Tony welcomes Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife back to The Virtual Couch for the 5th time! They discuss a variety of topics, including ADHD, the challenge of helping couples envision a version of a relationship they haven't seen modeled or experienced, narcissism and emotional immaturity, and how to help a spouse "lean in" when they see their partner begin to show up differently in a relationship where the spouse had previously felt unseen. They explore Emotionally Focused Therapy, the differentiation models of couples therapy, and the role of self-confrontation not only for their clients but also in their own lives and relationships. 

Jennifer is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. She focuses primarily on teaching couples and individuals how to strengthen their relationships, overcome relational and sexual roadblocks, and increase their capacity for intimacy, love, and sexual expression. You can learn more about Jennifer at https://www.finlayson-fife.com/, where she offers online courses and her subscription-based podcast “Room For Two.” 

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And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. Check out a trailer for the podcast here https://youtu.be/s7K8dqJ0uD0 and you can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

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Virtual Couch Jennifer Finlayson-Fife Transcript

Tony: Are you okay if I'm very, if we're very vulnerable about the fact that you were admitting that you aren't quite sure what we're talking about today? Okay. No, that's good. So, welcome Jennifer. I think this is maybe your fifth time on the couch. The Virtual Couch. So welcome back. I wonder as well, and I was even gonna, when I was thinking about the things, I would just love to know if you have thoughts on, and you may not, but ADHD in relationships. And I'm very open about my adhd. And that's taken me down this path of where I wonder if having 900 tabs open does anything as far as the bandwidth of a podcast. I dunno. Do you, do you have much experience with ADHD in relationships in coaching or therapy?

Jennifer: Yeah, actually because everybody in my family has a little bit. 

Tony: Okay. 

Jennifer: Although, I don't know if I think of myself as an expert on it though. Certainly a topic I'd be happy to talk about.

Tony: I just started doing a little bit of research on it because I notice it more, the more that I do a little parallel processing and understanding what mine looks like in my relationship because there's rejection sensitivity and there's impulsivity in some of those things that can play a role. So, all right. Maybe that's our sixth episode, I think. I think it will be good. 

Jennifer: Yeah. A lot of ADHD people marry someone who's more organized and you know, or more creative, innovative people are, they're that sort of expansive and then they kind of marry someone. That's the structure. And so then there's that tension that can get played out even though they both kind of wanted a little bit of what the other had, but it can play out in conflict

Tony: Because first of all, my first thought was, okay, I have seen this organization my wife has and it does look fascinating. I mean, but there was a book by Hallowell and Ratey called “ADHD 2.0” that I now refer to as scripture. It's really, it's incredible. But there's one part where I will say this and then we can move on. But they lay out this concept where apparently, non-ADHD people, there’s almost these switches where when they're doing, their thinking switch is also. And when the ADHD person is doing their thinking switch is still going thinking, thinking a hundred percent. And that one, so then when I see something more novel, then I'm gonna go do that. And then when somebody says, well, why don't you finish it? And that one resonated to me so much because, well, of course I'm gonna go do something else if it's really cool. But then if my wife's saying, well, why don't you finish what you were doing, then I don't have a good answer for that. Well, because I didn't, because something else. But then being aware of that's been nice because then I have to build in that pause.

Jennifer: Yeah it's an interesting concept. I, you know, anyway, I'll say this and then we can move on to what we hired. I have a sister-in-law, we used to work together back when I was working for my brother's company. The two of us were working for him in the summer between school semesters and so on. And she's just one of these people that's organized, on top of things,  she just, she just has a good, and so we would be doing parallel things, the exact same thing, which was lots of just clerical, like stamping and organizing and she was just so much faster at it than me. And I'd be like, just trying so hard to keep up and I would have to make my mind stay on the activity because my mind would go to other things, which is a part of who I am, right? I was, my mind was always like figuring out ideas and things, but it would slow me down. And so I'd be like, what is the matter with me? Why is she able to be so efficient? So on task at all times? It's just not really the way my brain works. 

Tony: Yeah. But I like it because that would kind of speak to even almost this spectrum concept because if you know you're a little bit off and if I'm just, I need to make jokes, I need to go get water, I need to find something else to do and come back, I'll do, and then they also, my family are much more.

Jennifer: I look like the organized one.

Tony: You do? Okay. How fun is that right? 

Jennifer: Well I just look like the one who's more on task anyway. And so anyway, it's interesting because I love a lot of people that are not particularly orderly in their way of thinking and doing things. There's a lot of gifts that come with it, and then things that are there. My son right now is on his way, flying here, but he forgot his wallet, didn’t remember his passport. I don't wanna talk about him, but it's a little bit like, wow. You know, that's not easy. So, yeah. 

Tony: That's great. Okay. Well, okay, I think we even started with this too, was I love your honesty about not being 100% sure what we were gonna talk about today. And then I love it because I had emailed Christie a month ago and said, I want to talk about this. And I kind of forgot about that, which maybe is part of this ADHD thing we're talking about. And so then I felt like, oh, I need to let her know. So I sent some stuff over this morning. So I do have some thoughts, but staying on this note a little bit too, I feel like maybe that the way that ADHD does show up is it does bring a lot of discomfort and I really have had to recognize and lately I'm on this kick on the Virtual Couch talking about what we do with our discomfort and, so I think that at times I want to then quickly turn to get that dopamine hit of novelty instead of sitting with feelings of discomfort. And then I'm watching that in my couple's situations. Some, even if they're using a really healthy framework to communicate, it's still gonna be uncomfortable. And then I feel like an ADHD person is really, really good at distracting or saying, but you don't understand to get outta that discomfort because by nature that's what we do. Because if we're doing something and that thinking switch keeps coming up, we're used to following that. So, I don’t know. 

Jennifer: Yeah. Can I just give another idea about that? Human beings are always wrestling with anxiety and our ability to stay present and be living life within the reality of life. So that's a human challenge. People that are more impulsive or ADHD are gonna bounce quickly to a new idea. They bounce away, perhaps. And they move into activity. But you know, somebody who's more organized or routinized may well handle it by moving into routine, by moving into, so that it's not necessarily more that ADHD people are less able to be present. So what I mean is that the mind is organizing and managing stress in the ways that it knows how. But the other thing I would say is some people are very, very anxious and are really struggling with self-regulation, and it looks more like ADHD than it is. And so there may be an ADHD element there, but it might be more of an anxiety response getting handled through distraction through, high, what's the word? Frenetic energy. But that's more about anxiety.

Tony:  It can be. Well, okay. And while I'm just talking, I'm giving some theories here, but the book also has a great chapter on medication, this “ADHD 2.0”. And it does say that the ADHD medication when administered properly is far more, I don't know, efficacious than other medications. And it says that how it can, it's the only thing that can change somebody's life within an hour. But then if the wrong person takes it and I think if somebody with anxiety takes it, it amps that anxiety. And so I will have people tell me, oh, I'm ADHD as well. But they say, but every time I take medication I just get really jittery or anxious. And when I took medication I felt hope. I mean it is all of the sudden everything came into place. That's a good diagnostic. 

Jennifer: Yeah. Right. It’s the primary factor. Anxiety. Also, ADHD really shows prior to age 12, when it's really just adhd. So it's a fundamental feature. So this same son, you know, it's my child on the autism spectrum, that was a co-occurring reality. And yes, when he started taking it, it's like his whole life changed. It was, you know, I became an addict to his medication because when he was taking it, he was able to self-regulate. He was much more capable socially. He was kinder to his sibling, like it just helped him get a handle on something and he didn't, we sometimes wanted to give him medication holidays because we worried a little bit about a younger person taking medication. He never wanted to take them. He's like, everybody gets upset with me when I'm not taking it. And you know, his ability to be social would go up. So it was a definite indicator that, I mean, maybe he felt some anxiety because of adhd, but yes, that was not the primary issue. 

Tony: No, I love that too because, man, look, we're now the, I'm gonna get to be able to put ADHD in the title with you and I'm so excited. No, I'm giddy about it, Jennifer. I am. But I had this situation where after I was, I had been on my medication and I didn't get my diagnosis till 46, so a few years ago. And, a year or two year into it, I'm supposed to go get a urine test to show that I'm, I don't know that that's what you do after a year, but I was so killing it at work and everything, and clients and writing a book and the podcast, and I didn't wanna take the time and finally they were gonna cut me off. And this is a funny thing I've learned since, is that there's two time frames with adhd. It's either now or later. So I was gonna do it later, and then later became now when they were gonna cut off my supply. Yeah. But, I think the story is, this relieved my anxiety. I would take it in the morning while I went and did the urine test later in the day. And then I get the call maybe a day or two later and they said, we need you to come in. And I thought, oh no, they found, I must have some sort of something I'm gonna die from in my urine. And I went in there and she said, hey, so why is there no methyl phenyl date? The ADHD medication, Ritalin, why is that not in your urine? And I didn't understand, and I was, I don't know I just, I take it and then I realized, I said, oh, wait a minute, you, so you think I'm selling it to middle school kids? Because it wasn't in the urine. And then, and so then I said, oh no, the last time I took it, I think it was maybe one o'clock that afternoon. And then, and I have the immediate release. So then I had metabolized it cause I drink a lot of water and yeah. And actually that made me feel good because it was something that was outta my system by the evening. And at that point I felt like, okay, you know, this is, this is really helpful. 

Jennifer: Yeah, it's great. 

Tony: But adhd, my go-to is I make jokes about everything internally. So when I really did say you think I'm selling it to middle school kids, and that was not funny to say to a psychiatrist apparently, because they didn't enjoy that joke at all. And I thought it was hilarious. But you know, you live and you learn a little bit, you know? So one thing that I was curious to get your take on, so I would love to know what you either tell people or what your idea of the ideal relationship is. And the tiny bit of backstory is that when I talk to people, and I think I'm so clever when I say, I laid out from the womb till the wedding. And I just said that to Christie and I said, man, I'm trademarking that because I'd never put it that way before. But like, then I can talk about abandonment and attachment issues in our childhood and then we show up in relationships and we're trying to figure out how do I show up so that this person will like me because I don't want to be alone. And then I always say we then we're enmeshed and codependent and then we go through life and we have experiences and. Say, this is how I feel, and this is how I feel. And if we're immature, then we jump back into enmeshment like, oh, I can't believe you think that. And then we're afraid of abandonment, so we jump back in. And so then I'm trying to tell people, all right, the goal is differentiated and interdependent and there's gonna be invalidation and all those things. But then at that point, I realize I sound like the, like a peanuts adult character, where I think, think that people are like, wa wa what are you talking about? And I don't know why it took me so long, Jennifer. Maybe it's because I felt like I was getting validation by people nodding their heads and, oh, I want that. But then I realized, oh, they don't even know what I'm talking about. And so do you, how do you, or do you lay out the, here's where we're headed?

