Embracing You! Is Amanda Louder’s new podcast that lets you listen in as she coaches women on their sexual relationship.
In today’s session, Amanda helps Cassandra look at boundaries she needs to make in her marriage so that she can feel safe and protected. They also talk about what sex fast is and how that can help the relationship to take sex off the table.
Amanda: Welcome to the podcast for Episode 2: Coaching Cassandra. This is a really interesting episode because I think what you’re going to hear is happening in many relationships. Cassandra’s experience might be more extreme than what is happening in your own relationship, but it happens a lot, and I see it all the time in my coaching practice.
This is where one partner uses sex as a coping mechanism to regulate themselves and expects their partner to comply and even threatens to end the marriage if they don’t. This kind of dynamic creates a lack of safety and freedom, which are two of the biggest components for a healthy sexual relationship.
And as you can see, when they are missing, it can wreak havoc on the marriage as a whole.
So let’s listen to my conversation with Cassandra.
Welcome to the podcast, Cassandra. What would you like to be coached on today?
Cassandra: Yeah, so my husband and I have been married five and a half years. We now have a nine month old, and I feel like if my husband could summarize what’s wrong with our marriage, it would be sex.
We’ve had many discussions around this. Previous to us getting married, I never had sex. Honestly, I can say that I never even knew what it was like to be turned on, to be wet. Like all of that was just like, not in my vocabulary.
My husband on the other hand, he grew up not very religious and not with a whole lot of love and guidance, I would say. His coping mechanism for the stressors in his life was to turn to sex related things. So pornography, masturbation. I mean, he has had a pretty serious addiction. At one point he couldn’t even drive 30 minutes down the road without having to stop in the car and masturbate.
So he has had a lot of emotions and things around sex, and around the world’s message of how he needs to find his value through being desired sexually.
I, on the other hand, am brand new explorative into the sex world and I just never got a chance to really learn sex for myself. And now we’re at the point in marriage where I feel like I honestly don’t want sex most of the time.
I feel like my husband sometimes wants me for sex, but a lot of the time it feels like he’s using me as an object to relieve his stressors. I can even tell sometimes the way he talks to me if he really he wants me or if it’s just sex.
But he’s very concerned about our relationship not being able to last without having sex and he’s so fearful of not having it again, that it will shut him down and stress him out and he will turn against me, so to speak. Like he does not like me in those times when I don’t seem interested in sex. He really shuts me out and down.
And so for me, I don’t want sex and then I just don’t know like how I can find that within me to like sex, want sex without feeling like I don’t want to do duty sex anymore. I don’t want to have sex without it feeling safe and good for me. But I can honestly say that it’s very few times right now and I’m just not sure where that leaves us in our marriage or what I have control over and what I don’t.
Amanda: Okay, so what I hear from you is that you really want to have a good and safe sexual relationship with your husband, but right now you don’t know how, because you often feel used by him and he uses sex to manage his emotions, and you don’t want to do duty sex, and you don’t want to be used to manage his emotions.
Am I reading that correct?
Amanda: Okay. So let’s first talk about what you, I mean, you said you want good and safe. How can you create that for yourself with him not changing? Do you have any ideas?
Cassandra: When you say good and safe? Like if we were to have sex, how could I feel in good and safe?
Amanda: In your relationship, you said that you wanted to have sex if it was good for you and you felt safe. So how could you create that with your current relationship, given his desires and what he wants out of sex?
Cassandra: Safety in the relationship or safety and sex because I don’t know. I feel like when we start to have sex, I feel so much anxiety. I don’t quite know, like sometimes I’ve been able to just calm them down and sort of be present, like focus on what I’m experiencing physically as opposed to what’s going on in my head.
Cassandra: But even in those moments, I’ll see my husband kinda looking at me, like trying to gauge if I’m enjoying myself and then I’m like, ah, all over again. When I feel this most safe is when I have a blindfold on and I don’t know how he’s responding because I don’t feel like I can feel what he’s feeling if I don’t look at him.
Amanda: Yeah. So it almost seems that sex has a performative value for you because you have to be performing in a certain way to so that he’s happy.
Amanda: And you’re not paying attention to what’s actually happening for you.
Amanda: And so it feels safer to you with a blindfold on because you don’t have to see him. Do you really want to be engaging in sexual activity if you don’t feel safe?
