Top iTunes Marriage Podcast

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hosted by Dr. Corey Allan

Indecisiveness #486

On the Regular version of today’s show …

A caller asking how she can help her husband’s performance anxiety issue.

An email from a husband asking about the difference between telling your spouse vs asking.

A wife is wondering if her perspective as the higher desire is wrong.

On the Xtended version …

Indecisiveness in life and sex. Many people face it – how do you confront it better?

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Speaker 1: 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 Allan.

Corey Allan: Welcome back to another episode of Sexy Marriage Radio. We're alongside my wife, Pam.

Pam Allan: Hey, good to be here again.

Corey Allan: Each and every week we go where are the SMR Nation wants to go? Unless we've got something else going on.

Pam Allan: Asterisk, star star star.

Corey Allan: Sometimes we've got something else on the agenda that fits usually with a slew of emails or messages that have come in that make a larger topic, and so we'll steer-

Pam Allan: So they're still driving it.

Corey Allan: Absolutely. This is listener driven radio and podcast world. And so the way we know where we're heading, in large part, is by the SMR Nation letting us know. And so they can give us a call at (214) 702-9565 is the voicemail line. That gets your request to the front of the line. You can also send us an email of feedback at, where we read them all, we respond to some directly, some get on the air, some get lumped in with a topic to make sure that we're answering the questions to help people most with what's going on in their life. Because a lot of times when you're talking about marriage, it's not always easy, and sex within that marriage sometimes isn't easy either.

Pam Allan: Nothing new under the sun though, because whatever you're dealing with, somebody else is dealing with it too, more than likely.

Corey Allan: But what we want to have happen is we want the connections to be better. And I'm going to give a quick little plug for a new product. We'll unpack this in a future weeks, but we just rolled out The State of Our Union, which is a new resource available,, and it is weekly questions that you can answer with your spouse that come via text message. So you sign up, you pay, you sign up, and give the phone numbers for both you and your spouse. You set the time you want the text to show up, and then you spend five to 10 minutes each week answering the questions that come along. And I think you get 52 text messages, so it ends up being a year's worth of conversations to maintain a deeper connection, to talk about the important, not just the immediate.

Pam Allan: Right. It goes a little bit deeper on a quarterly or an annual basis, right?

Corey Allan: So Pam and I use it. It's incredibly helpful. And we want you to use it too. So, more information coming, but if you're interested and we whet your appetite with that kind of tease, go check it out, And you can find out all the more details that you want to find.
Coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio, several of your questions and our answers. We're going to be quick on some of these today, which you're going to have to help probably with that, because I will tend to keep going.

Pam Allan: Are we going to set the timer and I can ring a bell or something like that?

Corey Allan: I guess we could do something like that, but-

Pam Allan: It's like how many tunes can I name in 60 seconds, kind of thing?

Corey Allan: That's a whole different way you just went down that one.

Pam Allan: All right, all right.

Corey Allan: But anyway, so we're going to try to get through a slew of different questions that have come in and been sitting there waiting. And then, on the extended version of Sexy Marriage Radio, which is deeper, longer, and there are no ads, you can subscribe at I've got an email that came in, that I've taken a section out of an email, that she's talking about one of the things her husband wants the most is for her to be more decisive in bed. And so we're going to talk about the whole world of indecisiveness, especially when it comes to your sex life.

Pam Allan: Okay. I can relate to this, so this could be some good flavor.

Corey Allan: Because I know she's not alone, and even from some men, she's not alone. So all that's coming up on today's show.