Jennifer: I do a little bit, sometimes through role play or role modeling. What differentiate sounds like, and people can recognize it almost immediately as mature dealing with an issue, but not reactive or punitive or manipulative, but like anchored and centered. And so, you know, I do think it's sometimes the quickest way to give people a picture of it. But it's very conceptual for a lot of people. That there's something, this is really like, what I actually think is that this is something you feel your way towards. It's something you live your way towards, and then when you put language to it, it sounds interdependent and self-regulated. You use those words, but it's very hard to describe in words, especially because most people do not experience it. And so you're trying to use language that we don't have a lot of in our culture, in society. Because most of us are pretty immature, and so most of us are living pretty reactively in our relationships, so we know those words well, and so it, it's like trying to give people a sense of something to reach towards. And sometimes the best way to do it actually is to help people see what they're actually doing that is undermining the friendship because if they can stop doing it, what happens is their brain then has to be at a higher level. If they won't allow themselves to do the indulgent behavior, that's how people start to feel what more mature feels like.

Like if I'm not gonna manipulate my wife, but I really would like to have sex with her, maybe I need to just be more honest. But that feels scary. But yes, if I'm not gonna be manipulative and deceptive and I do really desire a sexual relationship, then maybe I need to tolerate the exposure of speaking more honestly. Well then they start to, well, you know, it doesn't mean that the partner's just gonna be like, oh, thank you so much for being honest. They may push in the opposite direction to get you back, but people start to feel better when they're functioning at a higher level. They start to acknowledge that something there feels more solid, more respect worthy. And at a minimum they start to respect themselves more. And you know, they're actually more of a force to be reckoned with in their marriage than when they were in their more petulant or reactive state. So I like your question because it's often like, how do you show people what we're talking about? But I find the most helpful thing is to help people see what they're doing and how it's interfering with their own goals.

Tony: Yeah. Right. Okay. And I like what you're saying, and it's funny because I wanted to make the joke and now that we've established adhd, I wanted to say at some point people are listening right now and hearing the wa wa wa from both of us, that's fine. Because that is okay. But I also feel like, and then if someone, when you hit on that discomfort for someone, if I'm gonna go back to the ADHD or the rejection sensitivity is, man, do you watch that? Do you see that person? Not necessarily just an ADHD person, but, shut down. Or do you see that person try to queue up their yeah, buts?  I mean, when are you watching that happen as well?

Jennifer: Give me a little more of an example. 

Tony: So, I feel like I love everything you're saying. And then I'm, I think maybe this is the part where now having been doing couples therapy for so long, I start thinking, I don't want to call it cynically, but the worst case scenario of what happens with that, so when I get people into that place of where, no, it's okay and you're gonna feel uncomfortable and let me show you what, what that looks like, that then when that person now is met with having to really express themselves, that I just, I watch that reactivity or I watch that, that hesitancy or hesitation and then I think that can be a hard thing to get somebody to move through.

Jennifer: It is, it is hard, but I would say when I'm being my most helpful, I'm not trying to get people to do it. I'm trying to help people see how they're capitulating to their fear, how they're, how they're moving into a guarded or deceptive position, and it becomes their own courage or their own unhappiness with themselves that pushes them into a clearer position. Now, the person on the other side may then get reactive or may want to push away from it, but then I would go to that person and help them see how they're handling themselves in the face. You know, you say you wanna know your partner, but then when he starts to talk straight to you, you punish him for that. So I'm just helping them see what they're doing, because we're so good at lying to ourselves. All of us, we're good at telling ourselves the story that we like about ourselves. Not the one that accounts most data. And so when someone is speaking honestly to you, or when a therapist or coach is being helpful, they're showing you something that you tend to stay blind to and giving you your mind the opportunity to deal with that truth better. And that's what helps people get stronger is their minds accommodate more truth about themselves.

Tony: I love your Room For Two podcasts. I do. I listen to that often, and then I find myself becoming a little, pulling some Jennifer cards out in my own sessions. Of course, I take credit for them, you know, a lot. And, even my, I always say it but I feel like that it's no scarcity mentality in mental health is what I tell, what I tell myself at least. But I, but I think you've said some things, like at one point, I think you've said something like, we put a version of ourselves out and we say, hey, validate this. And then the person is saying but what if I can't? Then it's, how dare you? But so I really like having that opportunity to say, okay, well this is some information and, yeah, it's an opportunity to self confront, but that doesn't mean the person absolutely has to. And I find that, yeah, when you frame it in a certain way, I feel like then it's almost a welcoming opportunity. Okay, I'll take a look at that. And maybe, and that does seem to go well, more than it doesn't. Maybe it's just because people are secretly we want to, we want to grow, we want to be better, but that's, it is scary. 

Jennifer: Yeah. The psyche, it is scary. And I, you know, the psyche is pushing us to be whole. It is pushing us. I like that to accommodate more truth, but we then also have our reactive mind that's afraid of it. We're afraid to go to our shadow work, afraid to go to the dark parts of ourselves or the parts of ourselves that we haven't yet accommodated. And so when our spouse is the messenger, which they often are because they see us better than we see ourselves. You know, we try to take them down rather than deal with our darker selves. And that's marriage. I mean, that's really what marriage is. So often the healthier a couple is, the less pressure it takes to accommodate more truth. The more willing they are to look at themselves and how they're impacting their partner and do something about it. Not to make the partner happy, but to be a better self in relationship to their partner.

Tony: Okay, can I ask you too, Jennifer? I do feel like I don't know if we touched on this maybe the last time we spoke, but, how we become therapists and we don't think we're doing it to fix ourselves within, maybe along the way we realize, I mean, I love that opportunity to self confront and I have found, and maybe even recently where I think I wanted more interaction with my son and he's 19, and so then he threw out this offer to go play golf and I immediately reacted with a pause. And I, thank goodness, I did a little, I was able to get a do-over and was very present. But, you know, my wife then I had a good conversation about it and I loved it because she was able to say, hey, here's what that looked like. And I feel like, yeah, when you practice this and there's safety and we're not gonna be perfect at it, I was really grateful that she was able to point out a couple of things that, you know, I, and I wanted to immediately defend my ego and say, oh no, I, you know, I've read this book and masculine in the relationship, and I asked for a do-over and I was back, and that's a good thing. And I was like saying, oh, that sounds good to alleviate my discomfort. But instead, let me hear what it was like. And she had a few extra details that I think really helped with everything from body language to tone that I wasn't even aware of or I didn't want to think. Are you finding yourself doing the same thing in your own relationship or, because I imagine a lot of people feel like, well you, you must already have all this stuff down pat. 

Jennifer: Well, let's see. I'm just thinking about your example. I'm trying to, I don't know if I completely followed what you're saying, but I think I know what you're saying, which is that you were getting feedback from your wife that was elucidating or showing you something like she could track your mind better than you could track your mind. Okay. Yeah, and she's saying like, you were making this gesture and you were doing this, and that's a hundred percent true. Like spouses can track our minds, kids can track our minds, like my teenager was making fun of me because he's imitating me and my false modesty about something like somebody complimented me and then afterwards he's like, oh yeah, no, it's nothing. You know? And the way he's doing it, you know, is like using my words and it's super embarrassing. He's totally, he's saying, I see you, mom. You're not that modest. You know, you love it. So, but yeah, so our, our kids, our spouses see us, but you're asking about my own marriage, how does it go? Like do you have a more specific question? 

Tony: Yeah, I do actually. So I mean, have you had those opportunities that are things that you weren't necessarily aware of? And I'll tell you a more vulnerable one for me was my wife, she was sharing with me this concept around sometimes the kids aren't 100% sure or she isn't, of which version of me that she was gonna get. And thankfully I was in, I was looking for this feedback. We were talking about some things that I was sharing with her about as a couple's therapist and she said, yeah, sometimes you come in and you are really excited and happy. And in essence, I felt like she was saying, I'm making it rain, throwing out dollar bills, you know, that sort of thing. And other times I might, I might come in and I would say, man, I just feel like everybody, I'm just a paycheck and everybody's taken advantage of me. But I was so grateful to be able to say, okay, let me take a look at that and is there truth in that? And there really was. And then I was able to step back and recognize the days where I, maybe there's something else going on and then I'm coming in and I'm bringing that into the home, and I didn't like that, so I dunno. Do you have some of those? 

Jennifer: Well, yeah. No, I mean, I'm trying to think of examples, but absolutely. I mean, I guess I would say that's the thing that's been, that I'm probably the most grateful for about my husband is that he really is a kind soul, like the way that people will describe him is very kind and, not nice necessarily, do you know what I mean? He's not a nice guy. He really is a kind person and he is willing to be inconvenienced to help other people. So that is really who he is, but he's also a very honest person. So he's quite loyal and I actually think he sees me through a bit of a rose colored lens a lot of the time, which I like. I'll take it. But on the other hand, he is honest and he will be honest with me and he'll say what he really thinks and he's not saying it usually to get me to think something. He's just willing to reveal his own mind. And I guess while he can get upset sometimes or be mad, I don't have the feeling like he's trying to hurt me or trying to, that's not the agenda there. And so that's extremely helpful. It doesn't mean that when he gives me, you know, says things that are truthful that I'm, you know, I'm often like, ah, you know, I often will react with, at first, like, you know, no, you're wrong. And defensively, but the thing is he makes himself highly credible because he doesn't have an agenda to hurt me or take me down or even prove his mind to me. Most of the time it's usually about just, this is what I think, or this is what I see, or this is what I see you do.

