Balance reDefined Radio Episode 57
Is Marital Intimacy Still a Question Mark?
Interview with Laura Brotherson
(The following is the transcript of the podcast.)
Hi, I’m Connie, Sokol, national speaker, bestselling author, program founder and mother of seven and loving it. I’m reaching and teaching 1 million listeners to live a purposeful, organized, and joyful life. You can too. So let’s go.
Welcome back to the podcast, we are so thrilled for you to take a minute to spend time with us and these wonderful, incredible guests that we are bringing to you so that you get a little glimpse of what you’re going to get at the conference. These are amazing women who have done incredible things. They’re everyday women who have done extraordinary things that are showing us how to do that, to dealing with our life challenges through faith, family, and community. So I’m welcoming today, Laura Brotherson, welcome. So glad to have you here.
Wonderful to be here. So, so thrilled.
Connie: Let me just give you the low down on this amazing women because it goes on and on and on. Now you know she’s a licensed marriage and family therapist and you know that she’s a certified sex therapist. I know sometimes that can make people go [gasping noise], but you know what? It’s all good ladies. It’s all good.
Take a deep breath. Laura Brotherson is also the best selling author of “And They Were Not Ashamed,” love that book. So, so good and she also just — hold onto your hats here– she does newsletters, articles, radio and TV broadcasts and the Marital Intimacy Show Podcast, which I am so thrilled about, and she does Studio5 which I do. She’s a regular contributor on there and she even does couple cruises. So check this out at strengtheningmarriage.com.
Now I can’t wait to share with you what she’s got today. This is a really tender topic, Laura. I know, I’m not saying anything new to you, especially when you’re talking to faith-based women, there is this sort of feel like we can’t talk about intimacy and oh that’s kind of, you know like the “I” word, like why would we share that and talk about that? What do you do to help first and foremost, women comfortable, you know, just even talking about this in a really respectful and good way?
Laura: I’m chuckling just first of all because it’s just so funny that we, we kind of have to use the I word instead of, because I mean, you know, it technically nobody’s going to die from saying the word sex either.
Laura: And so it’s just kind of, you know, wherever people are starting, you know, if we need to kind of start with kind of an intimacy kind of, because it is true that that’s yet, it’s just intimacy has multiple dimensions. So physical intimacy is one of those areas, but emotional intimacy is kind of the main place that women go. But I think helping, I think the thing that makes the big difference for women in being able to approach this kind of normally taboo topic is to just, kind of having a few people around maybe like me that is able that, that, uh, that I am able to talk about it and confidently and easily and that it isn’t weird and strange and awkward and embarrassing for me, and that kind of gives people permission to have be the same for them.
Connie: Oh, I love that. And I think that’s so true. I think that’s even when we’re talking to our kids about sex and intimacy, when we’re more comfortable and I can talk about it like an elbow or an ear and it’s not like it’s something that’s hush hush and stated in lower tones. When we can get comfortable with this beautiful aspect of relationships, that’s God given and divinely designed.
How wonderful that we can start coming to a place of understanding each other as men and women of what those needs are and, and what that feels like to each person and what it looks like. The women in your practice of many, many years, what are some of the top issues that you find? Besides being able to talk about it? What are some of the issues you find with women and marital intimacy and sex and all of that? What are some of the top issues that you see?
Laura: Yeah, so I mean the second, the second book that I wrote kind of outlines that the knowing her intimately book outlines 12 key words that are the areas that women struggle with most, and I won’t go through all of that, but just just so women know that that, and that’s kind of what I’m going to be talking about mostly specifically at the conference is these 12 areas, but just, just to throw some at you:
1. Transformed Sexual Identity
2. Thoughts and Beliefs
3. Tenderness, Thoughtfulness, Trust
(I’ll just give them all to you.)
9. Tuned In
12.Transcendence and Surrender
So those are the areas that I’ve just basically tried to say, “okay women, if you aren’t going to be as likely to go see a sex therapist, let me put it all in a book for you so that you can kind of do your own sex therapy” because women now, that’s your kind of the overview of the areas that women’s struggle with.
