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hosted by Dr. Corey Allan
Should I Tell My Wife? | Feedback Wednesday #610
Come join the conversations in the SMRNation Community at my.passionatelymarried.net
On the Regular Version …
It’s Feedback Wednesday, where we answer questions from the Nation.
A wife had a little issue with our Trust vs Hurt episode. She heard our take as possibly blaming the betrayed spouse, not the betrayer.
A husband has had a struggle with porn before he married his wife, and it has continued into their marriage as well. He’s tried several times to kick it, unsuccessfully. Should he tell his wife about his struggle?
On the Extended Version …
A wife emails us about how her husband is very curious and wants to explore more about the swinging lifestyle. This breaks her heart … and scares her.
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Corey Allan: Coming up next on the Passionately Married podcast, "Wait, I want to move towards the relationship. I want to..." And it's just that element of, okay, I got to figure out how I'm going to replace it, how I'm going to spend that time differently because that's where it starts to get a little more uncomfortable because when you show up more in your relationship, most of the time your partner asks, what's different here? What's changed.
Pam Allan: What's different? What's going on?
Corey Allan: All right, something's just changed here. And that's where it becomes uncomfortable conversations that are worth it in the long run.
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: Well, welcome to Feedback Wednesday. I'm your host, Dr. Corey Allan, alongside my wife, who is the voice of all women out there, all wives.
Pam Allan: There might be some women that dispute that.
Corey Allan: There might be, but my wife, Pam, the Passionately Married podcast, our mission is to explore topics every relationship faces, and then we want to offer a framework that helps you cultivate the space between you because one of the things that happens with the long game of Married Life is we want the passion to be vibrant and alive, and a lot of times that really does exist in the space between us. And so the conversations we have, the actions we can take are the ways that we can propel our life forward.
If you're new to the show on Feedback Wednesdays, we give direct answers to your questions and your feedback. And if you got other things that you want us to cover that we haven't done, let us know. 214-702-9565 or email@example.com. And there's been a lot going on that since the last time we've been able to do this. We've had a variety of different episodes with guests lately. So episode 606 was, How Sex Works In Our Brains, which is Emily Nagoski. And I love the fact that she reworked her book, Come As You Are throughout the Covid pandemic and the lockdown, and just updated it based on the science that was current. And then Dr. Alexandra Stockwell with Passion Killers. And the biggest one that we got the most feedback, or I heard the most information from was the idea of compromise is one of the biggest ways you kill passion.
Pam Allan: Right. I love that one too.
Corey Allan: I love the counterintuitive, take a different slant to it.
Pam Allan: Yeah. Because so many people say, "Oh, well just compromise."
Corey Allan: Yeah. "That's the key to it. You got to do that."
Pam Allan: Yeah. Then nobody's happy.
Corey Allan: And then The Importance of Agency with Dr. Juliana Hauser, which was so great on how we all need to learn to stand on our own two feet. That was the way you put it. And there was just such an overlap of the missions we have and her and the research she's got. It was so good. And then last week was Christopher West with Our Bodies Tell God's Story. And what's been fun about that is now with the changeover to Passionately Married, we are on all of the social media platforms, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube.
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: So hello YouTube. Since we're doing these video-
Pam Allan: Hey everybody.
Corey Allan: But we got some feedback on one of the questions I did with a Q and A and maybe you need to talk to Christopher West on the Theology of the Body.
Pam Allan: These people disagreed with what you said.
Corey Allan: Right. They didn't like my answer.
Pam Allan: And they used Christopher West as the answer.
Corey Allan: And it was so great because I was able to reply back. Actually, that's this week's episode. Here's the link.
Pam Allan: Go enjoy.
Corey Allan: So we have had this. Enjoy the conversation. So there's been a lot going on. There's another big thing that's worth mentioning, Pam. Naked Marriage is now available on Audible.
Pam Allan: Well done.