And so that's harder to do, I do care about being honest with myself. And I care about being fair to him. I don't mean to say that I'm always being honest with myself and always being fair. Of course. Right? But I do value those things and so it matters to me to deal with what he's saying. But he also really does make it easier, which I'm really grateful for because if he were meaner about it or whatever, I could justify not looking at it, if he were more defensive or had his own kind of insecurities playing out in that, even if he was saying exactly what's true about me, it would make it easier to justify not seeing myself. And so, yeah. And you know, it goes both ways. I'll give my honest thoughts about things. You know, I do think it's why we get along is because there is a basic sense of honesty, and that makes the marriage feel freer. Well, I like what you said, couples are trying to manage each other a lot that they feel, you know, I was working with a couple yesterday and the sex is just always awkward and the interactions are often awkward, but that's because they are always pretending they really struggle to be honest. And so there's a lot of manipulation and management. When I say manipulative, I don't mean dark, mean manipulative. I mean masking, managing what's said, managing what's shown, and rather than I would like to have sex, it's more like, do you wanna have sex or what do you have in mind for tonight or whatever. And there's just this kind of constant masking of minds. So it always, there's always pretending. And then whenever you're pretending with someone, it's super awkward. There's no real intimacy. And a lot of couples do a lot of pretending because they don't tolerate more honesty in themselves or in their partner or their spouse punishes a lot if they speak honestly. So they've learned to not do it. But there's, you know, that people claim to love the truth, but the truth is hard. The truth is challenging. The truth pushes us to grow up. And like you said, we want it, but we avoid it. Yung said something like, the information we most need is hiding in the places we least want to look. And that's the kind of the realities about ourselves that scare us because they push us into growth. But yeah, if we avoid them, then they really do run our lives.

Tony: I agree. And I like that because the more I think we talk about the sitting with the uncomfortable feelings and, tell me if you agree and you don't have to agree with this at all, but I feel like we are so unused to doing that, that it isn't as scary as we think it is once we practice it. There's a researcher named, well researcher, writer, Terrence McKenna of olden days. And he used to say, “it's like jumping out into the great abyss and finding out it's a feather bed”. And I love that example because I feel like when we can sit through some of that discomfort and then I love what you're saying, find then all of a sudden, well, I do, I, when you say the psyche is pushed that way, I want growth and now I'm excited about it. 

Jennifer: I think the psyche, I mean, Yung talks about this a lot and you know, that we're striving for wholeness, that that's what our minds are trying to do, or you know, that our dreams are trying, is the psyche trying to reveal aspects of our lives ourselves are tending to not wanna deal with. And so it's kind of the psyche pushing towards wholeness. But we have another part of our brain that wants stasis, that wants control, that wants, it's the ego, right? And the ego, we need the ego, but the ego can be the enemy sometimes because the ego loves control. And yet we have so very little control. And the more we cling, the less and less control we actually have. And so we've got two pressures, but there's certainly one that's pushing us towards growth. Like, you know, a lot of times when the body is in reaction, I had a client who always was having pain and rashing and all these things, and she would blame her body like, my body's turned against me, my body doesn't want me to be happy. My body's working against me. But this, you know, she started working with a doctor that did this, was also a therapist in working with a lot of these kinds of meanings, and as she started to pay attention to her body, she saw that her body was trying to help her. Her body would go into a physical reaction when there was something going on in her relationships that was working against the best in her.

And so once she stopped blaming her body and understanding her body wanted her to thrive, well, then it really changed it because first of all, it allowed her to address things that were going on in her life. It allowed her to stop being in a combative relationship with her body that's really trying to sustain. And also allowed her to address things and change things, so her body reacts less, way less now, and even when it does, she sees it as a gift to pay attention to what's happening in our relationships. 

Tony: Oh, that, I mean, the body keeps the score, the Bessel van der Kolk. And I have to tell you as well, I don't ever get a chance to do this, but, I've had a couple of people that have reached out to me and said that you've said nice things, referred people if I'm working in the world of emotional immaturity or narcissism or that sort of thing. And I think that that's really come up a lot there where, if I'm helping people, you know, I've got these tenants where you know, no one wants to say  my partner is narcissistic, so I feel like I meet people where they're at. Because if they read material that talks about narcissism, it says don't finish the paragraph, leave. And no one, no one's gonna do that because they don't even know what that means or what that looks like. And so, yeah, so I say raise your baseline. That's self-care. Get your PhD in gaslighting. Get out of unproductive conversations, set boundaries and know that boundary is a challenge to the emotionally immature. And then I talk about, you know, nothing you will do will cause them to have this aha moment or epiphany that they have to come up with that on their own. And I feel like that one's the hardest one for people to break. And I feel like their body ends up being the thing that is the thing that I feel like they eventually realize that every time I try to go back in and try to make sense of explain, care take, you know, then they start to feel panic attacks or headaches or memory is a challenge. And so I like what you're saying because I mean, that is, yeah, I feel like that's the final straw of helping somebody recognize maybe that they aren't safe in the relationship when their body is trying to say, I'm trying everything. I'm trying anxiety, I'm trying depression. Don't make me give you a heart attack. And, that's what I think can happen.

Jennifer: Exactly. Whenever we're trying to control what we don't have control over, especially another, a partner that won't self-confront, you know, that illusion is often hard to let go of because you want the control, the fantasy that if you say the right thing, do the right thing, whatever, they're gonna space themselves, they're gonna become a kinder person or whatever. And often, you know, the body is in reaction to that, but also giving up that project is the only chance that something will shift. 

Tony: Yeah. So, okay. This did actually lead to, I think what I initially reached out, to ask Christie to bring up was when I do get a guy into therapy, and I was even gonna tell you a funny thing when we were gonna jump on and then I forgot, but I was just talking with my intern, my associate, Nate Christensen, and he's a big brain guy, but he said he just was reading that therapy was initially, someone was saying that therapy was initially for women and that's why it's all about feelings. That was Freud's, I guess, goal. And that, you know, some men, he worked with a lot of women. And that men need to do things differently. And so that's why, and then he went into this thing about suppression and that it's about aggression and that men can feel close even when there is stress or aggression. And then how that can, and I thought that was an interesting thing. I thought that was really fascinating. But where I was going with that was, so I get a lot of men that come to me, I think because, I dunno, maybe it's as simple as I'm a guy, I don't know. But then when I can get a guy to feel heard and understood, maybe do a little self confrontation, I find that there are times where, I have examples, where the wife has said this is what I want. I want this guy who will hear me and open up and stay present. And now I, you know, on occasion I can get a guy to that place and then it's as if the wife now starts to push more buttons. And when I did some betrayal trauma training with Dr. Skinner, Kevin Skinner, a long time ago, he would talk about, you know, okay, that they're testing for safety or things may go well and a couple of years down the road, you know, she may say, I don't, I don't even know if this is, if I should have come back and, and if the guy says, man, thank you for sharing. I'm here. It keeps her amygdala calm, and still testing. But I found that, I'm curious if you see or what your thoughts are on that. If I do have this guy show up differently and the wife has said, this is all I've ever wanted, but now that more buttons are pressed and I will have a guy, all of a sudden I'll say, well, wait a minute. Now, is she the narcissist or is she the emotionally immature? And I wanted to say, okay, I hear you, but let's slow down a little, but it's, I don't know if that's just her body, can a change happen too fast? What do you think? 

Jennifer: Well, I, you know, so a couple things. I tend, when I'm working with people, to not just think, okay, let's say that you have a narcissistic, I mean, there's a lot that I would even say about that because that's…

Tony: Yes. Let's just say like somebody that is emotionally immature.

Jennifer: Who's been emotionally immature has tended to dominate situations. And take too much. And let's say that, that there's the, let's just put it in the, this form that the woman is the one who's been kind of burned by that. And she is exhausted by it and he's starting to self confront and change. The way I tend to talk to the person in the woman's position in this example is that your goal isn't just to trust your partner and your goal isn't just to wait until they have become safe. I'm not, I don't really think in that frame so much. The goal is if you're gonna choose this person, they need to grow into somebody who's more capable of handling themselves while they know you, that they need to learn how to be a self without dominating or taking too much and that matters. But you also, wife, have been operating in a marriage in which you are an over functioner. It doesn't look like it from what I'm saying, but for the person in a relationship with a narcissist, the person is over-functioning. They're trying to make things right. They're trying to manage that guy's ego. They're trying to keep him happy, give him the sex that will keep him. And so they're doing all these things in the fantasy that if they do everything, he will be okay and they will be okay. And so she has to also grow out of that. And let's just say the guy really does start to self confront and really is dealing with him. There's a certain amount of testing you, you know, are you really legit? Are you really there for me? 

But what is also, and I'm not saying this is always the case for me, it means I've gotta discern what, what's happening here? Is this guy really not as developed as he's saying, and she can track it. Or is it that she wants the too little, too late position because then she doesn't have to. Because something that's, that's trying to solve the husband all the time in this case, you know, doing everything to make that person okay, is also intimacy avoidant, even though it doesn't look like it. They want to be needed. They want to be the solution. They want to be the one that the guy needs in a sense. And so that's, that's a need-based frame, not an intimacy. Somebody that thinks they have to follow all over themselves to prove themselves to the narcissistic guy. Doesn't have a solid sense of self. Isn't clear that being knowledgeable is a safe thing for anyone, right? So part of the reason they chose this guy is because they don't have to be that known by him when he's the only party, when he's the only show in town in his mind. So if he's growing out of that, that's a very different thing than she wants to actually be. Now a lot of us talk about, I don't feel seen, don't feel well. I don't know that many people that actually wanna be seen. They just want the good parts to be seen, you know? 

Tony: Yes. 

Jennifer: A lot of times people are complaining about that.

Tony: Let me just, I have to tell you, Jennifer, as you were saying this, and this is actually, this is so good because I could talk about this, for the light, then went through your blinds and shown, and it was just you. All of a sudden, you, the sky's parted, heaven smiled upon you and then you, you gave the world this gift. Exactly right? 

Jennifer: Yeah totally, that’s what it was. So, her ability to actually be knowable, right? How many of us really want our partner to look into our soul? Unmitigated, right. Flaws and all. I mean, you know, that takes some real, that's scary. Courage. Scary. Yeah. And so, it's often like, I still don't trust you. I still don't trust you. Is a way of getting away from that anxiety, all of that. And you know, and there may be things going on on his side, but you don't want to keep his growth from, it doesn't have to be, he must be fully grown up before you deal with yourself. She also needs to be dealing with her own over-functioning and her need to be needed and her anxiety about her.

Tony: That is so good. And I feel like this is where, and I would, I mean, there is real, incredibly emotionally immature, or strong narcissistic trait and tendency, people that are still looking for the buttons pressed and the way to manipulate. So I do, you know, and I know I work a lot with that population. And that can be really difficult. But I like what you're saying because I do feel at some point, because if it really isn't the narcissist, I would imagine, in this scenario we're talking about a wife who then grew up not necessarily seeing the boundaries modeled or secure attachment in childhood. So she didn't know how to say no or that sort of thing. And so maybe that has led to that. And so I know that can be hard, but I love what you're saying because I think this is where it's hard for me because I want to at times just say, not to, hey, give him a chance. I like this concept of, I call it, introducing positive tension. So now let's, let's have a chance to really use the tools. I've got these four pillars of a connected conversation based off of emotionally focused therapy, and that's where I feel like, we no longer have to have the guy to say, no, I get it now. And she says, oh, okay. Now I want her to say, well, tell me more. What, what do you get? What do you understand? What is different now? Because I find that the real emotionally immature says it. I mean, I get, I'm telling you I get it. And that's where I feel like you'll find quickly how, if the guy is really self confronting or, or able to sit with that.

