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My Husband Doesn’t Desire Me #656

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On the Regular Version …

In today’s episode, we dive into a listener’s question about a lack of desire in her marriage. After working through the Our Intimate Choices worksheet, the husband shared he has no desire or attraction towards his wife.

What does she do now?

It’s important she faces the truth of the system and begins recognizing the underlying dynamics. In this process it is imperative she recognizes the importance of separating self-worth from a spouse’s opinion and works to make choices that align with her personal values.

Takeaways

  • Facing the truth and recognizing the underlying issues in a marriage is essential for personal growth and relationship development.
  • Separating self-worth from a spouse’s opinion is crucial for maintaining a healthy sense of self.
  • Choosing to stay in a marriage while not feeling stuck requires personal growth and self-reflection.
  • Marriage is a people-growing machine that demands constant self-confrontation and growth.

On the Xtended Version …

Questions from a recent Q&A session regarding what do you do when attraction has disappeared or never really existed in the first place?

There is a natural ebb and flow of attraction and desire in marriage, but facing this dynamic requires a great deal of self work. 

Enjoy the show!

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Corey Allan: Welcome to the show. I'm Dr. Corey Allen, and as always, I'm joined by my wife Pam. Always

Pam Allan: Love being here.

Corey Allan: We're on Sex and Marriage Radio. We're having regular conversations because we want to try to cultivate the space that is between married couples and actually cultivate the space that's in every relationship that we have. But for sure, specifically when it comes to our marriages, we want that space to be vibrant and alive. We explore the wisdom and skills of the marriage and relationships world's most brilliant minds. We have in-depth conversations that explore topics that everybody's going to face. And this one today is no different because everybody, the severity may change as far as across the board, but everybody has an ebb and flow of what we're talking about today. And what we want to try to do is help you have conversation starters and actions and ways to frame what's going on so that you can propel life and marriage into deeper, more meaningful directions.
So if you're new to the show or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about Sexy Marriage Radio, check out our episode starter packs. These are a collection of our favorite shows organized by topics. You can go to smr fm slash starter, and if you got some feedback for our show, something we missed, something we don't cover, you want us to cover a question specifically to your situation, let us know. 2 4 7 0 2 9 5 6 5 or feedback@sexymarriageradio.com. And I came across this phrase as the years winding down. This is actually probably the last episode of 2023. At the end of this episode, we could say, Hey, we'll see everybody next year.

Pam Allan: Exactly.

Corey Allan: But one of the books I'm reading right now had this great quote in it that just talks about, it says Calm keeps you on your toes, but paranoia is stressful, so you abandon it quickly once you achieve success, and now you've abandoned what made you successful and you begin to decline, which becomes even more stressful. And so it's kind of the cycle that we go through.

Pam Allan: I'm confused by that whole saying. I'll just say right now. Well,

Corey Allan: Okay, so comfort we'll bring about crisis and crisis is what brings about change. But we can't sustain that for only so long, which then brings about comfort and on and on it

Pam Allan: Goes.

Corey Allan: It goes. So that's a great way to look at some of what we're talking about today because on the regular version, did you have something you were wanting to add?

Pam Allan: No, no, no. I just know what's coming, so I hear what you're saying.

Corey Allan: Okay. So on the regular version today is an email that came in, or actually a question that came in with the Christians who curse sometimes. Every so often. I get to get on their Instagram platform and just answer some q and this is one that he sent me directly so that we could cover it in more detail. Perfect. Because it's a longtime listener actually that has had some things that have come up and she wants to explore 'em deeper. And so she would love to know our take. And so we'll get into the specifics in in the regular version and on the extended content today, which is deeper, longer, and there are no ads, and you can join at smr fm slash academy, and actually this is the last week. You can take advantage of the back to SMR coupon code and get the first month free if you join on a monthly subscription level.
And so come join us. Try it out, try it out. You can hear the answers and the extended content. We go a little bit deeper on what happens if I'm no longer at all attracted to my spouse, what if I used to have it and then right when we got married it changed, or what do I do if it changed later? So all that's coming up right after this. So this is the message that came in from Christians to Curse sometimes. So this is a listener that says, I follow Dr. Corey for years, always listening and learning. Now I need help. After completing our intimate Choices worksheet from the podcast, which we did a couple of weeks ago, I learned some things about my husband that actually broke my heart. He doesn't desire me or enjoy touching, kissing or anything. He loves me and he says he wants a deep companionship, but he could be fine never having sex again for some context, we've been married 25 years, have three grown children and are empty nesters.
We were only 43 because we got married when we were 18, and actually he wasn't really into sex at all then too. I thought this was just because his dad was a pastor and maybe he was raised in the purity culture, which is an all too common. Maybe when I finally get the freedom to do this, the dam will break and all that desire will come rushing out. Well then we had kids and the next 18 to 20 years flew by fast. So now it's just us. And I've done everything I can to be healthy and attractive, but it doesn't seem to be enough. I don't know what to do and feel like I'll be spending the next 40 years of my life desiring something I can never have. I would love to get Corey and Pam's take on what to do next. Incidentally, he refuses to go to counseling, but I would really like to. So this is a heartbreaking message when we get these kinds of messages