Corey Allan: After all these years of having that book out there in print form, it is now an audible form. And so go to Audible, search for Naked Marriage with my name. You'll find it. There's also another author out there that has taken the title with a slight variation with one word, but you'll find the book there.
Pam Allan: Yeah. So look for Dr. Corey Allan. Super proud of you for getting that done. It's exciting to have that done.
Corey Allan: It's that great to finally have that thing done. That was quite the ordeal to make that happen. And then here's some feedback we also got from a listener, a review that says, "Brilliant. I've been following Corey and Pam for years. Incredible insights and depth of knowledge and just a wonderful real down to earth couple. No hype, just real life and real practical help. As professional practitioner, Corey is deeply studied and well-read and very experienced. Love it."
Pam Allan: Well thanks.
Corey Allan: So, we'll be shooting out a special gift to this reviewer for leaving this review. So if you want to help us out and possibly get a gift, if we use your message on the show, go to iTunes and Apple Podcast and leave us a review, that helps us spread the word. Well, coming up today is a bunch of your questions in our answers, and there's some good ones today.
Pam Allan: Well, I'm looking forward to it.
Corey Allan: So buckle up. Here we go. So to start off, Pam, there's some feedback that came from episode 604, which is actually right before the changeover.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: We reran Trust versus Hurt, the episode that we did many years ago. So this is from a wife that's saying, "I know you didn't mean for it to come off this way, but I feel I need to address how this made me feel while listening to the episode. You discussed that both partners are responsible in co-creating an environment that in situations make a betrayal occur. But this truly rubs me the wrong way. It comes off as if the person that has been betrayed had a role in causing it to happen or somewhat so to speak. While I agree that the betrayed partner may have had a role in co-creating the environment or lack thereof, in no way do they cause the other partner to actually betray their marriage or their partner."
"To me, this just sounds selfish. My lack of attention or lack of sex or lack of anything does not make my partner betray me. Their lack of discipline or lack of confidence or lack of whatever is what caused them to step out or betray their spouse. This is almost like saying a person that has been physically or sexually abused had a role in their abuse. I know that's not what you mean, but it might be helpful to the nation and those that are still healing or have recently discovered a betrayal and are processing trust and hurt currently and that to know that they didn't cause it. Now that doesn't mean while you're healing, you don't figure out what your role was and leading up to the undesirable environment that allowed the broken trust to occur. But that's totally different than feeling and trying to process, thinking you, your body, your attitude, your lower desire, et cetera, caused your spouse to betray you. Hope this makes sense. Just really wanted to give you my point of view."
And then she adds in. "I also completely agree with Pam about how she explained the hurt moment that you had when you came home one day. I truly feel that it's more often the thought that I cannot keep this up. Can I keep up my end of the teamwork so that we don't end up in a negative environment again? Am I still enough so this doesn't happen again, et cetera. So thank you, Pam, for clarifying that to the nation."
And so we've always been people that try to get the feedback because we want know how our message lands because when we're saying something, sometimes we might miss it. We might skirt it and not be as clear. But from what I remember from this, I'm pretty sure we were clear. I hope I was clear on the betrayal is always the person's choice. Someone chooses to act out of line of whatever their vow, their commitment, their character, their integrity was. But what she's talking about on the co-creating of the environment absolutely does happen.
Pam Allan: Yeah. We're on the same page. We're on the same page here with what she's saying. So, yeah.
Corey Allan: But it is interesting because at the end of it, when she's saying, "Can I keep it up? Can I hold my end of the bargain? Am I still enough so that this doesn't happen again?" It's still the same thread of, we co-created, right?
Pam Allan: Yeah. Am I still enough?
Corey Allan: And that's the struggle.
Pam Allan: Am I enough, is a big question.
Corey Allan: Because this is the biggest thing that I keep coming across, Pam, when you're talking about just marital dynamics and relationship dynamics that we co-create so much of what happens and it's not linear, because we could have a season of where one of us is just neglectful of the relationship. That's a possibility.
