Episode 243 - Unlocking Intimacy: Insights from Group Coaching on Thriving Beyond Pornography

Apr 29, 2024


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Episode 243 - Group Coaching

[00:00:00] Zach Spafford: Hey everybody and welcome to Thrive Beyond Pornography. I'm your host, Zach Spafford. This week I wanted to share with you another call with a client that came from group coaching,

[00:00:09] see if you can apply any of the lessons that we learn in this to your own life so that you can become a more intimate, more connected partner in your relationship.

[00:00:18] With that, here is this coaching call with Ryan.

[00:00:21] Anybody have anything they want to talk about in particular? Anything on your mind in particular?

[00:00:26] Ryan: I started watching more of the courses and I probably should have been doing that all along. I don't know. I've got, I've kind of hit a weird phase where, actually one thing struck me from the course that it was like the, I think it was in the truth, the justification, the lie, and it's like reasons why to, and one of them is I deserve sex. And with, my wife right now, it's, it's kind of It feels like I'm the only one that cares about our sex life, right? And I'm, I've definitely like over functioned or whatever. And I have a hard time balancing between like, "Hey, let's work on this, let's do this." And then being like, "okay, well I need to give you your space and I need to let you have some space to feel some desire or whatever."

[00:01:09] And it's, it's just like, I'm sure it's confusing for my wife because I kind of bounce back and forth on that as far as like not really finding a grounded spot. So anyway, that's just kind of a little backstory. But when in that video you said reasons or the truth, the justification, the lie or whatever, like "I deserve sex."

[00:01:26] I was like, I don't think I've ever consciously been like, you know what, I'm not getting any and I deserve it. But when you, when I heard you say that, I was like, Yup! That's there for sure. So that stood out to me, just the ways that, I don't know, just some of the ways that I justify it. And yeah, I guess that's not really a question, but that was something that kind of stood out.

[00:01:49] Zach Spafford: I have a question. Why do you think you deserve sex? Uh,

[00:01:57] Ryan: gosh, you're gonna, you're gonna make me sound like a dick now.

[00:02:00] I mean, part of it, part of it is just, you, you get, you You know, dude, when we were dating, it was like I was the one pushing her off. I was like, no, we can't. We remember we talked to the bishop, you know, we got the whole temple thing coming up. No, no, no. And then it just was like not, it just wasn't what we expected. It wasn't what either of us expected. Um, and, and I think some of my frustration is when I approach it to talk to her about it, she's like, it's conversations around sex or money.

[00:02:35] She gets super like, super triggered, and it's like, I'm gonna make sure she's not out here listening or something, but I, I feel like

[00:02:43] Zach Spafford: You should probably bring her out here so she can listen.

[00:02:45] Ryan: Dude, I know. I, I feel like I'm, I'm like interacting with another kid with how reactive she gets, right? It's like, I'll say, hey babe, like, I really want to work on this.

[00:02:56] Or, hey, we haven't done this in a while, or whatever. And it's like, are you saying we never? And I'm like, no, no, no, no, no, I never said that. And in, in sales, I learned this when I first started selling, when somebody would tell you no, and I didn't realize it was gaslighting, but you would say, how do you mean?

[00:03:14] Like, oh, I think we're going to hold off. How do you mean? And you would force them to defend their position instead of me defending why I felt like they should buy it. And it's almost like my wife does that to me. And it always puts me on having to defend what I said instead of me stating what I said and then just leaving it at that.

[00:03:33] And anyway, so. So what I'm getting at is I, I get to this point where I feel like, and maybe, maybe some of this internal dialogue or subconsciously, I don't know, but I start feeling like my hands are tied. It's like, dude, I want to work on this. I don't know how, and I don't really feel like I have somebody that wants to come to the table and be like, cool, hey, let's figure this out.

[00:03:58] Let's like, we don't need to play the blame game. We know we're both at fault, but let's like. Let's work on this ,

[00:04:04] Let me role play with you for a second, because I'm trying to map your wife in this conversation. And mapping her will give me, uh, maybe a little bit of a clearer picture on your side of the street as well.

[00:04:18] Ryan: Yeah.

[00:04:18] Zach Spafford: So I just want you to play your wife.

[00:04:21] Ryan: Yeah.

[00:04:22] Zach Spafford: I'm going to play you. In this scenario, hey, honey, I want to have sex and I want you let's do it,

[00:04:30] Ryan: dude It's not tonight. We got kids and we got whatever like if you want a handjob, I'll do that

[00:04:38] Zach Spafford: Good. No, perfect Okay. No, I I actually I want you I don't want a hand job, and I get we have some, you know, stuff that we've gotta accomplish before we go to bed, but I want you.

