Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-fife (www.finlayson-fife.com) a popular relationship and sexuality counselor, joins Tony on the podcast to talk about the challenges around sexuality that women face growing up in a faith-based culture. Dr. Finlayson-fife is a licensed psychotherapist with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. She wrote her dissertation on LDS women and sexuality, has taught college-level courses on human sexuality, and she currently teaches online and community-based relationship and sexuality courses to LDS couples. She is a frequent contributor on the subjects of sexuality, mental health, and spirituality to LDS-themed blogs, magazines, and podcasts. She also maintains a private practice in Chicago where she lives with her husband and three children. You can find out more about her programs, including the one discussed on the podcast, the Art of Desire, on her website https://www.finlayson-fife.com/
Tony also mentioned his appearances this week on two podcasts, The Betrayed, The Addicted and The Expert with hosts Ashlyn and Coby, and Virtual Couch former guest Brannon Patrick where we discuss narcissism in detail and the challenges people face in relationships with narcissistic individuals https://www.betrayedaddictedexpert.com/podcast/episode/25d19bf1/is-narcissism-nature-or-nurture and The Melinneal Member Podcast hosted by Emily Ensign where we discuss the topic of pornography, what helps with recovery, and what doesn’t https://www.buzzsprout.com/1072564/6209683-tony-overbay-pornography-and-recovery
Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ
Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.comto learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!
Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to http://tonyoverbay.com/courses/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.
This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo
Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.
You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.
Finlayson-Fife, Roles of Sexuality EP 231 on Nov 4 2020
[00:00:00] Coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, I'm going back into the archives to bring you my most downloaded episode of all time, my first interview with Dr. Jennifer Findlay's invite. Jennifer teaches couples and individuals how to strengthen their relationships over relational and sexual roadblocks and increase their capacity for intimacy, love, sexual expression and so much more. And we cover all of these topics and more coming up on the virtual couch. OK, first, let me cover a tiny bit of business. Recently, I received a funny email. This is a true story. I said, Hey, Tony, I love the podcast, especially the free therapy. But your podcast has led me to want to seek out my own therapy. And in this time of worldwide chaos and pandemic, I thought it only made sense to go through better help dotcom. But I no longer hear your better help dotcom ads. Did you guys break up? OK, so this is a funny one. No, we did not break up. We aren't seeing other people right now, although admittedly, whenever I do hear a better help dotcom ad on another podcast, I do think weight doesn't better help Dotcom still care about me. And yes, they do. You can still go to better help dotcom virtual couch and get 10 percent off of your first month's worth of services. And yes, doing so will help take care of some behind the scenes cost to produce and host the Virtual Couch podcast. So why haven't I been running better health outcomes? Virtual couch ads, you may ask. And here's why I love being an honest, raw, vulnerable therapist. Key the dramatic music we don't actually have that worked into the budget, but I get giddy recording and getting these podcasts out the door and sometimes I forget to pop an ad in for better help.
[00:01:30] Dotcoms, less virtual couch. Forget as it has been many, many episodes, but they are still offering real one on one therapy with a licensed therapist and better help. Dotcom's network of therapists continues to grow and you can find help for everything from anxiety, depression, OCD, as well as grief and loss, help with parenting challenges. And while it can honestly be darn near impossible to get in with an in-person therapist right now because, a, the stigma behind therapy is finally softening. So people are running to therapy as well as be there's a lot going on in the world and people need help, but better help. Dotcoms, less virtual couch can have you speaking or texting or emailing with a therapist, sometimes within 24 to 48 hours. So what are you waiting for? They make it easy to change therapist if you don't like the fit. So go to better help dotcom slash virtual couch today and join now the over one million others who have decided that they need to be their best selves in order to deal with all that life is throwing their way. Trust me, life is throwing us a lot. So you owe it to yourself, your family, your kids, your spouse, your pets, you name it. To be at the very least, take a look at what you can do to put you in a position to succeed in life. So go to better help dotcom slash virtual couch today and receive ten percent off your first month services. OK, lets virtual couch Zawi.
[00:02:58] Come on in. Take a seat.
[00:03:05] Ok, honestly, that theme song grows on me when it was first submitted to me, sent over to me by a good friend who had put that together, I just wasn't sure. But I just kind of get into it. And when it ends, I just want to take a big breath and just, oh, here we go. I'm ready. So kind of skipping the intro because it's story time. A little bit of a vulnerability story I actually recorded in episode two thirty one a couple of days ago. And it's Wednesday today, day after Election Day. And I normally release on Tuesday, but I just didn't like the episode that I recorded and I sent it to a couple of people that are helping me out with things behind the scenes. And I said, please be honest. Let me know, what do you think? And I was so grateful for their honesty and kind of said, yeah, one was maybe a little bit hard to follow. It was about accountability. And someday maybe I'll make that one of the hidden tracks. But it was based off of the acceptance and commitment therapy book, The Confidence Gap, which I absolutely love. And I feel like the message I believe in wholeheartedly, but I just didn't feel like I was delivering the goods. So I came in this morning. I was going to do one on marital entropy, which is kind of a very fascinating concept.