Pam Allan: Because her expectations, her desires, well, Steph's not lining up. I'm curious if this is really new news that all of a sudden they did that are intimate choices,

Corey Allan: Maybe given a language to something that was already known. She even hinted at it that he wasn't really into sex and she just kind of thought maybe he would get into it once we had the freedom to do

Pam Allan: So. From the very beginning, he's been the lower desire it sounds like, as far as

Corey Allan: Absolutely is what it sounds

Pam Allan: Like having sex or those kinds of things. So it doesn't sound like it's new news,

Corey Allan: Maybe just not as clear and clean or concise. Because here's part of the problem, and we'll jump to this in a little bit. Okay. But one of the things I think that I'm hearing in this, Pam, is an all too common thing we do as humans where I don't get all the data, so I don't know exactly what I'm really facing. I don't either ask the questions or explore it deeper or just come straight out and clarify. I kind of hint around because typically if I'm going to share something with you that I know will alter the state of us or impact you, I figure out ways to kind of try to see if I can soft land that plane or just do a fly by and get the message close enough

Pam Allan: And well, you're coming at that from a topic that is purposeful. You have something that I'm just scared to share with you potentially. I'm afraid of how you're going to react. But I think there's also the topics that this is just how I am. I guess I never really pinpointed that I don't really have a desire for you. I really enjoy you being my spouse, but we've never had these conversations about desire. We haven't had the conversations, the specifics about even though we've been married so long, we haven't had conversations about those things. So it's just not crystal clear. It's not something I've been once spending time on. That's not what I think about. And that seems like that part of the high desire, low desire,

Corey Allan: And I think sometimes we would recognize these in retrospect. I could look back and go, oh, okay, that makes sense. It makes sense. Now I can kind of understand because that's kind of what we're looking at here.

Pam Allan: I was going to say, what are they really facing

Corey Allan: Here? And so first off, we're kind of hinting at it of clarification. The fact that she now knows this data oddly enough is good because now she knows exactly what she's up against. Because a lot of times we dance around things without clearly knowing what problem are we really trying to hit to face? What am I really up against here? Because a lot of times she's hinted at this, she's seen this in the sense of I thought that this would just go away or he never really was interested or I've tried to keep myself in good shape and be attractive, and that doesn't seem so she's known there's something, yeah,

Pam Allan: She's felt like she had to keep herself in shape, felt like she had to keep herself attractive so that

Corey Allan: Right. And so now potentially she get a result, and this is who we need to aim this towards is her, and let's end this. Let's, I'm going to answer the last thing she stated first of he's not interested in going to counseling. She would like to, well, then you go, that's one of the things right off the bat, ma'am, you go line yourself up with somebody and let him know. Don't do it in a secret, invite him along, but just that's the whole idea of you've got to separate the differences between you in this regard of how you want to face this problem and you face it the way you see you need to.

Pam Allan: Can I interject here because the way she can correct me if I'm wrong, email in if I'm reading this incorrectly, the sound of it that I'm interpreting is I want both of us to go, but he won't go. Sounds like I want to figure out how to fix him so that he desires

Corey Allan: Me. There's an undercurrent in there. Absolutely. But

Pam Allan: At this point, I would think we'd want her to go and figure out how are you coping with this new information? Yeah. How does that rest with you? What is your reaction and

Corey Allan: What is this going to require of

Pam Allan: You? Yeah, nothing may change with him. And what does that mean for you?