Cassandra: Not really.
Amanda: Which makes sense. Like if you’re not feeling safe in your relationship and you’re not feeling safe in sex, it makes sense why you don’t have a desire for it.
So do you have any ideas of how you can create that safety for yourself given who your husband is and what he wants out of sex?
Cassandra: I feel like, no, I don’t feel like I have ideas right now. Maybe I could start coming up with ideas, but I feel like that’s where I’m stuck right now. I don’t know how to create that.
Amanda: What if you just say no because you don’t feel safe.
Cassandra: I feel like I’d be saying no a lot.
Amanda: And why is that a problem?
Cassandra: I don’t think it’s a problem, but my husband does. Since we’ve been married, I cannot tell you how many conversations we’ve had where it feels like we’re at an ultimatum of if this marriage is going to work.
And so, I feel like the more we have those conversations too, the less I want them because I feel like I’m being manipulated into, you know, essentially being someone who I don’t know that I can be.
Amanda: So he gets upset when you say no.
Cassandra: Mm-hmm or shuts down.
Amanda: Or shuts down, right? And why is that not okay for you?
Cassandra: Um, I guess it just doesn’t make me feel confident in our relationship and that he cares for me. And so to me, I think my brain also goes to worst case scenarios when he starts shutting down…
Amanda: Which makes sense, which makes sense to start going to that place. But that’s where you get to manage your mind and you get to decide, do I want to go to worst case scenario and just let my brain go there on autopilot. Or do I actually want to manage my mind right now? And that doesn’t mean you have to like go to rainbows and unicorns, but how do you want to feel in those moments when he says like he completely shuts down and he can’t deal with it. How do you want to feel in those moments?
Cassandra: I think I want to feel confident that I’m making the right decision, like that I’m standing up for myself, so to speak. Like I’m doing what is good for me, not just trying to give into people pleasing.
Amanda: Okay. So what do you think would be the best thing for you in those moments then.
Cassandra: To say no.
Amanda: Because that’s what’s actually honoring what’s internal, even if he doesn’t like it.
Amanda: And right now he wants to manage his emotions through sex, and you’re also feeding into managing his emotions through sex. Because you’re scared that if you don’t, the relationship will end.
Amanda: What if it ends?
Cassandra: Well, I feel like this is a very high possibility where we’re at right now.
Amanda: Yeah. I kind of want you to be willing to go there because I know it’s really scary. But if we’re not willing to look at it, we can’t look at what else is possible.
Amanda: We have to be willing to look at both sides.
Amanda: You said earlier that you don’t feel like he’s choosing you. You don’t feel like you are being desired. Are you choosing you?
Cassandra: I do feel like right now we’re in a place where I’ve been fighting really hard for our marriage for a long time and now I’m kind of feeling like I’m sort of running out of the steam to fight. And I’m not sure, like I feel like I’m not fighting as hard as I used to and that kind of scares me.
Amanda: Well, and I think sometimes we just get to that point where you’ve self-sacrificed so much that you’re not willing to self-sacrifice anymore.
So if he decided, “No, I’m not okay with that. This marriage needs to end.” Tell me what would come up for you.
Cassandra: Obviously I think there’s a lot of emotions that I can’t even fathom until I would be there, but on one hand, a sense of relief of not feeling like I have this thing hanging over me. I just feel like I’ve never been able to meet him and where he is at sexually. He’s told me on countless occasions like how he wants me to be more this way. He wants me to be the big booty ho for him, and I just can’t. I’m so tired of trying so hard and I feel like I have given a lot of effort in trying to explore sexually. I’ve gone past limits that I normally wouldn’t have for the sake of trying.
And I don’t feel like it’s ever enough. I feel like I’m so far from where he wants me to be and so the idea of it ending on one hand is terrifying and sad and makes me feel like I didn’t try hard enough and on the other hand, it sounds like, I don’t know, relieving of the fact that I’m not going to be held to be someone.
Amanda: Yeah. Did you try hard enough?
Cassandra: I feel like, yeah. In fact, I think one of my biggest concerns is that I’ve bent myself a little bit too much out of place to be someone for him. That maybe I wouldn’t normally have.
Amanda: So I think the relief is telling for you. And then of course you have thoughts like, I didn’t try hard enough, but when you answer that question, like, I mean really your brain’s saying like, did you really try hard enough? If you answer your brain and you answer that question, the answer is, you think you did.