Jennifer: Yeah. Okay. Something to say about it. It's not just, you know, like sometimes, well then I went and I apologize. What did you apologize for? What exactly? Like if it's deep, if it's true, self confrontation, there's something there. I can see that I do this to you. Something that I tend to say with people is that, you know, we're all kind, we're all narcissistic. I mean, in a sense we all start out very self preoccupied. Even if we are somebody who is always nice and can never let anybody be disappointed. It's about managing our ego needs. And so there is a self-centric element to it. And as we are willing to self confront no other people's experience of us, know ourselves in relationship, we're able to grow out of our egocentrism. So narcissistic people are often ego-centric in a particular way. But I try to make a distinction with people narcissistic and narcissistically impaired. Narcissistically impaired person is a person that is not going to yield. They're not gonna change. They aren't able or willing to actually self confront. They may give all the verbiage and know how to make it look like it, but they're not actually in any kind of self confrontation in the wee hours of the night. And that's very different from somebody who's inclined to go one up, to look honestly at themselves and to start dealing with who they are.

That's a person. You don't have to be perfect to trust that person. You just have to be with someone who's willing and able to do that, and it matters to them to be a decent human. If it only matters to you when you're trying to convince your narcissistic partner that they should be a decent person, that's not gonna go. No, if they want to be a decent person and you can tell it and they're willing to deal with themselves and you see them doing it, you know that's a good person to be challenged with and to be addressing your half of that dynamic with not, because you gotta wait for them to be perfect because you can see that they do wanna grow and they wanna be better and they're willing to be honest. Even if it takes some work sometimes, they're willing to grow. That's trustworthy, the people that get entrenched and stay there and won't, won't be challenged. Well, it's not a good choice to be in a relationship.

Tony: And and I don't know if I gave you credit for this last time we spoke, but when we spoke a couple of times ago and we were talking about narcissism, you had mentioned everybody's a little narcissistic. And at that time I remember feeling a little bit like, well, well, no, I mean, I don't think, I think I framed the question wrong. You’re absolutely right. And then in, so I've got the Waking Up to Narcissism podcast, which is now as big as the Virtual Couch, and in that one I was very intentional about nine or 10 episodes in, I had an episode called, wait, am I the narcissist? And I really did lay out the narcissistic personality disorders, maybe two or 3% of the population. But if you start with, we're all emotionally immature, and that's where I give you a little nod, you know, then we can work from there. And I have found that it is a much better place to operate from. And I feel like the people I work with are willing to say, okay, I can take a look at emotional immaturity, but narcissism, I think it just carries so much. It's out in the zeitgeist so much, a lot of negativity out. Everybody’s ex is a narcissist.  You know what I mean? That is a fact, I've been told on TikTok, as a matter of fact. That makes me laugh. So in that part, I appreciate that too. And, okay, if you have a couple more minutes, there is now that I feel like, boy, I feel like we've covered all these fun things today. As a, from a therapist standpoint, I would love your thoughts on another thing, and maybe I'm wanting you to validate me or compliment my fragile ego. So there are some of the, there are some groups that I'm a part of and I love, and a lot of them quote you, which is amazing and wonderful. And there will be something that we brought up where someone will talk, you know, the crucible method versus EFT, for example.

And then people will get pretty, pretty discouraged about it. And I have a copy and paste available now where I say, as an EFT therapist and a thousand couples later or whatever, and I've tried to make it into these four pillars of a connected conversation. Preston Pugmire, who I know you know, helped me create this course. And so that was him helping coach these tangible steps and I love it so much. And so then I feel like then I'm all on board with differentiation and cleaning up your side of the street and not looking for that external validation. But I find my copy and paste says that, that is amazing. But I feel like sometimes what I'm reading is somebody says, this is all I can do is take care of me, and if my partner doesn't show up, then this is not a viable relationship. And so I've been saying, well, I feel like the EFT, emotionally focused therapy, my four pillars, that's the conduit to communication to then maybe help get to that place of differentiation or, but I would love to know your thoughts. Like do you have just the overall thoughts on the EFT versus the crucible method or those two things?

Jennifer: I mean, I do, I do, I don't tend to like to get into that, well, I'm, I'm happy to answer it, but I'm just saying I don't tend to like to get in the conversation because I don't feel like I understand EFT enough. And I don't, I'm happy to give you some ideas though, but just like sometimes I will critique sex addiction programs. I've learned I don't wanna do that because some are very on point and very valuable. So it, so what I do sometimes is I say, if a program is teaching you this idea, I think it's dangerous. If a program is teaching you this idea, I think it's dangerous. So it's more like that, if it's teaching you this, it will be helpful in my view. But I think the fundamentals, so first of all, Adam Miller, and these were both people that happened to be in my ward and Hardy, I can't remember his first name right now. They wrote, they co-authored, they were Northwestern students and they co-authored a paper about really laying out the tenets of EFT and differentiation theory and kind of arguing. So, it was very, it's very well written and well done and worth reading, did I say Adam Miller? I mean Adam Fisher. Adam Fisher and Nathan Hardy, so that's worth reading. What I would say in my rudimentary understanding is the question of locus of control or where is the center of change in these models as they were originally understood.

Now how practitioners use them, it may be very different. Maybe EFT has shifted since its sort of initial idea, but that's what I think is the core issue is in the EFT model. It's that we attached, which we are, we attach at an early age, and then we have attachment styles, which all, which I agree with. But the idea of the model is often that change happens through the marriage by the partner being the attachment object that was needed, right? So validating feelings, reflecting back, communicating in a certain way. And so the change, the locus of control is in the partner. 

Tony: I see what you're saying.

Jennifer: Okay. Now, I don't know. You know, somebody might say, no, no, you don't get it, and I may not get it. So I'm, I'm not here to say like, I get it and I know. I'm just saying that's my view from the first time I read about it. Where in differentiation theory, one attaches no question. And we attach and we do things in a certain way. And not only do we attach, but we also, so we, not only do we wanna be in relationship to others, we also wanna be in relationship to our, and, but the locus of change is within the self. Now this is not to say that people don't affect our sense of self. They deeply do. They're very, very entangled with other people, but what the change agent is, is helping people see how they are in relationship to others and how they're trying to have a self in relationship to others. And the ways that that effort is creating trouble in their relationships to others and themselves. And in that awakening to change, to change their behavior in relationships. So the locus of control is within the self, it's in the self-regulation. And so it's just a different, it's helping people see more. Truthfully, the problem I have with, if it's in your partners, like you both have a half empty tank of gas and you're looking for the other one to fill it up, right? Because people, your spouse doesn't have it to give usually right now. I don't mean to say your spouse doesn't affect you and when they grow, it does positively impact you. 

But a lot of times we're trying to show forth love, make our spouse feel loved, give them security, and while it can help a little, I think that it's still got the focus in the wrong place. Now, I don't know if this is how EFT therapy runs or how it is at this, but to the degree that that's the model operating in any therapy, like Imago therapy, I think is almost a hundred percent that. And so to the degree that it's doing that, I think it's only minimally effectual. And there can, there can be things that are beneficial about a conversation style. I'm just gonna sit and validate what I can. I'm not saying that as a tool, there can't be some value in that for helping people to settle down, not react and just listen. But I think as a kind of fundamental model of change, I think it has some limitations.

Tony: No, Jennifer, I do love that. And there's a part of me that feels like, okay, I don't want to now throw my 2 cents in, but then I realize, oh wait, we're on my podcast. And my people, my people, that sounds very egotistical, but your listeners are, you know, I talk about my four pillars all the time, and I actually feel very validated by that because I do feel like, I look at and I think you're actually right where I may not even know where EFT, I think I've slowly morphed my own version of EFT into this. I mean, a lot of, you know, it's like, yeah, right. And so I feel like the model that I use. It really is almost as simple as someone expresses something to their partner and their partner then immediately that has a meaning to them. And they can be, they can take offense. They can. So I, you know, my first pillar is assuming good intentions or there's a reason why somebody says what they do. And I feel like it's core is because that's the way that they express themselves or that's the way that they feel like they have to show up in order to be heard. And then I, you know, my second one is, you can't tell that person they're wrong or I disagree. Even if you think they're wrong and you disagree because any of these are gonna take the conversation out into the weeds. And then my third pillar is, okay, I'm gonna ask questions before I make comments. Well, tell me what that means for you. Help me understand. And that's where that discomfort kicks in and some empathy. 

And then I, and then my fourth one, I say stay present. And you can't go into a victim mentality. If you follow those first three pillars and then say, okay, no, you're right. I guess I'm a horrible piece of garbage No. To rescue me. Right. And so I do feel like I like what you're saying because I feel like I'm trying to use it as a communication tool to stay present so that then we can self because I feel like it's too easy for the emotionally mature to take any conversation out into the weeds. Then they never get to accountability or self confrontation. But I think as you're expressing that, why I feel validated is because I actually think I have taken that off on a little bit of my own path. And so yeah, when I, when I come in and say, oh, I hear people that talk about the differentiation model and then because I validate it and I feel like maybe they're waiting for me to say, that's dumb, you know, EFT is it? And I love, I love your concept about the locus of change because I think you're right and maybe we're both wrong, but we're both right as well and that sure feels good.

Jennifer: Yeah and I do think communication models, for example, can be very helpful for just giving people tools. Something to kind of anchor their anxiety to as they're walking through a difficult conversation, in online, the Strengthening Your Relationship course, I do the same thing. I'm giving them a communication model that is as anchored as I can make it in their own integrity. And self confrontation. Before they even open their app, you know that they are dealing with themselves. First, rather than trying to get their self, their spouse to buy into a view that's not even true. However, one can do that model. So what that's, your model would work very well if it's two people who are really trying to deal honestly with themselves, be fair. And that model can just help them manage themselves through, so it can really be helpful. But what I think is that people can also use models whether yours or mine to not deal with themselves, you know what I mean? Like they can go through the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.

