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hosted by Dr. Corey Allan

Your Marriage Story #472

On the Regular version of today’s show …

An email from a husband who loses his erection when the direct stimulation stops. 

A wife wanting to know if there are dangers to porn use in their marriage. 

On the Xtended version …

What’s your marriage story? It’s important to be living something larger than yourself and your marriage if you want to live fully alive. 

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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. Each and every week, we take some time out and try to go where you want us to go as the SMR Nation. And the way we do that is you let us know what's on your mind by calling in or emailing. The number you can call, our voicemail line is (214) 702-9565. Or as always, that's been around for over eight and a half years, Send us your emails, your questions, your thoughts, your praise, your concerns, your comments. We want it all because maybe your spouse is telling you that too. I want it all.

Pam Allan: I want it all, baby.

Corey Allan: Well we want to help that happen in your marriage. And then where we want from you as the SMR Nation is to continually show up each and every week as you faithfully do, to help us spread the word that married life and married sex is the hotbed for sex, because we believe that there's a sacred blessedness to it that can come along with that relationship. And so we want you to jump on iTunes or Spotify or iHeartRadio, or however you listen to us, Google Play. Rate and review, leave a comment please because that helps spread the word far and wide. And then if you want to go even further this summer, as you see family, as you see friends and stuff, just grab their phones and subscribe for them.

Pam Allan: They'll have a treat next time they get on there.

Corey Allan: Absolutely.

Pam Allan: Podcast app.

Corey Allan: Why in the world is this showing up in my podcast feed? Well, I guess I'll listen to it.

Pam Allan: Why not?

Corey Allan: And then now they're a part of the SMR Nation and that's what we love to have happen. Coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio is several of your questions and your answers. We're trying to jump right in today to spend more time with the questions that have come in.

Pam Allan: Let's go for it.

Corey Allan: That have been in the queue for a while. And then on the extended version of Sexy Marriage Radio today, which is deeper, longer and there are no ads. You can subscribe at We're going to dive deeper into this idea of what is your marriage story?

Pam Allan: Nice.

Corey Allan: And I'm not even going to unpack it more.

Pam Allan: Don't. Don't.

Corey Allan: Because it's going to be worth recognizing how do you make your story better? Which I think enhances every aspect of your marriage and your life.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: All that's coming up on today's show.
Here's an email that came in, that's worth just diving right into, Pam. I love listening to your show and I've been binge listening so here's my issue. My wife and I met online, we had a long distance relationship for three years before we met in person and soon after we got married. We've now been married for almost 12 years, have four kids. My wife and I have both increased in weight. I'm 36 years old and my wife is 32. Our sex life is active, but one problem has presented itself and that's my difficulty in keeping an erection. I'm able to get hard with direct stimulation, but once the stimulation stops, I start to go soft again. I can get aroused from giving her a massage or through passionate kissing, but not hard enough for penetration. Once I ejaculate, I'm usually done for the night and no matter how much stimulation I receive, so what can I do?

Pam Allan: How much of that I wonder has to do with weight and physical condition?

Corey Allan: Right, because that is a statement that's thrown in there that he mentions just kind of in passing. And I don't know if we put into our own thought processes enough of how our health, our overall health and our weight not only can affect us physically, but it also really affects us mentally because you can get into an element of, it just adds another hurdle and it makes it a little bit more of a negative self image maybe, or a self conscious or an insecurity maybe for one or both of you. And the one sophistication thing that's important to recognize when you're talking about sex is there is so much reading of each other going on. We don't even recognize it.
And so there is an element of if you, because let's go just with the hypothetical to set the stage for this conversation real quick, Pam, is, if one party, if one spouse in the relationship has a change in their physical appearance, via weight gain, via age, via whatever. And now all of a sudden they have a different level of insecurity. Their spouse will pick that up, pick up on that and oftentimes interpret that as their own fault. They're a part of it. They're complicit in it. They're something. And then both of you are sitting there wondering, I don't know what just happened? And so it's just recognizing that's a factor.

Pam Allan: And I'm assuming, because he made reference to it that it is a factor. Mentally at least.

