On the Regular version of today’s show …
Pam and I have a Coffee Shop Conversation about the question: How often are complaints by your spouse heard as a request?
An email from a husband who repeatedly is looking for ways to get his wife interested in sex, yet is met with phrases like “All you ever think about is sex” or “Quit looking at me like a piece of meat.”
On the Xtended version …
What is it that makes us so afraid of being alone? Does the idea of sitting alone in a room with no distractions terrify you?
Enjoy the show!
Better HELP: Online counseling services accessible from anywhere. Save 10% on your first month https://betterhelp.com/smr
Speaker 1: You are listening to the regular version of Sexy Marriage Radio passionatelymarried.net.
Pam Allan: 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: Welcome back to another episode of Sexy Marriage Radio. We are full on into the holiday season here in the SMR Nation and in the world where lights are up, fires are going in fireplaces if you live-
Pam Allan: My favorite.
Corey Allan: ... in the places that are cool, and so we've got one going.
Pam Allan: Even in Texas, it's cold right now.
Corey Allan: Even in Texas, it can be cold. Freeze warning, freeze warning. It does happen.
Pam Allan: I'll take it, that means I get a fire.
Corey Allan: That's the truth. So then, we hope that whatever's going on and wherever it is that you live in this world, wherever you call home, that there's plenty of warmth going on in your household and in your marriage. You see what I did there?
Pam Allan: Nice play. Nice play, I like it.
Corey Allan: The way we try to heat things up here at Sexy Marriage Radio is we go where you want to go. If you got a question or you got a thought or a topic you want us to cover, please let us know. (214) 702-9565 is the voicemail line that gets you to the front of the line. If you've got a question that you're not sure where else to ask it, we'll answer it. And if you don't want to call in a voicemail ... which we can disguise your voice, if you're concerned that someone else may recognize you, but you can send an email, firstname.lastname@example.org is another way.
Pam Allan: Yeah, that's safe and harmless.
Corey Allan: Absolutely it is. And all the emails that come in, we do try to answer either directly or as shows and topics. Some of them get combined, because if you've got a question, we can almost promise you other people do too.
Pam Allan: Oh, definitely.
Corey Allan: Because there's a lot of times ... I just think of the different times where we've been at the getaway and we'd be talking about something and get on a thread and someone would ask a question. And finally, you'd hear other people when somebody finally asked the question, you'd hear three or four other people, "Oh, thank you. I was wondering the same thing."
Pam Allan: Or at moms' groups or whatever we go.
Corey Allan: Because everybody's struggling with marital topics and conflict that comes up, and issues surrounding sex, and frequency, and all that can come about it. So we want to try to be a resource that really does help you help your marriage and make things even better. And if you like what we've got going on here, we ask you to jump on iTunes and rate and review the show, leave a comment. Spread the word this holiday season, that Sexy Marriage Radio is where you can heat things up. Coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio, we're going to try a couple of different new things. We got a segment we're going to do where we're just going to start calling this ... occasionally, we'll be doing this, called Coffee Shop Conversations. Where we will take a topic or an email or both, and not only just answer it like we normally would, where we try to just go where the listeners want to go, but we're also talk about just our personal experience with it.
Pam Allan: It'll be fun to see the faces of the people around us in the coffee shop as we're discussing [crosstalk 00:03:13].
Corey Allan: Absolutely. And all the equipment that we'll set up, and maybe we'll get some people to come join us when we're recording those things. Plus, we've also got a couple other questions that we'll try to fill in and answer that have been in the inbox for a little while. And then on the extended version of Sexy Marriage Radio, which is deeper longer, and there are no ads, you can subscribe at passionatelymarried.net/smracademy. We're going to continue the conversation somewhat from last week's episode on loneliness, but really get more into this idea of what is our fear of being alone. Because there's been a thread the last several weeks, one with last week's show with Dr. JW Freiburg, and then a couple of comments that have been made some weeks prior, where one of them was, "If you can't be alone, then you'll always be lonely." And that sparked some conversations with some of my mastermind groups. We're going to pick that thread up and just look at this whole idea of the fear of being alone. All that's coming up on today's show.
