Episode 186 – The Hard Part of Building True Intimacy


I have a lot of men come to me wanting to be coached. And while I feel for them, I have dedicated my life to helping women with their sexuality. But in this episode, I want to talk to you men out there. I know that you want to change things in your marriage, and not just because you want more sex, but because you want a truly intimate marriage. Let’s look at what you can do to help and what you shouldn’t do.


Show Notes:

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References for this episode:

I would recommend starting with Monica Tanner’s Offensive Playbook Challenge.  This is a two week challenge that will give you actionable items to help improve your relationship with your wife.

From there, you have a couple of different options:

  1. If you want to do an online course on your own, I would suggest Jennifer Finlayson-Fife’s Art of Loving class for men. It is excellent. 


  1. If you want something a little bit more in depth with coaching and similar to my program, but for men, I recommend a program by Dan Purcell. 


3. Are you looking for a 1 on 1 coaching experience? Glenn Lovelace coaches men whose wives have transformed from coaching…(and those who haven’t). Are you looking to connect more with your wife?


Show Summary:

I get a lot of men who listen to this podcast. A LOT of men. And I think a lot of them are looking for answers to try and understand their wife better because they are so desperate.  And I don’t mean desperate in a bad sense.  But they’re desperate to connect with their wife sexually.  This is what they want more than anything else.  Not so they can have lots of sex, but to create a truly intimate marriage.  And because they love their wife so much and sex is often the best way they know how to express that love.  So they look to me and to this podcast to try and understand their wife better and to get answers. Many men email me, DM me, and reach out to me wondering how they can accomplish this. And the sad truth is that often they are not going to be successful, because their wife is unwilling or not ready. Which, I know, is so disheartening to hear.  But she is not going to make changes until she is ready to make that choice and decide for herself.  But I am here to offer you both a perspective of things you can do to hopefully make things better.

I am just starting to learn how Patriarchy operates within our belief systems.  I don’t mean Patriarchy as in…we hate men.  But Patriarchy as a system where men, especially white men, were placed in positions of power and those systems affect how we operate in many different areas of our life, including sexuality.  Our cultural perceptions of sexuality are based on men’s sexuality.  

  • Men’s sexuality is the right kind of sexuality
  • That women’s sexuality should look like men’s sexuality
  • Men are the sexual ones and that women are there to accommodate

And even if you don’t logically believe these things, these belief systems are ingrained into our culture.  So most likely, as women you have spent many, many years thinking that you are somehow inadequate or broken sexually because your sexuality doesn’t look like a man’s or what society, culture, and media (that are all affected by Patriarchy) told you it was going to look like.  You don’t desire sex like most men, you don’t orgasm quickly like most men, your arousal looks different than a man’s.  But guess what…it’s not supposed to look like a man’s.  That’s Patriarchy.  It’s supposed to look like a woman’s…and that is inherently different than a man’s!  Men get these messages too, so they just affirm the belief system that they’ve grown up with and they also wonder what is wrong with you instead of seeing yours as just as beautiful and good…but different from theirs.  So you have this perception of what sexuality is supposed to look like, and what is actually happening doesn’t measure up.  This causes dissonance in our brain which causes discomfort and sometimes even emotional pain.  For both of you.

Because of the discomfort and pain, these are the two most common reactions:

  1. The man…being a man, wants to solve this.  He wants to find a fix.  Fix her so that his sex life, which is important to him, is fixed.  Then he no longer has to feel discomfort and pain and his life will be better.
  2. The woman…being a woman…feels broken and inadequate and feels shame.  Because that is what women have been taught to do.  To beat herself up when things don’t go the way they “should.”  Then, from the shame, she hides.  She suppresses what little part there is because of this shame.  Good women shouldn’t want sex.  She’s reinforcing the belief systems that have been indoctrinated to her for her entire life.

So, in the effort to fix things, men seek out information.  They search and gather.  They find books, and podcasts, and Instagram accounts, and courses.  And he begins to understand things differently.  And he thinks…if she just does this, she will get fixed and everything will be right in the world.  So he tries to share all of his newfound knowledge with his wife.  But because of her deep shame, it just reinforces that she is inadequate and broken and she shuts him down. She gets angry. She closes herself off and withdraws even further.  This is where it often stops.  Men don’t want to rock the boat.  They don’t want her to get angry.  They don’t want her to shut down.  They tell me, it doesn’t go where they want it to, so why try?