Corey Allan: He knows it. It's a noticeable difference from when they met to where they are now. It also sounds like they've had a pressure cooker of a relationship if you're talking about long distance to married and now four children in 12 years. That's a lot of, I don't know timing of that.

Pam Allan: That's a lot of change.

Corey Allan: That's a lot of change that will impact.

Pam Allan: A lot of real life going on there. That's I'd say that's pretty normal.

Corey Allan: And that's what I mean by the pressure cooker of all of a sudden now it's not just us being able to explore each other. We got kids and we got family and we got finance and we got life that's going on. But here's the thing that jumps out to me, to his question of, I can't stay hard without direct stimulation. It's not as uncommon of an issue that I've come across as most people might think. And a lot of it is because of how we get so clouded in our brain, that we're so focused on other things that can be going on during sex, be it insecurities, stress, goal, technique, performance, process, roadmap, and there's all these different things. And there's actually a phrase from Masters and Johnson who coined this term called spectatoring, which is where you're focusing on your performance or yourself in how you're performing or a goal rather than the moment.

Pam Allan: If are you saying that in that scenario, if you're not being physically touched, like for him, the penis isn't being physically stimulated, then his mind is wandering about all these other things and the only way he can stay focused is if that's done.

Corey Allan: Could be. And the other thing that makes me wonder about this thought process is because he talks about, I can get an erection when it's passionate kissing or it's a massage, which makes me wonder as it's going on, as he's getting a chance to engage and connect with his wife in a different way, there's also in his head, a part of his brain going, what's the state of my erection during this? There's a notice of that. And I don't know if that's enough to where it's throwing them off or not, but it's something that's worth noting to me. And so a lot of times, what usually shows up when we're doing spectatoring stuff, it's critical internal dialogue or distracting thoughts. It's not, man, I'm doing so good.

Pam Allan: Yeah, true.

Corey Allan: It's a negative connotation to it most of the time.

Pam Allan: Yeah, because we're our own worst enemy, right?

Corey Allan: Yes, totally. Spectatoring is oftentimes you can think of it as it's the opposite of being in the moment. Of just relaxing during sex. That you're analyzing the situation more than just enjoying it and where it may go. And so the two points I want to end it with him is obviously an erection matters if you're wanting to have penetrative sex with your wife but if you want to have sexual experiences with her, especially if you are the one that's on the giving side of that, you don't have to have an erection at all. You could do a lot of things that are truly giving and compassionate and connecting with her. If you do want that and you need direct stimulation, okay, that's where you are at this stage in life, because it's not a stage I don't even like that phrase. Season in life.
Because maybe you need to start bringing in some different senses into the experiences together, which can be through the sensate focus, where you just try to have some episodes together where you just focus on the sensations going on in your body. Actually feel them and experience it, but don't make it goal oriented. Because a lot of times, most men that have any kind well, but a lot of men that have ejaculatory or erection issues, it's goal orientation that's getting in the way.

Pam Allan: It's a mind game.

Corey Allan: Yeah. That all of a sudden it's like, oh, this isn't happening. Now it's just compounding itself.

Pam Allan: Yeah, what's wrong? What's wrong? I can't make it work. I can't make it work.

Corey Allan: Rather than, slow down. This can happen for women too. Especially if they have a little bit of a struggle or any struggle at all achieving orgasm. And they've had orgasms in the past, they're like, wait, it's not happening. And then you start trying to bear down and pressure. And pressure is not a good component for reaching an orgasmic level for most people.

Pam Allan: Agreed, agreed. Yes, yep.

Corey Allan: It's just recognizing that slow down. Don't make it such goal oriented process. And then his last statement of, once I've achieved ejaculation I'm usually done for the night. Okay. There's a lot of people that fit that category.

Pam Allan: Yeah, I was going to say, that's pretty darn normal.