Pam Allan: Sure, it is.
Corey Allan: Because other things are going on. Or even if it's completely understandable. I mean, I think back to the time 15 years ago when you lost your father from cancer and you were checked out of the relationship for a while because you're in a huge grieving process, which is totally understandable when you look at it with the circumstance. So that creates a different environment in a relationship. Does that cause something to happen where now all of a sudden I go out and do something nefarious and stupid? It could, but that's the same thing as could happen if I would do that anyway, even when our relationship is good, because Esther Perel talks about, some people just cheat. She's gotten a name for herself with the idea of, happy people still cheat in relationships. It just happens.
Pam Allan: Temptation's there, right? And sometimes people just give into it. So yeah, I mean, we've always got to be intentional and on our guard for the things that are coming our way, and that's just all there is to it. We have to be responsible for ourselves, how we act, how we act within our relationship and how we act in line with our own individual integrity regardless of the other relationships around us. I mean, that's just what it comes down to.
Corey Allan: And that's where I love the idea that my goal, and I think our message here at Passionately Married is, how am I creating stuff that's self-respecting as far as the steps I take, the moves I make, everything that I do that's relationally driven, it needs to have a major component of self-respect built in, that that's the goal I've got because it's self-respecting moves because then I want it to be where you choose me and it's good judgment. The times that you could choose me and it's bad judgment, it's like, wait-
Pam Allan: I'm still choosing you 'cause I'm married to you and that's a commitment I'm making.
Corey Allan: But that's also a commitment you make more to yourself and me. It's both. Am I wrong?
Pam Allan: Well, because I committed to a marriage relationship, it is to both of us. But if you're not acting respectable, that's really me doing that for me, I think, just to know that I'm in line with my integrity.
Corey Allan: Exactly. And that's the whole point is because you've earned you in that. And that way that's how you can't ensure something doesn't happen, but you can help increase the relationship you have with yourself if something does, which makes it easier to make the appropriate moves accordingly. And that's the main premise we want to try to get across. And of course from that show, you have to separate out trust and hurt.
Pam Allan: Sure.
Corey Allan: Those are two different paths to heal and that was the whole point. But I love the fact that people are willing to speak up and say, "This kind of rubbed me wrong, are you sure about this?"
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: Because that helps us all be better.
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: Today's episode is brought to you by BetterHelp.
So it's safe to say, Pam, that we would not be sitting here today on the microphones talking about what we talk about being where we are without the help of therapy throughout various stages of our life.
Pam Allan: Early on, that was a game changer.
Corey Allan: I mean, we've benefited from it individually and relationally and it's so beneficial because we all want to try to be at our best and we all want to try to create great things, particularly relationally. And sometimes we just need some people in our corner because life gets us down. We can feel overwhelmed. We're coming out of pandemic, fatigue and anxiety.
Pam Allan: And sometimes we need to be a third party that's not a family member.
Corey Allan: Absolutely. We do. So if you're thinking of giving therapy a try, BetterHelp is a great option. It's convenient, flexible, affordable, and it's entirely online. You just fill out a brief questionnaire, you get matched with the licensed therapist, and then a nice thing because the relationship with your therapist matters. So you can switch therapists at any time at no additional charge if it's just not clicking. Well, if you want to live a more empowered life, therapy can help get you there. So visit betterhelp.com/passionate. Visit that today and you get 10% off your first month. That's betterhelp.com/passionate and get 10% off. And as I've said about this sponsor that we've had for quite a while now, this is one therapist recommending other therapists because it's so beneficial to have someone in your corner.
