. And that's the kind of stuff that translates into a better dynamic in the marriage because of what you're creating to walk alongside with.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Speaker 4: Hey, Corey and Pam. Just wanted to let you guys know, when you take the time to answer emails on the show, we really enjoy it. It helps us feel more connected with the SMR nation and other married couples who are working toward their best marriage possible. Just makes us feel a little less lonely in our work.

Speaker 4: Hey Pam, we had to pause that podcast, cheer and laugh when you responded to the blow email with read between the legs. We both sat and talked about that for a while and that line needs to be worked into every show. Well done, girl.

Speaker 4: I also wanted to leave a message for the newlywed couple who were searching for orgasm, especially those that have saved themselves for marriage. I loved all of the suggestions that Corey had and I really wish that I was in your friendship circle close enough to add, with strong emphasis, the benefit of seeing a pelvic floor therapist. The work of a great pelvic PT is beyond just post-pregnancy, post C-section. It's a great safe place for any woman to go to learn exactly what the female anatomy needs to reach orgasm and to learn how to be able to welcome penetration as part of your intimate relationship. Pelvic PT is valuable, no matter the age or the season of a woman's life. And it can change her intimate life in amazing and beautiful ways, no matter where she is in her journey. So I just wanted to really encourage those that are dealing with that issue to go and research seeing a pelvic floor therapist. Thank you for all you guys do and keep up the great work.

Corey Allan: And we're going to leave it at that. And obviously, apparently people need to read between the legs.

Corey Allan: I was thinking of this when I heard this message come through is like Sexy Marriage Radio, helping frame conversations so that you can better read between the legs, or something. We can do a lot of different things with that phrase.

Corey Allan: Well, this is been Sexy Marriage Radio, where, again, I love the fact that the nation helps out the nation.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Because obviously one person, it's like we talked about at the very beginning of the show.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Questions that come in, they're real for the people.

Pam Allan: They are.

Corey Allan: They're important and they matter because that's what their experience is right now. Knowing that there's other people that have some resources, have some experience, have some things that have helped them, that's what makes us all better.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: That when people will call in, leave a message to help round out the conversation. So this personal plea, again, join into the dialogue with us, so it's just not Pam I's voice on every single episode. We want yours too. 214-702-9565 is how you can join in or let us know what we missed.

Corey Allan: Well, this has been Sexy Marriage Radio. We'll see you next time.