Our brain likes to bring up lots of questions because that keeps us stuck and spinning rather than having to move into the unknown, which is always scary. Our brain likes certainty. It doesn’t want to move forward because it doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the future.
Amanda: And the way that we get unstuck is we answer those questions that our brain offers to us. So when your brain says, Did you try hard enough? You have the answer already to that, and I think you’ve said over and over how you’ve sacrificed beyond what you even wanted to up to this point. So you get to decide what you really want going forward. And so you are worried that your husband isn’t choosing you. But I would say, are you choosing you?
Cassandra: Yeah. I feel like I’ve always been really worried about being walked over and at the same time trying to hold as much compassion for my husband. He’s got some big trauma from his childhood, like really big trauma. And so I can really easily find the compassion for why he behaves the way he does.
But then I don’t know where my boundaries are anymore. I’m doing my best, but I don’t know where my line stands, and I feel like I’ve already crossed so many lines that I don’t know how to redraw the line in the sand without feeling like I’m lying to myself.
Amanda: Well, maybe that’s what we need to explore a little bit is what are those boundaries that you want to have right now? Let’s not worry about what’s happened in the past. And I think it’s so admirable of you to have compassion for him and where he is, but those boundaries being in place is what makes it stay safe for you and make sure that you can actually love him and love you. Boundaries is what makes that possible.
And loving him doesn’t necessarily mean staying. It doesn’t mean going either. It means you get to decide because you love you and you love him, what’s going to be the best thing?
So you said you, you’ve already dropped a lot of those boundaries where you wish you wouldn’t have. What are some boundaries you want to have in place right now?
Cassandra: I honestly don’t know. Like I know that. . I think it’s hard because if my husband were to be like, say, physically abusive or something, I would be like, here’s the line. It’s very clear. But because a lot of what goes on in our marriage is very covert, it’s very quiet. It’s not, there’s not angry yelling. It’s the silence. It’s the, you know, stonewalling. It’s the things that aren’t said or done.
You know, one of my husband’s things that very early on in our marriage, when I would reach out to grab his hand, he would smack my hand away or he would say, I don’t want to be touched right now. And in one sense, I will try and have compassion for what he must be experiencing to want to push me away. But on the other hand, to me, that’s not something I want in my marriage is for me to be pushed away, but only wanted when I’m wanted.
Amanda: Right. And you get to decide that. You get to decide, and that’s a boundary for you.
Cassandra: And I kind of feel like, so for me, I think that I’ve tried to put up boundaries and instead it’s been more like a wall. When that happens, I’ll be like, you know what? I’m not going to participate in, you know, being in his presence right now, so I’m just going to leave.
Cassandra: But then I feel like I’m running away, you know, like, I feel like I’m also like being emotional and not, I don’t know, like I can’t tell what I’m doing for myself versus me just like…
Amanda: Are you doing it to protect yourself or are you doing it to punish him?
Cassandra: Definitely to protect myself.
Amanda: Then that’s a boundary and that’s appropriate. So when we’re not doing it to try and punish the other person, when we’re doing it as self-protective, that’s a boundary.
Amanda: And that’s okay. That’s how we stay loving ourself. And the other person.
Amanda: And just because you love the other person doesn’t mean that you have to choose to be with them.
I think maybe I have had more boundaries then than I thought because I thought I was emotionally doing things, but I’ve never wanted to ever hurt him. I’ve never had the intent of trying to get back at him. It’s always been an effort to try and hold myself together or give myself space or to…
Amanda: Which is what boundaries are, right? It keeps you loving you because if you don’t have space, if you can’t respect how you’re showing up, then you’re not truly loving yourself. But if you’re loving yourself and you’re making sure that you stay safe, and then that’s a good thing because we don’t want to let other people walk all over us, but we want to make sure that we’re doing things because we love them and us, and that’s what boundaries are all about.
Amanda: But you said that there’s been times where you’ve done things that you weren’t okay with to try and please him.
Amanda: And then how do you feel about yourself afterwards?
Cassandra: I feel like that’s a lot of sex and I just feel eh. I guess maybe I don’t feel the worst because I feel like I calmed the water, so to speak. I at least got us through another week of where he doesn’t dislike me for not having sex . But then I’ve also feel like, I think I’ve added surmounted pressure to sex because every time it’s like I’d feel like I’m betraying myself.