Now, let me be now a little bit more specific. The number one issue in sex therapy is low desire discrepancies, desire issues and specifically in my case, the way I define that is, I think women, the number one thing women’s struggle with, particularly in faith based communities is they struggle to, embrace and own and nurture and enjoy their sexuality.
So research tells us that women tend to have kind of an asexual, view of self and when you’ve got an asexual view of self, and like my last KSL, Studio5 segment that’s coming out in my newsletter in the next few days, I talk about the number one thing men want is actually chapter one in my husband book and that I’m working on is they want to be wanted. But if a woman doesn’t even have her own sexuality in hand, the best they can do is kind of service their husbands or do duty sex. That’s not what we’re shooting for in, uh, in what I call a sextordinary marriage.
Connie: So when that happens, when a woman, it kind of delineates down to, okay, I am now, it’s now duty bound. Right? What, what, how does that affect a relationship for her and him? Sometimes I think men get the bad rap of, oh, all he wants is that, and I’ve just been taking care of kids all day and I’m exhausted. Now there’s the reality. I’ve had seven kids. I know that reality.
How does this affect both of them when they, when a woman can’t embrace that it’s okay for her to be sexually “I’m happy” and who embrace wanting to be sexually active with her husband and to enjoy that. How does this affect the relationship?
Laura: Sure. So for her, I think what shows up in my office a lot, 10, 15, 20, 30 years down the road is we’ve got so much built up, resentment and anger and frustration that there’s, that that’s the danger and the dissatisfaction that that gets built into a marriage. And so there’s just this, this wife is just almost like I’ve heard so many times, “if I never had sex, if I have never had to have sex one more time, the rest of my life I would be so happy”.
Connie: So good. Yep. And they’re, and they’re just feeling like, oh, it’s just one more thing to check off.
Laura: One more thing to do.
How does that affect the the man, the husband?
Laura: So think about it. If a man’s, generally a man’s number one way that they feel loved, and I talked about this in that last segment, is sex kind of equals love for men. Again, if their number one thing, I share a story in there about just that men, it really resonated when I finally said, “men don’t want to be loved, they want to be wanted” and someone in a class that I shared that with, he raised his hand.
He said, “yes, that’s it. That’s it. I always just a thought in my mind, it’s just so lame. When my wife talks about loving me, it’s like I don’t want that. I don’t want to be loved and terrible, but I want to be wanted. I want to be desired.” And it’s different. So if a man 10, 15, 20, 30 years in the marriage never feels desired and wanted, that makes it a real challenge for him as well.
Connie: I love this point, and so how does a woman get from, you know, especially in faith based or it’s a no, no, no – then it’s a yes and then figure this out as they go along. And then there’s children and pregnancies and all of that and figuring it out as you go, and I think there’s a difficulty with faith based people, especially to have those conversations. They’re touchy and tender and they’re like, oh, I don’t want you feeling like you’re not enough or you feeling like you’ve got to do this differently? But how can a woman start feeling more okay with wanting to help her husband know that she desires him?
So to me, it’s kind of a two part question. How does she get to that place of desire? Which to me says she needs a nap. Okay, sorry. That’s what she needs. How can she be okay with it and not feel this is what I hear from women. I feel like I’m being one of those kind of women if I’m acting like that, Right? What’s that balance there?
Laura: Yeah, so that’s kind of like chapter one of my first book, “And They Were Not Ashamed” is called Good Girl Syndrome. I wanted to call the book “Good Girls Do, but my husband was like, this is the first book, you just might need to go a little softer on this, but that’s the thing is that we, we actually, and that’s why chapter one and two of the “Knowing Her Intimately” Book is transforming your sexual identity and chapter two being transforming your thoughts and beliefs. Because if you have a belief that says, good girls don’t really go here, they don’t really do this, you’re going to have a heck of a time getting there.