Corey Allan: It's portrayed as, oh, you should be able to go again. Especially if you're only 36. Yeah, that's not across the board. I've had several clients that yep, one and done. And then my refractory period isn't that I'm not capable necessarily, it's just there's a lot of things that aren't in line at that point. And so that's the way they've kind of mapped it in their mind and in their relationship and that's where they want it to go. Relax, give yourself a break and see if you can make encounters with your wife that aren't about a goal, but are just about the connection.
An email that's been in the inbox for a little bit that says, "We are big fans. We have been for years of your podcast." And they also are fans of Anatomy of Marriage so shout out to Seth and Melanie.
"We're Christ followers and my hubby and I have a burning question surrounding porn. We've used it occasionally for our whole marriage together, sometimes separate, but we always talk openly about it. And we have found parts of it to be very beneficial. I've learned a ton about sex in some ways. Over time, I've begun to become disgusted with it. We usually only watch tasteful things and not the porn star type. Anyway, I'm not physically drawn to my husband chemistry wise, maybe only when I'm ovulating, but that's it. I never really have been physically attracted to him in a sex appeal way. Once we're warmed up and going, of course I'm more receptive. Porn has been a way to turn me on per se, but I find that I don't get turned on hardly by sex alone. My husband still gets turned on by it although he tends to suggest it quite often lately to get us going. I've mentioned that I'm not into it times, he's respectful, but seems to have logic and reason behind his reasons. Are there any studies proving the porn is damaging? Is some porn okay for education? Help."
This is one of those hotbed topics that we've touched on before.

Pam Allan: Many times before.

Corey Allan: This is a subject that comes up in almost all the time, any episodes that we've done. And then for sure other shows that might be in the Christian marriage arena, whenever this topic of porn comes up, it's going to be pretty negative on the slant of it's destructive and it's painful because it is. That's the result of a lot of people's experience with it. I want to honor that and recognize where we are in line and that some of this is based off of a statement we've made in the past or I've made in the past of as long if things are in the open, I have less concerns. And I'm saying that as a therapist.
Because a lot of what's most destructive when this kind of content comes up in a marriage, it's the secretness of it. And then it starts to become a destructive force that pulls you from each other and it's something you're competing against and it's a betrayal and there's a lot of hurt and pain. All that to say, their question of, is it damaging? There's several things in here. I think you probably picked up on it too. It's not just the question about porn. There's other questions.

Pam Allan: I'm picking up on number one, she's saying flat out she's disgusted by it. And it sounds like she's pretty much emailing in to get ammo to go back to the spouse to say, "Here's why we shouldn't do it." We're being requested to give her ammo to go back and say, "I don't want to do this anymore."

Corey Allan: When ultimately that's a decision she's got to make herself.

Pam Allan: It's her call. And if this is something that disgusts you, why does it disgust you? And what issue is it causing within your marriage?

Corey Allan: Right. Right. And so this is again, this is building off of the values of the people involved. This is building off of what is it that I want to live my life according to as a Christ follower or as a married spouse or as a human? Because we have across the board listeners. And so we try to here at SMR, we don't want to take moral stances on things in some regards. There are some absolutely we will.

Pam Allan: Right. We have our moral stance, but we want to give you good information.

Corey Allan: First and foremost.

Pam Allan: Roll with it, roll with what you got.

Corey Allan: And so, is porn harmful? Studies continue to show that porn use, the problems that are created with it is it's a dopamine, it can become a dopamine addiction. That the stimulation, what it provides and what it triggers in the brain and this is usually the greatest when it's associated with any kind ejaculatory orgasmic release. Because that just embeds that pathway even more. But there is a stimulation of the quick hit spike that can come from that kind of a dalliance into the visual. And so that usually if you're talking about any kind of a dopamine hit, then you're talking about escalation issues that typically it's the law of diminishing returns. That whatever I had to satisfy it, I need more of later because it becomes something that becomes a struggle.

Pam Allan: Right. Well, I go back to the Rockefeller comment about how much money is enough? Just a little more.

Corey Allan: Just a little more.

Pam Allan: It's the same thing with porn. How much porn is enough?

Corey Allan: Absolutely it can be.

Pam Allan: Just a little more.

Corey Allan: It's not across the board that everybody does get into a deeper, darker, more destructive path. That was not my case. That my case through the years of my struggles with pornography, it did not get into the deeper, darker and it might've just been because I had done enough research that there's another part of my brain saying, "Nope, you're not going that far."

Pam Allan: Got you.