[00:04:12] And then it just kind of hit me that I am getting closer. A couple of weeks away from a very big interview with one of my favorites, Dr. Jennifer Finlayson, VIFF and I presented her and her team with some thoughts and theories that I came up with, along with my friend Preston Buckmeier while we were developing my our magnetic marriage course. And I really think it's some things that I just saw come out. The more we kind of beta tested the course in the differences between male and female, the differences in attachment styles between avoidant and anxious attachment and the differences in love language from people who are maybe anxious attachment and physical touch or words of affirmation people and how they typically end up in relationships with people that are more avoidant attachment and maybe acts of service or quality time people. And I just presented something to Jennifer and said, hey, let's talk through this. Let's figure this out. So that's a little bit of a sneak preview that'll be coming up later this month. We're going to be recording fairly soon. So this morning, I just came in and I just had a little epiphany on my run this morning and just thought, I mean, I've never done bonus episodes or recent episodes of Jennifer's appearances on the virtual couch. And so when I looked at the stats this morning, this episode that I'm about to play, which was my initial episode 45, so almost 200 episodes ago, is still by far the most downloaded episode of the Virtual Couch podcast.
[00:05:40] So I think that you're going to get a lot from this today. It's going to start setting the table for my magnetic marriage course, which, yes, I am going to promote the heck out of. So if you want to hear more, go to Tony Overbay Dotcom and sign up to find out more. We'll really start promoting the magnetic marriage course in the next probably two to three weeks. And we'll talk about the release date and a lot more details around that. And just while I have you, yesterday two podcasts were released that I was a guest on. One was The Betrayed, the Addicted and the expert with Kobe and Ashlynn and my good buddy Brant and Patrick. And they had me come on and talk about narcissism. And that is a topic that I am passionate about. And so if you're a fan of that podcast or if you've never heard that podcast, we went over an hour. It was a Facebook live at the time. And they released that episode yesterday. And I really do feel like we talked about some things that I've never really shared before about people coping with dealing with relationships with narcissistic personality disorder, people that have tendencies, narcissistic tendencies.
[00:06:42] And I talked about and I mentioned this in the past, that I do have a group and it is ready to go. I've mentioned this in the past. I know. But if it's for women who may find themselves in relationships with people with narcissistic tendencies, narcissistic personality disorder, if they're going through marital challenges, a divorce, if they've already been through that and they're dealing with challenges through the trauma bond, can you please reach out to me? Contact contacted Tony over Match.com. And I will I will give you some information about this group that is beginning and it's completely anonymous behind the scenes. But I do would love for you to contact me and let me know if you're interested. And I was also on a podcast called The Millenium Member podcast with Emily Insigne, and she released that episode yesterday as well. And I'll put links to this in the show notes. But we we went deep into pornography and guilt and shame and how a lot of times well-meaning ecclesiastical leaders can kind of get in the way, bless their hearts of recovery when they are wanting people to recover a certain way. And if they don't particularly have experience in working with people that struggle with addiction, whether it's compulsive sexual behavior or impulse control disorder. So those two episodes that I was a guest on came out yesterday.
[00:07:54] And while we're here on the topic of pornography, I have rereleased or updated the path back online pornography recovery program Path Back. 2.0. So just go stop by pat back recovery dotcom, and there you'll still find a short e-book that talks about five common myths that people fall into when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. And I've started some weekly Q&A group calls so you can find out more information, their path back, recovery, dotcom.
[00:08:21] All right. So as usual, please go stop by Instagram at Virtual Couch and there's a lot more content there. Some quotes from previous episodes are going up on a regular basis. And I would love it if you had a second and you follow or you share this episode with a friend or anything like that. But today we're going to talk about sexuality, sexuality and relationships. And I feel like I don't need to give any other further introduction. If you haven't heard of Jennifer Finlayson five, I think you're going to absolutely love her conversational style. And again, this is leading up to an episode that I can't wait to record, which will come up later this month. OK, so without any further ado, let's get to my interview with Dr. Jennifer Finless and Faith.
[00:09:12] That has a little feature that says and it says like, sharpen my appearance.
[00:09:18] So I did it and it made me look like an anime character. So I uncheck that box. So I go, OK. Am I sharp and or not very sharp. OK, but not anime. No, not animated. Sharp. Very sharp. OK. All right. I want to welcome Dr. Jennifer Finlayson life to the virtual couch.
[00:09:36] Welcome, Jennifer. Yeah. Thank you for having me.
[00:09:38] I'm really I really am grateful that you're willing to take the time. And I was going to jump right out of the gate.
[00:09:43] This is I know that I want your background. I want to get into a very solid interview. But I just had a client. I've been dropping your name for a little while. I'm not going to lie. If you would have had to cancel today, I would have just I would have been wracked with guilt and shame. The last time I left, they just said, do you think that when people want to talk to her because you specialize in sexuality and sexuality, do you typically get the. So my friend wanted me to ask you, is that the way most conversations start with you?
[00:10:10] That's a good question. Sometimes at parties that, you know, we don't end up having this issue. And where do you think about that right now?
[00:10:20] You know, right away that is their issue.
[00:10:26] Sometimes, but not always. Sometimes it is a friend, you know, sometimes some friend is going through something, but sometimes you wonder if they're just trying to cover that. They have a question. Yes.
[00:10:37] Yes. OK, I have to I so want to just launch into my next question, but we need your background first because it will make more sense to the question I want to ask. So talk a little bit about your background.
[00:10:48] So I have a Ph.D. in counseling psychology and I studied at BYU, Brigham Young University. I did my undergrad in psychology and women's studies. And then as a grad student, I was asked to teach an undergrad course on human sexuality. That was at the same time that I was trying to figure out a dissertation topic. And I could spend a lot of time talking about how I came to my topic. But I decided to write my dissertation on Mormon women and sexuality and looking at Mormon women, the sense of agency in their lives, both premarital and within marriage. And so now focus of my research.
[00:11:28] Ok, you got a funny story about the teaching the classes, too. I heard on one of the Warren Jeffs. What was that?