Like, I don’t want this right now. But I’m doing this because I feel like it’s the only thing that’s going to keep things safe and calm for a little bit.
Amanda: Right, right. And that’s not okay. That’s not what a good, healthy sexual relationship looks like. Which is, I think, what you said you wanted.
Cassandra: Yeah. And I feel like a small child when it comes to sex because I feel like I don’t know anything.
Amanda: Well, there’s always more education that can happen, but when it’s being done in manipulation or as a way to manage your husband’s emotions and how he’s behaving, that’s not a good thing.
Amanda: He’s got to learn how to manage his emotions and when you stop trying to manage his emotions through sex, then that makes him have to either manage it or make other choices. And you also get to make choices.
Amanda: And so you get to decide what choices you want to make knowing that you don’t want to manage him through sex anymore.
Cassandra: So I definitely feel like recently I have taken back some more of that personally of not doing duty sex, and I almost feel like that is part of the reason why we’ve come to more of an ultimatum to some degree. It’s like I don’t know.
But I still see myself trying to salvage the relationship.
Amanda: Sure. Yeah. What are some other ways that you can work on the relationship without having sex when you don’t want to?
Cassandra: I feel like I’ve asked myself this question a lot. And, I don’t know. So like, just for example, last night, my husband comes home and I can tell it’s one of the many days of shutting me out. And he just doesn’t want to talk and I don’t know what to do in those moments to try and find connection or something for us to come together on. And so yesterday I just tried to work on managing my anxieties around it and just tried to be at peace. But I didn’t feel any closer to him. You know what I mean? Like, I feel like I’m trying to do the things to take care of me, but I don’t feel like I’m closer to him because of it.
Amanda: So what do you think in those moments would make you feel closer to him?
Cassandra: Um, I mean, even just talking, any sort of talking would be great. A gentle touch. Doesn’t have to be anything big.
Amanda: What are some things you could do on your own without him? Is there anything?
Cassandra: That’s going to help build our relationship or just help me to feel connected?
Cassandra: Um, I don’t know.
Amanda: Because in those moments that you don’t feel connected to him, what are you thinking?
Cassandra: I’m thinking he must have a lot of emotions going on right now and he doesn’t have the space for me at the moment.
Amanda: “He doesn’t have the space for me”, which makes you feel disconnected.
Amanda: Okay. So I want you to, and not that we have to think our way out of these things because it sounds like your husband, and of course we’re only getting one side of the story, we’re only getting your side of the story. Right? But with you here, it sounds like he’s saying, I don’t want to connect with you unless it’s sex.
Cassandra: He has literally said that.
Amanda: Okay. So you get to decide, do I want to connect with him that way? And if I don’t, do I really want to feel connected?
I guess not. I mean…
Amanda: But you could choose to feel connected to him even without him doing anything, just by the way that you think. Because remember, connection is a feeling that we create with our thoughts. So when you think he doesn’t have space for me, then you feel disconnected.
You could choose to think that he’s got a lot on his mind, and I want to give him this space to do that. Rather than thinking that he just doesn’t have space for me, which disconnects.
Cassandra: I do. I think that like, even despite yesterday wanting to be connected and not feeling super connected, I do feel like I don’t personalize it the way I used to.
Amanda: Okay. Which is probably a protective mechanism.
But it still strikes me that I can go on a walk with my mom for 10 minutes and feel much more connected to her than I felt hours being with my husband and, I guess I’m not sure, like I know that I can change some of my thoughts around my experience to feel more connected. But then, I don’t know, I feel like I’d be lying to myself.
Amanda: Yeah, well, I mean, without him actually telling you his thoughts, we kind of lie to ourselves no matter what we’re saying.
Amanda: Because he didn’t say, “I’m going through a lot. I don’t have the space for you.” But that’s what you’re making an assumption about.
Amanda: Right. And so even if you were to think something different, you’re, again, you’re making assumptions, so we kind of dilute ourselves either way.
Amanda: Without him actually saying words, right? But even when he says words, we don’t know what he’s actually thinking and feeling. But I just want you to see that there’s ways that you can do this, but it doesn’t sound to me like you want to.