Tony: Absolutely, I say they weaponize the tool. And what's interesting then is in the, again, I found myself working with a lot of emotionally immature or narcissistic traits people and surprise, because I have a podcast that has narcissism in the name, so I'm not, I'm not shocked by that, but I feel like even the having a framework has allowed people to then see that the emotionally immature person can't play in the sand. That they're so special that when they tell me how crazy their wife is, even, I will put away my beloved four pillars, and now we will join in triangulation and let her know how bad she is. And, and I feel like that's what you end up seeing kind of back to what we were saying earlier versus the person saying, oh my gosh, I didn't know what I didn't know. Here's a tool, let's use it. And then I do. I feel like that's the part and then the, and then it's, our brains love that. 

Jennifer: I mean, we all do that. Just start using the words differentiation and self regulation. You sound like you're really, you know, I know. I love ideas too. I'd much rather talk about ideas than actually go through the horrors of self confrontation. I mean, who wants to do that?

Tony: Yeah.

Jennifer: Right. So it's easy to talk about ideas. Christ talked about this. We love the letter of the law. Spirit of the law is much. 

Tony: Yeah, it is. Yes. Yeah. I love it, man, Jennifer. Okay. Thank you. This was so funny because when we look back on today's interview, it was, it was kind of, it was, it was everything, which to me that felt so satisfying and very good for this interview. So thank you so much for meeting me. What a joy. And I just looked down. I can't even, I feel like it's been 30 minutes and so thank you and I would love to have you on it. I'll do the research now on ADHD and relationships and then, man, I would love to have you back on and talk about that too.

Jennifer: Sure. That would be fun. 

Tony: Okay. That'd be good. All right. Thanks so much. It's always good to see you. Thanks. Bye-bye. 

In this special BONUS episode of Tony's top-10 most downloaded episodes of all time on the Virtual Couch, Sexuality and Relationship Counselor Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife makes discusses what to do if you no longer find your partner physically attractive, as well as how to communicate in a relationship where one partner has a high desire for intimacy and one has a low desire? Also, find out what men do that Dr. Finlayson-Fife says will result in them being "toast!" You can find out more about Dr. Finlayson-Fife's work, as well as her online programs for individuals and couples around their sexuality at finlayson-fife.com. And please sign up now at http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic for Tony and Preston Pugmire's FREE webinar on how to create a more Magnetic Marriage on Monday, April 26th, 2021 at 5 PM PST. Space is limited so go reserve your spot today!Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/

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----- TRANSCRIPT -----

[00:00:00] A couple of days ago, I flew home with my family, we had been on a weekend trip to Southern California there for a basketball tournament my son was playing and we weren't able to get a flight home on Sunday night. So we headed back early, very early Monday morning. And the plan was for my family to drop me off directly at work and I would immediately jump in to therapy with clients. And as often can be the case, the flight was delayed and leaving Southern California. And by the time we landed in the Sacramento International Airport, I was running a little bit behind and I let my clients know and they were wonderful in understanding. And we immediately headed to my office and I was already in my head a little bit, just kind of thinking about the day ahead, client issues, ready to get myself all ready for therapy. And I missed a very necessary exit to head to my office when that was going to add several minutes onto my trip. And it's hard to describe, but there was a way to still kind of make the on ramp. But it would take a little bit of, let's just say, a tiny bit of off roading. And I was driving the opposite of an off road vehicle. But I said, man, I missed my exit. And we all shared a couple of ideas and I calmly made a power move. I made it to my exit and we were on our way, did a little bit of that off roading.

[00:01:08] And I commented to my wife that I felt like situations like those are where the mindfulness training pays off. I remain calm. I noticed I had missed my turn. I didn't beat myself, beat myself up about it, or unload a profanity laced tirade or anything like that. And I was pretty accepting that I had had this off roading option and that I needed to embrace it and I would get to work eventually when I got to work. So fast forward to yesterday morning. I had a podcast that I was so excited to record. I've been writing some notes down for a couple of weeks, but I needed to be at my office by 4:00 in the morning to get it done before starting with clients at 6:00. So I get to my office and I back into my parking spot, as I often do, and I reach for my keys where I think my keys are going to be. And I do a lot of typical aid like behavior, but I feel like I'm pretty decent and not losing my keys because I kind of put them in the same place every time. So I take everything out of my bag. I'm searching through my car and nothing. So I had to do what I have literally never had to do before. I had to drive back home. And then I spent an hour tearing through the house while everybody slept using the the flashlight on my phone, just looking for my keys and no luck.

[00:02:15] And I remain calm. I was fascinated by this and I ended up heading back to my car, took everything out of my computer bag very methodically, and eventually I found them in a little pocket that I truly never use until apparently yesterday morning. And I vaguely remember thinking that was a great place to put them when we were heading to the airport to head back from Southern California to Northern California. Now, why do I tell the story? Well, because of mindfulness. Because I'm telling you, you're practicing the ability to notice thought because you have tons of them and not necessarily have to act upon the thoughts, meaning I had all the old favorites, that I'm an idiot, that I can't believe. I can't find my keys, that if I have to cancel my sessions at six and seven and possibly eight waiting for other people to get to the building, that I'm going to look unprofessional. And all of those thoughts were there. But I noticed them and there were plenty of other thoughts that were coming even in the midst of me trying to find these keys about things, about my bag, about things, about taking out of my bag, about the fact that having to drive back home and some of the things I noticed, some of the things I noticed heading back to work at the time, I did a little more traffic.

[00:03:14] And so I think my brain, for whatever the goal was of throwing some of those thoughts out there, some of the productive ones, the unproductive ones. And I really got myself back to present and I kept looking for the keys. So if you aren't already practicing a daily mindfulness routine, I highly, highly encourage you to do so. Their apps and books and YouTube channels. But just start. You don't need to be perfect at it. The second reason I tell those stories is that I then maybe it's no big guess, but I had no time to record this episode that I wanted to. But the good news is that I've been working on letting out another bonus episode. And what I'm viewing is a bit of a series of the top ten episodes that I've ever had on the virtual couch in the previous four years of episodes. And so I been working on another bonus episode with virtual couch favorite Dr. Jennifer Finless and wife. And this is truly one of my top episodes from a downlow perspective of all time. And in this episode, we talk about the concept of having a high desire and low desire partner in a relationship. And I'm going to leave it right there because I really want to get to this episode, but know that the audio isn't necessarily the best. But that was because Jennifer was in Europe at the time.

[00:04:18] This was a few years ago. And she was calling from, I believe, her phone and talk about perfect segue. This is actually the episode I had kind of forgotten about this, where she mistakes me at one point for press. Buckmeier, who she mentions that in this interview and at that time I didn't know who Preston was. So that was what actually led me to Google him. And as he has shared on a couple of my podcast episodes, especially about our magnetic marriage course, that he then reached out to me later looking for some help. And at that point, the stars that aligned the universe had spoken. I knew who he was, thanks to Jennifer Finless and Phife in this episode. And despite being a little bit overbooked at that time, I made room for him. And the rest, as they say, is history, magnetic marriage history, no doubt. So back to the Segway next Monday. April 26th at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, Preston and I are putting on a free couples or relationship webinar on creating a magnetic marriage that is absolutely free. So now you can go to Tony Overbay, dot com magnetic and sign up to reserve your spot on the webinar, because thanks to technology, there's there's a lot of spots available. But there's there's limited as well about the number of people who will be able to participate or view that webinar live. So go right now to Tony everyday dotcom magnetic. And while I have you, don't forget that if you are looking for therapy, if you're looking to try out the world of online counseling or online therapy, if it's hard to find someone near you or if you just really want to continue to embrace the online experience, head over to Betterhelp.com virtual couch and there you'll get 10 percent off your first month of online counseling.

[00:05:49] They offer a sliding scale and they also can put you in touch with a counselor in up to 24 to 48 hours. And you can do this through through text, through email, through video, whatever works best for you. You owe it to yourself to really start digging in deep and looking at some of the things that maybe you've been dealing with over the last year or two years or your life. So head over to Betterhelp.com, slash virtual couch and get it going with couples therapy or individual therapy, whatever type of therapy, whatever kind of help you need, it can start right there. Betterhelp.com virtual couch. So let's get to this episode, this bonus episode. And with Jennifer Finless in five, I'm going to try to push out my regular episode a little bit later this week. So stay tuned for that. But hopefully you'll go over to Tony over Gay.com magnetic. And I will see you at this webinar coming up next Monday at five p.m. on April 26th. All right. Let's get The Today Show, my interview with Dr. Jennifer.

[00:06:58] For the return of

[00:06:59] This guest, you probably read it in the title already, it is Dr. Jennifer Finless and Faith. If you haven't already done so, please make sure you check out Episode 45. That was the first time that I had Jennifer on my podcast. And that episode is Neck and Neck with Episode 12 on Raising Your Emotional Baseline for the most downloaded episodes of The Virtual Couch. And I think when I checked last, that Dr. Phenix episode is in the lead. So what does that tell us? It tells us that talking about intimacy is something that we need to do. And it's hard it's difficult for a lot of couples to do that. And so I think that they are willing to look for anyone who can help, who can give advice, who can talk about what a healthy, intimate relationship looks like. And Dr. Fife is one of the best that doing so and so. I am so grateful that she is willing to make a return to the virtual counselors. Kind of a funny story about how this came about. And we talk about that on the podcast. So if you are not familiar with Dr. Fife for her work, Dr. Jennifer Finlayson, if you can find her at Finlayson Dash five dot com, and she is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in relationship and sexuality counseling. In addition to her dissertation research on LDS women's sexuality and relationship to desire, she is also taught college level human sexuality courses, as well as community and Internet based relationship and sexuality workshops. And if you go to her website, she has some online programs that are incredibly popular. And I have had many, many clients take those online courses, a couples relationship course, a couple's sexuality course of women's sexuality and desire, of course, and how to talk to your kids about sex course. So I highly recommend those. And she has workshops and events all over the country so you can sign up to find out more on her website. Finlayson five Dotcom. So without any further ado, let me get to the interview

[00:08:40] With Dr. Jennifer.

[00:08:50] And that's well, the big question is, where are you today?

[00:08:53] I'm in Lisbon, Portugal.

[00:08:55] Wow. And you've been gone for a while. How many days?

[00:08:58] September. We left beginning of September. And so we're like, what would that be like six, seven months into this? I didn't realize it was that long. Yeah, it's been phenomenal. So we've been all over again. We were in the U.K. and then we were in New Zealand and Australia and then Asia, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and and then now Europe. So we're kind of starting we were just in Africa last weekend. Wow. And now we're heading up into Europe. So we've done Spain, France. So it's been amazing

[00:09:35] When you get back to the US,

[00:09:37] The middle of June. Wow.

