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Sex & Marriage Part 1 | Shaunti Feldhahn

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
May 6, 2023 1:00 am

Sex & Marriage Part 1 | Shaunti Feldhahn

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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May 6, 2023 1:00 am

Sex is one of the most common marital struggles for couples. On this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, you’ll hear Part 1 of a two-part series on sex and marriage. Shaunti Feldhahn has done in-depth research with married couples. Her findings might encourage you about the differences you and your spouse experience about this topic. Don’t miss today's Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: Secrets of Sex and Marriage: 8 Surprises That Make All the Difference

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Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

The vast majority of times, the couples, it's just some of these simple obstacles that they can work on and remove together.

Even the process of working on it actually creates more intimacy. It's one of the most common marriage struggles, and we're going to take two weeks to discuss secrets of sex and marriage. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Shanti Feldhahn will join us today. Her co-author will join us next week, and the title of their book is Secrets of Sex and Marriage, Eight Surprises That Make All the Difference.

You can find it at our website, Gary, you have been counseling couples, you've been speaking and writing about marriage issues for decades. This is one of the common areas where a lot of couples struggle, right? Well, no question about it, Chris.

You know, this is an area that sometimes couples try to discuss, and they get in arguments with each other, and then they just kind of drop the whole thing and just kind of accept something far less than what they anticipated and what they desire. So yeah, it's an important subject, and I think as Christians, sometimes we fail to talk about this in public meetings and so forth, and so I'm excited about our conversation today. I'm excited that we have two programs to delve into all this, and the first is going to be with Shanti Feldhahn. She's a bestselling author, social researcher, speaker, podcaster. Her graduate degree is from Harvard, and she uses her analytical background to help relationships thrive. She and her husband, Jeff, have co-authored groundbreaking relationship books. Her featured resource today is the one that she wrote with Dr. Michael Seitzma.

It's titled Secrets of Sex and Marriage, Eight Surprises That Make All the Difference. You can find out more at the website, Well, Shanti, welcome back to Building Relationships. Thanks so much, you guys. I really appreciate that. Well, we are delighted to have you and especially to talk on this topic. Now, for those who may not be familiar with your work, tell us about your background, your experience, and so forth in social research and writing.

Just a little personal stuff before we start. Yeah, well, and here's the thing. I probably need to say right up front, you know, most people, when they come on to a radio program, especially with you, Dr. Chapman, to talk about relationship stuff, that person is usually like a therapist, right?

Or a pastor. And that is so not me. When people are like, you know, we do marriage events and people come up and they're like, OK, so how do we handle conflict management? I'm always like, let me do a three year study and get back to you. I am not a counselor, but what I am and what my background is, is in analytics and research. And so I started out on Wall Street and now kind of use that skill set in a different way to try to really uncover the little things that make a big difference, like the stuff that we don't realize in our marriages or parenting or whatever it is that I'm studying. What is like that one or two things that if you just know this or just try that, that it can really open things up for your relationship.

So that's kind of the direction that I go. Yeah, and I appreciate that because often we don't have that, you know, the research background. Now, you've done multiple research studies. In fact, last time you were with us, you talked about marriage and money struggles.

Do you see any parallels between financial struggles and intimacy struggles in the marriage? Tons. Well, actually, really interestingly, when we were doing both of these big research projects and just for your listeners to know, when we talk about a research project like this, it's usually about three years. And in this case, with the intimacy project, it was included several nationally representative surveys. That's one of the things that we always do is these nationally representative surveys in order to kind of be able to get good, rigorous data.

Like, what does this actually look like nationally? And we did see very specifically that when you are having tension or heartache in your relationship around, for example, money, it's not about the money. Right. It's about how money makes you feel. And it's all this stuff running under the surface, like your expectations of how things should work. But it turns out it's exactly the same with our intimate life. When we are having heartache, it's usually not about the technicalities of intimacy. It's not about usually techniques and body parts and all that awkward stuff you don't like to discuss.

It's usually all this other stuff going on under the surface that we're not aware of. Well, in the book you talk about, you use the term healthy marriage. Do you mean perfect marriage or what do you mean by healthy marriage?

No, whenever Dr. Seitzman, who was a therapist, by the way, I needed to have a therapist with me on this particular project. But whenever Dr. Seitzman and I talk about something being healthy, we're talking about a vision that people are striving towards and hopefully achieving in some way. It does not mean perfect because otherwise nobody would ever qualify as a relatively healthy marriage, right?

We're all levels of dysfunction at one level or another. But no, that's sort of a vision that we're striving towards and what we're really, I think all of us kind of have that sense of we want in general to have a marriage that is striving. And this intimate area of our life is usually a pivot point for that. So that's what we're referring to. I sometimes use the word growing, a growing marriage. Yes, there you go. I like that.