[00:04:56] Ryan: Well, you know where to find me. I'm at home all day, so figure out a time.

[00:05:01] Zach Spafford: What do you mean by that?

[00:05:05] Ryan: I mean, you're the one that goes to work. If you need to leave work early, you can leave work early or you can go in late or whatever, but you know that when it gets late at night, I don't have the energy or the time or whatever.

[00:05:16] Zach Spafford: It sounds like the way that you're saying that it sounds like I am a task on your to do list

[00:05:21] and you want to check it off. You want to make sure I'm good, but you don't want me.

[00:05:26] Ryan: I'm trying to, I've got an idea of some of how she would react and I almost feel bad saying it because, and maybe it's some of how I perceive it, but I do feel like it's, it's like, it's very thrown back in my face on it and, and I, I feel like I get to a spot where I feel stuck. I really do.

[00:05:53] Zach Spafford: Just try me.

[00:05:54] Just try me with what you think she'll say.

[00:05:58] Ryan: Um, maybe, uh, maybe you are, maybe you are just a to do list. If you want anything more than that, like, sorry, that's all I can do right now.

[00:06:09] Zach Spafford: I'm, I'm curious, honey, what do you want out of our relationship? Like, what is it that you're looking for in this relationship?

[00:06:20] Ryan: Oh, at this point, Zach, I don't know, because we probably don't make it this far, because it probably gets a little more explosive. And I, I like, I hit this wall where I'm just like, like, if I keep going, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna be an ass, to be honest.

[00:06:35] I'm just gonna kind of let it come out. And,

[00:06:38] Zach Spafford: and how are you going to come and let it come out? Like, what's that sound like?

[00:06:44] Ryan: Argh...

[00:06:45] Zach Spafford: Because I know that I know what I'm doing is not what you would be doing. So,

[00:06:49] Ryan: oh, it'd be like, no, this, this is the same thing that we deal with. This is where it comes to, right? Like, like, You know, and dude, how, how fun is the game? Yeah, so you be you, I'll

[00:07:00] Zach Spafford: be her for a second.

[00:07:01] Ryan: Yeah, I mean, how fun is a game of tag if I'm always it?

[00:07:04] Like, like I want something where we can collaborate on this. And I don't feel like I'm just I'm just like a monkey on your back or just chasing you or just like, come on, come on. Like, that's not what I want to me. And now I can tell I'm like. I'm starting to kind of get wound up about it, but it's like I don't really want a relationship or I don't feel like I'm desired like that to me And I guess at one point I I told her I was like listen if if the next 10 years of our marriage is like the last 10 years of our marriage that's not a marriage I would choose and that was kind of a I think, I think she, she took that like, you're leaving me, but anyway, and I, I know that's its whole animal, like I, I feel like a lot of my struggles around porn, honestly, are like having those conversations or those issues and not being able to address them, and I know, I'm trying to think, I think Dr.

[00:07:58] Glover talks about it, he talks about the shit test, Yeah, and it's like when you try to change things like the woman's gonna challenge you or be like no You don't really mean that and and I feel like I feel like I kind of cave when it comes to that It's just like I don't want

[00:08:12] Zach Spafford: she pushes you back into the old dance.

[00:08:14] You're saying hey, let's do a new dance She pushes you back into the old dance

[00:08:17] Ryan: Yeah, and it's and it's like I don't I don't want the fight and then so I come back to this place where i'm just like All right. Well, and then things get kind of better for a little bit than it, you know, but it's I don't know.

[00:08:31] I got a fortune that talked about how the key to happiness is realistic expectations. And I've thought that in the past, right? Like, if you don't expect anything, then you're always kind of surprised and whatever, but it's, it's been a hard, it's been a hard balance. I don't want to say that like, because I don't think there's, it's not that like, Hey, I can get this amount of sex that will keep me from porn, but I do think a lot of my frustrations around sex.

[00:08:59] So I'm not saying it's like, it's the sex or the lack thereof that makes me go to porn. It's my frustrations with how that is.

[00:09:07] Zach Spafford: And it's not even just, it's not even sex. Like, sex is the, the, the, how do I say this? Sex is the thing that we think we're looking at, but, yeah,

[00:09:25] Ryan: like the root cause, because I think the root cause would be the communication.

[00:09:28] Zach Spafford: It's not communication either, and I'll tell you why it's not communication. You know what she's gonna say. You've proved it just now. So, you don't want to hear what she has to say. That's apathy, and that's really where most relationships start to break down, is in this place of like, I know what she's gonna say.

[00:09:52] I know what this fight looks like. I'm gonna say the same things to her. She's gonna say the same things to me. We're at an impasse. It's never gonna get solved. And then you get to exactly where you are, which is like, if this next 10 years is the same as the last 10 years, that's not something I want. So communication's not the issue, right?