As we venture in to a new segment and a new kind of style or format here at SMR, just casual conversation between you and I, and would love to hear from the SMR Nation. Join in. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, sit in the booth next to us, let us know what you think. (214) 702-9565, or email@example.com. But I came across this phrase or landed on this phrase, that was when I was working with one of the husbands not too long ago, where I've seen this play out in our marriage, which I think is why this rang so true. But the phrase is, "How often is a complaint by your spouse heard as a request?"
Pam Allan: I would say on a regular basis. Why else are they complaining, unless they want something to be changed. And if you want something to be changed, isn't that a request to do something?
Corey Allan: Okay. But I think what happens, at least the way I see this thing unfold for us, is there so many steps missing then. It's like, I make a complaint about something. You hear that as a request, and all of a sudden you jumped to it to try to solve something as if I made a request. But ain't that filling in some gaps and some holes that maybe we're too quick to do? I'll do this with you too, absolutely.
Pam Allan: It depends. If I know you're a passive aggressive person, then why wait around? I know you're not going to ask a question.
Corey Allan: Shot across the bow, because I am a passive aggressive person.
Pam Allan: So why sit here and try and pull it out of you and say, "Do want something changed?" When I know you bringing it up means, okay, you want the change?
Corey Allan: Okay. That's fascinating. All right. So then what you're describing to me, the way I'm hearing this is, how then do you confront this to where it's not just a complaint? But there's actually something added to it, or are there room for complaints that are just complaints?
Pam Allan: No, I think there's always room for complaint. I mean, especially, I would say between the two of us know ... We had this, the other day, I was complaining about something and you're like ... And it was something about the kids and you're like, "Honey, you can't say that to the kids." I'm like, "I'm not going to say that to the kids, I'm just ticked right now and-
Corey Allan: Just venting in a sense.
Pam Allan: ... and you are the person. We parented these kids together, and so you're the person that hears that." And I've just got to throw that out there and just kind of ... You get the vomit of the complaint, right?
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: And I'm not necessarily looking for you to change it or you to do something. It might be something the kid needs to do, it might be a different way that I need to look at the situation, or it just may be something that just is what it is and there's nothing neither of us can do about it, but-
Corey Allan: Right, so it's just a statement.
Pam Allan: ... it doesn't mean I'm happy with it.
Corey Allan: Right, just a statement. Because I think of this in a couple of different ways. The first one is, obviously with the marriage, your spouse gets treated and gets the behind the scenes, behind the curtain, "Here's what's going on." And whether it's voiced or not, oftentimes the map is accurate enough to know something's up, "What's wrong? What's bothering you?" And then that then seems to kick into, "I don't want my spouse struggling or having to deal with something uncomfortable, so therefore I'll hop to it. How can we make this better? How can we fix it?" Because it's not just the males that are fixers, right?
Pam Allan: No. No. Agreed.
Corey Allan: It's a human condition.
Pam Allan: Agreed.
Corey Allan: At least for us, it is for sure. So it's looking through this as, "Okay. If I hear that, well then maybe I can do something." Now, all of a sudden I feel valuable. I feel wanted, "Yes, let's do this. I'll fix this." When maybe what you're describing is beneficial that you start recognizing, I might be jumping to some steps if I do that though.
Pam Allan: And what steps are you saying we're jumping?
Corey Allan: Well, so you hear a complaint. So therefore rather than asking a follow-up question, you jump to, "Let's fix it." Maybe the step is I need to ask a follow-up question or a clarifying question, or I need to just let it rest and see if the spouse will do something with it.
Pam Allan: I guess that's your only next move then, is to ask that question, right? And then see where it goes from there.
Corey Allan: Right. "Is this a complaint or a request?" Maybe that's the best question there.
Pam Allan: Well, I think that is key right there, is to not assume, to not ... So the scenario I brought up with the passive aggressive spouse, but you brought up the, you know they're hurting and you want to help them. You want to ... There's really a struggle going on, it's not just-
Corey Allan: Right. Or comfortable or something.
Pam Allan: And it's really a situation that they need some help on, but it is absolutely valid to gum in and ask that question, "What is it you're looking for here? Because I'd like to be here for you, but what is it you're looking for?"
Corey Allan: Because this one here, we talked about this on the show several times, of this idea of, "Okay, what are you looking for from me here?" Or, "Is there something that is necessary or is this just that time of be an ally and an ear from where you are."
Pam Allan: Well, and that's what's necessary, right?