[00:11:32] Yeah. So I was not yet married and I was asked to teach two courses. One was human sexuality and the other was drugs and alcohol. OK, I was a Mormon who had no experience with either in between.
[00:11:45] So yeah, I ended up saying no to the drugs and alcohol and just the sexuality, but yeah. So it opened up lots of questions.
[00:11:53] Look, I was teaching Catholic students because I was a Jesuit college. OK, so it was helping me sort of look at sexuality through the lens of Catholicism and then thinking about Mormonism as well as feminism, which I had studied a lot of.
[00:12:06] And so that led me to my topic dissertation and OK.
[00:12:11] And I am maybe going to go a little bit out of order, because I have to tell you, as I was dropping your name, so I had a woman who was sending me an email about one of the podcasts that she heard me on. And it was in particular about why is it so difficult to get men into counseling, which I'm sure we could talk about.
[00:12:24] And so but she then said I then I told her that you were coming on the podcast again, dropping the name I could. And I actually wrote this was her exact quote. She said she said, I love and that's all in caps. So she was screaming this Jennifer. Her dissertation was fascinating. So I'm talking about your dissertation and she has a great question I want to get to in a little bit. But I didn't realize you had worked with the Catholics. You worked as well as with Mormon because you're primarily focused with LDS women. Now, is that. Yes, definitely. OK, so then my question and I don't want you to think that everything I'm going to say is going to be a joke today, but I do find that I so I do a lot of couples therapy and I find that. And I work with a pretty heavy LDS population as well. And kind of my joke is that with with most couples I see the sexual piece comes in usually in session one and the LDS couple is usually at some session four or five. And it's as they're walking out the door and it's by the way, have you ever heard of. Do you find that to be the case or when people know that's what you specialize in, do they come in ready?
[00:13:24] I mean, one thing I would say is that many times it is men. I would say probably 50 percent of the time it's men reaching out for therapy. May couples therapy around sexual issues. OK, so, you know, men do initiate counseling, but often sex is what gets them through the door.
[00:13:43] Well, I love that because that does make more sense. I mean, I'm usually getting women will initiate with me because I'm a male therapist and so the guy will only go to a man therapist if I think that if she's saying, you know, you don't communicate.
[00:13:55] So I've never thought of that. So for you, you have the specialty of, you know, working with sex issues around sexuality. Yes. So so, OK, we can go in a whole direction. So when men then come in, is it almost like, hey, tell her tell her she needs to have more sex with me?
[00:14:12] Yeah. That's often people's position. Would you please fix her? Yes, it's broken. Maybe you as a Mormon woman can enlighten her about how to claim her sexuality. Wow. There is some legitimacy to that on his part. But oftentimes what it's mask's or it doesn't isn't exposed yet within their own minds is their own participation in a role in the sexual dysfunction.
[00:14:39] Ok, so how do you address that? This is I love that you're getting here because one of the things I hope to get to is this view that I get where I am a man coming in and letting me know in front of her that, hey, hey, man, you know, I came into counseling.
[00:14:52] Male therapists now tell her that if we just had more sex, I'm a better husband, father, employee, church service, all of those very typical script, which I basically do your duty and then I'll be a nicer guy.
[00:15:03] Right. And so then that's the part where now I almost feel like it's OK, I'll let them get through the speech and that sort of thing, and then it's OK to the wife and what's going on with you right now.
[00:15:11] And then she feels like, yeah, it's all on me.
[00:15:14] So if he isn't all on her, yeah. He's also setting up the marriage dynamic to be about mercy sex as opposed to intimate sex.
[00:15:24] I love it. Yes.
[00:15:25] Ok, so he's setting up the very thing that he then complains about, which is she just does it mechanically, she just does it because she feels like she should.
[00:15:35] But where's all the passion? But when you set it up, the sex is a drive or a need. And you woman, if you're a good woman, give it to me now. Set up the thing that you then makes you miserable because you never feel wanted.
[00:15:48] Absolutely. OK, and I apologize. And it's probably isn't the typical interview, but I work I work so much with that male component. And at that point then I try to introduce the concept of objectification, or at that point she feels like an object.
[00:16:01] And then in that's yeah. Like you say, that script is that if we only had more sex and then that like like the I always feel like the guy turns into if I am angry enough or if I am almost sad enough or down enough, then I will maybe get sex. Now fast forward later on in couples therapy where that's not the person that she says, that's the guy I want to be intimate with is the guy in my way into it.
[00:16:26] And yeah. OK, exactly. Yeah. Very undesirable. Yeah. And then and then he's scratching his head about why doesn't she desire me.
[00:16:34] Oh OK. And you fix it. All right. What do you do with that Jennifer.
[00:16:39] Ok, well I mean I guess what I would say is there's often at least two, maybe three things going on there.
[00:16:47] First of all, it's all been a co construction. It's not just the man is pressuring this idea that if you take care of my sexual needs, I'll be a much nicer guy.
[00:16:57] And it's also that women first of all, it's a cultural artifact. And so women have bought into this frame, too. And when women who can often have a lot of anxiety about their sexuality, given the way that we change sexuality culturally and and make it a difficult thing for women not to integrate men as well, but in a different way. And so it's often a way for women to not develop themselves as people and as sexual beings is to use the same frame that they're being handed, which is do me a favor and have sex with me. OK, so it's a way of not being intimate. It's a way of not being as exposed if you're just taking care of your husband in that virtuous, self sacrificing wife by putting up with his hedonism, you know.