Corey Allan: Well, and the fact that he is refusing to go also says he's fine with is the companionate relationship. He's good with the status quo and as is for now. Yeah, yeah. Well, and it sounds like for a long time, it sounds like it's been that way for quite a while actually. So the popular advices out there, I'm going to get kind of a sideways thing real quick, is there's a few tips on just how to better communicate about this when we reach these kinds of dilemmas, if you will. So you need to select your moment carefully to raise the issue. You need to be sure that you talk about how you feel rather than blaming your partner for how you feel. That's what we use the phraseology of, let the problem be the problem. Don't you become part of the problem. You need to ensure there's space for each partner to express how they really feel. And then also, one of the things I came across was think of the ways you can meet your partner's needs in the area that they want in the relationship, right? Sure. Okay, so that's kind of in a nutshell what is proposed in the intro. Well,

Pam Allan: That's general of if I'm someone that's Googling for help, is that enough?

Corey Allan: No. And largely because this is a true, a shn would define it, gridlock issue where what you want. She's describing, and she even said it perfectly, I'm curious, am I going to have to just face the next 40 years of my life with a relationship? I don't get everything I'm looking for in namely sex and desire and the erotic therein.

Pam Allan: Well, they're not saying it's sex free. She's just not being desired the way she wants to be desired.

Corey Allan: Good clarification. Good clarification.

Pam Allan: She wants to be desired and has no control over that. And

Corey Allan: So a lot of the advice out there that you find won't solve gridlock because more communication doesn't solve it. Acting like it doesn't happen, doesn't solve it. It's how you face it is what solves it. It's your relationship to that relationship dynamic that helps you figure out how you solve it, because it's what does it require of me? And this is that idea of understanding that now that the truth has shown up in my system, there's more opportunity for my system to evolve and grow while at the same time there's more risk. It may not, because we don't live statically as humans. Things are constantly evolving and changing. I mean, Woody Allen uses the quote of marriage is like a shark. If it's not moving forward, it dies. And there's some semblances of truth to that

Pam Allan: Statement. We use that with business. If you're not growing, you're dying. And I think that that's a concept. If you're not learning, you can use that in all kinds of arenas,

Corey Allan: But I want to at least start, we're drilling a little bit deeper into this for her. When you understand the truth of what you really are facing and the system has that stuff out in the open, you're actually at a better place. It's deeper, it's scarier. It's going to have a whole lot of different emotions than maybe you've had prior because now you start moving into beyond from the what could be wrong, something's amiss, something's not right, this should work, those kinds of things. And then you start just moving into almost a sadness, a grieving

Pam Allan: Of I know what's wrong and I'm really sad that I know,

Corey Allan: And this is now I have to face what it is, not what I wish it was, because there's also the convoluted component of I'm having to face what I wish it was all along. This is that element of when we get new data, our knee-jerk reaction can be, you've been lying to me this whole time when yes and no, because sometimes they're lying to themselves. They're giving it a good try. They're trying to figure out, and it's just not creating anything, but it's just,

Pam Allan: Yeah, I mean using the word lie in that situation, I hate using that. Maybe not necessarily me purposefully trying to deceive or lying to you. It's just that we're living kind of in two different worlds and not see, I would go recognizing what it is,

Corey Allan: But I would go this way though because, and this is just more and more the way my bent is lately, that I look at things more and more of, there's an underbelly there. If I'm constantly avoiding something to where it's noticeable by my wife, I'm only halfheartedly participating If there is actual sexual sexual encounters happening, I'm not. I have opportunities to show desire or whatever, and I don't on one level, I'm actively avoiding it. So therefore that's the part I have to reign in and recognize in Me too, that's being exposed here. That's why when the truth comes out, there's an element of, okay, now I know what I'm really facing. And it's self confrontation is a huge component of this. If he listens to this, there's a huge component of self confrontation that needs to be brought into bear on this thing to recognize. Does

Pam Allan: It or was he straightforward from the beginning on I was never,

Corey Allan: Well, I mean now that's been clarified to the

Pam Allan: Level. I wasn't painting a picture and saying, I want sex all the time.

Corey Allan: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of holes we don't know that need to be filled in as far as data points for our conversation. But this is the way I want to go to kind of hit the edges of the extreme to help kind of drill in because this is something that happens in a lot of relationships actually to varying degrees for certain.

Pam Allan: Sure

Corey Allan: It does. Because in one instance, it's the higher desire, lower desire paradigm. It's happening on every relationship, but on the others, and specifically with her, it's recognizing this is one of the questions I ask couples that are in truly sexless marriages, and I get that sense because one of my questions is I'm getting to know, a couple can be, tell me about your sex life. Oh, well, we don't have any. Okay, well then how do you actively avoid it? Because I want that data. What is it? Because I don't necessarily need it more so than they do.

