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We React From Our Fear Or Pain Or Preference | Feedback Wednesday #611

Come join the conversations in the SMRNation Community at my.passionatelymarried.net

On the Regular Version …

It’s a Feedback Wednesday again, where we answer questions from the Nation and today follow up from our episode last week.

A wife emails in encouraging me to re-think my stance and advice regarding last week’s segment on if a husband should tell his wife about his struggle with porn. 

A wife prefers to offload her day, and talk about intimate and even conflictual topic with her husband in bed. He does not. It turns her on. It turns him off. 

On the Extended Version …

A husband is married to a wife who goes to be well before him, gets up well before him, doesn’t share any hobbies together, and can only pursue his wife sexually at a prescribe day and time. 

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Call/Text us at  214-702-9565

or email us at feedback@passionatelymarried.net

Corey Allan: Coming up next on the Passionately Married podcast, the points that the email, or this wife is making, I can understand her making these points. The emotion attached to it is coming out of hurt, fear, and pain.

Pam Allan: And that's real.

Corey Allan: That's what we all react to, things that are involving other people, we react to them most often from our hurt, our fear, or our pain. And so we then project that onto other people. This is that whole concept of, we come across something that's happening in my life and I share it with someone else, they will react, not always in line with what I'm sharing. So Pam, I stepped in it last week, according to some listeners with the show.

Pam Allan: Multiple listeners?

Corey Allan: Yes.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: There was some feedback on the social media platforms we're on, particularly Instagram, some emails that came in from the stance I took last week's episode on the pornography.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: Should I tell my wife or not?

Pam Allan: Okay. You didn't say not to tell her, you said to tell her.

Corey Allan: I did.

Pam Allan: Okay. And they didn't like that you said to tell her.

Corey Allan: You got to stay tuned for a little bit longer into the show.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: We're just getting started.

Pam Allan: All right. I'm looking forward to it.

Corey Allan: This is the Passionately Married podcast, and alongside my wife, where we're having honest conversations to try to help frame actions and conversations that you can have in your marriage to make it go even better and propel your life forward. And again, if you want to jump into the conversation and the dialogues that we have, 214-702-9565, you can call or text that number and then you can also email us at feedback@passionatelymarried.net. And so coming up today, we have to put some finishing touches on the conversation from last week, because there was even some dialogue that happened based on the extended content where we tackled the topic of swinging.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: And so there's some dialogue that's unfolded from there, so that might get sprinkled in a little bit. And then we've got some new messages that have come in. So all that's coming up on today's show. So here's the email to start us right off. It says, "I've been on occasional listener for the last few years, and after listening to episode 610, I had to reach out. I cannot fathom how any helping professional or general compassionate human being could consider or condone a partner not telling his spouse or delaying the disclosure about ongoing betrayal in the marriage. In this case it was porn, but it is betrayal intentionally kept secret from her. While there may be better or worse ways to share this news with the spouse, she's entitled to know. Keeping the secret or delaying the disclosure is robbing her of her autonomy to decide for herself how she wants to live within a marriage.
She's currently making decisions based on false information, a facade. She's sharing her life, her secrets, presumably her body, and being vulnerable with a person who is betraying her trust and lying to her about it. What if she decided that she did not want to be married to someone who would treat her like that? Doesn't she have the right to make her own decision for herself? She may also decide she wants to work on this with him. That is also her right to decide. As a person who's been betrayed, I'm appalled at the lukewarm response this man was given about maybe telling her at some point after a bunch of other things are put in place. No, she is living a lie now. What does he have to make decisions for her to shield her from the truth? He's only shielding himself. He is stealing her independence and her ability to live in reality. You seriously need to rethink this one."
Valid points in the sense of, I hear how this is coming across. I hear how it was heard. I'm looking at your facial reaction to this, so tell me your reaction to this.

Pam Allan: I think it's an over the top response, personally. There was no, maybe you should tell her in the future. We are all about full disclosure.

Corey Allan: Honesty is the best policy always.

Pam Allan: As a wife who has had a husband with a porn issue, I don't have any problem with you counseling someone, get some things in order first. What is your plan? Okay. What are you going to do? Get some men around you that are accountable. As a wife, when that comes out to me, I'd love to know he's got a plan in place. I'd love to know what his issue is.

