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Can’t Turn My Mind Off #539

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On the Regular version of today’s show …

I’m joined by Dr Emily Jamea as we discuss the distracted mind, or put another way – how to address the times when you can’t turn off you mind. 

Learn more about Dr Jamea on her site –

On the Xtended version …

Dr Emily and I discuss the dynamic in marriage where the wife is the higher desire spouse. 

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Pam Allan: You are listening to the regular version of Sexy Marriage Radio,
You've turned on Sexy Marriage Radio, where the best sex happens in the marriage bed. Here's your host, Dr. Corey Allen.

Corey Allan: Welcome back to another episode of Sexy Marriage Radio. We're alongside my wife each and every week-

Pam Allan: Each and every week baby.

Corey Allan: ...we try to go where the SMR nation wants to go, because what we want to do is speak to what is going on with them, and what can we do to help you? How can we frame conversations? What's better questions? Sometimes that's the best way to go, isn't it?

Pam Allan: What's a better question? Yeah.

Corey Allan: What's a better question?

Pam Allan: Yeah. We get twisted in crosstalk

Corey Allan: When we're facing some problems and we're trying to adjust to what comes up because apparently we've got at least a couple of people that are really on the ball because last week when I made comment about, "hey come join us at the SMR getaway, coming up next year in Indianapolis. Registration's going on now, right at". Jessica quickly caught that I said, "come join us June 23rd through the 25th, 2021.

Pam Allan: Wrong year.

Corey Allan: And so she's recommending that we get there via the DeLorean from-

Pam Allan: Back to the future.

Corey Allan: ... back the future. Which if that's the case, let's go take care of a few other things from the past.

Pam Allan: Exactly. Exactly.

Corey Allan: We can right some wrongs and place some wagers and invest crosstalk

Pam Allan: So it's 2022, it's 2022.

Corey Allan: 2022 in Indy. Come, this registration's going on now. There's people already joining, space is limited. It's going to be a fantastic three days. Yes. Spill over into the fourth if you want to hang out and just relax with your spouse or anybody else, that's hanging out as well. And also what we're asking you to do is if you like what's going on here, let us know, spread the word, jump on iTunes, write a review, leave a comment, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play. However it is you listen. And then let us know by calling us 2 1 4 7 0 2 9 5 6 5, feedback Sexy Marriage And you can even record a memo and email it, if you got a question or a comment that you want us to cover because-

Pam Allan: Genius.

Corey Allan: ... We want your voice. We want to have a dialogue with you as the nation because you've helped us get all the way this far and there's a lot more still to come.

Pam Allan: That's right.

Corey Allan: So coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio is a conversation I got to have with Dr. Emily Jamea. She was on in the past, when we were talking about the idea of the optimal sexual experiences. Because she's done some research on that in the whole aspect of flow and being in the zone. And so I invited her back because I wanted to have a conversation about something she wrote, where it's an all too common problem that we hear from people. That was the idea of, I just can't get my mind off of all these other things. When it comes to trying to transition into sex or being involved in sex or just in times being involved with my own life. And it's the distracted mind or I just can't turn my mind off.

Pam Allan: I mean, that's sex that's anything, right? I mean, gosh, even when I get to work, I have a hard time turning my mind off of personal stuff and yeah.

Corey Allan: And so we have a conversation just specifically about how does that equate to our sex lives, being engaged and vibrantly involved. And then on the extended content today, which is deeper, longer and there are no ads you can subscribe at academy. I posed an idea to her, I kind of springed it on her. I gave her a little bit of a heads up, but I wanted to get her take because as a female clinician, let's tackle the whole idea of when the life is the higher desire, but she went away I wasn't expecting her to go. Well that's coming up on today's show. Well, I'm excited to welcome back a guest that has been on before with Sexy Marriage Radio, Dr. Emily Jamea. And you were on before Emily, where we talked to about just the optimal sexual experiences.

Emily Jamea: Yes.

Corey Allan: Because you kind of had a slant and especially some of your research that you've done, which is how I found you. I love that, I guess the layman's way to think about it is that the positive psychology towards sex. Right?

Emily Jamea: Exactly. It's the same principle.