[00:10:15] There are meaning frames that you're operating in that are creating this disconnect between what each of you want and what is happening within your relationship. And to be more clear about it, it would be very helpful. Honestly, it would be very helpful to have a dialogue, just like the one that we're talking about, about this particular discussion, both one from you and one from her to see both of your perceptions, because in that,

[00:10:41] I could see her saying something like what one of my other clients has said, which is, well, you don't really want me, you could swap out the head and it would be the same. As long as you got a body to use. You're satisfied.

[00:10:54] So in that conversation with that client, what it looks like is, what does it look like to actually connect with your wife? What does it look like to, for her, to be able to actually access her desire? Because my guess is your wife is not an automaton. She probably likes sex. Unless she's highly sexually repressed, which is possible, but she probably likes sex.

[00:11:22] But what she doesn't like is the pressure and the commitment and the sense that she's not desired. She's just a means to an end.

[00:11:31] Ryan: Yeah.

[00:11:33] Zach Spafford: So from that perspective, we have to say, okay, how do we resolve that? And what does that look like? So one of the things that, and this is why I say to most people, porn is not the problem, porn is a symptom of the way that we're not connecting and opening our relation, ourselves up to invalidation and intimacy.

[00:11:55] And you're like, well, why would I want to open up myself to invalidation

[00:11:58] Nobody likes to be invalidated. But the more we can handle invalidation, the more capable we are of having intimacy, which is to say, if I can endure my wife's, real perception of who I am, so what she really thinks about me, and not simply feel sucky or try to push back on her. Or act like I'm not at fault, then she can actually show me what she sees.

[00:12:33] And I can not simply fully embrace or at least observe that reality, but I can resolve it more thoroughly.

[00:12:41] For instance, okay, let's talk about sex for a second. So for most men, when it comes to porn, agency is a really difficult struggle because we, okay, so agency requires that you have three things. You have to have a knowledge of what's right and wrong. You have to have consequences and you have to have the capacity to say both yes and no, but in the Latter day Saint tradition, we're not allowed to say yes to porn.

[00:13:06] Okay. And that is, that's problematic in that it creates resentment and it, disempowers us in that framework, right? So we're disempowered because if we can't say yes, then we can't ever really truly say no. And therefore we're not making a choice. We're just doing what we're, what we should, which creates resentment.

[00:13:28] Okay. So flip that, you reverse that for women, which is, they have to have a knowledge of what's right and wrong. What do they want? Right. And they have to have consequences. What are the consequences of having sex or not having sex? And then you have to have the capacity to say both yes and no.

[00:13:45] But if she doesn't feel like she can say no, then she can never really truly say yes. So then the question becomes, well, what does it look like when, like, if you go to your wife, uh, what's your wife's name? Okay. If I go to and I say. I want you.

[00:14:02] I want to make love to you tonight, what happens if she says no?

[00:14:11] Ryan: I mean, I think I've, I've made some progress in not taking it so personally, but I think in the past that was a big thing that I take it personally. Um,

[00:14:27] Zach Spafford: and I, I won't, I won't discredit any of the progress you've made, but if you have a sense of what she feels or might feel in that moment, what would it be?

[00:14:41] Ryan: Um, I mean,

[00:14:53] I mean, I do, I do feel like it's kind of like, well, let me, let me, like, it's just kind of the appeasing thing. It's, it's, there's, there's, there's not this like, hey, let's collaborate. Let's figure out, let's, hey, tonight's not good, but guess what? Let's, let's do it tomorrow morning.

[00:15:08] Zach Spafford: And why do you think that is?

[00:15:10] Why do you think she wants to appease you more than collaborate and connect with you?

[00:15:17] Ryan: Um, I think a lot of it is I haven't really given her her space to kind of step into that. And like one of the, one of the podcasts I listened to that made sense is like, I've been willing to do way more than 50 percent for a very long time. And it's like, it's, it's like if I make breakfast for you every single day, why are you ever going to think, you know, like I need to go get food or you're never going to get hungry kind of thing.

[00:15:43] And, but that's, that's where I, I, I like, I pull way far away and I'm like, it's probably somewhere in the middle.

[00:15:49] Zach Spafford: Well, what it is is your connection with her creates a sense of obligation

[00:15:57] Ryan: on her part?

[00:15:58] Zach Spafford: On her part. You come to her and you say, Hey, I want to make you scream tonight. I want to connect with you.

[00:16:04] I want to be with you. And if she is appeasing you, rather than saying no, cause I don't want to, or I don't know, Because she doesn't know. The truth is, so women generally have what's called responsive desire. Men have what's called spontaneous desire. To know the difference, you only ever have to wake up next to a man to know what, what he has, right?