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: So yeah, it is something necessary. But is it that I need to take action or is my action just sitting beside you?
Corey Allan: Yeah. I like that because I think that at least creates some space for both of us to wrestle.
Pam Allan: Well, I think sometimes we don't realize that by taking action, we think that we've got to get in there and get our hands dirty and do something. Well, taking action and getting your hands dirty is listening.
Corey Allan: True.
Pam Allan: Just being that person that sits there for them, even though they may have to be the ones getting in and getting their elbows dirty. Listening as an action.
Corey Allan: Yeah. No, that's a good landing point right there. Do you need some more coffee?
Pam Allan: I would love some more coffee with some extra cream, please.
Corey Allan: If you've listened to Sexy Marriage Radio for any length of time, you've heard us talk about how marriage has had struggles. Life has struggles, but you're not alone. If something's interfering with your wellbeing or preventing you from achieving your goals, help is available. I've had the help of a great therapist at several different points in my life, and I would not be experiencing the life marriage or family I have today without them. This is where our sponsor, Better HELP, comes into play for you. Better HELP will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist. And in many cases, you can start communicating in under 24 hours. It's not a crisis line, it's not self-help, it's professional counseling done securely online. And with a broad range of expertise available, this is available to clients worldwide. You can log into your account anytime and send a message to your counselor. You get timely thoughtful responses, plus you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions. So you never have to sit in an uncomfortable waiting room as with traditional therapy.
Better HELP is committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches, so they make it easy and free to change counselors if needed. It's often more affordable than traditional offline counseling and financial aid is available. Better HELP wants you to start living a happier and healthier life today. Visit betterhelp.com/smr. That's Better H-E-L-P, and join the over 1 million people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. This is actually one therapist recommending other therapists, because finding the right professional to work with makes all the difference. Special offer for our listeners in the SMR Nation is you get 10% off your first month. Visit betterhelp.com/smr today. This is an email that came in. This is for both of us, because I think it's going to be fascinating to unpack. We've covered this some, but I want to go a slight different way with this conversation, Pam. It says, "Hey Corey, I'm struggling with my communication of sex and intimacy needs with my wife. She was more interested in sex earlier in our marriage. However, she's never had an orgasm and is against anything other than intercourse sex.
Also when I bring it up, it basically is mercy sex, if it happens at all. Another issue is that the times that I look at her like, 'Man, you're hot.' She will say, 'I hate it when you look at me like a piece of meat.' I've never treated her with anything but respect and love. However, I feel like she hides her naked body from me. When I do communicate with her about sex, she's quick to shut it down. We have a great marriage outside of sex and intimacy. I Just don't know how to communicate more when she has no interest in increasing our sexual intimacy and has even said, 'I'll focus on it once the kids are grown.' And by the way, the kids are six, eight and ten. I listen to most of your podcasts, but she never does. And if I send her one, it comes across as all I think about is sex instead of me trying to increase our intimacy. Thoughts?"
So the two different ways I want to go with this, actually one is we've addressed this in the past on this is about you needing to reflect on how are you treating her. Is she truly a piece of meat or not? The other side of it though, is ... and I realize this line is going to be variable depending on circumstances, background, baggage, trauma, everything with people. But at what point is, "Yes, I have crossed the line and I think about this and there's too much emphasis on it." Versus, "Nope, that's her problem. That's the way she interprets it. That's the way she sees it. But it's not anything 'across the line.'"
Pam Allan: Well, I mean, you referred to the baggage of history, whatever, and I don't know if you're referring to her or him. But my immediate thought is he could totally be treating her like a queen, right?
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: And she may have baggage from way back when. How did she get to feeling like she's a piece of meat if she's looked at, at all in a sexual way? She's got to want to figure that out before anything gets solved in that corner.
Corey Allan: Hence the quandary. There was a big quandary, because if she's not interested in that or she keeps pushing that down the road, that puts them both in quite the bind.
Pam Allan: Definitely. Definitely. I mean, I'm sad for her to not even have a desire to go there and figure something out because that's missing out on a lot in my opinion. But how did she get there? That's what I would want to figure out. And if he's not figuring it out with her, gosh, I'd be at the point of, "This is a huge thing for me, we got to go to counseling. Because-
Corey Allan: A lot of times it's beneficial to-
Pam Allan: ... what can I do for you?"