[00:17:50] Until finally, he says it's a way for the woman to also hide. It's a way for men and women to hide, which is just take care of me this way. She will give him the mercy sex. But no one really is showing up. It's not very intimate on either side. Yeah, well, a lot of times both parties in a marriage want lower exposure marriages. They want lower exposure sex. And so couples are good at having sex without being very intimate. Yeah, both. And this is a way to do it. So I know that you asked me the question.
[00:18:28] I said there's three things and I can't remember what the question was.
[00:18:30] I can't either. So we're on the same page. So then I just I love that because that is the dynamic I see as well. And I feel like a couple. So now here I'll lay out I have three thoughts and I bet I'll only get the one as well. Right. So my first thought was that it's that what I like to do is. And if though if the woman felt like that wasn't all he cared about, I mean, because I get this concept or maybe I wonder if you see this where she doesn't want to hug him close, she doesn't want to kiss him, she doesn't want to lay in his lap or they're watching a movie because then he's sizing up the moment to say, OK, looks like I got a good shot tonight. Right.
[00:19:06] And so then I find that then at some point then couples just had a woman say that she won't even look at her husband when they're at the dinner table because she feels like I get many ideas.
[00:19:17] Yeah, exactly. So and so. And then I do remember my second one. So do you feel like this concept of intimacy then is when you were trying to sell that to your clients? Do you feel at times that they don't even know what that looks like? But we're trying to sell this idea that they don't even but they're like, OK, sure, fine, but just tell her to have more sex with me.
[00:19:38] That's when I think people often don't know what it looks like, but they do know what I mean when I'm talking about hiding and avoidance. Yeah, ok. OK, so it's like maybe they haven't thought about it, but people do know how to manage how much of themselves they show to another person and they can usually see that they are masking or managing. One of themselves shows up in a relationship whether that's at the dinner table or in bed. So I think that yeah, people are good at keeping relationships at the level that they know how to handle the level of exposure, even though they have maybe never experienced what it is to really have an open hearted more. Intimate marriage.
[00:20:25] Ok, so I want to go back even to OK, I do have to interject one more quick question to you.
[00:20:29] I know on your website you work on you, you work with spirituality, women's issues, parenting, depression, couples issues.
[00:20:37] Do you feel. What's the percentage of your work that is around sexual issues? Is that the bulk of it?
[00:20:45] It is. I mean, I put all that on my website of when I first started. And I mean, I do deal with all those issues. There's absolutely no question. I would say relationship issues and sexuality issues is really primarily what my focus is. OK, but it touches on all those things. Sure. I mean, you know, going back to I think the question you asked me earlier, when that couple comes in and they're complaining about that, I mean, what my strategy is often is, is to basically understand why she doesn't desire I'm going to do it in the stereotypical way right now, which is the low desire woman in the higher desire man. And so why does she not desire him? And oftentimes there there's two things too broad categories to think about. One is the issue of her self and sexual development. OK, that's also true for the men. I just specialize a lot and working with Mormon women and their own relationship to desire to sexuality, to self development, because I think culturally we are pretty compromising of women in this way. And so that's often a factor that women, in their effort to be good women, desirable women, have sort of suppressed a fundamental part of being a woman and a fundamental part of being human. So that's sometimes a factor. You have people that are sexually immature and it sounds insulting when I say it that way. But I mean, in a literal developmental sense here, there isn't a deep integration of their sexuality that's happened yet. So that's often a piece that's going on. And then there is the issue of what's going on in the relationship. Now, some people who haven't developed themselves sexually very much and don't want to, yeah, they can do things in the relationship to basically shame his sexuality, to basically never offer him desire to never really validate who he is as a person, as a way of keeping control, keeping him coming towards her for validation and her having a sense of control in the marriage so she doesn't have to really develop who she is.
[00:22:52] Sure. Or do you feel like that's typically subconscious, not something that she's even aware she's doing?
[00:22:58] Well, I hesitate to use the word subconscious because I it's not just happening to you. It's purposeful action. But that's very different than saying it's premeditated. Sure. OK, what I'm saying. Yeah, you purposeful. You know how to do it. You know, for example, in one case, she's doing what her mother did. Her mother would never ask her dad acceptance, love, physical validation. The mother ran the family out of her kind of contempt and and judgment. OK, and then the daughter, who is now an adult then has done the same thing in the marriage. OK, the husband's always sort of feeling that he's ostracized. They can't ever get her approval or acceptance, but she gives enough to kind of keep him tethered to. OK, yeah. So that's one version of it. In other cases, there's the man who is like, you owe it to me. I'm the man, I do everything, you know, what's your problem?
[00:23:58] And so she will kind of manage him through being sexual, trying to keep his criticism and his anger and aggression at bay. OK, but it's not about desire. It's about managing.
[00:24:10] So she may be sexual quite a bit, but that's very different than she's really someone who is integrated with her sexuality and is really expressing love to him through her body. OK, very different. So I'm I'm usually looking at both the level of sexual development in both people, OK, how integrated they are with their sexuality. And then then I'm looking at what is the dynamic of this marriage and and what is happening. That sexual desire is not likely. You're OK.
[00:24:39] And so and I do want to tap into what your your expertise is. So in that moment, do you continue doing couples work or is that where you need to kind of step back and explore with the woman her her relationship with sexuality?
[00:24:52] I usually just keep doing couples work, even if she's working on some of these things. You know, within the context of couples work, sometimes I'll do individual sessions and oftentimes they'll have people do my online course for the day.
[00:25:09] We never thought about that at the heart of desire.
[00:25:12] Yes, yes. Yeah.
[00:25:14] And so that really but so much of the work of sexual development, which is also in this course, is around your relationship to your own sense of self, your relationship.