[00:16:30] He has spontaneous desire. It's easy to see.

[00:16:34] Ryan: I don't know, I've never woken up next to a man.

[00:16:37] Zach Spafford: Well, or, well, woke, woken up as a man. Goodness. Yeah. Right. That's a, I should be more careful with my words.

[00:16:49] So, so now, like, if I go to my wife and I say, hey, I want, and she has this framework where if I say no, Ryan loses it.

[00:17:04] Then she has no yeses. She only has accommodation.

[00:17:09] Ryan: Yeah.

[00:17:10] Zach Spafford: There's no freedom. There's only management.

[00:17:15] Ryan: Yeah.

[00:17:15] Zach Spafford: So, so on your side of the street, what you're looking to do is you're looking to show her that you can handle rejection. And how do you do that? Well, you start by, placing yourself in a position to be rejected and you say, Hey, I want you like honest, honest, connective, putting yourself out there, taking the risk.

[00:17:39] And saying, Hey, I want you, I desire you. Right. And if she gives you the, the line that you gave me, which is, well, I'll see if I can make that happen tonight. Essentially I'll pencil you in and see if I can accommodate you. Your response needs to be, "I don't want you to accommodate me.

[00:17:59] I don't want you to say yes, because you feel like you have to. I don't want you to make this happen because you're supposed to. I want you and I'll wait." You don't even have to say that. I'll wait part, just leave the pregnant pause. But that's what you're really doing. You're saying, I want you. I'll wait.

[00:18:26] And in, in, in positioning yourself in that place, you are creating the opportunity for her to ask, what do I want?

[00:18:33] Ryan: Yeah.

[00:18:35] Zach Spafford: Because in your sex life, I mean, I would bet you're like, "tell me what you want. I'll give it to you. I'll do whatever you want. I'll make you, you know, I'll make your sexuality a priority."

[00:18:47] I mean, uh, she comes first as a book that comes to mind. Right. And in doing that, you're putting more pressure on her. And not a good pressure. You're putting the kind of pressure on her that she's like, "I don't know how to do this differently. And I don't want to try because it feels claustrophobic" that never creates desire.

[00:19:09] And it never allows her to really ask the question, "what do I want?"

[00:19:13] So let me tell you a little bit about our sex life, right? So there was a point at which I said, I'm not taking duty sex anymore. I refuse to take duty sex. So I started to get really blunt with my wife. I started to say, well, I would like to make out.

[00:19:28] That's how I would say it. Cause clearly I'm like 15 and, um, and I just want to know what you want. I'm going to be okay. Cause what she would say is, uh, maybe, and what she was doing was exactly what your wife is doing. She was like, I'm going to accommodate you. If I feel like I can muster up the strength to do it.

[00:19:51] But I don't really want to step into this. And so I would just say, "well, I want you to give me just either a yes or a no, and I will be able to handle it. I I'll take it either way." And that was a really blunt way of doing what I'm asking you to do, because I didn't know any better, but also it worked. It worked for us.

[00:20:15] Darcy likes sex. She's always liked sex. She's never had a problem with anything sexuality wise. But what she did have was not no real desire for me because I never gave her the opportunity to ask herself What does she want? So we went along like that for a little while and I'll be honest with you in the beginning It was like really painful for me because she would say no and then I would have to be like Why doesn't she love me?

[00:20:43] I feel rejected And then I had to physically make myself move closer to her in that space, okay? And in that framework, we started to create this space for her to go, "well, what do I actually want?" And I would never take it if she said no, and, and sometimes she would say yes out of a sense of, Like, well, it's been so long, so maybe I should.

[00:21:11] So I had to even weed that out. And eventually we got to a moment and this is probably one of the most pivotal moments of all of our sex life was that we're literally, as they say, inflagrante, and she's, um, she's like in the middle of it. She stopped. She's like, I just, I just can't, I just can't do this.

[00:21:30] Now, most men, me included, would probably say, "Oh, Oh, you're done. Let me finish. Then we can be done." But I had gotten to a place where I was like, "I don't want anything she's not giving me. I don't want anything that she's not fully free in, in our relationship." So I just was like, okay, I, I was enjoying this, but I can, I can let that go for the moment.

[00:22:06] I can handle myself. And I can ask her what's going on. And we had a pretty good conversation about it.

[00:22:14] Ryan: Yeah.

[00:22:15] Zach Spafford: From that moment forward, Darcy knew that no matter what she said, I would be okay. No matter whether she was like, I hate you and I'm never having sex with you ever again, versus I want you and I'm going to do you tonight.