Corey Allan: Let's do it from the positive side. And so this time I'm bringing you in, I guess we're coming at it from the opposite of that a little bit. Well let's talk about some of the different problems that couples often have, or that you for sure see as well when it comes to their sex lives and just their marriage. Because I think these are all interchangeable in some ways and where I want to go with you this time Emily is this whole idea of... I'm going to paint a scenario real quick. Just to kind of help set the stage and that way the members of the SMR nation can kind of know where we're going with this.
So this is a couple that's been married for a while. They would deem a pretty good, if not even moments of great relationship, it's good. There's really no major issues. Sex happens occasionally sometimes, obviously the higher desire may want a little more frequency or a little more quality or variety or whatever the difference and discrepancies are.
But the lower desire spouse, one of the big things they'll say on why sex does not happen that often, because even though they know when it happens, it's good and they enjoy it and it's satisfying and it's pleasurable. They just have a real hard time getting engaged in it or getting it on the menu or the to-do list because they just are living in a distracted mind kind of a world or they can't turn their mind off, off these... I mean, because you've seen this, I even read an article you wrote about this right?

Emily Jamea: Yes.

Corey Allan: So speak to this just real quick on, this is a phenomenon that's happening, and how did you come across it? What's your take on it? And then let's kind of dive into helping our make believe couple.

Emily Jamea: Sure. So I would say I developed an interest in this, in the distracted mind because in my research on optimal sexual experiences, a big part of that is focus, and people who describe having these really profound sexual experiences talk about how everything else in their world seems to disappear and it's just them and their partner. And they feel so enveloped in the experience so fully embodied and so present. And a lot of people struggle to even approximate that level of focus, like that, what I just described sounds completely unattainable for a lot of couples, and so I started thinking about why that may be, and I actually reached out to the first supervisor I ever had when I was just starting my career as a sex therapist. Her name was Ruth Sherman. And I reached out to her because at the time that I was starting, which was almost 15 years ago, she was retiring from the field.
And so this was, obviously we had cellphones and smartphones, but it wasn't at the level that we have now. I mean, social media was just starting to kind of become a thing. And I reached out to her and I said, Dr. Sherman, what do you remember about what your client said in regards to their ability to focus during sex or feeling distracted by intrusive thoughts? And she said... I wrote her an email and when we finally spoke about a week later, she said, "You know I've been giving this a lot of thought Emily". And she said, "of course I had couples complain about maybe being orgasm watchers or, they would have anxiety maybe about out their ability to get an erection". But she said, "I didn't have the kind of, issue that you're describing that your clients have, which is where they just can't even get their head in the game at all, let alone worry about one component of the sexual experience".
And so we talked more about that and I think in large part, it is because we are multitasking constantly. We're multitasking constantly. And we don't even realize that, and truthfully our nervous systems haven't really caught up with the way we live our lives these days with this split attention that we have all day long. And so, as I started diving into the research on this, just knowing there might be an interruption of a ping or a ding or a bleep on the phone, just knowing we might be interrupted by that is enough to split our attention. And productivity goes down and I'm not just talking about sex, I'm talking about in every area of life. Right. And I think there is very little we do these days is that is just one thing at a time.
Usually when we're driving home, we're listening to a podcast or, when we're exercising, we're listening to an audio book or while we're watching our kids at soccer practice, we're checking a few emails. I mean, we just constantly have split attention. How many of us actually sit down to a meal and just focus on the food? It just doesn't happen that much anymore. And so I started thinking, well, if no one is exercising that focused muscle throughout the day, it seems kind of like a farfetched idea for them to be able to then suddenly focus, have that laser focus crosstalk.

Corey Allan: Right, except for maybe the higher desire, because that's also something that they're working towards. That's part of the multitask agenda, even if you will. So I guess this might land differently for the lower desire partner, but I would guess there's still characteristics on both of...because we're-

Emily Jamea: Right, I think you're definitely less likely to focus if it's not something you're particularly interested in or if there's other things.

Corey Allan: Absolutely. Well, yeah. That's when it's easily displaced or, or replaced by other things because it's like, oh, I know that that's your scene and... Back to our couple, right? They're home after their day, and the evening is unfolding because you're in a relationship that you probably have this dynamics too, you can read the signals of, oh, you know what they're interested in. And so you can either act like I didn't see it or I'll play dumb or I'll change the subject quickly or I'll come up with a good move to shut all that down, or I got to confront where am I in this whole thing?

Emily Jamea: Right.Totally. Yeah. Yeah.

Corey Allan: So as this is going then, because this is something that I agree, it's been exacerbated for sure, with the wealth of ways we have noise and information and distraction coming in. Because you have to be incredibly intentional to stop that as far as... And almost look abnormal. Right.

Emily Jamea: Right, right, and people wonder why you haven't answered their email right away. I mean God forbid you're focused on something else but work.