Well, moving on. Another email came in, says, "Hey, there. My wife and I have been married for almost two years, and I've been struggling with a pornography addiction the entire time. There have been good seasons and bad seasons for me, but it's been never completely gone. I'm leaps and bounds from where I was in high school and college, but it's still definitely something I'd say I'm addicted to because I want to stop, but I just can't seem to. Lately I've been wrestling with the question of whether or not I should tell my wife. She knows I've struggled with porn in my life, but I don't believe she knows that it's still been a struggle during our marriage. I'm just stuck on whether it would do more harm or good to tell her."
"I know what I've done is a potential marriage ender, and the thought of that makes me want to run away and hide and never tell her. But I also know that marriage is about oneness, honesty and vulnerability. And whether or not I tell, what I've done is hurting our marriage. I just don't know whether it's a good idea to tell her to and go through the pain and hurt that would cause, or just do my best to deal with it by myself and hopefully heal and move on without having to hurt her anymore than I already have. Any advice is greatly appreciated."
This is a tough one because there's a lot of things that are at play in this.
Pam Allan: There are complications because I've got a couple different things running through my head and I'm curious what you have to say about them because in my mind I think, well, everything ends up coming out at some point. So honesty and understanding what it is you're dealing with can be something helpful within a relationship. Right? That's full disclosure, that's real intimacy there that she understands that. But there's all these other dynamics. So, you roll with this. You roll with this, and tell me where you would come at this from fella to fella.
Corey Allan: So what I'm thinking of is when you're new into a relationship, there's still some dynamics of, we're still hidden from each other in some ways. We don't really know each other yet. We're still figuring each other out. And it's easy to give-
Pam Allan: And new meaning even at two years marriage.
Corey Allan: Absolutely. Because think of, I mean, again, Schnarch's phrase always comes back into my mind when I'm thinking about marriage is, "Nothing prepares you for marriage but marriage." And so when you're really starting to overlap, Rob Bell even made a comment that marriage is thousands of different little conversations about how you're going to do life together. That's what you're figuring out when you're starting. And even us 29 years in as we're recording this, there's still things we're figuring out. Most of the major ones I think we've got pretty well settled away. But again, that will change too.
Pam Allan: The major ones we've had so far.
Corey Allan: Well, major ones as in family, the importance of family raising kids, money, some of those things. Right?
Pam Allan: Gotcha.
Corey Allan: But we had the overlapping of two different parts of our two different lives that you used to also create together. So obviously this is a journey it sounds like he's done largely on his own. So the first question I've got is, what's your main motivation for wanting to tell her? Because in no way, shape or form is she an accountability partner for this. So the point of telling her is never to help you get better with what you're trying to battle. If you want to truly, and I would recommend this first and foremost, find another man or two to walk squarely alongside you with this, that you can be honest with that. You can account yourself too, because it's not them checking up on you. The best thing I've ever found in men trying to really overcome pornography struggles is, go walk alongside other men, check in with them every single day and commit to 24 hours every morning. You wake up, you text your fellas, "I commit to 24 hours, no porn today."
Pam Allan: So it's like you're doing it in small chunks.
Corey Allan: Because the whole, this is the reason... Okay, the best analogy that comes to my mind is this is a reason why when smokers that have been lifelong smokers and they get a scare and they like, "Oh, I'm quitting them." And that's one of the hardest things to quit. I mean, I've worked with licensed chemical dependency counselors before that they talk about, they've had clients come in that have been addicted to heroin, cocaine, crack, and cigarettes, and the hardest one to get off of? Cigarettes.
Pam Allan: Cigarettes.
Corey Allan: So they always say that short term fear will keep it at bay, but in the long run, it just weeds its way back in because it's like, I can't think for that far. Death is too far away to think about. So, I'm just going to live my life. Well, so the similar kind of thing happens where you need somebody to check in regularly with, because accountability is them not checking up on you, it's you being accountable for you with them.
Pam Allan: To them. So you are the one that has to be proactive. Don't wait for them to reach out.
Corey Allan: You have to do the heavy lifting. And you need guys that, when you have those days where you do slip and you say, "Yep, three hours totally wasted yesterday." They're like, "All right, dude, how do you want to do better today? What's your plan? What's your goal?"