[00:22:36] And I'm going to like whisper sweet nothings in your ear in the kitchen. Even if I, I'm not really turned on, because remember, responsive desire versus spontaneous desire. If a woman says to you at two in the afternoon, I'm gonna make you scream in the middle of the night, what she means is, in the middle of the night, I'd like you to help me turn on, and what you're gonna need to do for that is take about the next 45 minutes to touch me softly and create the space for me to get back into my body.

[00:23:06] Before I'm turned on, before we even have sex. Before any of that. So now there's a shift and that shift started with me and you have a lot more capacity in this framework than you probably give yourself credit for, which is start by being honest about what you want. What do you actually want from your wife?

[00:23:27] What do you want?

[00:23:30] Ryan: Sorry, I'm taking notes. I thought it was rhetorical.

[00:23:34] Zach Spafford: No, it's actually a really, it's a, it's an important question to answer.

[00:23:38] Ryan: Yeah. No, I think I want somebody that will like collaborate and like, we come together on that as far as like working out what we want to create and

[00:23:49] yeah.

[00:23:54] Zach Spafford: Do you know what she wants?

[00:23:59] Ryan: More sleep? Um, no, I, I don't honestly. And that's, that's actually been one of the conversations that we've been like, Hey, we need to, we need to block out some time to sit down and like, you know, It's more so I realized I didn't, I don't know that, and it's, it's gonna be a conversation of like, hey, like, paint me the perfect picture, like, what, how would you like it to look?

[00:24:25] What would you envision? What would you, because I think for a long time I've been like, hey, this is what I want, this is what we need, this is what we should, this is what, and I'm recognizing that's, that's probably smothering, I'm sure.

[00:24:37] Zach Spafford: Well, especially when the truth is that you want someone who will collaborate with you.

[00:24:43] Yeah, if you're if you're business partners with somebody and you come in and you're like, this is what we need This is what we want. This is what we should. How's your business partner gonna feel about that?

[00:24:54] Ryan: Yeah, not great

[00:24:56] Zach Spafford: Yeah, they're gonna be like whoa tiger. I thought we were partners,? and if you pout every time you don't get what you want, how else is your how's your business partner gonna feel about that? They're gonna be like this guy. I can't trust him with any bad news

[00:25:16] Ryan: Yeah, yeah.

[00:25:18] Zach Spafford: He's a bit of a tyrant, right?

[00:25:22] Ryan: I'm buying a business partner out right now. So you're, you're hitting a soft spot.

[00:25:30] But I think it was more him. But anyway, that's, that's neither here nor there. But yeah, no, I get what you're saying. I do, I do think that like, just like I, I got to step in the fire more and just not give up when I want to have those conversations. And go back to the normal dynamic because I think not addressing this I really do think like there's this kind of like this underlying frustration going and and I I think that's I think that's a big thing that I try to soothe with porn and it's and it's not me saying that like It just so happens that it's frustration related to sex.

[00:26:13] I don't think it's that like Like it could be with anything. It could be with finances. It could be with routines at home or chores or, but, but it's just this, this underlying thing that I'm like, I feel really frustrated by and, and getting to a place where I can just kind of sit in that crappiness and just kind of be like, all right, well, I don't have a hundred percent control of this.

[00:26:36] And I just need to kind of accept that, you know, the whole, the whole serenity.

[00:26:41] Zach Spafford: So tell me what the frustration is. Because I think I'm seeing something here that I can point.

[00:26:46] Ryan: Yeah, I think the frustration is I I envision. Hey, it should be a certain way or I want this to be a certain way and and I feel like we've got all the tools to make that happen, but Somebody that's not willing to step into that and a lot of that I'm sure is my own doing but but the dynamic frustrates me and and it's frustrated me for a long time and I do feel like You It's, it's been a frustration that I have tried to soothe with life.

[00:27:21] Zach Spafford: Why do you think she doesn't want to step into the things that you want?

[00:27:30] Ryan: I, honestly, I think it's like, I think I've gone about it with a lot of anxiety, just as far as like,

[00:27:41] you know, like we, so we, we've got a, we got a dog and not too long ago. And it's, it's like, you know, he, he was really skittish when we brought him home and it's like, if you're right there at the kennel being like, come on, come on, come on, come out. He doesn't want to, you got to back up. You got to give him your space.

[00:27:59] You got to almost pretend like he's not there. And,

[00:28:03] Zach Spafford: and you also have to be calm and collected and know what you want with

[00:28:07] Ryan: him. Yeah, exactly.

[00:28:07] That invitation to kind of be like, oh, I can venture out of here. It's like, it's too, too in their face. And I think that that's how I've been is not like in her face like that, but it's just, just kind of some of the anxiety around sex, right?

[00:28:22] And, and that's been a dynamic that is , it's tough for me to just kind of like, let that go or just, just recognize, hey, This is my side. I gotta take care of it. I can't worry about your side. Like, I, I guess I, I get like that whole focus on my side of the street and it's always like, I'll do a little work and I'll be like, I hope she's keeping up.