Connie: How does a woman transform that? If she’s got that mentality, then how does she actually make that shift? Just a tip or two of what she can do to make that shift?
Laura: Well, I let me give your ideal. The ideal is that we get a whole generation of women that get this, that the get this embracing their sexuality and they raise daughters that have it when they start marriage. That thrills me to the core. So that’s kind of the ideal. But for us women, once we are married, then we go on this journey like that, I’ve, that I take when women on with these books and maybe the first place to start would just be considering that I am a sexual being and that I’m going to start paying attention to that.
In the, in one of the stories of one of my clients, we talk about sexuality being similar to maybe our spirituality. We know how to develop our spirituality. We know what that looks like, we know what act, behaviors, or actions we do to do that and if we can take that concept of developing our spirituality and transfer it into developing our sexuality, that’s one of the ways that we can kind of move in that direction.
And two little quick kind of helpful to-dos or practical applications are one, practice your flirting with your husband.
Connie: Like what she wears, what she would say? For those listening, they’re going to be like, Flirting! I haven’t done in 15 years. You know, like wahh! Do I send him a cute note or–?
Laura: Yes! Yes, yes, and yes. But let’s just say you walk, what women hate is being groped in the kitchen but the key to be flirty is to grope your husband in the kitchen. So you want to walk up to him and smack him on the butt when he normally would smack you on the, butt that would be developing your flirty.
And the other thing with a lot of women that these are my two kind of go choose for women is often if they’ll get like one of my audio books and just listen to it in the background of their life because women don’t really have that, that sexual elevator music playing like men do and so that having that kind of getting in your system and reprogramming the system is the kind of the two easy, quick go tos for working on that.
Connie: So it sounds like specifics would be go ahead and wear that cute dress that you feel like would be so flirty. Go ahead and put on that lipstick or a little bit of perfume. Is that those kinds of small things that we’ll be able to kind of bring on that flirty field.
Laura: Yes. But, but I think we could even be more a little bit more even direct like, like walking the bathroom and your husband’s in the shower and going, Ooh, hey naked. You know, hey nakey, you know, should I get in there with you? Even if you have no intention of doing it, you can play it. And part of what’s flirty is when you, when you tease, when there isn’t even any room for follow through and get a lot of women do have to kind of preface this with their husbands and say, okay guys, listen husband, I’m going to be working on my flirty. You need to know that that is not a green light for sex to I’m going to be working on it and you need to just take it as flirty or I’ll just shut it down again.
I was just about to bring up what happens, cause I think when I’m talking to women and they bring up stuff as far as, well it’s more coded in, you know, spending time together, blah blah blah, but the concern seems to be if I give an inch, he takes a mile. Exactly. You’re right with that conversation of, listen, I am practicing and I love that idea.
I’m practicing this, which I would generate even more interest and fun because there is a barrier there until say Friday night, so okay until Friday, I’m working on this and build up, you know. So I think that that idea, what else keeps women from enjoying this process? It is a beautiful, enjoyable process, but there’s a lot of things. There’s physical things that happen that are not as enjoyable there is emotional things, maybe there’s been the way a lot of women I talk to are in marriages where the husband is not being kind to them. He is being emotionally abusive and all of these things, but they’re dealing with this reality of I’m trying to be open to this part of our relationship. What would you recommend for something like that?
Laura: Yeah, that’s a tough one because for men where they’ve got the testosterone to drive their desire, women our parallel for testosterone is that emotional intimacy, that emotional connection. So when that is not going well, a woman is literally left stranded in a desert of trying to have desire, which has got nothing to work with, no water to work with.
Connie: That’s right.
Laura: Oftentimes couples do kind of need some help often with a form of counseling or reading a book if that’s enough for them where we can kind of help clean out. A lot of times a couples just have to clean out a lot of anger, frustration, resentments before they can get to trying to create connection. Now, I mean cause connection is chapter three, the Tenderness, Thoughtfulness, Trust.