Corey Allan: And that was the premise we took, in large part, because too often what I have seen happen is somebody discloses what's going on without any thought of here's what I'm doing about it. Here's my plan. It's just a disclosure, it's just an airing of it. And most of the time, the disclosing of it is after being discovered. Let's face that fact, because one of the questions I ask about any kind of a betrayal that's happened in marriage is, how'd you find out? Did they come to you with it or was it discovered. Because there's a different path of healing, depending on the way those went.

Pam Allan: And he needs to realize that if she discovers that on his own without him telling her, in my mind, it's a worse reaction, typically. If you can come to her and have that be something you're doing, that's a standup move. Hey, I'm needing something here. I guess I personally disagree with what I feel like is a ultimatum on, well, not an ultimatum, by saying that this wife is living a lie or that he's stealing her decisions, I feel like that's extreme it. It's taken away from this woman whatever control she has of her own life and relationship.

Corey Allan: And here's where I can sit here and say in this conversation we're having and watching your reaction to it also, that the points that the email or this wife is making, I can understand her making these points. The emotion attached to it is coming out of hurt, fear, and pain.

Pam Allan: And that's real.

Corey Allan: And that's what we all react to, things that are involving other people, we react to them most often from our hurt, our fear, or our pain. And so we then project that onto other people. This is that whole concept of, we come across something that's happening in my life and I share it with someone else, they will react not always in line with what I'm sharing. And I think of stories I've read of people that have a cancer diagnosis and it's bad, and they know they've gotten a shortened life term and they decide, I'm going to die the way I live. I'm just going to go straight after. I'm not going to spend my whole time in hospitals and the family members are losing their mind. You need to get a third opinion, a fourth opinion. What about this drug, because they're reacting out of their fear of the loss and the grief and what's coming.
That's a common human thing because we don't like to face these things that go on that we don't know about that are in other people and their autonomy in themselves. Because this is what jumped out to me, keeping the secret or delaying the disclosure is robbing her of her autonomy to decide for herself. But what about his autonomy to work on things himself? These two are going on concurrently, and that's the struggle of married life.

Pam Allan: Which is why he messaged in to say, what should I do? He's in this dilemma. To me, when someone reaches out like that, they want to share, they want to put that out there. How do I do this? What do I do?

Corey Allan: And then it comes back to the point we were trying to make, in my mind, Pam, which is, it has to be about, it's relationally driven. It's not just to unburden yourself.

Pam Allan: Right. Where are they going to go as a couple?

Corey Allan: This is to create something that's bigger and better in the long run, even though there's going to be pain initially.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And again, this then leads to another conversation I want to have real quick. What space does my inner life and struggle take up in my relationship with you? Not just in the whole porn, but just because this is that whole thing we've talked about, over the years of being on the air, of secrets can be incredibly destructive, but they also are realities of life. A spouse does not need to be privy to every single nuance of their spouse. Some of it is just not their concern in some ways. Ultimately it could be, and I'm not saying it in this topic, so let me just ... We pivoted.

Pam Allan: Yeah. We're not saying to not disclose those things. If I have a thought in my head about something, it doesn't mean that you have to know about it. And what's going on in my head may not be good for me or good for you. And I'm making negative things flow over to you so why should I bring you down with that? I agree with you in that arena, but I know there's going to be people watching this online or listening to it that take that to an extreme to say no, nothing can be kept secret.

Corey Allan: Yeah. We said, I do, so that means I've got access to everything.

Pam Allan: Yeah. We're not talking about intentionally going around keeping secrets from your spouse on things that matter, but I think there's some immaterial things that, why do I have to-

Corey Allan: And this is-

Pam Allan: ... tell you that I really don't like the blue socks that you gave me. I can keep that part to myself.

Corey Allan: That's fair. You don't like the blue socks I gave you?

Pam Allan: Well, we'll talk about that later. Apparently now, because now-

Corey Allan: It's another segment.

Pam Allan: Now, it's not a secret anymore.

Corey Allan: Yeah, it's another segment, I guess. But I think, going back to this email from last week, and then that's being brought back up by a wife today. What does matter is the impact of our behaviors and our actions. If we're doing some things, there will be impact if it's a behavior or an action. If it's thoughts and feelings, that's where we get onto a incredibly slippery slope of, is my desire to want to know the thought and feeling associated with whatever my partner may or may not be doing, or my kid, or whoever it is. Some of that's not beneficial for me to know. It's theirs when it's the thought or feeling. Because then we get into this whole, but we're supposed to have group think, we're supposed to be the same. We're supposed to be eye to eye. We're in this together, which you can still be in it together while having diverging thoughts about a decision you've made, but you're still doing, that has an action associated with it.
And so when we're talking about these kinds of things, that's why we can land on, and I'm good with the idea of, it needs to come out. How matters, when matters.