Pam Allan: Three hours? Okay, sorry. That's all.
Corey Allan: Well, I've been doing this for 20 years with clients and then nine years with mastermind groups. And so some guys use mastermind groups for that where it's like they got on a dark path like that night and just lost all that time.
Pam Allan: Wow.
Corey Allan: Right.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: Well, okay,
Pam Allan: That shouldn't be wow maybe, but I just never thought-
Corey Allan: But with your brain, let me correlate from what I-
Pam Allan: I think bout people drifting on Facebook forever.
Corey Allan: That's where I was going. How easy is to just get lost on Facebook or Instagram or wherever, and all of a sudden you look up like, "Holy cow."
Pam Allan: Where did the time go? Yeah.
Corey Allan: Well, the same thing that's going on. It's just naked people having sex most of the time when you're dealing with pornography, but it's the escape of it. So you need that regardless, sir. Whether you tell her or not, again, it comes back to what's the motivation, you do need to tell her eventually. I think it needs to be out in the open because that's what creates the oneness. That's what creates this intimacy he's talking about, that he's longing for. But if it's to unburden you, it's not the time to tell her.
Pam Allan: Right, because you are just taking a load off and dumping it on her with no solution in play, no nothing. And now she's concerned, she's all these-
Corey Allan: Well, it'll set her back because this is our journey.
Pam Allan: Yeah, totally. Exactly.
Corey Allan: To a agree. For those that are new to the show or maybe haven't heard the whole story, a week before we got married, I disclosed to you all pornography and lust issue because I did it under the auspices of, I just want to make sure I go into this marriage clean. With no expectation, no idea how it would land on you. I thought this was a good genuine intimacy inducing move. And it was an intimacy inducing move, but not the comfortable kind because it rocked everything.
Pam Allan: It rocked everything. I mean, it killed our sexual life for a long time because I didn't know how to handle it, and it killed me mentally on where I thought and assumed you were during sexual encounters with the two of us. It wreaked all kinds of havoc. In hindsight now 29 years later, I love where we are now. I love where we have been on this journey and what we're able to do with it now. But the way it was presented initially wasn't good.
Corey Allan: Right, because the motivation from me was not clean and pure. It wasn't relational driven. It was me unburdening myself. So I can't really say, here's when you should bring your spouse in. I will say, if she asks in the course of conversations, do not lie about it.
Pam Allan: Absolutely.
Corey Allan: Because most everything I've ever come across with couples where there's been any sense of betrayal, virtually or otherwise, even physically with other people, the betrayal was magnified by the lying about it. That was the bigger deal. Right? "Why couldn't you just tell me the truth?"
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: Because if she knows you've had a struggle in the past, it's not a foreign idea.
Pam Allan: No, it's not-
Corey Allan: And in our society, most women know it's out there. It's available. We're walking around with porn portals in our pockets.
Pam Allan: Well, little iPhones.
Corey Allan: All the time. So be clean about that. But as far as I think you would kind of know and email back in, call us back in, I think you'll know when the time could be that it could actually be a move towards a better relationship, not just a one-sided move.
Pam Allan: Right. And if it comes up and you've already got like Corey's talking about this team of guys or a team of guys, one guy, two guys that you-
Corey Allan: And there needs to be one or two.
Pam Allan: That you're being proactive about and you're figuring out how to address this, when it comes up with her, I guess I'm speaking for me, I don't know your wife and how she would react over time when she really thinks about it, I got to think that there's going to be a softening of realizing, okay, he's doing something about this, he's proactively doing something about this.
Corey Allan: Because those are integrity moves of, "I'm doing this for me and us."
Pam Allan: I would hope at some point that's not too much a gap for when it's disclosed to her that she can step back and look and really see the big picture of what it is you're doing to try and change that pattern proactively.