So what are the reasons why you want to stay right now? Are there reasons?
Cassandra: I mean, as far as values and interests, we line up almost a hundred percent. Like we love all the same things. We have very similar values and goals in life, and we now have a nine month old.
We joke sometimes, we’re like, man, if we could make this work, it’d be really good, but there’s like this big, I mean, we just a few days ago had a conversation. My husband said, you know, I just realized I’ve never felt connected to anyone. He’s not had very good parental figures that have like, well, it was just his dad and his dad emotionally was shut down for basically his whole childhood, and that caused him to shut everyone else out.
I think about how he’s had one other previous relationship than me and he feels just as connected to her as he does me, which is just not a lot.
Amanda: Interesting. Has he had therapy help for any of this?
Cassandra: He has. Just recently he’s opened up to more therapy in recent years. He’s taken on a lot more himself. He’s doing coaching right now and he did some therapy before that.
Amanda: Specifically around sex?
Cassandra: We went to a sex therapist together, but I think it was all focused on me because I didn’t want it. And so I was the problem. So to speak. And I’m not sure what all his previous therapist talked about with him.
I see him trying, but I think so just like onto the reasons to say like, that is a reason. Like I see him trying and growing. But at the same time, like if he’s never going to feel emotionally connected, like I just don’t know. I think I recognize that I am not okay with where our relationship is at, and I’m not sure, I don’t want to expect him to be different because you can’t change anyone. But at the same time, I’m just not okay with where we’re at.
Amanda: Right. So this is where another boundary would go into play is, I want to feel more connected to you, and I would like you to feel more connected to me, but I know I can’t control that. But I don’t see us progressing in this marriage together unless you specifically do some therapy or coaching around dealing with your emotions in a healthier way besides sex.
If you said that to him, how do you think it would go?
Cassandra: I think that he would probably agree, but I think he’d also be a little bit upset because he has been putting in a lot of work. I mean, we’ve had the conversation about how, when I chatted with you, sometime earlier about how I needed to manage my emotions around him shutting down, my anxieties of being okay when he shuts down.
Cassandra: And likewise, I mentioned how I was not in charge of dealing with his anxieties through sex. And he was like, you know, I totally get how that’s the case, but I literally don’t understand how I could. To me, it seems true for the fact that you need to manage your anxieties around me shutting down. But when it comes to sex, my brain cannot figure out how that’s possible. I don’t know how.
Amanda: And that’s where he needs a professional. To specifically look at that piece.
Cassandra: Yeah. So right now he’s just doing life coaching, which is good, but I feel like there’s a big component of emotional disconnection…
Amanda: Yeah, and I will say not all coaching is created equal. So I don’t know what he is specifically doing coaching for, or who he’s working with.
I mean, I know of one coach in particular that this is specifically what he does, that would be really good for this. But I also think a trained, certified sex therapist that he goes to on his own, to specifically work on this, would also be a good option.
So it’s not you going with him where he can deflect and put it on you, but it’s him going specifically to work on himself, to deal with his emotions in healthier ways other than expecting you to have sex with him or then him acting out in other sexual ways without you.
Because it sounds to me like if that part were to get under control, the rest of your life lines up and you could actually be very happy together. And I would bet that if he wasn’t using you for sex all the time, you might actually feel some more desire.
Cassandra: Yeah. I think that the sex is a huge component for him. For me, it is, but I feel like the biggest thing for me is that emotional disconnect. If he was able to, and you know, just to be on a day to day basis, more affectionate. We just aren’t right now.
Amanda: Everything leads to sex.
Cassandra: Yes. And I either get pushed away or it goes to sex. Like it’s just one direction or the other.
Amanda: And it’s about him learning that there are a lot of ways to connect other than sex. And some of those ways are really, really good. Especially for women, we need so many of those so that we can get to the place where we want to connect sexually. There’s a buildup there. And if we don’t have that build, we don’t have that foundation, it’s a lot harder for women to be sexual. We have to work on that ourselves. We can’t just expect our spouse to do it, but sex takes two. So it’s a give and take between the both of you. It’s a relationship, it’s connection between the two of you. And if it’s totally one sided, either direct, it’s really hard.
So where he just wants sex, it’s really hard for you. When you just want these other things, it’s really hard for him. But really learning on how you can do all of it to connect better because what most men and women want is connection. Getting it in all the different ways.