They're growing or they're regressing either way, you know. Now you mentioned that, of course, you wrote this book with Dr. Seitzman, who is a sex therapist. And we're going to hear from him next week, as Chris said earlier. Why was it important for you to include both a clinical and a biblical perspective in this book? You know, it's interesting. We realize, when I say we, by the way, I mean, Jeff and I, my husband, because we do a lot of the research together. And all of this, this entire research project together from the very beginning, we kind of felt like, OK, we tackled money. That's one of the big issues in marriage. We have to tackle sex. But oh, dear, like we could do damage right on this topic. Not only is it awkward to talk about, but A, it's so important.

And B, like if we were to get some of the clinical pieces wrong, we could really do damage in a very vulnerable, important area of our lives. And so Dr. Michael Seitzman has been one of our advisors, one of our main advisors, actually, on this topic for 20 years across all the different research projects that we've done. And so I couldn't think of anybody that I wanted to do this with more than him.

I mean, he truly is one of the leaders in this arena in the Christian community today. Yeah, yeah. Now, over the years, you've seen people's lives transformed because they were able to see things that they didn't quite get beforehand. Yeah. Can you share any examples of that?

Oh, sure. I mean, and especially in this area, I'll give you a really, really common one. We talk about the eight surprises that we, you know, kind of uncovered and quantified in the research and put in the book.

One of them is a great example of how eye opening stuff can really change the trajectory of your relationship. One of the things that is a common problem in this area is that we have this mythology in our mind about how, I hate to say it, how sex works, like what the process is like. And it's a lot of the mythology comes because, I mean, if you think about it, our only experience, it's not like we talk about this area with our closest friends, right?

The only thing we're familiar with is what we've experienced and what we kind of what we see in Hollywood, right? Like what we see on the screen and what we see on the screen tells us that the process is usually that you have the man and the woman who look at each other and there's this sense of desire, right? Like there's this sense of this spark and they can't keep their hands off of each other.

And pretty soon they're kissing and then they're in bed. And so what the message that you get is that there's this surge of desire and you do something about it. And so if your own relationship doesn't look like that, like if, you know, maybe you're the higher desire spouse and you kind of wonder, you know, what's wrong with me? Am I not desirable that my spouse can't keep their hands off me?

And it doesn't look like that. It starts to become, you know, all of these stories you tell yourself I'm not desirable or they just have a problem or something is broken, something's not working right. And the reality is, is that that's all based on this mythology of that there is one way that sex and intimacy and that process works. And actually there's not one type of desire. There's two types, primary types of desire. What you see on the screen is kind of the you might call it initiating desire, the person who feels that sense of desire and does something about it. But there's also something called receptive desire. And what I was shocked by when we started this research was to learn that receptive desire, the physiology of the person actually works in the reverse order. Instead of feeling desire and doing something about it, the person with receptive desire usually has to decide to get engaged with their spouse. They're not necessarily feeling that surge of desire. And then as they get engaged with their spouse sexually and things start happening and they start being stimulated, and assuming that this is all good, right, like this is a good-willed relationship and the process is positive, assuming that, then they may start feeling that sense of desire five to ten minutes later that their spouse felt from the very beginning. And that completely changes sort of the thoughts from the relationship of, oh, my gosh, I'm broken. I'm frigid.

Why don't I want my spouse? Shanti, before the break, we were talking about these differences in terms of desire, and you talked about receptive desire as opposed to this emotional excitement for each other. So what are the implications of that? That is, what do we do about these differences? Well, one of the things, probably the most important starting point is for most people to realize that those differences are there, right?

Like, as opposed to, oh, my gosh, something's wrong, right? Like, no, we have truly been created differently with different physiology. In fact, by the way, just for some numbers, 55% of the population has receptive desire. So it's actually more than the percent that has initiating desire, and that was an interesting little piece of data.

And by the way, that tends to be more likely to be the wife. 73% of women have receptive desire, but it's not always. One of the things I was actually kind of interested in is that, especially as a man gets older, many men who maybe started out as initiating desire find themselves, you know, in their retirement years going, no, actually I'm kind of more receptive at this point. And so that process does beg the question, like, what do you do about it?

What does it mean to sort of work with it rather than wishing it was different? And so one of the things that we find that's really crucial is to say, okay, so if I am the initiating, let's say I'm the initiating desire spouse, and I would really love to connect more with my spouse. Well, one of the things that might help if that person has receptive desire is to give them anticipation time. And, you know, this is my husband, Jeff, always looks at me and is like, when you say that, you're not saying I need to warn you.

It's like, no, no, no. We're literally the spouse can make you can flirt with your spouse in the morning, you know, in the kitchen over breakfast and make some cute little mention of what you'd love to have happen later. But recognizing and kind of coming to terms with the fact that, yeah, you really wish that you had a spouse that had the same type of desire as you and like was burning for you, like that would feel good. But that's just not the physiology. And so giving them the time for their brain to wake up to what you'd love to have happen later and actually be able to anticipate it.

That's actually working with the physiology rather than against it. So that's one example. Another example would be what happens if you have maybe two people who are receptive desire, right? Like that was a, you know, a smallish I think was about a third of couples where they both had receptive desire or something like that. And I don't know, are you going to sit around and stare at each other? So one of the things you might consider is scheduling time together. Like, oh, okay, that's a way since neither of us sort of thinks about initiating that we can all look forward to, you know, the kids are all at Awanas on Wednesday night. And that can be our at least we have that one time a week and maybe another one comes up. So it's those kinds of things working with each other rather than wishing each other were different.