Corey Allan: Right, or even if you want to go even more extreme and you pull out the old fashioned flip phone and people are like, "what is that?" And you're immediately labeled as just an antiquated way out touch person. But so with this whole idea of I'm distracted. So if we took... Let's put this in stages then Emily, with a couple that, where they realize sex matters and it's good for both of them. What are some ways the distraction can be confronted to allow the transition into that aspect of their marriage because all of this, and I assume you're going to agree with me that this is an intentional transition. We don't just have sex by accident. Right? There's a decision.

Emily Jamea: inaudible That's it's very passive, easy process. No. Especially in marriage it's more about intention.

Corey Allan: Right, okay So, what, what are some thoughts that help people realize I can confront this aspect of my life, this phenomenon in the world I live in to maybe enhance the possibilities better?

Emily Jamea: Yeah. So I mean, with a lot of my couples, I start with educating them about why good sex is important. I mean research shows that people who are sexually satisfied, tend to feel their lives are more meaningful, they're happier overall, their relationships are healthier, they have better mental health, physical health. It's good for us to be sexually fulfilled. And so I think just having an understanding and you don't hear about that as much. I mean, you can hear all day long about why a healthy diet and exercise is good for you, but there aren't as many people talking about why good sex is good for you. And so I think it's important to just start off with educating people about why it matters. Because when we recognize what some of the benefits are, then I think that helps drive the motivation to change right?
So there's that, and then it's, I think working with your partner to figure out what you need to help with focus. Right. And recognizing that there may be some differences in your relationship. Some people take longer to transition into a sexual state of mind, other people it's a little bit easier, but yeah. So I think women can sometimes have a little bit of a harder time making that transition, especially women who are mothers. And if they've got kids who are a little bit more dependent on them throughout the day, making that transition, from being a mother parenting to feeling sexually in touch with their partner can be a little bit more challenging. And so I think what's important to do is talk to your partner about what you think you might need to help ease that transition.
Does it mean that on the nights that you're planning to be intimate, that one person takes over the bedtime routine so that you can take a bath and relax for a little while? Does it mean that it matters to you to have freshly laundered sheets because having a nice made up bed is going to help you feel relaxed. And so just identifying what you need in terms of what's going on with you individually, what's happening with you in your relationship with your partner and then what's happening more broadly in your environment. And talking to your partner about that. And sometimes it can feel a like, oh my gosh, the stars have to be aligned in order for you to focus during sex. But I say that sometimes it may start off feeling like that but as it gets easier and you do it a little bit more frequently, you'll find that it gets easier and easier every time to get into that head space.

Corey Allan: Well, sure. I think some of this is the same kind of concept that happens with the couples where the lower desire partner, it takes them a while to get going, but once they're into it, they're like, oh yeah, I forgot this is... I really do like this, this is a good thing. And it's just to us higher desires, we're sitting there wondering if it feels so good, how is it so difficult to get here all the time? Because it's just a different algorithm almost in the way we both are looking at what goes on.
And so I like the idea of, how do I be more intentional? How do I be more expressive of my partner? But I'm also curious, because this is what you mentioned in what you wrote on this topic of, what if you also so kind of move into more sequential tasking in your day to day actions of life too. Of just kind of, as I'm being a mom, just be engaged in that, be fully present as you can. And then when you move to the next thing, do that as best as... And maybe that helps us kind of categorize the aspects of our days so that I have more margin for transition in between them.

Emily Jamea: Right. Exactly. And I think it's like any other muscle or practice that you're exercising, if you don't do only one thing ever throughout the day at any given time, it's going to be hard to do that during sex. And so definitely I say, whenever you're like... I'm making much more of an effort these days to just leave my phone at home, sometimes when I go out to run some errands, I mean, a lot of people can't imagine doing that. But I find that I'm a lot more efficient. I tend to feel calmer by the time I do get home, I can dedicate then the next half hour to go through emails and it makes life easier. And when we're doing just one thing at a time and you actually find that you get more done and that's what the research shows.
So back to your point too, about the transition and getting in the mood and experiencing desire, I think it's important to broaden our understanding of how people experience desire. So we have what a lot of people think of when they think of desire, which is a spontaneous feeling of desire that I'm horny, I want to have sex, I'm in the mood. There it is, let's go. Right. But a lot of people feel we describe more as responsive sexual desire, meaning that the desire to have sex comes in response to a little bit of arousal or some emotional attentiveness from your partner. And it's not until you kind of get going a little bit that then you're in the mood for sex. And so a lot of people enter it from a little bit more of a neutral head space and then find that, okay, now I can focus. And knowing that about yourself, I think is really important. And knowing that it's okay to feel like that in the beginning, giving yourself permission for that, not feeling bad about it. That's important.