Connie: Right. So you’re kind of cleaning out the negativity, maybe got false perceptions or misunderstandings and then being able to move forward. So if a woman is in that situation where there’s maybe abusive behavior happening or even just regular unkind behavior happening where she does not want to open herself up, it would be a good time to go in and get counseling. Whether he comes or not, at least for her to get validated on what’s normal, what’s not because I do see, you know, faith based women come into marriage not with knowledge, uh, oftentimes of what is normal and then these things that are not normal are kind of be on them and they’re like a second, I’m not feeling good about this and then other times women who like whatever’s really normal, they’re feeling like, oh, is this okay?
So I love that you’re saying let’s make it a dialogue. Let’s, let’s, let’s embrace this. Let’s talk about it. Let’s open this up so that we can make this a healthy part because it’s a good thing. So what are some things you’ve seen in people that you’ve worked with, what are some of those success stories that you’ve seen where you’ve started with maybe couple A and they started here and they had these issues and then through getting help they were able to come to place B.
Yeah. Yeah. I just have to backtrack really quick on back to just a couple of the handouts that I’m going to be giving out. The conference from in my presentation are things that wives can take home to their husbands. They can hand it to him and say, okay, this is how I’m wired. If you want me to want you to freely connect and mutually enjoy this relationship, here’s kind of what you need to understand and why. When you’re a jerk this morning things shut down for me to go anywhere intimately. So just so I’m going to be giving very hands on, here’s what you can do and take it from here and go make things different even if you don’t go to counseling.
Connie: Fantastic, so it gives them a really nitty gritty place to go. It sounds like right now consider getting help and considered starting a dialogue with that or opening a book or getting some information so you get informed and you can get more information and you can act on that. So what are some of those success stories?
Laura: Yes, I have a whole bunch of them on my website, strengthening marriage.com that people can go read. So that’s fun. But just a few off the top of my head that are just really fun. And these are, these particularly happened to be mostly women, but it, it, it goes across the board. I’m thinking of the woman that decided that she was going to, well, maybe my favorite one is the woman that found my book on a park bench in New York City, Central Park. Saw it sitting there, she picked it up, she took it home. Her husband was out of town. She read it straight for three days until she was done. She completely transformed her whole, she’s a preacher’s daughter, pastor’s daughter, have all this total negative conditioning about sex, was able to, with my, it was my first book, “And They Were Not Ashamed” totally transformed her whole conditioning and stuff and by the time her husband got home from a business trip a couple of days later, completely shock and awe about what he came home too. So that’s kind of my favorite story on multiple levels.
But there are multiple stories like these. I’m thinking them, another woman where she came in for just, you know, making him, well, it was just her. She came in and we’re kind of working on stuff. And, and by the time that we got towards the end of it, she came to one of the sessions and she said, “Okay Laura, so you’re never going to guess what we did.” And I said, okay, what? And she says, we created a sex bucket list we’re going to try to find, so this is like way, you know, way up the ladder of moving into treats and, and fun and variety and adventure and stuff like this and she goes, we created a sex bucket list and just fun things that we can do together. Things even just like having sex in the backyard in a tent. Little fun things.
And I just was so, so proud of her and them for making changes. You know, it’s just, they’re just so many stories of couples that have, he’s learned how to do his, I mean, we haven’t even talked about men, but men have to often have to learn kind of a briddling and a surrendering and a self mastery in order for a woman to kind of embrace and develop and nurture and enjoy and so there’s work on both sides. That’s, that’s really souls stretching.
Connie: You know, that was the next area I wanted to go into. So that’s a perfect segway. On your website, you have this male sexuality survey and most of the people that have taken it have been men. So what is it that you are finding that women should know more about men, not just the usual, well, they’re more wired for it. Women know that, but what is something that may be surprising for women to know about their husbands?
Laura: Well, I think the number one thing that’s chapter one in the, the husband book, “Knowing Him Sexually” that I’m still working on, is that men– women are surprised a little bit by this difference between wanting to be loved and wanting to be wanted. For a woman that just doesn’t register at what I want to be wanted. I wish you would want me less but loved, you know, so for them to, and, and I’m basically saying something for men that they kind of are going to struggle to say for themselves. SO that’s really excited about for them.