Pam Allan: Yeah. It tells you what your real scenario is, what is your playbook?

Corey Allan: And so the more you get the truth out in the open, now you can move into what do I want to do in real time that has a greater potential of changing my life and not letting my past or my wishes rule me? Because she'll get caught in this. It'll be exposed of, well, I've tried that. Well, I tried that. I tried that. Yes, you have. But what we're talking about on trying to frame it, it will likely mean you try some of the same things, but from a different standpoint. It's not an attachment to, I hope this works. I hope he notices me. Maybe this will produce it. It's really what does this produce in yourself? Because NAR uses this phrase that when you're talking about a sexless marriage or the lack of desire, that first you have to avoid the prime sex and desire killer in marriage, and that is allowing what your spouse thinks of you to determine how you feel about yourself.

Pam Allan: And that's got to be a really common thought process.

Corey Allan: It's in ours.

Pam Allan: Yeah,

Corey Allan: Sure is. I'll own it. I have

Pam Allan: Areas I don't have that problem at all, but I know that's an issue

Corey Allan: For you. You're so much more developed than I, of course,

Pam Allan: Sarcasm inserted here,

Corey Allan: But it's recognizing there's elements in marriages where I am really tied to what you think about me,

Pam Allan: About you or what it is you want to do. I mean, we have travel plans over the holidays and they've had to be adjusted. And what I think about what your plans are, I'm assuming affect you and I care what you think about what I think the plan should be. I want you to want to do what I want to do. And yeah,

Corey Allan: Because all of that is, if you look at it on a growth chronological chart, that is a process of growing of when I recognize how I have been tied into my self-worth is tied too much on how I perceive you in that area or how you are reacting to me in that area. I need to separate that out so I can learn to tolerate the differences between us that if you don't have desire for me, let's go back to what she's describing. If you don't have desire for me, don't want to touch, aren't interested in any kind of affection, well, I need to face that and make sure if I'm wanting to be affectionate, I be affectionate.
Whether it's reciprocated and kind or not, I don't force it. I don't cross lines because again, this is all about my own character. It's all about how I carry myself. We've done this way, way back. One of Esther Pell's comments of how you carry yourself will be noticed by people. And I can weaponize that or I can use that to realize, wait, no, I am of value. I am of worth, and it's not noticed by the person I love the most and want to be with the most. That's what produces the gut wrenching sadness and grief. That's what you have to face first along this way. And then at the same time, live more in line with what your character and your compass of integrity demands because then it starts to become the scenario where there are a lot of instances in marriages, and I've had this throughout the history of the 20 years of doing this work with individuals is I don't want to leave my marriage, but I don't want to feel stuck there either. And that can be done. That's a goal that can totally be done where it's a choice that you make and you look at, okay, what do I need to do to face the fears that I've got with this? Because yes, they're framed by my spouse, but they're my fears.

Pam Allan: True.

Corey Allan: I have to face that and then I have to decide what I need to do, the moves I need to make according to what I want in my life and in my marriage. That is constantly what's in play. But what's interesting too, Pam, is while she's trying to wrestle with this, and if she starts really doing this, she bloody well will increase the pressure on him.

Pam Allan: The dynamic is going to change. And then the question is, how's he going to respond? What's he do with that data?

Corey Allan: Right? Because

Pam Allan: He may be one that at the point right now is he knows she likes touch, so maybe he gives it some and she's just wanting him to want to do it. I mean, there's all these different levels. And so then

Corey Allan: She needs to reframe what is it she really reading into what really is going on?

Pam Allan: Yeah, I'm curious

Corey Allan: And just look at it at face value more.

Pam Allan: I'm curious what more of it is. Is it just that he won't provide the touch or does he provide the touch and he just doesn't have the desire there, but he does it because he knows she likes it. It'd be interesting to know that difference, but I think that's, again, it doesn't necessarily matter for purposes of what we're talking about in that she still has to face this and come at it from her standpoint of what is my purpose behind it? How can I live better to be like were referring to

Corey Allan: Address

Pam Allan: It head on.

Corey Allan: So you have to understand, and this will be a marker of growth for everybody that's in this situation to some degree, but for sure for this lady, when you'll know you're gaining ground personally, when you get him queuing in on how you're doing, he'll ask, he'll hint at he'll, poke at

Pam Allan: Is poke

Corey Allan: At a difference? Is

Pam Allan: Poke at meant

Corey Allan: Poke at his middle school

Pam Allan: Adversely? That's what I mean. I hear it that way.

