Episode 66: The Age-Old Dilemma Between Sex & Connection

by | Last updated: Mar 19, 2024 | Podcast

Oh, the age-old dilemma in nearly every marriage… One partner needs emotional connection before physical intimacy; the other requires sex to feel connected.

Both partners require both types of connection. But which comes first?

In this episode, I take a stand on which type of connection *must* come first, plus why we need different things to feel connected, what to do if you feel like your partner is only ever ‘taking’ from you, and how you might be exacerbating the disconnection in your marriage.

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

1:07 – We need BOTH emotional & physical connection… which comes first?
4:05 – The dilemma: I’m not meeting your needs, because you’re not meeting mine
5:47 – But this is what HAS to come first – no matter what
8:00 – Your partner is not trying to take something from you…

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Welcome to the Loving Truth Podcast, where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. And now your host relationship expert and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope. Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope and this is the Loving Truth. Today we're going to talk about the age old dilemma of where one partner needs to feel connection before they can be physically intimate and the other needs physical intimacy before they can feel connected.

Now, I don't know why, but it seems like we come together as couples where we're, we never match. There's always one person that needs the physical intimacy first and another that needs the connection first. I don't know exactly why that is. I think people used to always say, well, that's because men always want the physical intimacy first, and women always want the connection first.

And while that is true, much of the time, it's not true a hundred percent of the time. You know, sometimes the woman needs that physical intimacy before they can feel connected. But if you think about it, so women will often, not always, but often need the connection first before they can be physically intimate. And that's because if I don't feel safe with you,

then how can I do something with you that feels like the most intimate, the most vulnerable experience I could have with you, right? If I don't at the baseline feel emotionally, mentally, physically safe with you, okay? And then if you think about the male experience, it's not like men were encouraged to connect with people outside of sex, right?

There weren't, there weren't classes on, hey, how to create connected relationships and friendships or any of that. So it, it is common that many times men need the physical intimacy before they can feel connected to you as a partner. So here's the thing. No one is right or wrong. There's not one answer that that's the approach that everyone should take.

And everyone else is wrong. One isn't better, one isn't worse, one isn't right, one isn't wrong. And frankly, we need both inside of our marriages. If we want to feel intimacy and connection, then don't we need both the physical aspect and the emotional aspect to be present? We do. And ultimately, we both want the same thing.

We're both reaching for connection inside of our relationships. We're just going about it in a different way, and we need it at different times. So they're both important. And then that becomes, here comes the problem. Who gets their needs met first? Who goes first? Right? And so, and this is where we come to a standstill inside of our relationships where a woman will constantly reject her husband because she doesn't feel connected to him,

and she'll tell him, let's say no. The reason why I don't feel comfortable having sex right now is because I feel like we're so disconnected as a couple. I feel like we're living like roommates. I feel like we haven't, we haven't sat down and talked and spent quality time together or laughed together in years, right? She might actually express those things,

which sometimes she doesn't. It's way more helpful when you do. But we get into this standoff where she's saying no to sex, and he's then saying, well, I'm not going to, you know, plan date nights and spend time talking to you if you're always going to constantly reject me. And so then we end up in this place of where,

well, I'm not gonna meet your needs because you're not meeting my needs and my friends. That is no way to be in relationship. That is a relationship that's based on scorekeeping and it's, and it's a relationship. I'll take it deeper. It's a relationship that's based in I'm only loving you so I can get from you so that I can get my needs met from you.

I'm only loving to get as opposed to loving because it's who I am and it's what I'm here to do. And that's ultimately the kind of relationship that everyone wants to exist inside. But most of us don't want to make the choices and take the actions that would help us create that kind of relationship. Instead, we stay at this surface sort of immature level of,

I'm not gonna meet your needs if you're not gonna meet mine. Right? And then of course, we don't get anywhere. So we've got to be able to grow beyond that sort of mentality and that sort of thinking of we both want the same thing. We both want connection. Let's talk about how we can both get our needs met here. That's when it's you and I against the problem and not this animosity that gets created in that age old dilemma and that cycle of who gets their needs met first in order that we might both get our needs met.