Connie: Yeah, and that’s a big question for me is how can a woman help her husband to be comfortable talking about this and not have him feel that she’s saying something negative about him. At least to me, that’s a pretty tender subject. And if you don’t do it right, you can make, uh, you know, a husband feel ashamed or that, you know, their doing something wrong so that you can give women for starting that dialogue in a good, positive way to make it be this good thing rather than it’s a shaming thing?
Laura: Well, and, and the simple, simplest answer is women have got to do their own work to get themselves into a healthy space with sexuality because if they’re coming at it from a, you want it too much or you want me to do things I don’t want to do, or any of those things versus a, I get you, honey, I get that you want to be desired. Here’s kind of what I need to be able to desire and want you. Here are some things maybe even we even need to kind of repair a little bit, but uh, but you know, just being open and accepting and embracing of our own sexuality is, is just a huge step for so many women to be able to have a genuinely healthy relationship.
But even if women can’t get there first, because that’s a lot of work to get that fully embraced sexuality space, that’s, that’s my bread and butter for helping them to get there. Even just opening the dialogue for that conversation, men would just die for it because they feel like they do all the initiating of type of a conversation and that it’s always shut down or it’s always a no or it’s always, uh, you know, it’s just always negative.
Laura: We help there.
Connie: So what would be a good tip for a woman say just right now and her husband and she’s feeling like, okay, I haven’t gone through transformation yet. I want to have a conversation about this is what works for me, I understand you and here’s some information on how to understand me. So this is what works for me. What kind of things can she do to be able to validate and her own self? It’s okay for her to take her timeline. We all have a time of growth. Right? And so what I’m hearing from you is that you’re saying, hey, there’s going to be things that you’ll be comfortable with, won’t be comfortable with, but it’s open up the dialogue and then take it that piece by piece. So what is something a woman can do to be able to say, okay, just so you know where I’m at right now. This is what I really enjoy, or this is what I like and then you know what I mean? There are what I need and then give, give her, how can you give her some kind of a tool to be able to say this, this is where my concerns are. What kind of a tool or a phrase can she use to be able to say, this is a concern that I have?
Laura: Well, the simplest way, I’m kind of a visual person and I think this is what makes it so easy for both the man and the woman. That’s why one of the handouts I’m going to give is “My Fuel for Female Desire” and anyone listening that isn’t maybe even doesn’t make it to the conference. You can go get it on my counseling website, maritalintimacyinstitute.com so they can go get this, take this to their husband and say, okay, I did not even realize this about myself, that I’m four steps away from the feeling of desire that you have in hand all the timeish. Generally.
Connie: Rumbling in the background.
Laura: Yeah, it’s elevator music, I call it. It’s just always on there, generally, um, and and so you walk and so taking something like this and saying, I didn’t even realize about this about myself because a lot of women don’t realize this about themselves and they go, I don’t know if you realize this about me, but this is why it, you always say to me, you, you never want to.
Like I had a couple of just the other day and he just, he said to his wife, he goes, you know, if you would just say the words, honey, I want to be intimate with you. Instead of saying, would you like to cuddle tonight? I want to know that you want to back to my principle number one year. They want to be wanted and desired. And so just being able to have a little bit of conversation and say, here’s why I just realized why I never want to.
For Women, sex is a decision. That’s our step one. We don’t have the feeling. We say, okay, my husband wasn’t a big jerk today. I kind of like him. I’m going flip the switch to yes. Now step two is you need to talk me into it emotionally connects with me. Step three is you need to physically connect with me, give me a little bit of arousal and foreplay and step four is, and now I kind of want to, because I’ve already moved up the arousal scale, but, and we don’t really move up the arousal scale well until we decide to.