Speaker 4: Hi, Sexy Marriage Radio. Thank you so much for the resource that you provide. I've really enjoyed having a trustworthy place to go to with my questions. So my question today is about how to balance out performance anxiety for my husband. I guess it's obviously often made worse the more that you talk about sex and the more that you emphasize it, but I also really want us to be proactive and not just kind of ignore it and expect it to go away on its own.
So we've tried having him just do things to me, we've tried having me initiate, having him initiate. I'm constantly offering to just let him relax and have me do things for him. And it all just seems like kind of bandaid fixes that's not getting to the root of what his anxiety or his identity is with sex. So I guess I'm just wondering what the best way to approach this is aside from him doing personal work. I'm just trying to think of a way we can have an intimate activity that's not just sex focused and going to cause him more anxiety. I'm thinking about seeing if we can set aside time just for kissing a couple of times a week. And if more happens, that's fine, but we're just going to focus on that. Or do we just say we're just going to go an entire month without sex and take off the stress and just have some date nights without that? Yeah, I'm just not really sure how I can help him, but I really love him and we have a really great marriage outside of that, but it's just kind of been a really difficult cycle for us because I have higher desire than him. But yeah, any advice is appreciated. Thank you guys so much for what you do.

Corey Allan: So what are you hearing in this, Pam? Because-

Pam Allan: I heard two different questions that has me ... I'm not 100% clear on totally what the issue is. She said she's the higher desire, and-

Corey Allan: Yep. Probably largely stemming from his performance anxiety.

Pam Allan: Right. So I'm not clear if it's just her having a higher desire, and he might have a high desire and he's just got the performance anxiety, or how do you split hairs on that and how that works? But I also ... it sounds like they're being creative and trying to ... she named all kinds of alternatives that they're working through.

Corey Allan: Right, they're trying to find the bandaid fixes, which is what she's describing, of what are some work arounds for this big issue? Yep.

Pam Allan: Right. But there was a small snippet in there of without him having to do some work on himself. And that was the thing that stuck out to me, of-

Corey Allan: Okay, so I'm feeling a little feisty as we're recording this, and so I don't want this to come across harsh or disrespectful at all, but she's calling for his issue. That's the crux of this whole thing. What she's really facing is, "I'm married to a guy that has problems in the bedroom because of anxiety, stress, performance-

Pam Allan: Whatever it might be.

Corey Allan: There's not enough details to know exactly what that means, because performance anxiety for men oftentimes plays out in either erectile difficulties or premature ejaculation issues. It's one end of the spectrum, either end. So she's facing, "I want something that my spouse ... he's saying he wants, maybe, but he freaks out and he's got some anxiety over it. So he's not willing to do anything about it though."

Pam Allan: Well is he or isn't he? We don't know the answer to that one.

Corey Allan: But since she's the one framing the question, it's an entirely different conversation if he's the one that called in.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: Because he's then seeking an answer for his issue, because she's the one that has to face the fallout of his issue.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: And so a better way to think of this is, "I'm married to somebody that I want something more than they do. And they may say they want it too, but they're not showing any actionable steps that show they do." Because if there really is an issue, and I tell my partner; "I know, I'm working on it," and all that, but I'm really not, I'm just trying to buy him off and push him off away from me without having to do the heavy lifting of do I really?

Pam Allan: Right. Right. It's lower on my priority list and I'd rather do other things.

Corey Allan: Because the way she's framing this of, "How do we make it easier for him?" You can't. There's band-aid issues and some things you can add, yes, like she's describing, that they could be points towards. But until he's really willing to take the bull by the horns and start to seek, "What is it about this whole dynamic in my sex life that the anxiety is rearing its head this way, and how do I learn to self-soothe, validate myself beyond how I'm performing or not," I mean, there's a lot of other things that can go on. I work with a lot of men that have done this, where, "I've sought too much of an identity through what I can or can't do when it comes to the bedroom, versus no, there's so much more of who I am, not just what happens in the bedroom or doesn't."

Pam Allan: So she's the one calling in and she specifically posed the question, how can she help him? So are there arenas in here that she can help him?

Corey Allan: Okay, I'm going to go blunt. How can she help him? She sits him down and she looks him squarely in the eye, and with all sincerity says, "You know what, honey? This issue you've got is impacting my sex life with you. I don't like it."

Pam Allan: And that's it?

Corey Allan: I mean ...