[00:28:45] Zach Spafford: So what's the anxiety about on your side? What's the anxiety?

[00:28:49] Ryan: Well, I think, I don't think that it's like I'm, I'm paralyzed with anxiety. I think that, I think that from the past, it's just kind of like, It's the story of, hey, in the past, I've been the one that's wanted to work on this. She's been the one that's kind of avoided it.

[00:29:07] And so the, the anxiety is kind of like, hey, like, I want to address this. I want to work on this. I want to, like, I, I feel like that's kind of how it comes out. Getting to a place where I'm just maybe letting go more of expectations. Of her doing her work on her side of the street and and me really owning my side of the street and then also Me owning just like what you were saying like hey, this is what I want whether you want it or not It's gonna be okay, but i'm just i'm here to state like this is what I would love

[00:29:41] Zach Spafford: From a calm, centered position.

[00:29:45] So when she gets out of sorts, when she's starting to get dysregulated and trying to push you back into that old dance, your job is to stand in there calm and comfortable and say, her reaction is not actually about me. Her reaction is about what's going on. That's really,

[00:30:03] Ryan: that's really where I get tangled.

[00:30:04] It's hard for me to, I can approach it calmly, but then I match some of that, that energy that she comes back with. And that's, It's not saying it's all her fault. Like I, I, I step into the dance as well. Right. But that's, that's where I think the, I don't know if anxiety is the word, but just kind of the, the frustration kind of boils over, right?

[00:30:27] Zach Spafford: Cause you're like, Hey, you see, like, listen, , you're gorgeous. I'm handsome. We should have lots of sex. That's what it looks like in the movies, right? I work out, you work out, all of the right things are in place. Why aren't we doing this? Right? And I think you're exactly right. This is really a huge component of where the rubber needs to meet the road with you.

[00:30:54] You need to be calm enough to have this conversation and let go of what's on her side of the street and be real about what's happening for you. I'm frustrated because I don't think we have sex. Not because I want sex per se, but because That to me is an indicator. It's an indicator of the health of our relationship.

[00:31:16] It's an indicator of how much we're connecting. It's an indicator of our intimacy. Like we could go and we could have sex. Like we could put it on the calendar. We could say, okay, five o'clock every day or five o'clock every other day, we're going to have sex. But nobody wants that. You don't want that. I don't want that.

[00:31:36] Because that's not connective. That is, that is treating this as though it's like filling a gas tank. And all you have to do is put the nozzle in, put in enough, and you're done. And that's all it is. But you're not a gas tank. You're a person. And so if, if our intimacy is not a refuge, then that's something that I want to shift.

[00:32:05] And I don't know how to make that a refuge. And then here's something you're going to need to be really clear about for yourself. She's going to say mean things to you. She's going to say things to you. If she, if she's capable, if she's willing, if she's not apathetic, she's going to say things to you that you will not enjoy hearing because they will be true and they will cut to the core of the things that you don't like about yourself.

[00:32:35] Yeah. And then when you hear those things, your most normal natural reaction is going to be. To get defensive. What I want you to do is I want you to sit in it and go, how is this true about me? If it is true and acknowledge any truth that you see in it, acknowledge any truth that she is offering you, even if it's unkind in its delivery, even if it's, you know, truthfully, sometimes she will probably, especially in the beginning of this process, she will.

[00:33:15] Speak to wound so that you'll get back in the box. Okay, and your goal here is to again It's just to sit calmly and comfortably in the reality that whatever she's saying is not really about you How she's saying it is not about you. It's about her and what she sees And what is it that is in that that is true that I can own and resolve?

[00:33:46] Um, I don't know if I told you guys this, but a couple weeks ago Darcy and I were having this conversation. And I think we have a pretty great sex life to be honest. I think that mostly our lives are quite well connected, but we were having this conversation, uh, about not feeling connected over the last couple of weeks.

[00:34:07] And I could tell that she was feeling a bit frustrated with me. And so I was just like, Hey, what's going on? And she's like, you know, we never, we're never connected. We're don't, we're, I don't know what's going on. She didn't say we're never, but I don't know what's going on, but I don't feel very connected right now and it's frustrating me and I don't like it.

[00:34:26] And. The background of this in our relationship is that we would spend like an entire weekend literally physically together like 48 To 72 hours physically hanging out and then by Monday afternoon, she'd be like, I feel like we never talk anymore Early on in our marriage and I'm like, what the frick?

[00:34:49] Okay, so that's the background of my response True or not honest or a good response or not That was the background that I was using this and then I said, but you know, I'm always here like I work from home she's at home all the time like I'm never not here and So that was my response to her and she was like this see this is why I don't tell you anything And I was like, uh, okay, I'm not hearing her.