Pam Allan: Yeah. This isn't something you say, okay, you called in to Passionately Married and asked about it and, "Oh, I'm on a five year healing workout plan and I'll tell her about it in five years." That's probably not a good choice. That's not what we're talking about here. It's not what you're guiding in this situation.

Corey Allan: Because these are the struggles, this one of pornography, in particular, that can rear their head occasionally too. You can get some things under control, have guys you're walking alongside, or even ladies that you're walking alongside, because women can struggle with this too.

Pam Allan: That's right.

Corey Allan: And all of a sudden, a season of life hits and it's like, "Man, it's back in on the radar again." And does that mean that always needs to be disclosed immediately? Or is it something that's like, "Okay, how do I put the safeguards in place and then how do I have the willingness to create intimacy, in time, with, all of a sudden these thoughts are back and here's what I'm doing." And that's kind of a move towards, I'm in this with you and I'm trying to be solid with this and I'm also not leaving you in the dark in it.

Pam Allan: Right. Well, and that's where you can open up the dialogue. It's not just him at that point. While I do not believe that she is, as the wife is his accountability partner, that doesn't mean that she can't say, "Hey, how you doing with this?"

Corey Allan: Absolutely. If there's concern or a thought or you put pieces together, because again, we've said this for years, you can always count on the stupidity of human beings that we just can't keep things hidden. If there's something going on that's nefarious or a real issue, you'll notice it. If you look back, you'll put the pieces together. Every couple I've ever had that's come to me from a betrayal, and they initially, "I'm shocked. I had no idea they were doing that." Then as we start working, they're like, "Okay, wait. There were signs." Not that there was a betrayal, because our mind doesn't necessarily want to go there, but there's enough signs to show that was different. There was something. And when I can piece it together, I can realize, okay, now I got that data. How do I trust my gut better? Because there's a little bit of a sea change between us, and so how do I speak up more?

Pam Allan: And that's for me, as a spouse, to grow up. And that's what this lady, when she's emailing, good on you for speaking up for the wife to let her make some decisions.

Corey Allan: Absolutely.

Pam Allan: But just because she gets the right to make some decisions doesn't mean he doesn't still have rights to make his own decisions too. Again, this is a team. In marriage, it's a team, and we got to work at this together. I don't want to make it to where we're butting heads to get to decide who makes the decisions for-

Corey Allan: Nobody gets to be a dictator in this, even though we all want to be tyrants at some point in our married life.
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Pam Allan: No, I didn't realize it was love hate.

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Pam Allan: Sure.

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Pam Allan: Yeah, if it's too pokey.

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So another email that's come in. "The struggle I'd like to talk about concerning sex is talking before sex in the bed and in the intimate space, even concerning life problems at times. I need to have intimate conversations concerning problems or just matters of the heart in the intimate space where it's just me and my husband and only in bed does my brain download properly, if that makes sense. If we purposely try to have conversations outside of that, it doesn't work. We've had a conversation in bed and even arguments that end in truly understanding one another. I feel more connected and we always end up having better sex after.
The problem is my husband doesn't like to talk in the bed and thinks, you've had to all day to talk to me, but that's just not the case. He's either working or busy, he's on TV or video games. And even if he's not, when we do find time to talk, the kids are around and I prefer to talk about the deeper matters with just him. Certain things also need to be discussed with just him. He has no care about talking about anything in front of the kids, and he gets angry about that too, that I want to speak quietly in the room and I ask him to calm down if he's loud. So another aspect is, my husband thinks discussing problems in the marriage bed taints it, making it potentially hostile or unsafe, then it's hard for him to switch gears into intimacy.
I'm the exact opposite. It actually brings me safety for me into issues and creates a more beautiful, bigger picture of intimacy. I see it similarly as my relationship with Christ. I pour out all my bad junk and he replaces it with unconditional love, grace, and intimacy, building greater trust and love. I genuinely feel the same thing every time my husband engages in deeper conversations with me. I understand I have to consider his side more. I just want him to consider the very real emotional side to me, and that I need to feel real intimacy. And I'll get turned on because talking in a way that really connects is definitely my biggest turn on. Thanks."