[00:09:39] I did not realize that. Yeah, yeah. But what do you what do you miss what do you miss from home.

[00:09:45] Oh nothing.

[00:09:48] No food. No pizza. You're from Chicago, right. Nothing like that.

[00:09:52] Honestly, I don't feel any sense of missing it right now, I'm sure if I were doing this for a very long time. Yeah, I was just remembering a time for some as I was speaking, I had said all this to you, but it was actually another person that interviewed me because we as a family decided to take our kids out of school and just travel for nine, 10. I'm talking to us. If you knew that

[00:10:12] Well and I was funny, I was thinking I should probably know that.

[00:10:15] Ok, yeah. I really like you do know that. I'm like, wait a minute. That was that other person, Quagmire. But anyway. But yes, we took the kids out of school and happened to work fine for everybody. My son is going to college in the fall and he was only had a couple of classes left to do, which he's done online and things like that. So and my husband and I both can work online. So we just took the show on the road and it's been really phenomenal experience.

[00:10:43] So you've been doing a lot of the retreats and workshops and that sort of thing I've done.

[00:10:47] I did, yeah. I've done a lot to I've done two things. So I did one thing before I left. My family went ahead of me to England and I did it with them. And then I flew back for a couple of phratry. Then we did a couples retreat in Italy. So I was just there and now I'm flying back to Oregon to do another women's retreat. But that's tell me about

[00:11:09] That, too. I mean, because this is going to air pretty quickly. I'm gonna maybe try to get it out tomorrow, Friday. So.

[00:11:14] Yeah, yeah. Great. Yeah. So May let's see. May 1st through the 4th. We are doing another women's retreat in outside of Portland, Oregon, and we did this last year and it was a huge success. It was it's the heart of desire class that I teach for women, LDS women, about their relationship to themselves, to their bodies, and to desire both in general in their lives and sexually. And so I've taught that course in the two day forum, but I expanded to three days to just have more time with the content, more video clips, more discussion. I teach in the evenings as well. There's exercise, there's good food. And it's really it's you know, it's more than two times better than the two day trip because because women have more time to connect with one another and to really immerse themselves in the content. And so you really do see a transformation happen from the beginning of day one to the end of the day three.

[00:12:13] I have to tell the story of how this came about. So I was sitting in a session. I've got my iPad in front of me. I'm taking notes. I'm probably asking somebody how they feel right in that moment. And I'm very present with my client. But a text does come through from my nephew and he says in all caps, they're talking about you and my psychology class and he goes to BYU. And so it was funny. The imposter syndrome kicks in, I think. Is he saying I'm a fraud or what's the competition? Then when he gets back to me, he lets me know that the professor was talking about our interview that we did about a year ago on my podcast, just talking about couples of intimacy and challenges and ways to communicate. And I was really grateful. That was neat to hear that we were we were part of the subject matter. But I have this I don't think I shared this part with you. He didn't told me later that he had presented the professor presented it is that you were an expert. And I was I think he said something to do with I had something to do with pornography. So then one of the one of the women in the class said, oh, that's horrible that he makes his living over that. And there was like, no, I'm not a porn star. You know, I helped men overcome pornography addiction. And so I thought that was funny. So hopefully people heard the second part and people aren't Googling me and thinking me. So I'm grateful for taking the time, especially with you on the road. And and I just I initially said, hey, I'd love to talk about one thing, but then, man, the more I think about the second part of the topic I had asked you about, I wouldn't mind if we maybe started there. And that's the the concept of do you run into this a lot? The I have I work with women who will just say, what do I do if I no longer find my spouse attractive or physically attractive? Do you run into that?

[00:13:50] Yeah, definitely. And so what do people do about it? I mean, I think the question for me around that is, why do they not find their spouse attractive and what's happening in the marriage? You know, is it and basically, would you be OK with your spouse applying the same standard you're applying to you? Like, are you in a double standard or would you understand if your spouse felt the same way, given the same behaviors or whatever? But I think the question of why don't they? And, you know, sometimes people don't feel desire. I would say oftentimes because their spouse is disappointed them, because there isn't a lot of investment in creating a vibrant, lively sexual relationship that they've kind of just wanted the central part of the relationship to take care of its. And rather than taking care of it as a couple and so are you not attracted because you are creating that kind of energy in your marriage, you're not attracted because your spouse is doing things that are unattractive and out of good judgment. And we could talk more about that if you want. OK, or is it that you haven't really chosen your spouse and you haven't really invested and you haven't really made a decision that this is where you're going to bring your whole self and your best self? And so the lack of desire is more it's a way to get out of the pressure that a marriage places on all of us, at least a choice based marriage. And so a lot of people will kind of use the idea of their lack of attraction and almost cultivated in their own minds as a way of not having to deal more straight away with the marriage with themselves and their role in it.

[00:15:51] And I appreciate that. And maybe if I even start from I think when I see it a lot, it's coming from if I'm working with someone who is working through betrayal, trauma, if they're their partners, had a physical affair, an emotional thing, or if they just found out that their husband has been addicted to porn for years. And so they've just got shaken the foundation of their marriage. And so so I think what you're seeing there, if you like, at times, is that more of the the emotional piece?

[00:16:18] Oh, yeah, definitely it can be. And, you know, for me, what I want to think about with that is this person's lack of desire or a function of good judgment or poor judgment something is their spouse behaving in a way that is truly untrustworthy and that this is not a person that anyone in good judgment is going to want to open her heart and body up to. OK, and so I don't see the lack of desire as a problem as I'm seeing it as an expression of her self-respect. Yeah, OK. If she's been with someone who's been lying to her for years or who has been unfaithful, that's a function of self-respect. And I'm not saying that it needs to end there. The conversation needs to end there. I certainly can understand where it's coming from. On the other hand, I do see a lot of people that kind of claim and foster a victim. Position in their marriage that often has some basis, right? Yeah, but that it takes on its own life because it becomes a solution to their own anxieties about sex, intimacy, choosing a partner. And basically what they're doing is saying, you know, because you haven't so filled some unrealistic fantasy of what a marriage should be. Right. That you revolve around me. You make me feel good all the time. Your sexuality is only reinforcement of me and my sense of self when I want it.

[00:17:54] If you won't do that, then I'm going to punish you for being a disappointment and a failure. And I can go find a whole group of women who will agree with me on this and my betrayal trauma. And I don't have to deal with myself in the marriage. And and so sometimes people will kind of lock down on their victim position and their lack of attraction as a way to get themselves out. Growing up in the marriage, really knowing their partner, really dealing more strictly with the marriage. I mean, I think and I'm certainly not you know, people are always responsible for their actions because they're the ones making them. But there's often a context in which people make their decisions. And oftentimes couples collude in a dishonest marriage. They. They make it difficult to have an honest conversation with them, and so they they certainly make it easy for there to be a kind of undercurrent of deception or non truthfulness. And then when that becomes explicit, you can kind of go blind to their own participation in a low intimacy marriage because of two people who really struggle or don't have it yet, developed enough of a sense of self to show up and tolerate the exposure that's inherent to an intimate marriage,

[00:19:21] Like what you're saying about if it is an out of use the word reprehensible. But is it something in the letter to say that the husband is doing that is just if he's not being there for the partner? Because I feel like when I do the couples work, if the husband is trying to do the repair, he's trying to do nice, emotionally focused therapy and attachment apologies. And and then he's being there or he's doing this, that he was trying to be there, trying to have those conversations, I feel like is that and I like where you're going with that and the acceptance and commitment therapy world, is she hooking, refusing to that? I don't find him physically attractive. So if she can believe or fuse to that story, then she doesn't have to lean in or do the work or go through that uncomfortable part.

[00:20:01] Exactly. Because I've worked with a lot of people who, you know, there's a basis for their lack of desire, there's a basis for their lack of attraction, and then their spouse really does get it together. Self confronts, really becomes a better person. They know their spouse is more trustworthy. Yeah, I know. And we'll even acknowledge he's really made changes and I respect it. But then they still want to kind of hold on to. Well, but, you know, I don't know if I can forgive him. I don't know if I can really open my heart up. I don't know. I mean, that's legitimate. Everybody has to make their decision about what they're going to do. But I see it often they're putting it in this issue of I don't know if I can forgive them because maybe it's too little, too late, but not really focusing on their own anxiety about intimacy. I don't mean just sex and really letting yourself be knowable. Yeah, really showing up and knowing this other person as a flawed human being and yourself showing up as a flawed human being, a lot of people don't want to do that. So they'd rather find a reason why they would do it if only their spouse would get it together.

[00:21:06] I like that because I do often say that if I get the woman, then one on one, if he is meeting those emotional bids and he's there for her and she knows if she goes to him with the trigger that he's going to respond appropriately, then lovingly and gently. Is that then where she can say, all right, maybe I do need to look at him, I am fusing to this thought or now I because I feel like a lot of times in the material world, they don't want to say that they necessarily have to do anything. And I'm not saying that's a generalization, but it's look, he's the one that did the betrayal. And, you know, I don't need to do any.

[00:21:38] Yeah, exactly. And I think that's at least not a view you're going to find a lot of sympathy for from me in my office. Because, I mean, listen, I mean, if someone goes and has an affair and is lied to for five years about it, I'm not talking about that. The woman has somehow is responsible for this guy's choice, obviously. Exactly. But but on the other hand, people do need to look at what their part is in a marriage and which may be putting up with garbage from the other person. But I really understand as how is this couple linked and how they put themselves together as a couple and how has that sort of created an equilibrium in each of them so they don't have to grow because that's what as human beings we tend to do. And I think a lot of people get stuck around this betrayal, trauma, infidelity thing. They kind of go and find their intimacy with their respective groups, meaning betrayal trauma group and the porn addicts group, for example. Yeah. Rather than really growing into a more honest, intimate, choice based marriage. on I. Yes, to that. I think that when we as women have been kind of constructed as dependent upon men for our happiness, for our well-being and we're the nicer ones.