Pam Allan: I'm just asking, I'm just asking, because I'm thinking you get a couple that comes into your office, how would that conversation go? What would you prompt the wife in that scenario?

Corey Allan: I would tell the wife the same kind of thing, that this is not your issue. You are the one that gets the fallout of his issue.

Pam Allan: But it's important for her to communicate her thoughts on how it affects her desires.

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm (affirmative), "This is the impact of that on me. And I don't like the way it's playing out. And I want you to do something about it. Either do or don't. If you're not going to, then tell me, be honest. Be respectful enough to give me the truth."

Pam Allan: Right. "And then I can figure out how to deal with that at that point."

Corey Allan: "And then I can make decisions." Because these are the gridlock issues that are going on in marriage. We all have them in various things, and we're hoping our spouse will either go dumb or blind on them, when sometimes that just doesn't happen. And so the best thing I can do is address the impact of it on me, and then see, "Okay, are you willing to make the moves to change this and challenge and figure out what this is, or not?" Because she's saying she's an ally in this; "I'll be a willing ally and I want to help. But ultimately I can't."

Pam Allan: Yeah, "There's only so far I can go."

Corey Allan: So, "Your move, buddy," is almost where it goes.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: If you've listened to Sexy Marriage Radio for any length of time, you've heard us talk about how marriages have 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.
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Well, based off of the call we just had, this one ... the mood I'm in right now, I'm not sure how these will go, so let's just see.

Pam Allan: Okay, let's go. If you're feisty, okay.

Corey Allan: So this is just a quick email that says, "Good morning. I'd be interested in hearing your insights around the topic of telling versus asking your spouse about what your plans are. I have some thoughts and feelings and thought it might be helpful for listeners who are navigating through this. Thanks." Because there is this element of where's the line of respect, right? When you're talking about, "I'm trying to live my life concurrently alongside yours." There's a whole lot of overlap when you're talking about our marriage, that we do a lot of life together, and a lot of what we do impacts and falls out on you or vice versa. So where's the line of asking about what my plans are versus telling what my plans are?

Pam Allan: Is it a line, or is it a, "Hey, here's a mood and a focus and here's the attitude I want to portray"? Because I think there are days, I'll just speak personally, there are days when I really like it when you just come out and say, "I'm coming after you tonight."

Corey Allan: Okay.

Pam Allan: There's days that I love that. And there's other days that I'm like, "I'm just tired. Would you ask me so I could say yes or no, and not have to knock you off the confident-

Corey Allan: The train that I'm heading on right at that moment?

Pam Allan: The confident train that you're on.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Pam Allan: So some of that might be reading the mood, I think, but there are definitely times where I think that that telling is a, "Hey, you're leading on a good path and I'm going to jump on board with that."

Corey Allan: Okay. So in that regard you're talking about more of just the announcing of an intent. The, "Here it goes. Here's my cards." Right?

Pam Allan: That's where I'm coming from on that.

Corey Allan: That's interesting, because I hear this not so much on what goes on in the sexual arena, I hear this also in just the life arena of, "Hey, this weekend, I'm heading out with the boys," versus, "Hey, I was wanting to head out with the boys. What's your plans? You okay with that?" I think there's a variety of ranges.

Pam Allan: The checking of the schedules, yeah.

Corey Allan: Yeah. There's a variety of ranges, because if you think about it, one of the things that really does trip up a lot of marriages is one spouse gets, for the lack of a better phrase, scared of the other. "And I don't want them to be upset, so I tip toe and I hint and I get into covert contract world," and all these kinds of things where I'm setting up weather balloons to see if it's okay if I could go out and do this thing instead of come home that night, versus, "Hey, I'm heading out. I'll see you when I get back."

Pam Allan: Well, I think that your sending up weather balloons and covert isn't even one of these asking or telling, because that's all passive.

Corey Allan: That's true.

Pam Allan: And I mean, if I'm asking, I'm asking. That is what it is. If I'm telling, I'm telling. I don't think either of those are passive or being behind the scene.