[00:35:24] I'm not seeing this. She's not saying that because she really wants to wound me. She's, she wants me to, she's saying that because I'm not really listening. So this took me about another 24. So I took a step back from that conversation and it took me about another 24 hours for me to recognize a couple of things.

[00:35:41] One was I wasn't making space for her in my decision making process. Right, so like on a Friday night, she's out shopping with our daughter and I call her and I'm just checking in and I'm like, Hey, what's going on? And she's like this that and the other thing and I say, have you eaten? And she goes no, and so I hang up the phone.

[00:35:59] I don't make any plans. I make myself a sandwich and when she gets home, she's like, what are we gonna do? And I'm like, well, I had a sandwich. You want me to make you one? And she got kind of ticked at me. And she, you know, doesn't even say anything to me. She just walks over to my son, Brody and is like, let's go get a sandwich from Jimmy John's.

[00:36:20] She's mad at me. Like, okay. So I come back to her and I said to her, I can see what's going on, at least on my side of the street, which is. I'm not creating space for you in, in the way that I'm interacting in the world. It's not that we're not together. It's not that we don't talk. It's that I'm not making you a priority.

[00:36:44] And she's like, yeah, exactly. That's what I said. And I was like, that's not what he said, but that's, but that's me working through the puzzle, right? And her being able to say, yes. Now that you've pinpointed it, I can say that that's exactly what I want, and that's exactly what's going on. So, recognizing that those kinds of discussions, and I mean, five years ago I would have been pissed, and she would have been pissed, and we wouldn't have talked for like five weeks.

[00:37:12] Maybe, maybe like two days, but right, it would have just been like, I'm gonna let her fume over there until she cools off, because I'm clearly, Like, what have I done? Nothing. And that shift isn't, wasn't easy to make. So what I want you to recognize is that if you want something better, you have to be able to step into that conversation fully knowing that you're going to get beat up and not letting getting beat up be a problem and holding on and moving through your feelings.

[00:37:42] Knowing that they will pass, knowing that they aren't the problem, knowing that there is something within that conversation that is true that you would like to actually resolve so you can do a better job of being the spouse you want to be. So what that might look like is Is in your conversations, you saying to , I want to be more, I want to understand what you see about me.

[00:38:08] And I recognize that I probably haven't been a very good recipient of criticism. So I'm going to do my best to not take anything that you're saying personally and try to understand it from your perspective. What is it that you see? In our sexual relationship that you don't want, what is it about our sexual relationship that makes it difficult for you to step into it?

[00:38:37] And then just wait, and be ready for things you don't want to hear.

[00:38:41] Ryan: Right. No, that's helpful. That's good. I appreciate it. I feel like I've taken way more than my share of time. No, it's all right.

[00:38:50] Zach Spafford: Um,

[00:38:52] would your wife be willing to get on a call?

[00:38:55] Ryan: Maybe, I don't know.

[00:38:58] Zach Spafford: Uh, email me, message me. Um, before you get on that call though, before, uh, so when we set that up, before we get on that call, I want each of you, you've heard Jennifer talk about dialogues. I want each of you, yeah, I want each of you to write out that dialogue of what it looks like to talk about sex or any major issue within your relationship.

[00:39:27] What is it? So I don't want, I don't want it to be like a collaboration. I want her to write her own and you to write your own.

[00:39:41] Okay. Thank you. Anybody. Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for being willing to share and be open and vulnerable and explain that you're not getting enough sex to all of these manly men who are judging you for it.

[00:39:56] Ryan: I mean, I've, I've got a great sex life. I just wish my wife.

[00:40:02] Zach Spafford: That's a true salesman right there.

[00:40:03] Okay, I just wanted to share some thoughts here at the end of this. This is a really good example of what a lot of men run into, and what many of you who are dealing with a pornography struggle have as a dynamic within your relationship, where actually talking about these difficult issues becomes.

[00:40:23] Somewhat of a flashpoint, a place where, the relationship feels like it's not stable. There's a bit of pushback. Your wife may be saying, "Hey, I want you to just like, leave me alone on this issue." Or she doesn't necessarily know how to express herself because there is this sense of obligation. And I think as you look at what Ryan and his wife are dealing with, you're seeing that.

[00:40:49] One, when Ryan is trying to discuss these things with his wife, there's quite a bit of anxiety around actually discussing the issues with his wife. And part of that may come and stem from some sense that "I deserve this."

[00:41:06] In fact, he says there at some point in there, he says, yeah, I'd like, I was going through the coursework and I realized that one of the things "I deserve sex" is a component of the way that I'm engaging with this. So there's this sense of deservedness and I don't think it's a nefarious sense.