Cassandra: Yeah. I definitely, I mean, if those things were to be worked through, I do feel like we could have a very awesome marriage. And I think that’s the reason why I’ve kept trying and holding on for so long. But, I am a little concerned that because this, I mean, we’ve gone longer and longer without connecting more and more, we are kind of just drifting. So, I mean, I know there’s definitely therapy, but I’m personally like, I’ve never felt, I don’t know if this is a protective mechanism, but I feel myself disconnecting and pulling tape because, I guess maybe I’m scared about like that hurt
Amanda: Yeah. And that’s totally normal. And it would be, I mean, that would be a very normal protective mechanism to put that wall up and distance yourself because you are afraid of where the hurt that you’re going to feel if he decides that you’re done because you won’t engage sexually.
Amanda: So I think some communication between the two of you about where you would like to see this go and if he’s not ready to do that, then you get to decide where you want to go from there.
Amanda: I mean, I think telling him, I think these are all the good things about our relationship and because of these things, I’m willing to look at this other piece, if we can get this figured out, but it’s not just a me issue. It’s him figuring his part of this out and you continuing to work on your part because it makes total sense to me why you don’t want to engage sexually when all of this other stuff is happening. But if that piece was solved, then we can start to work on you engaging sexually.
Cassandra: Right. I honestly sometimes I think about just saying like, I think we’re just not going to do sex for like at least three, four months. I honestly loved postpartum because he was not expecting me to have sex for like four months. And I did not even think about it in pretty much that entire four months.
Amanda: Yeah. Well, and I mean, sometimes that works well. Sometimes having what we call a sex fast, works well. Where we need to work on all of the other parts of our relationship with sex not being on the table.
So when you were like, and this happens a lot when you’re dating and engaged, you’re holding hands, you’re kissing, you’re being affectionate with each other in non-sexual ways, and that builds that sexual tension to leading up to the first sexual encounter between the two of you, but you’re building your relationship outside of sex. When we progress too quickly to sex, then we miss all the other parts. And that often happens again after marriage that we forget all of the other parts that make up our relationship and only focus on sex, and then it becomes a problem. And so by doing a sex fast where we take sex off the table, he’s not allowed to initiate your, you’re not either, but you can work on your relationship outside of sex. Then it can often change things to actually make sex good later.
Because you’ve built up that emotional connection, that physical connection outside of sex, there’s affectionate touch and playful touch, like you said, that you wanted to feel more connected to him. There’s more talking. I mean, I’m guessing you guys talked quite a bit when you were dating.
Cassandra: Yeah, we talked probably more than we do now.
Amanda: Yeah. And getting back to those roots can be really, really good. Working on your friendship and your connection rather than just sex, sex, sex all the time.
Cassandra: Yeah. So what’s like an appropriate amount of time for sex fast?
Amanda: It totally depends on the couple. mean, some will do it for a month, some will do it for three months, some will do it for six months. I think, you know, in your situation, I think if you propose six months, I think that would probably scare the crap out of him.
Amanda: But he needs time to work on himself in this area, and that’s not an overnight fix.
Cassandra: Right. I mean the four months postpartum, although my focus was somewhere else, it didn’t feel like we had any progress.
Amanda: So that’s part of it. You can do the sex fast, but there also needs to be him working on himself and you working on yourself in the meantime. And working to build that connection back outside of sex.
How do you feel about that?
Cassandra: That’s great for me. I loved being friends and hanging out and not worrying about sex. Sounds amazing.
Amanda: Right. But it’s not just sex off the table forever. It’s we’re doing this as a way to actually be able to have a better sexual relationship down the road.
Cassandra: Yeah. Right. Definitely. I mean, I want that in the end. It’s just, I just don’t want to do it out of feeling like that’s my way of contributing to our relationship.
Amanda: Right. So how do you feel about having a conversation with him about this?
Cassandra: Oh, I 100 hundred percent will!
Amanda: And how do you think he’ll respond?
Cassandra: I think that we both know that if we don’t try and do something that it’s not going to get any better. So it’s kind of like you’re either not going to get sex or you’re not going to get sex and we’re going to work on it. I think he’ll be upset in some way, and I’m not sure how he will handle it, but I think that he also would recognize the reality of the situation.