Corey Allan: Okay. Because that's interesting, because we had two different descriptions of what we just heard from the email. It landed in two different arenas, but they still overlap, I think, because the context still matters, and it just plays out in different arenas. So then it probably comes down to ... to me, the difference, because he's asking the insights around the topic of telling versus asking, to me the difference is it always has to have an undercurrent that's completely built on respect.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: Right? That if I'm telling my spouse, "Here's my plan, here's my intent," whatever, there still needs to be a level of respect in the manner in which I do it. Because what I say matters. How I say it matters.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: But there's also an element of I can come at it pretty boldly and confidently within the frame of an asking. Right. So it's just-

Pam Allan: And I guess there's, along with that in the respect factor, I think there's this, if I'm telling, I got to be open to the spouse also coming back and saying, "No, you're not." And how do I react?

Corey Allan: Right. Because I would either want it to be met with the pushback, just like you're bringing to the equation, and that's a great litmus test, Pam, to kind of put out there for people, that whatever level of emphasis I'm bringing, don't be surprised, if not actually want to invite, the pushback when needed.

Pam Allan: Yeah. The same level of pushback, right? And they'll be telling you the same way.

Corey Allan: Right. "No, you're not, because we already had this plan." "Oh." And then that's on both of us to kind of adjust and adopt to ... and again, this is all under the auspices of, I am actually living in my actions and the lifestyle in which I carry myself aligned with what I say I value. If I'm out with the guys all the time, but I say, "Oh yeah, family's the most important thing." Really? Is it? Because where do you spend your time and your money? That's where your heart is. So I think there's importance to see, telling is a good thing. I tell a lot of husbands, if they're the higher desire spouse, you could even do this as a wife, as a higher desire spouse, don't ever frame an entry into sex as a question, as in a yes or no. Usually if you give the opportunity for a lower desire to say no, they probably will, because at that moment when you're bringing it up, that's probably where they are.

Pam Allan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Corey Allan: So instead, you're better off with the phrase you said of like, "Hey, I'm coming after you tonight." "Hey, I need to get something off your chest tonight."

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: Right? Some of those kinds of things that are just some statements that kind of start the ball rolling. And I think that's an incredibly effective role higher desires can play, to lead in the sexual arena, but also in life. Of just kind of leading the family, leading the lifestyle. Because you're leading your life that then interacts and overlaps with your family and your spouse.
Okay. So here's a little bit longer of an email.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: Okay? So it says, "Hello there. I'm a relatively new SMR listener and it's refreshing to have a podcast about sex and relationships that isn't overly moralistic or profane. You strike the right balance." So I like that, because that's the idea, right?

Pam Allan: Thank you, yes, thank you very much, yeah.

Corey Allan: That we want to be Christian values within this, but also be real among what life is.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: "I'm a wife with a higher desire than my husband. There've been seasons, like when I was nursing one of our three kids, when my husband was more interested in sex than I was, but I think I'm more naturally inclined towards physical intimacy. Honestly, I've very little to complain about; my husband and I enjoy sex every few days and don't generally turn each other down when one of us is in the mood. So our relationship is solid, we don't have any issues like porn, sexual trauma, et cetera.
My husband's very generous in bed. I rarely orgasm less than twice in an encounter." Well done, dude." Sorry, I added my own commentary there. "And I've learned to be more comfortable in my skin and delight in the things that turn him on. I wish he were more interested in whispering sweet nothings, but I don't live in a romance novel, and he's an Enneagram five, so I've stopped expecting that sort of thing. The only real disappointment I have is that I'm almost always the initiator. He always rises to the occasion, pun intended, and we enjoy one another, but when it's always me initiating, I don't get to feel desired and wanted. I've talked to him about it a few times with no change. I wonder if I was just beating him to the punch, so I decided not to initiate for a while, and it was eight or nine days till I caved and initiated again. I mentioned that to him later and he hadn't even noticed it had been so long. Do I need a reality check? I know our sex life is pretty great, so maybe I'm the one being unreasonable. Is this something I just need to make peace with and be grateful for what we have, or is there a better way I can communicate my longing to feel desired? Thanks for any guidance. Keep up the great work."
This is refreshing. I don't know-

Pam Allan: Is it refreshing for you because it's a female?