[00:41:22] It's not like women owe me. It's just, I've done my part. Why am I not getting what it is that I think I was promised? Not because his wife explicitly was like, if you, you know, bring home the bacon, then I will have sex with you whenever you want. That's not really what it is. It's this, like, I lived up to my end of the bargain.

[00:41:42] I don't feel like this is happening the way that I expected it to. Then on. His wife's side of the street, it would be really helpful to see her in this context and have a conversation with her to get a better understanding. So we're only going off of what Ryan is offering us, but from her side of the street, my guess is that there is some component where she does not feel like she can discuss this issue with Ryan in a meaningful way and not really share what she sees and not really.

[00:42:10] Not really indicate to him that she is uncomfortable with the way that their sex life has been, not really tell him that she doesn't want to just service him, not really tell him that she doesn't have desire again, not because she, not because Ryan's not a, he's a good looking guy. He's well built. I mean, from an attractive standpoint, he's probably just as attractive as anybody out there, but.

[00:42:35] It's this, you're not desirable because you're not acting desirable. And you have to remember that on the wives side of things, there is a lot of this dynamic of opening yourself up to your spouse, both literally and physically, as well as mentally and emotionally. And when it doesn't feel like a safe place, you know, he talked about how he's Buying out his partner.

[00:43:02] Just before he talked about how he's buying out his partner, we talked about how he comes to her and he's like, this is how it should be. And this is what we should be doing. This is, and it doesn't sound like in his anxiety and his desire to create something better that he's creating space for her to participate in that conversation, other than to say, "yeah, I'll do what I'm supposed to do."

[00:43:20] And I want you to understand that this is a pretty normal dynamic. This is a pretty common dynamic. And, uh, what I was saying to Ryan, which I think is a very important component or important point for each of us to understand and try to integrate is when we start to open up, we might find that there are very difficult conversations ahead of us.

[00:43:43] Things that our wife will tell us that we don't really want to hear. Like the example that I gave, which really, that's a true story. When Darcy said to me, you, you never listened to me and that's why I never tell you anything.

[00:43:55] I got used to allowing her bluntness to help me see myself more clearly. That's not everybody. So that's a muscle you have to exercise. And I think that when Ryan is able to have this conversation with his wife, there may be some things that she tells him that she finds unattractive in the way he approaches her and

[00:44:15] that knowledge will hurt his feelings. That's what I meant when I said, you're going to probably get beat up in these conversations. You're going to learn things about yourself that you don't necessarily like seeing, but in seeing those things and acknowledging those things, you become more trustworthy.

[00:44:32] You become someone who is saying, I can handle what it is that you have to say about me. I can understand it from an honest position of desire to be known. And so she's being known to me and not take those things as personally offensive, but as advice, as an understanding of this is the way that I'm behaving that may not be attractive to my spouse.

[00:44:56] And do I want to adjust that? You don't, you don't always have to adjust it, but. Most of the people, most people, when they see things about themselves, they don't like, they generally tend to say, I'm going to try not to do that. So this is this component of growing up and being differentiated and creating an intimate.

[00:45:18] An intimacy within your relationship that's not in a lot of relationships, that is the most difficult part. It's that sense that I, I want to choose this person, I think this person wants to choose me, but the only way for us to be able to truly choose each other is to know what the other person really thinks.

[00:45:35] Understand and acknowledge our part in what that looks like, and then work to become the person that we want to be. And I think that that's what Ryan is right on the cusp of. He wants something different, and working towards that something different is going to take some difficult acknowledgement of the things that he has contributed to the relationship that keep his wife from truly stepping in.

[00:45:59] Again, this is all from his side of the street, so. There would be things that I might say to his wife that would help her see herself in this dynamic. For instance, accommodation. Anytime a wife accommodates their spouse, they're contributing to the dynamic that they may not really want in their relationship, but they don't necessarily know how to resolve.

[00:46:20] And that Contribution, while it isn't necessarily something they feel like they can unilaterally fix, it is something that they actually have a lot more capacity and power over than they think. So that might be something I would suggest to her, but I would have to have that conversation with her to really understand that.

[00:46:37] So I wanted to just see this dynamic and see if you can look at any of the things in your relationship and ask myself, well, can I, can I be a little bit more capable of exercising the muscle of hearing what my spouse has to say, understanding what it is that she sees in me that is making it so that I'm not really creating the relationship that I want and that dynamic can then start to become something you change.

[00:47:01] Thanks to Ryan for having this candid, really open discussion.

[00:47:06] He's a great guy. And I think that if he will do this work, he will find that he creates the life that he wants, the relationship that he actually wants. All right, my friends, I will see you guys next week.

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