So I love how Vanessa Marin in her book Sex Talks, for those of you that don't know Vanessa Marin is a sex therapist. And one of the best parts of that book, I thought was where she really took a stand on this issue. I think forever people have been confused by this because no one ever wants to take a stand on it. Like who's right or who goes first or what,

any of that. And what she said was very, very clear, and I absolutely agree with her, it's, look, if you are struggling with disconnection inside of your relationship, then the emotional connection piece has to come first before the physical intimacy piece. It just does. Because if you don't feel safe, then you can't have healthy sexual relationships with someone.

It will feel like you're having sex with a stranger. And my friends disconnected sex, even though it's checking the box that, yep, I got sex disconnected. Sex only creates more disconnection in the relationship. It actually exacerbates the problem in the relationship. Because think about it, we've all been there before where you're staring at the ceiling or you're thinking about something else.

Your mind is wandering while you're being physically intimate with your spouse. You're wondering when how long is this gonna last? When is this gonna be over? And why isn't he noticing? Why doesn't he notice how disconnected I am? I've had clients tell me about how at the end of having sex, that they will cry, that they will weep because they,

it felt so disconnected to them. It felt so rote. Or it felt like having sex with a stranger or someone that didn't deeply, deeply care about them, and then their partner doesn't even notice, right? So does that create more connection or less connection? Less, of course. And as more disconnection takes place inside of our relationships, that's when resentments get built up.

Why doesn't he notice? Why doesn't he care about me? Why is he only concerned with him checking the box that he gets sex? Right? And then that's when we build up those resentments. And that's of course when it comes into withholding sex, because it's like the only place where we're able to say, no, this is not, we're not gonna keep doing it this way,

right? So this is where we've got to be able to start having these open, honest conversations with each other. And the other thing that I think is not serving us well, and this is as women, is that our partners are not, they're not trying to take something from us right now. Could they do it better? Could they invite us better?

Could they be more vulnerable in the experience? Of course they could, right? It's a huge difference between saying, we haven't had sex in two weeks, right? Versus, darling, I miss us. I miss connecting with you. Can we make time and make it a priority this week? Because I feel so close to you after we're intimate and I just,

I miss that closeness with you. That's going to get a very different reaction than, we haven't had sex in two weeks. What's going on? Right? So could they do it better? Yes, of course. Could we interpret their actions or their words a little better? Yeah, we could. Ladies, what they're reaching for is connection with us.

It's just they go about it slightly differently than we do. And if we could view his invitation as, this is him wanting to connect with me. This is him wanting to feel close to me, then we would be more open to the experience. But as long as we maintain the mindset that he's trying to take something from me that I have to protect,

or he doesn't meet my needs, I need to feel connected, and he doesn't care about that. He doesn't meet my needs, so I'm not gonna meet his. And we keep the scorecard going, we're not gonna get anywhere. And we're certainly not going to create the kind of loving, lasting, committed, intimate relationship that we really want to experience.

So we can make those few mindset shifts. And it begins with no one here is right or wrong, and we're both reaching for the exact same thing, which is connection. So let's talk about how we can get our, our needs, both of our needs met. And if we are struggling with disconnection, then we've gotta work on the emotional connection first before we just dive in to the physical intimacy.

Alright? I hope that that clarifies this, this age old challenge that we have been facing for a long time and gives you some marching orders to really move past it so that this doesn't have to show up as an issue in your marriage for more years to come. All right? Until next time, take really good care. If you're listening to this podcast because you're struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you're serious about finding that answer,

it's time to book a Truth and Clarity session with a member of my team on the call. We'll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there's a fit for you and I to work together so you can make and execute the right decision for you and your marriage. Go to clarity for my marriage.com to fill out an application now that's clarity for my marriage.com.

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