[00:25:23] Desire in your life, generally, your development as a person who is capable of really loving and being loved, is capable of really knowing and being known how your development of sexuality is integral to that process of becoming a whole woman and a whole person. Yeah, it is teaching women about women's sexuality, which is an amazing women's sexuality, is amazing, really.
[00:25:50] I mean, I think our culture does it short shrift in a crazy way because we reference male sexuality to understand female sexuality. So we female sexuality looks broken by comparison because it's different than than sexuality.
[00:26:03] But so part of the course is helping women. And part of the work I do with women is helping them understand what women's sexuality is really about. But, Mike, the course is not so much about helping women become sexually competent so that they can, you know, help their poor husband. It's really about how to be more integrated with yourself, to be more of a whole solid human being who can be a force for good in your life, in your marriage, with your children, you know, whatever capacity. And that is a fundamental aspect of that is being integrated with your desires and your sexual nature.
[00:26:41] So where do you mind stepping back in and take the LDS woman? And maybe from the time you kind of work that through linear from the time they are young, this is the story we hear. And so here's where is it the shame or the guilt that kind of drives the narrative. And then all of a sudden now we're married and there you go.
[00:26:59] And then so, yes, I think for both LDS men and women, there is a narrative that sex is Satan's pathway and that sex will take you down. And so there's a there's a deep anxiety. And it's is not just specific to Mormonism. I mean, cultural anxiety around sexuality for a good reason, which is because sexuality is a very intimate and powerful way to be in connection with other people. But oftentimes the way the anxiety around sexuality gets handled, and particularly because in our faith, we have a, you know, a fairly restrictive set of norms around how we should handle our sexuality. And so sometimes how we how we teach that, given that we have high expectations around sexual behavior, is to frighten people around their sexuality, is fear based teaching rather than goal based teaching. And so when your fear based, then there is this anxiety that sex will take you down, sex will turn you into a bad person, sex will distance you from God and from the people that you love. And what we do, we teach men and women both that both men and women get taught that idea. But I think the difference between men and women is that we teach women that sex is something sexuality. Sorry, men are naturally sexual. Women are not.
[00:28:21] That's that's what we teach.
[00:28:22] Or that's the that's the narrative. That's the message within the message is that women are sexual only to accommodate and manage the sexuality and sexual nature of men. Men are naturally sexual and so women should therefore dress modestly, you know, cover their bodies up because men sexuality is present and normal for being a man. But if you tempt them, that not only is it dangerous for you, it's dangerous for them. They're implicit in that idea is that sex is something you give a man. Virginity is something you give a man. But men are the sexual actors. You are in response to this so many Mormon women that I work with, what they do is they because they see sexuality as something that makes you bad, and particularly so for women.
[00:29:12] For example, many of the women that I know, I first ever frozen podcast. I'm going to hang on here for a second and hopefully Jennifer will come right back. This is the first on the virtual couch. She doesn't bounce back. I will pause the video. Let me pause that right now.
[00:29:34] Sorry about that. OK, I lost Internet. That was my my problem.
[00:29:38] No, the kids are playing for tonight. Is that what it was? No, no.
[00:29:42] My husband I was on the on the big computer and somebody did something with Wi-Fi network not knowing that I was on my laptop.
[00:29:49] Oh, OK. I'm so glad you're back. No, that was OK. Good. We were you remember what I was just saying? You were about to solve everyone's problems around sexuality in the entire world. You're about to give us it was kind of talking about that where women are. You were talking about how they give the sexuality they give their virginity that.
[00:30:08] Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's right. That's right. So I think what I was saying was just so I think, for example, women in my research felt.
[00:30:19] More guilty if they had engaged in some behavior, premarital, then meaning they thought it was more acceptable if a man had done the same thing. And so that is the idea that women are worse if they are sexual.
[00:30:34] So what many women in my research and in my office clinically have done is they just shut this whole enterprise down, like if this is going to make me undesirable, which is an idea that we teach. And if this is going to make Satan have some grip on me, I just won't develop this at all. Wait till I get married and then my husband will awake this week in this whole part of me and he will teach me about how to be sexual because men are naturally sexual.
[00:31:01] And so what happens, of course, is people get married and then they're waiting in a sort of passive stance for something to be awoken within them.
[00:31:10] And it never works that way.
[00:31:13] Right. OK, so what's your then what's your advice? And it is funny, though, when I was telling the sushis she wants to become she wants to be the next you the student that was emailing me this morning, who wants to be LDS female sex therapist, which I love that she talked about or the question was around, how do LDS women prepare for their sexual lives and marriage?
[00:31:33] And she said, because I have so many friends that have gotten married, struggled in their sex lives because they either felt bad about having sex or they didn't know their body as well.
[00:31:40] So I think I think we have to really reconsider how we teach men, young men and women in the church or earlier age, how we teach our children about sexuality, because if we do it in the frame that sex is inherently dangerous and bad, you are going to have all the problems you see in adulthood in the church now, which is issues with pornography and issues with sexual repression.
[00:32:06] Ok, because we what we need to do is to talk to boys and girls and men and women about sex as though sexuality is a fundamental part of being human.
[00:32:17] It's God given that our parents and having our own body just as we are, and that sexuality is not good or bad, it just is it's just fundamental to being embodied.
[00:32:29] What you do with your sexuality will determine whether or not sex is good or bad. What you do with your sexuality matters because what your choices have make a difference. They impact both you and they impact others. Whether those are choices of indulgent behavior or repressive behavior. Right. Repressing your sexuality is bad for your psychological and sexual and spiritual development, in my opinion, because that leads to your question is, OK, pure repression is because you're basically suppressing a fundamental part of being embodied. And we in our faith believe that embodiment is fundamental to our spiritual development. You're really going to love and be loved deeply in marriage, which is the gift of marriage, right?