Pam Allan: So let me make sure I'm understanding this correctly. She wants to have their deep, intimate discussions literally in bed.

Corey Allan: It sounds like at the end of the day where there's the privacy and there's less likely they would be interrupted and it's intimate. The intimate space encompasses all of intimacy, not just sexual for her, whereas he's taking the stance of the intimate space is reserved for the positive side of intimacy and the sexual side of intimacy. There's one of their disconnects right there, Because intimacy, as we say, is just as likely to produce uncomfortable feelings as it is comfortable ones. It's still intimate when you fight. We just don't think of it that way. And well, rephrase. When you both show up well in you're fighting, it's intimate. When it crosses the line of name calling, dogging, bullying, all that, that's not intimate. That's just bullying.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: That's personal character assassinations then.

Pam Allan: That's a good clarification because-

Corey Allan: But when we understand that you don't like the blue socks I bought you, that's intimate, using that as an example from today's show.

Pam Allan: Right, right.

Corey Allan: So she has the stance that being able to offload, this is the thing that jumps out to me. Being able to offload helps her connect with him. But what happens is, because I can't speak for him completely, but I might can speak for a lot of men. When a woman offloads on a man that doesn't necessarily sit well sometimes.

Pam Allan: Does she use the word offload?

Corey Allan: I'm going with, she says, I see it similar as my relationship to Christ. I pour out the bad junk and he replaces it with unconditional love, grace, and intimacy.

Pam Allan: I gotcha. She's pouring out her bad junk and expecting-

Corey Allan: Because oftentimes this is the difference.

Pam Allan: Unconditional response.

Corey Allan: When you offload something to Christ, there's graciousness. There's a whole different spiritual realm at work. When you, Pam, offload something to me, Corey, I have this, let me fix this mentality going on that kicks into gear. I have this, why are you telling me gear going on? I have this, what did I do wrong gear that can kick in. I have this, I don't want to hear about this because I got other things on my mind kicking in. There's all this dilemma that's at play. And so the biggest thing that jumps out to me from this email is, what makes her preference higher than his, because that's the dilemma they have. This is what works for her, and I understand his side, but this is what works for me. That's what I'm hearing in this email.

Pam Allan: Okay. Okay. This is not the first time you've heard this though, right?

Corey Allan: No.

Pam Allan: Because if this couple's sitting in front of you in a chair, on a couch, where do you go with that? What's the question you ask?

Corey Allan: I asked the question directly to her since she's the one that emailed in. I'd use her words back, which talking in a way that really connects is definitely my biggest turn on. And then I add the addendum, when it's on your terms.

Pam Allan: So if he tries to make a way that really connects, but it's in the living room and maybe the kids are in the other part of the house, does that still not work?

Corey Allan: Well, that's what it sounds like it.

Pam Allan: That's part of the question.

Corey Allan: That's disruptive to her.

Pam Allan: That's part of the question.

Corey Allan: It doesn't land with her. Okay, well, what is it? Well, then it comes into the details we've got from the email of, she's got the fear of her kids are going to hear that they're fighting, they're at odds, which, I think we need to get out there just a quick little segue.

Pam Allan: Let me guess what you're going to say.

Corey Allan: Go.

Pam Allan: Because I'm going to guess here. Tell me if I'm wrong.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Pam Allan: Let your kids see you have a disagreement and understand that there can be disagreements that then can be worked through.

Corey Allan: And then let them see you try to work back through it again and resolve it.

Pam Allan: Yeah. It's actually healthy for them to see that there can be differences of opinion. There can be struggles that then can then be worked through. I'm thinking of people that we've talked to over and over again that say, "My parents never fought in of me. And then when I got in a fight, when I was in my first relationship, I thought the world over was over. We thought it was over. It was terrible." And who knows, maybe she's got a history of parents that just fought like cats and dogs all the time.

Corey Allan: We're only getting part of this whole story. But the story I hear her telling herself is, the kids can't know there's tension. The kids can't hear anything. Which okay, on one hand I can understand some of the motivation for that, but on the other, this is real life. Life is messy. Marriage is messy.