Amanda: Yeah. Well, and I think this is kind of a, I mean, I’m not going to say a last ditch effort because you guys always make the decision of if you’re going to stay or be done, but I think this would be a good step. And then if this doesn’t work, you can have no regrets because you’ve done everything you can.
Cassandra: Right. I think it’s a good idea.
Amanda: And I mean, knowing what he wants, I mean, he’s like, well, if I don’t get sex, then this is the way to see if this will actually work so that either you will both be happy to start having sex again or you’ll know that this is the right thing to be done.
Cassandra: So just curious. If you were to suggest this, what would you think of masturbation and all of that too? I don’t know that my husband actually would be able to do it.
Amanda: Well, I mean his sexuality ultimately is his, so he gets to decide what he wants to do with that. You’re just saying no sex with you.
Cassandra: Yeah. So just in regards to that too though, I don’t foresee me really wanting any sort of sex thing, but I do also think that my relationship with sex is still…
Amanda: So you say like, we’re not going to have sex together. And I think you need to work on you specifically this aspect with either a coach or a therapist. And I will continue working on me. How you want to manage your sexuality in the meantime is up to you other than, and then you get to decide, that you’re not okay with him going and having sex with another woman.
Amanda: But you get to lay out those boundaries. But again, trying to control his sexuality is probably not a good idea either. So you can have your boundaries like whatever you want to do to manage that is up to you outside of having sex with another woman or outside, you know, having sex outside of our marriage with someone else.
Cassandra: Right. Is it bad that I don’t foresee myself even being interested in masturbating or anything like that?
Amanda: It’s not bad. That’s, I mean, that’s totally up to you, but I would think that you need to work on your sexuality in the meantime. And that might be part of it as a way to work on your sexuality, not because you’re like craving sex and not getting it from him, but as a way to work on understand your own body and your own desires more. But like, is it a requirement? No.
Cassandra: Right. Okay.
Amanda: How do you feel?
Cassandra: Um, I feel a little more resolved. I think I have a really hard time when I feel like our relationship is just sort of spiraling and I just don’t know what to do. So I’ve been in my head a lot the past few days, so it’s been good to feel like I have some sense of, I’m going to do this, I’m going to try this, feel more at peace with that.
And honestly, I’ve never felt, like if things don’t work out, I feel okay and that I’m sure will suck, a lot, but I feel like that also is a huge component to being willing to like to do things not out of fear anymore.
Amanda: Doing things from a place of empowerment, whether that’s choosing to stay or leave rather than choosing out of fear.
Cassandra: Yeah, exactly.
Amanda: Okay, so in closing, before we’re done today, I just want you to reflect back on our session and tell me where you got the most clarity and what your plan is going forward, just so that we have, you know, for the audience, just a clear vision of you understand where you are going and what you got out of the session.
Cassandra: Yeah, I think that, it’s been very insightful that like I have more boundaries and self respect for myself than I maybe previously thought. And I also feel like it’s been very telling of, um, I mean, when you mentioned that sense of just thinking about us parting and having a sense of relief. That’s also telling.
But then in general, seeing I do have a lot of positive things that I want to work on keeping our marriage together, if it can be salvaged, you know. If we can work on these things together, I feel like we can be a powerhouse.
I feel like hearing you explain boundaries too has really helped me to both empower me to know what a boundary is or may look like, or how I establish that moving forward to continue to have the self love and self respect to take care of me, while also holding compassion for my husband and both being okay and safe if we do or don’t work out, but giving it my best shot, my best effort to go forward and try and become friends again and try and do the things to connect us and looking for ways to connect us.
Cassandra: Not taking sex off the table. I do want sex sometime in the future.
Amanda: Well, I hope that all of that comes about for you, so thank you so much for joining me today.
Cassandra: Thank you. I really appreciate you.
Amanda: So as you can see in that session, we had to talk a lot about boundaries and where Cassandra really needed to make some decisions for herself and be willing to look at all the different aspects and be willing to go to some of those places that are really hard to think about.
Thinking about the end of a relationship and a marriage can be a really scary place to go, but we are not able to fully invest in making the changes unless we’re willing to go there. Instead we stay stuck and stay in that place of fear, and the only way to get through the fear is to feel it and to be able to go to those places.
So I hope that was helpful for you today. Thanks for joining me, and we’ll see you next week.