[00:33:17] Yes. I have to be able to really be integrated with your body, meaning to to love and be loved and to be able to love through your whole body.
[00:33:27] That's probably like the most wonderful part of life is to be fully accepted by what someone and to be fully accepting of them.
[00:33:37] But if you can't really be at peace with your whole body, your sexuality included, you cannot know that kind of peace both with yourself or with another person.
[00:33:48] And so we are teaching sexuality in a way that makes it impossible to be at peace because we teach men also that sexuality is fundamental to being male or masculine, but that it's dangerous, you know, that it's it's something that will take you down. And it's it's a privilege on some level. It's a privilege of a marriage.
[00:34:08] We teach men that idea. So that's why you get a lot of entitlements and then once they get married. But also it's something that you do to a woman. It's not something that you really share that. It's about how can we be together and be sexual and enjoy each other.
[00:34:25] It's and so when you have it in the frame of it, something you do to another person, well, it fosters either entitlement or in men. It can foster a sense of anxiety because at least more sensitive men don't want to be inflicting their sexuality onto their spouse all the time. Sure. And so a lot of times it creates more anxiety and fear around sexuality for many men.
[00:34:50] So what's your when you talk about we need to do a better job younger in teaching that now, what does that look like?
[00:34:57] Well, I think you need to from the very first of all, you have to deal with your anxieties about sexuality as a person and as a parents, because your anxieties, your kids will track them and pick up on them whether or not you want them to.
[00:35:09] Sure. And so you it's going to include doing some work around the false traditions or messages that you've internalized around sexuality.
[00:35:19] But I think what it is, is a basic embracing and celebration of the body from a very young age so that you're not afraid of your child's nudity.
[00:35:29] Yeah, you actually chamber. I can't believe you're go get. Yeah.
[00:35:35] Yeah. And a lot of kids are going to touch themselves when they're very young and be exploring their bodies. This is one hundred percent normal because your child is just trying to understand where they end in the world begins. They want to kind of know who they are. And of course, areas of their body that give them pleasure are going to be interesting to them. And that does not mean there seem to be a pervert. It just means they're human. OK, so to be very normalizing of this is very important because you're giving your child the message that the body is good.
[00:36:06] And I like you, I like your concept, too, around dealing with our own issues, because I and spoke to a school recently of how to talk to your kids about sex. And I felt like there were a lot of people there that were just so you could see the just anxiety and nervousness on their face.
[00:36:21] And it was like, OK, we are coming here. We got to just we're going to get, like, serious and angry and battle and ready and great.
[00:36:28] Exactly. So I think absolutely we we have a hard time seeing our children as sexual beings or accepting that they are if we want to control them, if we're afraid of what they might do with their sexuality. And so many of us almost instinctively want to shame it out of them. But I promise you, you will create many more troubles for them. And you, if you do that to your children, is when it's put in a frame of shame.
[00:36:53] You inhibit your child from being able to integrate this with their sense of self and be able to make clearheaded choices with their sexuality.
[00:37:02] Ok, even for example, the more women were shamed of some research and the less educated they were about their sexuality as adolescents, the more likely they were to have sex and not good sex, right sex where they felt exploited, sex, where they felt taken off guard sex, or they were more likely to get pregnant because they they had no opportunity to kind of integrated enough with their sense of self to be able to proactively make decisions.
[00:37:27] I think that is that the biggest takeaway is the so the more it is a shame, the more it's repressed, the more guilt that is around it.
[00:37:36] Then the more you say that, the more active that someone is or they have an unhealthy relationship with some of the more unhealthy there's their relationship to sexuality is whether it's through indulgence, if you want to use that word or through repression.
[00:37:51] Ok, so it's like you you know, it's a little bit like they use a food metaphor, which is if you basically, you know, the desire to have food is normal desire to have sugar or even normal, because from a survival perspective, sugar is the surefire way for the body to get the calories it needs to stay alive, cook energy. Right. OK, right. But if you tell people that if you tell someone that eating sugar is bad, even wanting it as bad, if you want brownies, it means you're bad. What you are going to do is either create an anorexic or bulimic. You're going to either create someone who just says, I will I will not let myself have any pleasure, OK? Or you have someone who is trying to not want it, but become obsessed with it because that's not allowed. And so they will be excessive either. Position is bad for the psychological and physical development of a human being in the food metaphor.
[00:38:52] So first of all, I love brownies, but then you also we're going to. That's what I was I loved in one of the podcasts you talked about the candy store analogy with with regard to pornography and sexuality. You might share in that.
[00:39:02] Sure. And I don't exactly remember how I talked about that. But I think the idea is basically it's normal for adolescents to be drawn, to be curious about sexuality, to be curious about nudity. I sometimes tell the story like my dad had a book on his top of his bookshelf called The Naked Communist. And the Naked Communist is only on Scows. And it's like it's like a political philosophy. Yes, I have to think about nudity, but I scaled my father's bookshelf of books and was disappointed to see there were no naked communists in it. OK, that is normal behavior. I mean, you know, you're curious. You're trying to understand sexuality. So if you shame that if you say that the fact that you have sexual feelings or you're curious or you want to see a naked woman or whatever, that there's something wrong with you. First of all, you're being dishonest with your family and shaming something that's normal and necessary for becoming capable of sexual intimacy in an integrated way down the road. Yeah, so you want to normalize it. And I think the candy store metaphor I used is like porn is everywhere, OK? It's just it just pornographic images are everywhere. It's the culture that we live in. If you make it forbidden, you increase its desirability. Yes. Yeah. And so I can't remember how I reference the candy store exactly. But I think what I'm saying is the same idea that if you basically say you can't have it, you can't have it, you're going to forge an obsession with eating candy.