Corey Allan: I don't know how. Maybe

Pam Allan: Not a positive

Corey Allan: Way do you think? I don't know how to express it, but it's kind of this little jab. It's like a little sarcastic. It's a tease. It's something rather than just coming straight out with a, Hey, are you okay? Because sometimes this is what's so cool and maddening about the English language. Hey, are you okay? Has so many different meanings because I could be more motivated out of, I want to make sure you're okay so that I'm okay. Sure. Or I'm truly open to the answer of, are you okay? Are

Pam Allan: You okay?

Corey Allan: Because if I'm going to ask that question, and that's what happens on social circles a lot. When you get in the where there's the agreed upon social depth of what the conversation's supposed to be, it's like, Hey, how's it going? And the agreed upon out there in the world answer typically is going to be fine, man, it's been great or busy, and then you just move right along. But if you actually unloaded, how is it really going? Some people will run as fast as they can from that question that they just asked. And so you'll know you're on the right path if you see those start to up a little bit because they'll notice there'll be a difference and you'll carry yourself differently. You engage differently. And also sometimes more importantly, you disengage differently. You're hanging out having a good evening together and there's this progression that you're hoping would happen and you get the sense nope. And so you're like, you know what? And you just head off to another part of the house and you're taking care of something else you wanted to do and it's still hurting, but you're kind of trying to soothe that wound, but you're not trying to make him soothe that wound or do it in his presence so he knows you're hurt.

Pam Allan: Yeah, festering. And those

Corey Allan: Are moves that have really good strategies based to it because it's not contingent on what message is it delivering to him. It's me just taking care of me better. It's me leaning into my truth as I now see it of what is in my marriage,

Pam Allan: Strong

Corey Allan: Move and facing that better. And then again, you have to simplify this down to I make a move and then I determine what my next one is. There is no roadmap beyond that,

Pam Allan: So don't get all hot and bothered trying to plan this out months ahead of time. It truly is. I've got to take today and this moment right

Corey Allan: Here, what's my self-respecting move that both keeps in mind what I want in my life and what my marriage is? Because it doesn't mean I won't get it what I'm wanting. It might not mean I get it exactly what I want, but I might get something slightly altered, and that's even sweeter. Who knows? But that's the dilemma that every single one of us faces in marriage because marriage is a people growing machine. It demands stuff of us and our price is learning how to confront ourself better. And then what I'm really facing, just before we transition to the extended content, we're going to continue a little bit of this framework of attraction. This is just the attraction episode, but this time we're going to shift it to what happens when there was all kinds of attraction and energy and sex drive before you got married and now it's gone after you got married. This is a question that came in, and then there was also some themes of questions that were along the lines of I'm no longer physically attracted, which is a continuation of what we've just talked about, but I'm going to kind of take a little bit of a different slant mainly on the fact that things do wane
Because that's some other things we can still unpack. I think that will help.

Pam Allan: Let's do

Corey Allan: It. Catch us. On the flip side at the extended content, the world of attraction, it's a weird, elusive, hard to define, really sometimes hard to fix arena because think about what, if you look through the course of our lives, Pam, there's elements of that was really attractive, and now all of a sudden, maybe it's shifted because I think it does shift over time of what we find as attractive once was, maybe we won't as we go along.

Pam Allan: Yeah, I can see that as we grow up, as we get some wisdom, as we understand more about life, understand meanings behind things, that it affects our thought processes, it affects what gets us going, gets us excited in many ways, including what we're physically attracted to,

Corey Allan: Right? Because I think the hope would be, this is for a lot of couples out there. I guess you could say that sometimes it's like, I'm not going to always show off a whole six pack of abs, but I might be able to show an ab.

Pam Allan: I love your ab.

Corey Allan: I love your ab. Well, this has been Sexy Marriage Radio. If you can help us out, please do so by rate and review the show on Apple Podcast, Spotify or however you listen. Your comments will help spread the word about what we got going on here, and we will help other people frame their conversations. There's transcripts available at each of the episodes pages at smr fm. It's also advertisers, deals and discount codes at SMR fm, so please consider supporting those who support the show. We're also placing a page on my SMR FM that's just has all of the sponsor's, advertisers codes. So anything you do, you click the link, you help spread the word, you help support the show. So if we left something undone, let us know and wherever you are, however you took a little bit of time to spend with us, Merry Christmas this time of year, and we hope to see you again next time.