[00:23:12] That we're the weaker ones. I mean, not very many of us want to admit to that kind of cultural idea, but a lot of us have inherited that idea. So I'll love you as long as you husband loves me first. That's the one a lot of us want to pull off internally, OK, because you're the man, because you should make the world safe for me. Then I'll love you with a response. And if you don't do that, I don't. I'm off the hook. And I think that's a convenient idea. But I think. Constructing ourselves is much weaker than we are as women and that we also have promised God to love our spouse as much as they promise not to love us. And so what does it mean to love this man? Flaws and all? What does it mean to choose him? Was it mean to know him? I don't mean putting up with shenanigans and betrayal like that. But, you know, is there a way to not just vilify and understand who this person is and how they've come to make the choices they have and how I wanted to see them more as a solution in my life rather than some someone to love and to choose.

[00:24:21] And I. Yeah, and I love that. And you feel like and I almost feel like we're both agreeing that. And that's with the caveat that the husband is willing to do work or try to repair the relationship or own his own his own stuff that like you say, there are plenty of people that don't end up having the affair, but even though there's dysfunction or or that sort of thing.

[00:24:41] Yeah, yeah. And that's exactly that's assuming there is a partner who is wanting to deal with himself and is trying to grow and become better, that the spouse is also looking at herself in the marriage.

[00:24:56] Can I take a slightly different path? I'm curious your thoughts. So and I feel like this is the basically the most part of what I work with every now and again. I do get someone that is saying my husband literally is put on two hundred pounds, but I don't find him attractive and then they typically want to go in and just be brutally honest. And what are your thoughts on that?

[00:25:17] Well, again, I would be looking at the reason of the why. Why has the partner put on two hundred pounds and what is the meaning of it in the marriage? Is it that the person has a metabolic issue and there really is some issue that can't be changed? Yeah. And then I say, you know, is there still some way for you to love and choose this person? What would you want for yourself if you were in your spouse's shoes? Like what would you hope for? What kind of acceptance would you want to have? And are you able to offer what you would expect or what you would see as a decent and fair? If if it's I think it's harder if it's that you're married to somebody who is indulgent in the marriage. Right. That they're not really taking responsibility for themselves, that they're kind of in a some kind of indulgent behavior in this particular case, maybe with food or if you have somebody who's indulgent in their, you know, with alcohol or pornography or something like that, then I think it's. It's much harder to sort of look past it because you understand there's a volitional behavior that is undesirable and that someone is choosing a path that isn't desirable because it's an expression of weakness. And I don't mean that we can't choose our spouses knowing that we each have weaknesses and knowing that we're fallible human beings. I think it's a lot harder to desire somebody when you think they run their life by their weakness.

[00:26:56] Yeah, when I when I work with addiction, it's I talk about there's a void there somewhere. So you are not connected in their job or as a parent or with their health or their faith. So I'm coming at it with more empathy of trying to see.

[00:27:08] Ok, yeah, well, I would say that maybe with empathy, but also I do think that marriage, if you're going to keep passion and desire alive, it has to be a growing marriage on some level. And you have to be willing to look at yourself and have conversations about things that are difficult. And if you really want a good sexual relationship and your spouse is struggling honestly to be attracted because, you know, you're not trying, you're not putting in effort. I mean, I think if you if maybe a hard conversation to have. But I think if you are really trying to create something better, it's probably a conversation to have. Yeah. And it's not about trying to push the other person down or make them feel small. It's about trying to create something better. Yeah, well that's really what's driving it. And I like

[00:28:03] I was saying, is empowering them as therapists and instead of going in and saying, hey, you put on a ton of weight, you know, coming at it more with the more of the. Tell me more about that. Tell me what's going on in your life, not only in this indictment, I guess.

[00:28:18] Yeah, yes, exactly. But exactly. And the focus of it is not about, you know, I'm going to trample you because then I have an excuse for not desiring you. But I really do want to have a good sexual relationship. And so what kind of going back to what I was talking about initially, like is the lack of desire a function of good judgment or poor judgment? Let's say that is a function of good judgment. You feel like your spouse is living indulgently or they're not respectful of you or they don't care about you except for when you climb into bed at night. And this is the only time they seem to care that you're there. Your lack of desire may be a function of good judgment. You're saying this is not the kind of sex that I want. One thing I talk about in my women's course is that women have as much, if not more sexual capacity than men do, but they're much pickier about where they show up and open up. And so that's that's how we're wired. That's fine. But then it means sort of advocating for what you really want. And so if someone is saying, look, I'm not as attractive as I want to be because I want to have a good sexual relationship with you, I want this to be a good part of our lives.

[00:29:30] And the fact that you do X, Y or Z or if you would do more of A, B and C, I would find it much more desirable. I would find it much easier to choose and be here. And it's not to tear the other person down, it's to actually create something better. So it's not about, hey, I just don't desire you, it's OK. I am having trouble. I need to think about it. This is about selfishness on my part or limitations on my part, or if this is something I need to address and if I need to address it, that I really do take it up in the frame of I want something good. Yeah. Like that. And this is this is interfering. And I say it too, because I love you. I say it too, because I want good things for us. And if you mean that and your spouse can track that, you mean it might be a hard conversation but it's going to be a productive one. Yeah.

[00:30:23] So really. And how you frame it like that a lot on those lines. I'm dying to know your theory on this too. I think before I did the whole became a therapist that I call it the Beauty and the Beast theory where, you know, love will will rule regardless. It doesn't matter if I find the person even in the slightest bit attractive. It doesn't really matter. What do you see with that? Do you think that?

[00:30:46] Well, I mean, I do think there's something to kind of a visceral attraction, which is not the same thing, that it will make you happily married. Yeah, but there is some research. I think Lattman talks about some of this research where there's certain people that other certain people will find attractive, kind of over and over a certain characteristics, certain. You know, I always was kind of drawn to sort of lanky guys like not buff, but like kind of slender. That's exactly the person I'm married to. And and I think there's a lot of people that just sort of feel an immediate kind of attraction. I definitely felt that when I first met my husband. And I think that's important. And when we when we are dismissive of that, I don't think we do ourselves a favor. What we should be dismissive of that is of the idea that that's enough for a good marriage, because it's not a lot of people are very attracted to each other, but that are mean, selfish people incapable of creating something good. Right. And so it's not everything, but it is something that said, I think that a lot of people felt very attractive in the beginning will undermine their feelings of attraction. Things will happen in the marriage, as we're talking about, that will undermine attraction.

[00:32:06] And you may feel no attraction to the person that you once felt a feelings of attraction when you first met them. And that's not about something fundamental to who the person is. It's about what you've been creating as a couple in the marriage that's undermining desire. If you are one of these people who married somebody in part because they weren't that attractive to you. And I know a lot of people who've done this because they found it safe before they found it easier if they could just say you're going to be the father or the mother of my children. And I can sort of desexualized you because as I like sex and I like those feelings, but I'm afraid of them in a marriage. Well, I think it's harder. But just to be completely honest, I think it's a really indecent thing to do in a marriage. I think it's a really unfair thing to marry someone thing, the secret that you're not that attracted to them because you've now entrapped somebody who feels your lack of desire and you're just kind of putting up with that sexually every single time they're with you. And I think that's a very humiliating thing to do to somebody that created

[00:33:21] An unhealthy relationship with intimacy in general, right?

[00:33:25] Absolutely. And it's going to undermine the whole marriage because I think the sexual choosing part of the relationship is really fundamental to the foundation of a marriage in a choice based marriage. I mean, if we were in arranged marriages, that's that's a different framing and a different understanding, but and a choice based marriage. Part of the understanding is that I choose you, I desire you and you desire me. And of all the choices, we have made one another special. And that part of the specialness is that we share our sexuality with one another and we choose each other. And I think when that doesn't play out in a marriage or you don't hold that as an important part of the marriage and something you have a responsibility to an understanding, you have a responsibility to, it wreaks havoc on the marriage.

[00:34:19] I did a podcast on a concept that Dr. Skinner, Kevin Skinner talks about, and it's these levels of intimacy and where it's natural to go in this physical attraction, but then underneath that physical or these layers of verbal intimacy and emotional intimacy and cognitive intellectual intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and that if we just go in at that physical, then if we're trying to have that verbal intimacy and we can't even talk to our partner for a while, we can say at least there or at least we have sex and then we jump back down to emotional intimacy and they don't meet our emotional bids and OK, but at least there's the physical and that that kind of sets things off in a pretty negative pattern. But if you nurture those levels from the ground up, this verbal and emotional, then physical intimacy is the byproduct of what a different experience that is other than the it's just we're going to have we're going to have sex instead of the we feel like it's the the the next thing that we need to do because we feel so connected.

[00:35:12] Yeah. I mean, I think that, yes. You can't build a marriage on just sexual attraction. I mean, I think that's clearly going to fall apart pretty quickly. That's the only thing you share because a marriage is so much more than just having sex. Yeah, but on the other hand, I don't think we should make sex the thing that you arrive at after all the other pieces are in place. Sure. I'm not sure if that's how Skinner talks about.

[00:35:41] No, no. And in fact, he talks about it. When those things are intact, then it is even easier to. Then he referenced there was a sex therapist when he introduced this name, Pat Love, who said she she has a small libido, her husband has a large libido. And when those things are intact, she now feels like when she knows that he needs the base, that he needs sex and he stressed whatever that she knows. I think she said the phrase, I can just pull him over and give him a quickie in the closet, which everybody laughed about. But it was like, yeah, so it wasn't saying we have it always has to build these layers up, but that sure helps secure the connection.

[00:36:14] Yeah, I think it's part of the foundation, the emotional intimacy and the physical intimacy are just fundamental to a good marriage. And if it's only one or only the other, I think the. Struggle's. Yeah, so, yeah, I think we we owe it to ourselves to understand not the importance of having sex is not really what I'm saying so much as the importance of desire in marriage. Yeah. Which is not the same thing as having intercourse with a lot of people have intercourse without desire.

[00:36:49] Yeah, well,

[00:36:50] I mean that you choose this person that you want them in your life

[00:36:55] When that's perfect Segway to just a couple of more minutes so that you and I were both on a low. I love marriage therioke. I think we were both on the right. That was fun. Your episode was fantastic in the you talk there about low desire and high desire. And I and I run into this all the time of the high desire person just saying if we only had more sex, the low desire person feeling like when he pouts and goes about it in a certain way, I feel like eventually I just have to give in and then it just creates this like unhealthy dynamic. Can you talk about low desire, high desire?

[00:37:24] Yeah, sure. It's kind of a broad and I think where to step in. OK, yes. It's a very well

[00:37:31] How how about when I get I get the guys, they look at me and they I think and I don't even know if it's because as a male therapist, they assume that I'm going to have their back, so to speak, when they just say, look, when I when I have more sex, I'm a happier and better husband, better father, better at work. And they look over at me and then I typically look at the wife. And just having done this for a while now, we're knowing that she'll say, OK, I basically feel like I'm responsible for his happiness, his world. And here we have that. So she's the desired partner in that situation. He's the High desire and they created this kind of negative relationship with sex and intimacy in general.