[00:40:37] Yes. You know, I had a client who not a client, a friend who would throw herself in front of the magazine racks in the grocery store line so that her kids, who were three and five, would not see the bear or the low cut dresses and the bikinis and so on of the women in the magazines. And because she was so terrified of her kids becoming porn addicts and I said to her, you are making you are turning them into porn at. Because you are you are meshing both fear and the forbidden together. Yeah, OK. Right. And so it's like this anxiety and then this curiosity and what is Mom so afraid of? It just drives a kind of obsessiveness rather than. Yeah, it's normal. People sell stuff. They try to sell stuff by showing more of their bodies, like, isn't that silly? Yes. And just kind of normal. Allow your kids to make sense of it, allow them to see that you're not terrified of it, that you yourself are comfortable with a better version of sexuality than that kind of objectifying or commodifying of sexuality. And so, you know, you're you're role modeling a kind of moderation and clarity that is really needed to navigate through a very sexualized world.
[00:41:59] And one of my big soapboxes and I love you in there is I say that parents always say you can come and talk to me about anything, but then if you come and say, hey, how about that sex? And then they're like, we don't talk about that.
[00:42:10] And so now the teen or the youth is they they know now I need to control the flow of information, which is definitely right.
[00:42:17] And so kids are always tracking can really handle this conversation.
[00:42:22] Yes. I want that conversation about hey. So I when I remember when we had the talk with our kids, my oldest after proudest dad moment, she circles back around at a store a few days after we had the talk. And then when she sees the whatever the magazine and there's a teenage girl and she's some star and she's pregnant and my daughter saying she's like, before I thought, I don't understand. She's not married and she's pregnant. How does that work? And I just love the fact that we talked about it then right before. I don't want that she's trying to figure out the world. And she's I can't ask mom or dad because. Right. Lip, you know.
[00:42:57] Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And when they see that you can really handle it and that you, you know, things you know, they will use you as a resource. They really will.
[00:43:08] And then there is also a certain you know, a 15 year old I was talking my husband in front of my 15 year old the other day, and I was saying something like someone wrote an email and they were asking, you know, how do you talk to your kids about masturbation? And I think that they're like, you don't know.
[00:43:29] I mean, there's a certain point at which they no longer want you talking to them. And so, you know, the prime age to really download information and your values and so on is about age eight to about age 12. OK, and you know, it's not that you can't still write or talk about or be aware, but they're less open as they get older.
[00:43:50] I love that this was going to be my last question, but I've got another one that I want to ask after this. But I was going to say with the three kids as a therapist myself, and we all share Cloud Kindle cloud and I think they see all the pornography addiction recovery, that sort of thing.
[00:44:05] So any family night, I almost feel like they're all ready to say, are we talking pornography? And tonight and we're OK. But since you mentioned it and then what have you seen? What's the last thing you saw? So I do. And I don't know if this was going to be too ambiguous of a question, but so what I do see a lot and I'm just curious what your thoughts are when there are some women who have they have been it was never talked about in their home and it was probably heavily guilt and shame. And so then they get in a marriage and it's sort of the just the husband. I work with a lot of men and sometimes it is because now they turn to addiction, they turn to pornography as a coping mechanism or whatever, that sort of thing. But it's they just they're there. They feel like their wife just has zero interest in sexuality and to the point where she doesn't even want to talk about it. So do you have some thoughts on that?
[00:44:59] I mean, I think that is can be true that people who have a lot of it and I would say both the man and the woman in this example have anxiety about sexuality is absolutely being handled in different ways.
[00:45:12] Yeah. Yeah. What advice? I guess what I would say is that.
[00:45:18] Yeah, I mean, one of my big messages is trying to just normalize and normalize is quite the right word thing to talk about it. I wonder if sexuality is so fundamental to being human and so fundamental to having a good marriage.
[00:45:35] The thing that's different about marriage than any other relationship is it's both chosen and that it is a sexual contract. And that's not me saying you have to have sex with your spouse. I'm saying that the understanding and unless there's some explicit other agreement, is that when you get married, there's this idea that we are bringing our sexuality to one another. And then what happens is because this is higher anxiety or there's things that are not working or there are things that are being exposed to the sexual relationship or the lack of.
[00:46:07] That is overwhelming for the couple, that oftentimes they will handle it by not handling it, you know, just try to distance from it. And so and then what often can happen for the man in this particular kind of scenario is that he feels like if I bring it up, she gets really upset, she gets really distressed. I just better start bringing it up and she maybe thinks, well, he's not bringing it up. So maybe he said, yeah, right, OK. Yeah. Or he brings it up and she says, this is all you ever think about. Why are you such a natural man and as opposed to. You know, really being willing to address and deal with how corrosive it is in the marriage, that the sexual sexual relationship is not really being dealt with, sometimes it's about the woman's repression, that sometimes she's also getting really bad sex.
[00:46:59] I mean, she doesn't necessarily understand enough what she wants to know, how to ask for better sex. Sometimes she does know what she wants, but her husband is not that interested in learning about her or knowing what to or willing to really give her what she wants.