Connie: That’s such a great point and I think that goes back to there’s that adage all the time of make yourself available. So would you recommend that to women? Because I hear pros and cons on that and I think with that kind of goes back to that duty things, so…
Laura: Yeah. I’m not a fan of the making myself available. I get that I get the concept, but that’s probably one of the worst um, councils a lot of young brides received from their mother is just, just do it. Just make yourself that just you know and that’s a great way to set them up from 15, 20 years of duty sex that they are now in my office trying to undo Gotcha stead. The ideal is going back to lady, bride, girl, woman you embrace and develop your own sexuality as something you do as part of your own wholeness, not something you do to service or take care of your husband because is that’s a whole different kinds of sex.
That is fabulous. I love this. I’m just going to kind of wrap up the high points for those that are just joining us. This is Laura Brotherson, she is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist. And she is talking about what helps men and women be able to have more fulfilling intimacy. And I love, I love that you kind of end on that point of a woman’s wholeness and that this is part of who she is and this beautiful part of her identity. So when there’s misperceptions, it’s actually affecting her own personal identity and making her feel less than or ashamed in some fashion that is completely unnecessary. So I love, I’m just going to recap a few of the things that you said that I think really stand out.
That the big surprises men want to be wanted, not just to be cuddled or you know, to be love! They want to hear the words, I want you!
To practice your flirting. So practice what that feels and looks like for you with with the understanding that’s been spoken to your husband, that you’re practicing. So there’s a time limit. So maybe four or five days later you can both plan on it, but in the meantime you’re going to practice your flirting. That would be super fun.
And then listen, um, have some kind of reprogramming to go on with being able to get rid of negative perceptions on sex and intimacy, being able to embrace it in this God given desire that we have to connect and bond with each other in those beautiful and fun and enjoyable ways.
And then also if there’s abuse going on or if there’s unkindness or if there’s things that are, are going on emotionally like that to go in and get some counseling, at least for yourself, if not for both of you, that would be so cool.
And then also be clear what you need, what needs to be repaired so that you can actually move forward and not deal with these obstacles. So these are the things that I got the highlights that were so, so, so good. So is there any last thing that you would love to share. That you feel like, Oh, if anything I’ve learned from talking to men and women about this? This is the one thing I wished that they knew about sex and intimacy.
Laura: Well, I mean, I think it’s part of why the subtitle of my book, Knowing Her Intimately: 12 Keys for Creating a Sextordinary Marriage, that phrase sextraordinary marriage just for me, it encapsulates this whole idea of not only having just a really wonderful marriage relationship in all those other kind of regular dimensions that we know about, but also in this sexual intimate dimension as well where women embrace and own and nurture and enjoy their sexuality and men are able to bridle and master that testosterone driven sexuality so that we can have what I call a sextraordinary marriage, which is just, this is, this is the Creme de la creme. This is the, you know, this is very I think women– I think couples have a really hard time getting to this page space, but this is what my mission is, is to help couples to get there and to show them how and give them the steps.
Connie: Love that and you can get more for Laura Brotherson at our You Got This Women Conference coming up March 23rd. If you haven’t gotten your tickets, get them because we’re going to sell out. Again, go to yougotthiswomen [e-n].com and get your tickets now and if you want the 10% discount code you can use Connisokol and at the discount code and get that off, but just so you know yet the ticket, you’ll get more from Laura Brotherson.
Her title presentation is “12 keys for creating this extraordinary marriage” she knows what she’s talking about and she is on a mission to share with men and women as husband and wives how to create this beautiful, fulfilling part of their relationship and to enjoy that together. Laura, thank you so much for being with us today. I know it’s a very tender topic and thank you for navigating with such love and enjoyment and I’m still hoping that the women are listening are getting those same things too. So thank you for being with us today.
Laura:You betcha. I love to be here.
Thank you and until then, ladies, remember you got this.
Hi, I’m Connie Sokol and thanks for listening today to balance redefined. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe, and if you liked it, get even more life shifting learning with my Instagram page where you get the deep thoughts, fun facts, daily inspiration, and private moments. Join me today at socal_Connie.