So how do we get things to change? Well, like I said earlier, we don’t change, until we decide that we are ready to change.  And the only thing we can control is how we are personally showing up in the marriage.  Now some of the things that I’m going to offer  today may seem very scary. They are not how you’ve been operating. But, what is currently happening is uncomfortable and not working either. So what I want to convey to you is that you are uncomfortable now with the way things are. And what I’m going to suggest you do is also going to be very uncomfortable, but I believe that it has a greater chance of success than what is currently happening. And I’m trying to frame this in a way for both the male and female listening…so bare with me.

  1. The first thing is, is to stop having duty sex. And what do I mean by duty sex? I mean, that she can read that it’s been a while, and that he’s uncomfortable and would really like to have sex with her and connect with her. And she really doesn’t want to do it. But she does it anyway to solve his discomfort.  And the reason why I believe that you should not do this anymore, is because every time she does this, she sacrifices a piece herself for his benefit and she loses another piece of herself which will only cause further damage. Duty sex causes resentment and will never help her create more desire.  The second piece is that he may be getting a sexual release, but he isn’t actually getting what he truly wants. Because for most men, it’s not the sexual release that they want, but it’s intimacy and connection. And you’re not getting that with duty sex for either party. 
  2. It is normal in a marriage to want validation from our spouse.  And it feels really nice.  Many men want their wives to validate their sexuality.  Especially after being rejected so much, men want the validation that their wife desires them and their sexuality is a good thing.  There’s a strange dynamic that comes in here with a lot of sexual relationships, where because of the way conservative Christianity thinks about sexuality, that often the woman who suppresses her sexuality actually feels a moral superiority in that.  That she is the “better” person because she doesn’t give in to this carnal and hedonistic side.   So while the man wants validation in his sexuality, she refuses to give it because she believes it’s wrong.  And the way around this is, that we all need to look for validation from within and with God rather than from our spouse.  And I understand that this is really hard to do.  But it is absolutely necessary if you want to achieve a more intimate marriage.  Do not apologize for your sexuality in order to appease her.  And for her it means coming to a better understanding, a more mature understanding, that sexuality and spirituality do actually mix.  They aren’t mutually exclusive.  That using our sexuality, within the context of marriage, is actually a very good thing, and that our sexuality is a divine part of us.  
  3. The third thing that I think you need to do is have conversations about this…even if they are uncomfortable.  And I’m sure many husbands are thinking “I have had a million conversations with my wife about this and it always ends in disaster.” So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to have this conversation not at a time when you’re wanting to have sex. I want you to have this conversation when things are good between you, which I understand you may be reluctant to do because you’re like “okay, things are good…and now I’m going to make them bad by having this conversation.” And that’s not the intention but I’m just warning you that that may happen. But the reason why I want you to do it when you’re in a good place is that because she will not already have that stress response. And she will be less likely to completely shut down when she’s not already stressed.

    In this conversation, you may want to propose taking sex completely off the table for a little while. Doing some sort of sex fast (like Mike Peterson talked about in Episode 174) until she is ready. You need to agree not to talk about sex, not to initiate, not to give in if she sees that you are struggling and she initiates.  The sex fast is about rebuilding that trust and rebuilding the affection that is needed to actually create more desire and arousal for her rather than just straight sex. You are basically going to back to what it looked like when you were dating.  Working on building the relationship and the affection and touch outside of sex.  You need to take it completely off the table for a given amount of time.

    I also recommend, in this conversation, talking about the mistakes that you have made in the past and that you don’t want to continue making.  Let her know that you are working on yourself to become better in this area.  That in the past you have been looking to her for validation of your sexuality and that you are working to not do that anymore.  That you are sorry for acting frustrated, pouty, or even angry in the past when you didn’t get the sex you wanted and you are working to deal with your emotions in a healthy way and that it’s not her job to solve for your emotions.  This is really about learning to self-soothe (instead of expecting her to soothe you with sex) as well as standing firm in who you are.

    You also need to let her know that you understand why she has reacted the way she has in the past.  That you understand that this is uncomfortable for her.  That you’ve both been behaving immaturely when it comes to your sexuality (in different ways).  But,  the sexual relationship is an important part, an eternal and divine part of your relationship, and it’s something that you would like to work on to mature and grow together. That you are willing to go at her pace, but you will no longer accept that she do nothing about it.  So, you would like to set up certain measures that show that you are both working on things.  That this isn’t just about sex, but it’s about intimacy and connection and wanting a closer relationship with her.  And that even if she doesn’t agree, it is something you are going to do for yourself.  You hope to do it together so that you can grow closer, but if she chooses not to do it, you will do it by yourself but you aren’t sure how it will turn out if you are working and growing and becoming more of the man you want to become and she won’t.