[00:38:03] Yeah, because I first of all, I think if a husband starts out in that framing, he's toast.

[00:38:11] It's not that there's a quote. There's the quote for the book. Yes. Right there.

[00:38:15] Yeah, I get it. My husband serves on everything. He's screwed. Yes. Not screwed.

[00:38:22] Yeah. I like toast. Toast.

[00:38:24] Yeah. Toast is better. OK, but you know, he's in the sense that he's happy because it's setting it up that you need to take care of my emotional world through putting out. Yeah. Now if the two of them buy into that idea she may put out, but she won't desire him. She is not going to choose him because she's got a job to do, which is propping up his sense of self. And so if she feels like she's got to handle his feelings so she doesn't pout and punish. Exactly. And so on, it's just like having another kid that you've got to take care of. And then he's like, why don't you want me? What's your problem? Maybe you need to go to the Finlayson-fife workshop again.

[00:39:11] I have had those conversations in here.

[00:39:15] You don't desire me. And he's not seeing that. He's setting up a framing of sexuality things is going to get in more like get more sex, but it's not going to get him wanted. And and if a woman sees sex as something she gives to a man and a man needs, quote unquote, it's it's going to go that way. Yeah. Because I don't see it that way. I mean, I see it as men and women, don't need sex. I mean, they both can survive without it. It's not it is not a need capital and need. It's not a survival reality. It is part of thriving. It's part of living. A good life and desiring and being desired is really part of a good marriage. But then the question is not how do I just get this guy off my back? Right. How do we create a marriage where sex is a good part of it, that sex would be desirable for me? And how would my higher desire spouse need to handle him or herself differently to make themselves more choosable? Right. Or to get it out of this framing that I have to do this to manage your sense of yourself. So it's this need idea is the one that a lot of people buy into, but actually then infects the marriage, especially the idea that men need it.

[00:40:47] Yeah, no, I like that because I do feel like it when I am. I love everything you said there. When I turn to the guy and say, all right, she now feels like she's in charge of that. And so you've created this unhealthy dynamic. Basically what I'm trying to start the process of is letting the guy and he will say, OK, so if I do this for a little while, I don't make her feel like she always has to have sex with me. Then will we eventually have more sex? I do feel like that's basically he's looking at me and it's no, but I feel like the guy is telling me that, no, I don't get it. But it's really you work with people long enough to see that they do feel that they can have a connection without it having to be with sex or the wife can lay in their lap. And if he gets aroused, it doesn't mean we have to have sex or the hug. And if the if she if it's open mouth kiss, it doesn't mean, OK, I'm having sex tonight. And that's where. How far some of the I feel like some of the spouses pull away because they don't even want to give any indication of that. Absolutely right.

[00:41:37] Yeah, well, there's a lot of that where women feel like if he gets aroused, then I don't have any choice. Exactly. Which I think is crazy. Yeah, I mean, that's crazy. I mean, I don't mean I'm not trying to say women are great, but I'm just trying to say that that's that's a framing also in a marriage that will undermine intimacy, because I think a good marriage is you're going to feel arousal oftentimes where no sex happens. It's just part of being in a marriage where you desire and feel desire. Yeah, and that's even a good part of the foreplay, even if it's a few days before sex, that there's this kind of ability to touch and be with one another and feel arousal and not have to have it mean that now you have you're going to get well, it gets good. You know, that that idea makes people just try to stay away from the high desire person. And and so I think, you know, when the guy is asking you, well, if I stop pressuring or pouting, does that mean I'm going to have more? I'm trying to think how to that. I mean, I think on the one hand, I would say this is not a tactic. Exactly. No, this it's not about how to manipulate. OK, this is this is about the fact that you are making your spouse responsible for something that is not her responsibility. She's not responsible for your sense of desirability. responsible for your sense of self. Yeah. And are responsible for having respect for yourself and seeing yourself as a desirable human being. If she gets to decide if she's going to choose you, she gets to decide if she has sex with you. She's going to decide if she's going to confront her own anxieties, limitations, but that's her responsibility. And when you're trying to make sex about something, she has to do so you can handle yourself. Yeah, but you have made yourself a very undesirable partner.

[00:43:34] Absolutely. And then this is a part where I feel like you guys listening. Well, I'm sorry, but they will resonate with this part. So if it didn't happen that night, if they were if they. OK, fine, we'll cuddle. But I had it. I was aroused and nothing happened. And and then they go to bed angry and they still try to poke a little bit at her. She wakes up, then they wake up the next morning and they and now they're ruminating about it and they're in the shower. It's like, what's wrong with this? I'm not get. And then they go to work and they're just thinking. But then you're teaching someone instead of like exactly what you just said of love. When a guy gets to the point where and I will teach mindfulness and they're going to go to bed and they're going to have this thought and it's not really productive because they're going to breathe through it. They're going to be present. They're going to be grateful that they are coming closer together. And then they wake up the next morning and now they don't ruminate in the shower. They don't they're thinking of other thoughts and productive things. They go to work and they're happy and they're not doing what's wrong with this marriage. If she just had more sex, we'd be happy. And it's a look at all that unproductive time and mental energy that now is gone. And then over time, I feel like you're right. Then the guy realizes, oh, wow, I don't have to have sex three point six times a week to be happy or whatever it is that he's come up with.

[00:44:37] Yeah, right. Well, and exactly. And I need to handle myself. I mean, this is all we have control over in marriage is ourselves. Yeah. And the more confused we get about that, the more unhappy the marriage. Yeah, exactly. So so I think, you know, I can't make anyone desire me. I can't make anyone choose me. That's what makes it so beautiful, is that if it really is freely offered and you know, there's no coercion and someone chooses you or brings their best to you, you know what a gift it is when you're always coercing, even if they comply, you never get you never have the sense of feeling really chosen. And I think for those of us who struggle with our sense of self, we're many of us are going to feel tempted to coerce because we don't want to know the answer of whether or not this person chooses us. Well, that's good. And so I see it not just as managing your thoughts, but a very important process and growing into adulthood is being able to handle your own sense of self in the face of invalidation. Yeah, in the face of not being wanted or reinforced in the way that we would most like. Not having this throw us into that kind of disorganized emotional state, that's important work and it's not work you're doing because you're defective partner, right? Yes, it's a work you're doing that's a part of becoming an adult. Yeah. This is like what they think Christ was quintessentially was a nonreactive, purposeful being who could tolerate invalidation, could tolerate the disagreement, or that people would see him as someone other than who he really was because he had enough sense of self to sustain it, to not get vindictive or cruel, and to stay invested in creating goodness in the face of that invalidation.

[00:46:42] Wow. That's that's really a hallmark of goodness. Yeah. And it's a hallmark of strength. And if you don't learn how to do that in a marriage, you're going to have a hard time creating a good marriage because it's so fundamental to creating something better. You know, just the other day I was having a conversation with my husband, I was telling him something invalidating of himself, it was giving him some thoughts that were a criticism, I suppose, saying I wasn't being mean. I was just saying honestly something that was hard for me. And he just honestly absorbed the conversation and responded to it and was thoughtful about it. And, you know, what's interesting is even that was not a really easy conversation. I was just afterwards, I just felt so much traction to him because I just said to him, I'm so grateful. You're the kind of person that can handle that kind of conversation without being punitive or mean or saying things back to me. And I just really respect it. And that's the, That's sort of the ability to kind of deal with hard things and walk towards them and look at your role in them. It's a really fundamental to creating, to being a good parent, to being a good partner, to being a good human being. And so that's fundamental to learning how to be a desirable person. So I think a lot of us get a lot more fixated on whether or not our spouse desires us than whether or not we genuinely see ourselves as choosable, as worthy. And that's the part we have control over.

[00:48:33] It does. And it does take work. I mean, do you feel like your husband is a natural at that or is that been something that is evolved over time?

[00:48:41] I think it's evolved over time, but he's probably more natural at it than I have been. You know, the first year of marriage, I'm like that. Now, why is that? That's what I'm

[00:48:53] Just thinking through a couple of difficult couple of sessions yesterday where I feel like we're making some point that is that we want. But don't you want your partner to be able to come to you and share their feelings and emotions? And somebody will say, yeah. And then they'll say, then there's that. You wait for this, but they need to be, but they need to be nice about it or but they can't be it. It's all OK. You can't put the rules around it, though, because you're then telling your partner, no, I want you to do that as long as you do it the way I would like for you to, because that's what makes me comfortable.

[00:49:21] Yeah. Yeah. And I think you can be honest about things and still respect. Absolutely. Yeah. You can't. But I also agree that basically are you going to deal with what's true about you, whether or not it gets said nicely. Yeah, I mean that's really the measure in the question. Yeah.

[00:49:40] That's beautiful. That is. I love that we went there. I do. I am so grateful for your time, Jennifer. And again, I realize you've been traveling for months and months and so you were so kind when I reached out and just made yourself available. I really appreciate that. Hey, I would love to I would love to do another episode again. I almost felt guilty. I was grateful that my nephew did that. You're being talked about. There's my in. But I appreciate your generosity with your time and your again, your podcast is my most downloaded by far. And the video on YouTube of our first interview is the most viewed video. So you're doing so much good and I really appreciate that and appreciate the taking the time. So. OK, I got to ask you one more quick question. The chart when we were on before, one of the things that people tell me and they laugh about is I think we both joked about there was some Wi-Fi issues at your home because your son may be playing for a fortnight. And I say, so how is the fortnight overseas? I mean, is he giving it up?

[00:50:38] Hey, yeah. That yeah. Yeah, that's not happening.

[00:50:41] So that's that's the key. As long as all you do is move your family, become a pack of nomads for about nine months and the four year addiction

[00:50:48] Will be exactly I mean that is actually part of what our thinking was taking this trip is just actually having a little less time online, a little bit more time actually out in the real world. And he is actually currently studying in China for a couple of months doing language immersion program. So the Wi-Fi is so bad there is no there's no foreplay.

[00:51:10] So there's the breaking news. The real reason that the doctor five left was the fortnite. You're in a fortnight. There's no way. Thanks so much for your time. I hope you have a great rest of your trip. And then and I can't wait to talk to you again in the future.

[00:51:24] Great.

[00:51:24] Thanks so much. All right. Bye bye.

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