Corey Allan: And you're able to stay with just the regular more vanilla, if you will. But there are some studies I came across, the most of them, these are the ones I just came across all came out in 2018. That a couple of things that were found in this is that overall, frequent porn viewing was associated with lower sexual satisfaction on the research that was done. And these are all research studies I would trust. That they're peer reviewed, they're in professional journals. They've gone through the protocols. It's not just somebody speculating. Another thing that they found, and this is a more correlated research that, if porn is taken as a how to manual, it does a bad job to say the least, because when instructing viewers on sexual pleasure, it's inaccurate and it likely leads to less pleasurable and less quality sex and infrequent orgasm because of what's being portrayed isn't what most people experience. And that's the virtual nature of it. That it's a little bit of a skewed route.

Pam Allan: Well, there's going to be some Hollywoodization in it.

Corey Allan: Sure. And she's talking about in her email though, we used it to help get ourselves going. And so, and she did learn a ton and there are some things, yeah. I didn't know that position. We could try that. But there's also Christian sex positions, friendly Christian Sex Positions that I can't remember the name of their site. And then there's an app coming out that has a link to this, that I'm working with Dan Purcell that has a lot of information in that too on sex positions. And that gives you a good way to, oh, I didn't realize we could try it that way. And that's a little more of a safe arena to explore some of that.

Pam Allan: Well, let me throw out something that I'm hearing in her email and maybe you're covering this. Maybe not. It sounds, she clearly said that she's not drawn to her husband anymore. And there's a way that she gets the way that she gets turned on can be through porn. It sounds like he feels like that's the only way he can get her.

Corey Allan: That's what gets her going.

Pam Allan: He realizes she's not drawn to me. How else am I going to get her going other than porn? And so where is his creativity in figuring out what can I do to entice my wife? Can I be a student of my wife? And I don't want to put a blame game here or there.

Corey Allan: No, but you're describing a dynamic that is absolutely coming through in the way this is written. And that is a huge elephant in the room. Because this goes back to what we just talked about in the first segment, that we map each other in sexual encounters. That if you're paying attention and honest and have the courage to ask the questions, you know if your partner's into it or not.

Pam Allan: Well, and I'm wondering how he can actually feel strong in himself if he realizes the only way she can get into sex with him is if she's seeing somebody else on the TV? There's got to be something missing there for him too.

Corey Allan: Well, it's at least worth acknowledging. I don't like the framework of it's missing, but at least recognize. Because some people don't have an issue with, if my spouse gets turned on by somebody else and I get the benefit of that, that's great. I'm okay with that. But there's also an element of that, that you have to recognize, and this is that double edged sword in a way. I don't want to be the sole center of a person's universe because that's not a beneficial thing, typically. They need to take care of themselves.

Pam Allan: It's a lot of pressure.

Corey Allan: And I need to do the same for myself. But I also need to recognize, am I willing to accept the fact that something else turns on my spouse, not me? I got to confront that. That's the same kind of thing we've done in a show in the past that comes to my mind of, the email that came in about the only way my wife is interested in the sex is after wine. And so there's this element of wait, alcohol is the attraction, not me. And that's an overstatement, but it's still that component of.

Pam Allan: Yeah, I think that's a total overstatement.

Corey Allan: I have to start looking at myself as, all right, is it really I just want my wife to be turned on so I can have sex with her? Or do I want to have a deeper connection with who she actually is? And get into understanding that?

Pam Allan: Yeah. that's the key, is my wife turned on by something else? Well, I kind of like knowing that she is a sexual being and she does get turned on. Or my husband is a sexual being and does get turned on. I don't want my spouse to be lusting after and focusing on this other thing. But I hopefully I like that my spouse is a sexual being and does get turned on and hopefully they pull that and do focus on me. But I don't know. It's a broad range there.

Corey Allan: It is. And there's a whole lot that's to be noted here because what matters to me on this is just like you're picking up on, Pam, is there is a bigger issue going on in this relationship. At least what's being described. And that is, I am not turned on by my spouse and haven't been. I don't think that's a deal breaker or a deal killer. There's a lot of people that have had that experience.

Pam Allan: Yeah. And have had it in seasons of their life.