Corey Allan: Right, because everybody, and let's kind of end it with this, at least this segment, pornography has a stigma in our world, in our culture, particularly in religious circles because it can be incredibly destructive on all sides of the equation. Not just for the relationships and the users, but also the ones producing it. Right? It's incredibly destructive. But I don't want to go so fast as it is a bigger sin than I'm disconnecting in other ways from my relationship. I'm not involved. I've got all these other things leaking out sexually that... So I want to at least soften it some, so we don't just land on this one topic as if it is the pinnacle of everything that is wrong and everything that escapes.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: Because it's back to what we said earlier, when you have a lot of different time where, because we hear this a bunch, I hear this a bunch from clients that my spouse is always on Facebook or Insta or on a game, or they're playing Xbox or there's a bunch of different things that those aren't relationally driven things when they go to excess, they're independent escapes of things. And so same kind of thing applies. If I want to stop using certain things that are not in line with who I want to be or helping me really feel connected with people in real life, I need to take these same kinds of steps sometimes of, "Wait, I want to move towards the relationship. I want to..." And it's just that element of, okay, I got to figure out how I'm going to replace it, how I'm going to spend that time differently. Because that's where it starts to get a little more uncomfortable. Because when you show up more in your relationship, most of the time your partner asks, "What's different here? What's changed?"
Pam Allan: "What's different? What's going on?"
Corey Allan: "Something's just changed here." And that's where it becomes uncomfortable conversations that are worth it in the long run.
Pam Allan: Yeah.
Corey Allan: So another email that came in from a wife saying, "My husband's communicated with several swinging couples that offer different podcasts about this lifestyle. We've listened to several together, and most of the time these podcasts only upset me terribly. I'm so heartbroken and scared. He says he's very curious about it. This is something I'm opposed to at my core. We're in our early sixties and we have a pretty darn good sex life and are working to improve it and including more adventure, also improve our communication and my husband's desire to talk more openly about sex. But when we get to non-monogamy, I put on the breaks. In the past, we've tried some soft, playful bondage using a swing, et cetera. We do love each other and enjoy spending time together. He has most often been the initiator with sex, but I've been an active, sexually satisfied participant. He thinks non-monogamy is okay with consent."
"He's heard in these podcasts that there are healthy, strong marriages having sex with others, then coming back to their married partner. He's mentioned the desire to have sex in front of or physically beside another couple having sex too. He's very interested in talking or meeting couples who live within that lifestyle to satisfy his curiosity. My mind has been blown. My heart has been broken, especially after 42 years of marriage. We're in counseling and trying to figure out a future path together. Can you offer any help? Thanks."
So again, this is one of those loaded kind of tough topics to cover, right, because there's a lot of different things going on in this scenario, and we're going to answer it in the extended content today.
Pam Allan: Okay.
Corey Allan: Well, it's been a while since we've been able to do a show, just you and I, baby.
Pam Allan: It's been nice.
Corey Allan: It has.
Pam Allan: It's been nice.
Corey Allan: It has been.
Pam Allan: It's to be back for a whole entire thing, not just the beginning and ending.
Corey Allan: We got to be a part of the middle all the way through.
Pam Allan: I know. I'm part of the middle.
Corey Allan: I like when you're part of the middle.
Pam Allan: Although, I love listening to the episodes. So here we.
Corey Allan: Are.
All right, good to know. Well, if you like the show, you can help us out by rating and reviewing the show on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or however you listen. Your comments help us spread the word about the show on they help others frame their conversations about what happens behind closed doors. Transcripts are available on the show notes, on each of the episodes pages, and all of our app's advertisers deals and discount codes are also available on each of the episodes pages at passionatelymarried.net. Please consider supporting those who support the show. Wherever you are, whatever you've been doing to take a little bit of time out to spend it with us, thank you. And if we left something undone, let us know because what we covered today was a little deep. We'd love your thoughts. See you next time.
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