Corey Allan: ... enlist the help of somebody else, the third party that can ask the right questions. Get on a Zoom call with me. There's a variety of options in the way we can approach this. But I think you're onto it, Pam, in the sense that it's important to look back at your history ... and I'm talking to him with this.
Pam Allan: Sure.
Corey Allan: Of where were the times where yeah, it was probably leaning too far past the line. Because we all could do that. Absolutely, we can because it's-
Pam Allan: Yeah, I think they have some scenarios [crosstalk 00:16:34].
Corey Allan: ... it's a new thing. It's something you want and you've got a high desire for it, and there's a lot of draw to it. So there's this thought process, at least I've gone down of, "Oh, well, so I need to talk about her, and boost her up, and make those comments." And I would do it in the way I would want it done, and that's not going to land.
Pam Allan: Right, the way you want it done is not going to be the way she wants it done.
Corey Allan: Right. So that's where it starts to tip the scale to where, "All you ever think about is sex." Where we've addressed this before, where the best response to that in my book is as long as you can, honestly, from integrity and respect, "Yes. And more, I do think about this. I'm not hiding that in and I'm not backing down from it, and I'm also not forcing it on you." I'm just going to keep the tension and the pressure there, because the tension is going to be part of the relationship. You either get it positive or negative. Right now, he's describing it as a negative. She holds the cards with the sense of, "I'm going to deal with this later." Which maybe she will, but who knows if later ever comes?
Pam Allan: That's the truth.
Corey Allan: Because that's the world we live in, we not make it through the rest of this podcast. I mean, we don't know. So it's seeing it through the lens of, okay, if you have shored up your side of it and it is respectful, honoring, it's inspiring in the way you're approaching it, then maybe you need to look at the manner in which you deliver things. But I don't know if you need to stop because that's the better clean pressure that's there.
Pam Allan: Yeah. I wouldn't say stop certainly. But there's ... You definitely have to look at delivery. If you're getting frustrated, it's easy for that to come through in how your communications go about it. And it sounds like she's pretty quick to dismiss.
Corey Allan: Right. This is where I think it comes down to, how do you start looking through this lens of, "What is this, that's my journey in this? How am I co-creating this?" This is as the husband. Because if she's not the one that's got the interest and the desire to really start exploring it, then that's a down the road. But the cleanest way to get to that point faster is make the pressure as clean as it can be.
Pam Allan: And what does that really mean? What does as clean as can be look like?
Corey Allan: Okay. So a lot of times, if there's tension between a spouse on a subject, that tension does just not go away. The easiest way to describe that as if you're married to a higher desire partner and you both come up with this. Or he comes up with, let's say, he's the higher desire. "You know what? I'm just not going to keep ... I'm going to stop initiating. I'm just going to give her room to breathe, and I'm going to back off." Is it possible then at that point that the wife is reading him as he's no longer interested in sex? No. It's there, it's just it's a known quantity. So a lot of times we seem to, as couples, to dance around these things that are just the elephant in the room, rather than address it cleanly, which as in call it out what it really is. And what it really is, is he wants to make his marriage and his intimacy life with her more expansive ... I guess, is probably a good way to frame it and it sounds a little more positive.
To where it's life-giving, and it's explorative, and it just adds a flavor to life. She doesn't see it that way. At least at current state in the way it's described. So if that's the dynamic, how do you as cleanly and honestly as you can, confront that? That's it, because that pressure does not change. But when we come at it, "Oh no, that's not really what I was thinking. Oh no, I was just kind of ..." That's where I'm being underhanded. And as you had mentioned in our coffee conversation, passive aggressive. I'm dancing around something rather than being bold and letting my partner feel the weight of what's going on with me, and then coupled with handle that better as far as an attachment to an outcome or not. See it as a long game, that's the better way to deal with that pressure. Because then those are the things that in our journey, have been a move, or some sort of statement, or a better response to something produces a result down the road sooner because it causes one of us to go, "Okay, that keeps coming up. What's my deal?
Why am I so reticent? Why am I so ...?" Whatever. And when I can start asking those questions of myself, lo and behold, I got a whole new option of how I deal with stuff. Because then you start to realize there is help. You and I have both been to different therapists throughout our marriage and adult life where it's been helpful, and it's a definite benefit.