Corey Allan: Yeah, because this is the dilemma of higher desire and lower desire. The higher desire is going to carry the bulk of the initiation on their shoulders. That's the reality.

Pam Allan: Why do you call it refreshing then?

Corey Allan: Because there's something about the way she's framing this, that she's trying to just say, "Hey, help me check myself."

Pam Allan: Got you.

Corey Allan: And that's a great stance, to be able to say yes, ma'am, you do need a reality check. You've already done a test trial of, "Let's see if he notices." Lo and behold, he didn't. Does that mean it's not important to him?

Pam Allan: No.

Corey Allan: Not necessarily. It's not on the hierarchy like it is her. Great, no big deal. That's just the reality of it. And so I think it's important to just see, and this is what makes it kind of refreshing, because she's basically saying, "Help me just view this right." Because how often do we get caught up in life, Pam, where I get caught on one thing and it gets caught in my head and it starts drawing me down and sucking the life out of me until I can get the chance to have a little bit of reset to go, "Wait, I got it pretty good." So I just need a better perspective and a reframe of all of this, because the reality is this is all pretty good. This one little area is an itch and it's an issue, but I tend to think that if I didn't have little issues in my life, I wouldn't enjoy the things that are really good too.

Pam Allan: Yeah, they amplify one another.

Corey Allan: Right, because you need the yin and the yang, if you will. And so I think, just to answer her question of does she need a reality check and that's just the way it is, yes.
Okay. So let's set up the extended where we're going to be heading, because we've done this a lot with some of the emails that we answer, or voicemails that we answer in the extended content. So let's give the information, and then if you're interested in our answer, you're going to want to subscribe to the extended content,

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: So again, I pulled this from a section of a longer email. And so I don't think it's out of context because she gives some preliminary of what's been going on, and then also gives a little bit more that we'll address in a future episode. But with this, I wanted to pull this one section out because it really does set up a great dialogue I think you and I can have.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: Okay? So this is from a wife that says, "I'm writing to you because I'm frustrated and perplexed, mostly with myself. I'm 38 years old and I've been married to my husband for 13 years. I am the lower desire spouse and I feel like our entire marriage has been a continuous conversation to find a happy medium for the two of us. I want to have a sexual relationship with my husband, but I find it very difficult to become aroused. We have sex six to eight times per month. I try to be sure I initiate some of the times, even if I'm not in the mood, because I love my husband and sex is important to him. However, he recently asked me to try to be more decisive during sex. Since my sex drive seems to have mostly disappeared, I feel very uncertain during sex. I don't know what I want and my body doesn't seem to respond to the things we try. Do you have any ideas?"
So, if you're curious and you're not a member of the Academy, you'll want to subscribe and stay tuned because Pam's going to answer all of her questions.

Pam Allan: Right, yeah. I've got this one covered, so you guys just want to listen to it all, right?

Corey Allan: So it only seems appropriate, Pam, that I probably should disclose, based on the extended content, I'm really looking forward to the next time we are together because you're going to just be incredibly decisive.

Pam Allan: Yeah, yeah. Count on that. Count on that. We'll tell everybody at the next Academy call how that worked out.

Corey Allan: I love it that there's a thread of all the different emails that came through, that there's such a similarity.

Pam Allan: Again, we're all in this boat together, right? I mean, life and relationship. They have different rivers they flow down, but they all flow into the same ocean, right?

Corey Allan: They seem to do so, yes. Well this has been Sexy Marriage Radio. If we left something undone, we want you to let us know as the member of the SMR Nation. So you can let us know at (214) 702-9565, or feedback at So wherever you are, whatever you've been doing, thanks again for taking the time out of your week to spend it with us. See you next time.