    I know this seems a little harsh, but I believe that if it is coming from a very loving and pure place it is the right thing.  She may not like it and that’s okay. Remember, it’s about validating yourself and standing firm in who you are.  This is going to pressure her to be uncomfortable. Which she obviously doesn’t want or like and that makes sense. But it is needed.  She may be upset with you. She may withdraw and shut down.  This is just more signs of her immaturity and unwillingness to stretch herself. Continue to love her and pressure her and don’t let her frustration, anger, and withdrawal change the way that you are going to continue to show up in your marriage.

Why are you doing this? Why do you need to have these uncomfortable conversations? To actually create intimacy in your marriage.  We think intimacy is when one person discloses and the other validates and accepts.  This can make us feel close, but it’s not intimacy.  This is what happens in the dating phase of the relationship.  We share the parts of ourselves that we want the other person to see, we get validated, we feel good.  But as we know, once we get into the marriage, we aren’t just seeing or revealing the parts that we want to see, but every part of ourselves.  And if that doesn’t get validated, it feels scary. This is probably the reason you don’t want to have the conversation and one of the reasons why she struggles to be sexual.  Being completely open and known feels very scary to our brain.  So we shut it down.

Ever wondered why married people don’t talk?  I can’t tell you how many people come to me and tell me that they need to be able to communicate better with their spouse.  It’s not that you can’t communicate.  It’s not that you’ve said everything that needs to be said. You are actually always communicating.  You communicate even when you aren’t saying anything.   You aren’t talking because you both know that what needs to be talked about is what the other partner doesn’t want to hear.  You’ve already said everything that is consensual and that your partner can validate.

In that honeymoon phase of the relationship, you say everything that is consensual.  Everything your partner wants to hear.  There’s tons of validation.  And we think that marriage is supposed to always be like that.  That’s why many therapists try to take you back there.  But marriage isn’t about going back…it’s about moving forward.  Evolution.  Growing.  Changing. Together.

We stop talking when our partner doesn’t validate because we are insecure in where we stand.  And when they don’t validate, we want to back down.  Hide.  But we need to do the opposite.  We need to stand strong in our position.  To validate ourselves.  To self-sooth our anxieties.  To stand up for a better marriage.

Nothing is actually going wrong in your marriage.  It’s just tougher than you thought it would be.  According to Dr. David Schnarch, this is the pathway to a loving and passionate marriage.  This is good communication, even though it’s tough.

Now I know a few of you have reached out to me for resources about how to become a better version of yourself especially in the sexual realm. To learn these skills of self-validation, self-soothing, and standing up for what you want for yourself and your marriage.  This is what I teach women in my program.  So if you are a woman, come sign up with me to learn these important skills.   I also want to give men some resources right here for this.

The first one is my friend Monica Tanner’s offensive playbook challenge. It’s a two week challenge. It’s $100 and she gives you little videos every day for two weeks about different things that you can do to help make your wife’s experience better. It’s a great starting place.

From there there are a couple of different options. The first is Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fifes Art of Loving course for men. This is an excellent, self guided course that really teaches you how to be strong in your sexuality and loving your partner but it is self guided and so if you need something that provides a little bit more support and in depth, I will recommend my friend Dan Purcell from Get Your Marriage On. You may recognize his name.  He’s been here on my podcast. He is the creator of the Intimately Us app and he has a course for men that includes things that he’s learned from me, things that he’s learned from Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, things that he’s learned from other resources as well as coaching. So his is probably the most closely related program to mine.

I will provide links for all of these in the show notes but they are some of the best resources that I have for men.

I have a lot of men that reach out wanting to coach with me and I have dedicated my life to coaching women. And that’s what I will continue to do for the foreseeable future. But these are great resources in the meantime. I know this isn’t an easy road. And I make no guarantees that by doing the things that I’ve suggested or by doing these courses it will solve things.  But it is the next right step.  Your own personal self-development is the right next step.

For those of you who are really struggling with this, I empathize with you and my heart breaks for you because I know how wonderful a good sexual relationship can be. And it is my life’s mission to help women have this in their life and I know that some of them just aren’t ready yet. I have had many, many women in my program that have had life changing success. And a few of their husbands have done these other courses and love them and I know that there is hope. Hold on to that hope. Hold on to the faith that things will be different when you show up differently in your marriage. And please reach out to me if there’s anything else I can do.

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