Pam Allan: Yeah. I mean, everybody knows I'm the lower desire. And there was a period it was like squat for desire. I was seeing a counselor. I went and talked, and discussed, and tried to figure things out. And there's hope. I guess I say that just to say, there's hope. People can look at things differently.
Corey Allan: There absolutely is, and the best way I think to make that happen is like what he's describing, where you're reaching out, you're trying to find some resources and some help. But the main thing is you don't approach this as it's your wife's problem. It's his too. So play your side of the street cleanly and better, let her handle hers and address those as they happen.
Pam Allan: So I would say he needs to let her know what is it that this means to him. She doesn't know the meaning behind it, other than she feels like a piece of meat. So what does that connection, what does that act mean to him?
Corey Allan: Because how can being "a piece of meat" actually be reframed to something a little more positive too? I want to share an experience with you. That's not a piece of meat, that's an experience. That's the being of who you are.
Pam Allan: Well, it's a connection, I'm assuming. I mean, he can share with his meaning is, I don't want to come up with his-
Corey Allan: True that.
Pam Allan: ... meaning for him. And hopefully, that's something that speaks to her over time. But I think it's worth her hearing it. Maybe he's already told her over and over again, I don't know, but it's worth her getting what the meaning is.
Corey Allan: Totally. And even ... And let's end it with this. Because even if you have told your partner what something means in the past, you probably need to remind them when have new conversations about the same topic. It's not a beat them over the head with it.
Pam Allan: No.
Corey Allan: But don't we forget?
Pam Allan: Oh, totally. Totally.
Corey Allan: Because my life is consumed by my life, not always yours, Pam.
Pam Allan: Right. Right. Even between spouses, it's crazy to look at how we forget what the spouse thinks of something or what speaks to them. It's kind of sad, but it's real.
Corey Allan: Right. So I guess to land this whole conversation, it comes back to how are you living within your own character and your own vibrancy, and aliveness with this aspect? But make sure you're not weaponizing it, you're not blaming seeing it as her problem. It's how are you approaching it as best you can? And realize that's the best path forward, that's your next best step. If you happen to miss the extended content because you're not part of the extended or the Academy with SMR, I'm going to add one little thought to help bring the whole conversation we just had with the Academy to a close, where we were just discussing this idea of, if you can't be alone, you'll always feel lonely and most people are afraid of themselves. That's what drives a lot of our behaviors. There was actually a study done that researched this, where they put people in a room and they gave them 20 minutes to have to sit alone, non distraction, just with themselves. And their way out was they could give themselves ... they could push a button, which would actually give them a slight electroshock of pain to themselves.
Pam Allan: And did they know it was going to give them a shock?
Corey Allan: Yes, they did. And what was found is there's not quite a majority, but almost, they would rather go through that kind of a pain than just be alone.
Pam Allan: Well, wouldn't everybody? Okay, so they didn't ... If they stayed in there for a certain period of time, they wouldn't have to do that to themselves?
Corey Allan: Correct.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: Or the way out-
Pam Allan: They could get out early.
Corey Allan: ... is they can shock themselves with some electroshock.
Pam Allan: So the way out is not just the electroshock, the way out is either electroshock-
Corey Allan: Stick with the whole-
Pam Allan: ... or stick with it.
Corey Allan: ... process and experiment. Yes. And wrestle with yourself in your own mental world, that's going on?
Pam Allan: Well, we got things to do. Just give me the shock.
Corey Allan: And if you have no clue what we're talking about, you want to join the Academy at passionatelymarried.net/smracademy, to hear the full conversation.
Pam Allan: It might be exciting. Get a tingle.
Corey Allan: You're going a whole different way with that. Well, this was Sexy Marriage Radio. Obviously, we might've left some things undone. So-
Pam Allan: Maybe so.
Corey Allan: ... if we did, let us know, (214) 702-9565 or firstname.lastname@example.org. As the holiday season and Christmas fast approaches, we want to wish you and yours a fabulous time as we head into the season. I love this season. I think it's a good-
Pam Allan: The Christmas season?
Corey Allan: Yeah, I think Christmas season is a great season when you see all the lights up and it's festive, and everybody seems to be a little more cheerful. Maybe it's just me. This has Sexy Marriage Radio, thanks for taking the time out of your day to spend it with us. We'll see you next time.
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