Pam Allan: It is. Now, granted, you and I don't want the kids hearing the details of the sum of the stuff we're dealing with.

Corey Allan: Absolutely.

Pam Allan: Is not their business.

Corey Allan: So when you say, as one of you brings it up, it's like, I'm not willing to talk about this here. And that's the switch for her.

Pam Allan: You pick the topic on that.

Corey Allan: Well, but that's the switch for her because he gets mad when she tells him to keep his voice down. That's trying to get control something she can't control. So instead, if he's wanting to talk about something, how do you recognize, "Hey, I'm not willing to talk about this here." That's a better stance because he can just as easily say, as he's trying to say, "This isn't a turn on for me. The intimate space in our bed is reserved for only a few things, and this isn't one of them, honey." And so now they're at a gridlock, and so rather than trying to figure out a way to get my partner to come around to my way of thinking, how do I hold loosely or looser my side of the equation and see what can come of it? Is there a possibility in your room, in the configuration of it, because we didn't know this in our room until just the last maybe five years, you can put chairs in our room. We just reconfigured it and we have two chairs in our room.

Pam Allan: Plenty of space.

Corey Allan: We can sit there and save the bed.

Pam Allan: Yes.

Corey Allan: That's a whole different ballgame. And that gives you the privacy, that gives you the timing maybe. Because again, sometimes at the end of the day, that's a horrible time to deal with stuff because one of you is just really tired. You're emotionally and mentally spent. And so, ma'am, if you're coming at him, because I want to dump this out on him, I want to offload things, be aware of that versus the times you're coming at him with, hey, I've got some relational dynamics I've got some problems with, or this is an issue I want to at least bring up because we need to come to some sort of understanding in time with this. Because not everything gets resolved in one fail swoop.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: I think of this as sometimes married life, this is what I use with clients a lot, because you and I have done this over the years, and I don't know if we're in one of these now, but sometimes our marital conversations are some of the longest tennis matches there are, because I've made a serve.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: You give me your initial reaction. And it's honest and it's true, and it's thought out. It's not just an overreaction or anything. It's just a response to it. And it was something that took me off guard or it was something like, whoa, okay, I didn't know you felt that way. I may then pull away from the conversation for a little bit. So it's still my turn to return the serve or the shot, but I'm just not ready to do it yet. But if I want to keep playing this game with you of marriage, I will return the serve at some point. At which point then, the ball's in your court and then you come back. And so it's not always-

Pam Allan: That delay from when you hit the ball back to me can sure increase my anxiety of, how's he going to respond. Why is it taking so long?

Corey Allan: Absolutely.

Pam Allan: Why aren't you coming back? I already gave you my 2 cents. Where are you?

Corey Allan: But hopefully during that time, you're looking at it through the lens of, because it's hopefully the same thing I'm doing, I'm looking at it through the lens of, what's this exposing in me? What's the real thing here? Is this that I just want my way because it's more comfortable? Or is this because this is something that I may need to rethink and see it as, there's some validity there. I could see the value in that. Okay. Because I've changed stances on things in our married life. You've changed stances on things in our married life, and most of those have always been for the better our relationship. Maybe not, other people may not think that, but we kind of come to the stance of, I can see that, okay.

Pam Allan: What works for us.

Corey Allan: And it's a decision that we take together, and then when we get more information, we make another decision. But once again, we can always count on the nation to push back, to speak up, to be honest, to let us know how things land. And I love it because this is that whole concept of this, we try to speak of collaborative marriages, that it's a collaboration. And what matters is, in our dynamic, we have a relationship with the nation, and it's a collaborative relationship.

Pam Allan: It is. A couple of them may not like us after our responses to their emails, but-

Corey Allan: We want to know.

Pam Allan: Yeah. Not here to offend anybody, just giving our thoughts.

Corey Allan: We want to know, because I think if we can frame things better and we can see things better, we have a better likelihood of creating something we didn't even realize we were possible of creating.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Well, transcripts are available on each of the show's pages, on the episode pages of the individual shows. Advertisements, deals, and discount codes are also available on each episode's page at passionatelymarried.net. Please consider supporting those who support the show. If you'd like to help us out by rating and reviewing us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or however you listen. Your comments help spread the word about the show, and they help others frame their conversations about what happens behind closed doors. Well, this has been fun, so thanks for taking a little bit of time to hang out with us and we'll see you next time.