Corey Allan: That's an excellent point. So let's move this along the process of... They've now progressed because there's a lot of different things that couples can do to try to honor this aspect of their relationship and dedicate more time and be more intentional date nights, scheduling sex, just whatever it might be. There's a lot of different tools. But there's still this element that we could bring this with us into the sexual encounter, right? Where foreplay is starting and you both have kind of... Your mind has made the decision, let's go, we're making this happen. I'm making the space for it, but you just can't turn off your mind. And so obviously that's going to make it a lot more effort to get involved, to get engaged. It's going to make the partner a lot more effort to get you involved and create the space to bring you along or, or be okay and adjust. So what about then when it starts to get much more intimate, if you will, within the sexual encounter itself.

Emily Jamea: So my first piece of advice is don't give up so easily. So if we're looking at the psychology of flow and optimal sexual experiences, or just anything that, any activity I should rather that anyone's engaged in where they feel a flow state, that always begins with a struggle phase. Okay?

Corey Allan: Ah, so struggle is part of what makes this thing-

Emily Jamea: Struggle is part of it.

Corey Allan: ... To the other side of it such a good, valued thing crosstalk okay.

Emily Jamea: Precisely. I mean, no one gets into a flow state from the second they get onto their surfboard, unless maybe miraculously, the best wave comes or someone who's a rock climber, I mean it's going to take a minute for them to recalibrate and kind of get into the zone. But I think for some reason, and probably because of Hollywood. We think that the second we get under the sheets, it should feel like the rest of the world disappear. And that's just not how our minds work. So you have to be really patient with yourself and patient with your partner and get through the struggle phase. Because once you surpass that, then you can get, I think that right level of focus that we've been talking about.

Corey Allan: Oh that is so good. No, that is so good because it's just pulling out a dynamic that's just right there beneath the surface of people and just honoring it, acknowledging it, making it a normal, this is what happens because it's so freeing. I think when we hear bits of information that are like, oh, so nothing's necessarily wrong. Oh, okay. Now all of a sudden I got a whole different way in which I approach it and a whole different way I can experience it, which then opens up all kinds of avenues to learn about yourself and be more engaged and more involved.

Emily Jamea: Right. Right. I mean think of like a painter, for example. I mean, they're not getting into that flow hyperfocused state the second they pull out the canvas, I mean, they're probably mixing paints, they're adjusting the color, they're getting their supplies, and materials all ready, all of that happens. There's a lot of preparation that goes into it. And patience, because it'll be worth it in the end.

Corey Allan: And that's what we're hoping for, with people that hear this. I know that's what you hope for, with your work and all that you've been doing, because you've been putting out a lot of content lately I've followed along and saw it all. But if people want to find out more about you Emily, how can they find you?

Emily Jamea: Sure. So probably the best way to stay up to date is by following me on social media, I'm on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook @ Dr. Emily Jamea, that's D-R Emily Jamea. I recently started my own podcast. So definitely check that out. It's called Sex and Love with Dr. Emily Jamea and you can download it anywhere podcast or Play. And then I have an online workshop and a lot of online materials. So you can check that out by visiting I just retitled my workshop, the 5 Sex Languages. So check that out if you feel like you're struggling to reconnect emotionally and sexually, there's a lot of great tools there, like 50 exercises and book recommendations, all that stuff.

Corey Allan: Yeah. That's so great, Emily, thanks again for the time thus far. And I'm looking forward to pivoting into the next segment and just getting a woman's perspective on a topic that we've covered several times here at Sexy Marriage Radio, but it's always good to get a fellow female clinician and her take on something that happens to all kinds of couples. So thanks again.

Emily Jamea: Thank you.

Corey Allan: It's such a privilege to have a lot of other people out there in the field that speak to the married life and the sex and the issues that we have in a slightly different way or a completely different way.

Pam Allan: It's still a common goal to get to something good.

Corey Allan: Everybody's in the path of trying to just help people get better, get past the blocks, be more engaged. And Emily's definitely doing that.

Pam Allan: Yep. Get out of our own way.

Corey Allan: Absolutely. And so it's such privilege to have people join us on the air. I need to sit down and just go through a list of all the guests, actually Jessica's done that. On the resources page And so it's such a great time just to have dialogues with colleagues. Well this has been Sexy Marriage Radio. If we left something undone where you got questions and you want us to go a little bit of a different way or keep going with something, let us know. 2 1 4 7 0 2 9 5 6 5, or feedback Sexy Marriage We'll see you next time.