Corey Allan: And so let's unpack that just real quick, because there are well pin in that for a second, because there's two more studies that just came out in 2018 to point out that talks about one is, pornography use, at least as frequent pornography use is related to loneliness, is what's been found, because you don't have real connection. And then there's also a study that was longitudinal from 2006 to 2014, they surveyed 2,120 married adults. And that found that overall, the chance of divorce doubled for both men and women who started using porn after getting married.

Pam Allan: Really?

Corey Allan: Yep. And the higher porn use, it actually tripled for women. If women were using porn, it went from 6% to 16% likelihood as part of the reason.

Pam Allan: I am really surprised at that.

Corey Allan: And it's not a linear because you use porn. It's a contributing factor, it is not the sole factor. And we have to realize that as human beings. It's a component. It's not the thing.

Pam Allan: I'm surprised by that.

Corey Allan: And then the other thing and this has been around, well this is the main research I keep finding before was it was Alfred Kinsey in 1948 did a study of male sexual behavior. And he found that just 1% of men under 30 and 3% of men between 30 and 45 reported erectile dysfunction. And he was one of the pioneers of sexual research. Alfred Kinsey was. That's in 1948.

Pam Allan: 1948. Okay.

Corey Allan: In a recent study now of military service men, more than a third of young military service men reported erectile dysfunction issues. And then other studies among non-military youth around the world, they show marked increase after high speed internet porn became widespread. And so that's where it's playing out the most is you got young people, quote unquote, experiencing what would normally be thought of as later in your life issues. They're experiencing it in their thirties and twenties.

Pam Allan: That's interesting.

Corey Allan: And so that's one of the biggest issues. And that's the dopamine hit. That's the rewiring, that's the virtual, it's where the virtual becomes what draws you in rather than the connection. Back to your other statement of, there's a bigger issue here that I'm not attracted and what do I do about that? And that there are people that have that happen because she's talking about a biology component, is the way she's framing it. Of, I don't have a biological response necessarily. As far as initially. When she's into it, it sounds like she does. Well done. You're responding in the middle of it. That's a good thing. How do you also then bring in the other aspects of the relationship? Bring in the other aspects of him? How do you connect to him intellectually? How do you connect emotionally? How do you connect spiritually?

Pam Allan: Yeah, what was the initial attraction I wonder? Kind of go back to, where did that come from?

Corey Allan: Right. And could it be, it wasn't his looks, it was his safety, it was his security, it was his ability to provide its ability to provide, his ability to parent.

Pam Allan: Humor, whatever.

Corey Allan: Right. Because all of those things matter and are important, but for some reason we will put so much stock on yeah, but that one's missing. And okay, it's a percentage of this pie, but it is not the whole pie. Because likelihood is, we've built something together that's not worth just throwing apart because one pie shrunk a little bit. The best thing you can do is have the courage to say, "You know what? The route in which we've been going for sex, I'm not okay with anymore." And I'm putting words in her mouth based on what she's saying and what you're picking up on, Pam. "I want to do other ways to get into this. And that might mean we have a season of not much sex for a while, while we're trying to figure that out, because maybe we need to give room for the erotic or the fantasy or something that's not stimulated from porn, but is stimulated from something else within us."
And you see where that takes you and you see what that happens. But that is a courageous move to turn towards, that I love seeing the clients I work with are the most courageous people on the face of the planet because they make those moves and then they go.

Pam Allan: It's so worth it in the end if you try it out. Even if it ends up failing and then you got to try plan C. It's so worth it if you try it out and make that move.

Corey Allan: Right. It's amazing how we can have the best hopes of, hey, let's get through all of this in the show and then when we get started answering questions, we can't do them quickly.

Pam Allan: No, no, no. We actually left out an email we didn't have time for. We'll get to that on the next one, I guess.

Corey Allan: Yes we will. And I don't think that comes across as a disservice because the whole thing I think of is, let's truly try to help frame conversations for what questions are being asked.

Pam Allan: Absolutely.

Corey Allan: And so if you've got something that you are just stuck with, keep running up against, it's chronic something, or it's just unknown. You just don't know. (214) 702-9565 or because the SMR Nation helps drive this ship and we want your words to help steer where we go. This has been Sexy Marriage Radio, thanks for taking some time out of your day to spend it with us. See you next time.