[00:47:14] Many couples kind of construct the sexually broken woman because the man prefers that idea. Yeah, in a sense, I know it sounds strange, but he prefers that you're broken and you just sort of accommodate me then that she could really access her sexual interest, right? Yeah. So for people to really address why why did sex not work for us? I asked somebody today, why do you think your wife doesn't desire you? How do you make sense of that?
[00:47:43] And I had been giving him lots of data about how he's not trustworthy, how he does self serve so much in the marriage, how he basically mind twists her around things like.
[00:47:55] He doesn't he sort of acknowledging I'm right about that, but doesn't really want to acknowledge that when I said, how do you make sense of it? He spent all of his energy talking about how she's broken, about how he functions like somebody that a woman with good judgment would not desire. OK, so it's often very hard. We want to just say, what's the matter with you? That you don't want me to lose her other than how do I make it hard for someone to want to really be close to me, open up to me? They're her soul to me. A lot of times we don't want to deal with who we really are.
[00:48:28] Ok, I love that you do a lot of couple's work. I do a lot of a lot of couple's work.
[00:48:33] And that really does boil down to that empathy and awareness and understanding. And I need to take my fixing a judgment hat off and I need to understand where my partner is coming from. And that's more important to me than can't we just have more sex?
[00:48:46] Yes, right. Right, exactly. And kind of because what's been happening in couples is the meanings that are happening around their marriage and their sexual relationship is what's killing desire. He didn't even notice if I'm here, meaning OK, maybe I don't want to touch him or hug him because then he'll take it as a signal that I want to have sex. But what she's also saying is I don't want to touch him and hug him because he said he will bulldoze. Then he doesn't track or he he refuses. He does track, but he refuses to acknowledge that. I'm not continuing to give signals yet. I want it. So he takes it is like, OK, I've gotten the bit of data that I can now justify my.
[00:49:29] Oh yeah. Now we're on right now we're on.
[00:49:32] I can justify myself and she knows he doesn't even care that I'm not here.
[00:49:36] Right. OK, and we want that, that's not being present. That's like, you know, ok.
[00:49:42] Yeah. And maybe a little bit darker version of it is it's it's that I don't care if you're here, I feel entitled to X and I'm going to have it with you. And I can use the fact that you made eyes at me at dinner to justify moving forward or going blind to the fact that you are not present and don't want it. Yeah. Wow.
[00:50:02] Ok, hey, any other kind of final thoughts? There's a couple of other I feel like I got a couple other deep dive topics maybe I could touch base with again down the road.
[00:50:11] Sure. Yeah. Yeah, no problem. Yeah. I don't know if I have other thoughts other than I think what I maybe would say is that working out what's not working in your sexual relationship is. Fundamental to developing as people and to developing into people more capable of love and spirituality. So one of the things that's really amazing about our theology is that we really do believe that the body is fundamental to our spiritual development. But then around sex, we sort of forget that idea. Yeah. Rather than really confronting who you are as a person who you are in your own development, who you are in your relationship is really fundamental to becoming someone more capable of really loving and caring for another person and being cared for.
[00:51:00] And like you said earlier, if you can't tap into that, then how do we expect to have this ultimately connected marriage and relationship and a different view of intimacy and living happily ever after, right?
[00:51:11] Yes, that's right. Yes, that's right.
[00:51:14] So what are the what are the courses that you recommend? You have some nice online programs, I think. Great. Sure.
[00:51:21] So I have the one I reference the heart of Desire, which is a course for sex, for women's health and sexual development, LDS women, self and sexual development.
[00:51:30] Then I have two couples courses. One is called strengthening a relationship, which really helps you look at the dynamics of your relationship, what's happening and how you can develop skills and capacities to to forge a better relationship. And then I have a couple of sexual intimacy course that's called enhancing sexual intimacy. And I really help people to understand the way I think about sexuality, the way I think about sexual development and then what's happening in this partnership, that sexual desire breaks down or sexual connection breaks down and how you can create something deeper, more meaningful and more inclusive of the female because many of us are trying to operate under a very male model. Yeah. And then I do how to talk to your kids about sex course.
[00:52:14] I love that. I didn't I wasn't aware that when I was a website. That's a that's a good one. Yeah.
[00:52:18] So I'm really trying to help parents teach their children sexual integrity and by that, an integration of their body, but also integration with their morality and what it is they want to create through their sexuality and through sexual decision making.
[00:52:34] That is to say, what you don't do is as much as important as what you do choose around your sexuality to forge the kind of ability to be in an intimate relationship down the road.
[00:52:44] Ok, so I forgot. OK, you said you spent time in Massachusetts.
[00:52:49] I did, yeah. That's where I got my PhD, so I know the stomping grounds.
[00:52:54] Well, I just want to hear. Can you do a nice Boston accent.
[00:52:58] Oh gosh. Let's see.
[00:53:00] I'm trying to remember, you know, they dropped their Rs and they put them where they don't belong. But see, I wasn't in South Boston very much. So I don't have that. I'm not that South Boston accent, OK?
[00:53:12] I just I used to in my previous life, I was in technology when we did a computer trade show in Boston all the time.
[00:53:17] And after a few days there, you know, everything's wicked, wicked cool and park in my car. And, you know, I love Wicked.
[00:53:24] I grew up in Vermont. So wicked was the basic word of normal.
[00:53:30] I really enjoyed this. I really appreciate you taking the time. Yeah.
[00:53:34] Yeah, this is fantastic. So hopefully we can catch up again down the road.
[00:53:37] Ok, thanks, Tony. Thank you so much. Investor emotion signed by. Starting out the other and the pressures of the daily grind it wonderful, and that's the place to rub elbows and push aside things that matter most.