Yeah. And that's so important. You know, I mean, that's an insight that I'm guessing most of our listeners have not even thought about. And so that's why I think this book is going to be so helpful. Now, this book that we're talking about, Secrets of Sex and Marriage, it's different from a lot of other books on intimacy and marriage. Talk about really what you wanted to accomplish in this book, because it is different. It's dealing with issues in a different way.

Well, what was your objective when you wrote the book? So the most important thing for us was, especially for me, right, not being a counselor. Now, Dr. Seitzma, he is a therapist. He's a sex therapist. This is his area of expertise. But especially for me, I really wanted to be careful to stay in my lane. I know that there are so many good resources out there on intimacy.

There are so many that people have written, you know, like the work that sort of summarizes, you know, the sex manual book. And I'm like, no, that's not me. Right. That is not going to be where I can bring to bear the experience that God has given me to help people. And so instead, what we really wanted to focus on very specifically was, OK, what is it that the average couple just doesn't get, that they just don't realize that might be putting obstacles in their way? Like, for example, that they're believing certain myths or misconceptions, like we already talked about.

What is it that they don't get that if they understood it? That in most cases, they could actually just make a couple of changes and help themselves. There are going to be plenty of couples that read through some of what we found and, you know, they need to go deeper.

Right. Like they have an issue with something that's a technical issue in their marriage. They have sexual pain, for example, or somebody has an issue with pornography or somebody has a medical problem that is getting in the way.

They're going to need specialized help. But our belief and what we found in the actually in the data is that the vast majority of times the couples, it's just some of these simple obstacles that they can work on and remove together. Even the process of working on it actually creates more intimacy.

So that's specifically what we were trying to do. Which is so important, I think. Now, you highlight eight surprises in the book.

Can you share a few of those surprises that you found? Yeah, well, one of the main ones was the one I mentioned about, oh, wait, there's two different types of desire, right? Yes. And often it does tend to be gender related. Not always, obviously, you know, 73 percent of the women were receptive desire and then actually with 16 percent were initiating desire. And then there was this third type of desire that is actually called a resistant desire that we should probably mention.

And that's something that you can probably talk to Dr. Mike about when you talk to him. That is something that is not just, oh, I'm not interested or I'm not thinking about it because that's more receptive. This is someone who's actually got a fear, right, that there's something in them that tries to stay away from anything about sex or intimacy. And it usually masks other issues that should be addressed. Like maybe there was trauma in the past or there's a relationship issue that needs to be attended to. And so that surprise, the fact that there is this different, two different primary types of desire and then this other potential one that needs to be looked at.

That's a huge, that was a huge surprise for me. The second, one of the other things that we learned in these eight surprises that was so encouraging is that when we surveyed all these couples, because one of our surveys was of the actual married couples, it was anonymous, but these were people who were married to each other so we could compare their answers to each other. We actually found that for the vast majority, neither person is actually connecting as much as they want. The kind of the perception when you're, you know, you have somebody who just wants more connection that way than the other spouse. That's, by the way, that's 79% of couples where they have two different kind of levels of sort of interest in where they want to connect each week or, you know, three times a month or, you know, whatever it is. It turns out that it's easy to assume, oh, well, you know, the person with the lower desire just isn't interested or they just have a lower sex drive or they just don't want to connect as much. And actually, when we looked at the numbers, we found out that most people, if we say, for example, on average, most people want to connect maybe two times a week, but they're only connecting about one time a week. And that's both people, both spouses.

And that was this huge aha moment. Like we're not as far apart as we think we are. And it changes things from the, you know, maybe the higher desire person looking at the lower desire spouse and saying, why aren't you having sex? And it's like, no, we can put ourselves on the same side of the table and say, why aren't we, what's getting in the way of both of us want it more? And normally there are different things for different people, I would assume, who that are keeping them from doing what both of them would really prefer to do. Well, think about, for example, and this is a stereotypical example, but in the interviews, we heard it a lot.

So I'm going to share it. So one of the things that we heard pretty frequently is that, you know, stereotypically, you have a higher desire husband and maybe the wife is slightly lower desire. And where maybe the husband is initiating and she's receptive and, you know, gets to the end of the night, they get the kids down and he goes on up to bed and he's kind of, you know, expecting something's going to happen. And she's downstairs cleaning the kitchen because she feels like, you know, she can't really go to sleep and relax when things are a mess. And so when they take themselves off of being on opposite sides of the table and put themselves on the same side of the table, it's like, oh, well, you want to connect more too?

Well, why aren't we? Well, I sort of feel like I can't relax if the kitchen's a mess. And by the time I get up to bed, you're asleep. And so, well, what do we do about it? Well, what we can do is maybe both of us clean the kitchen, cut it in half and head on up to bed.

And that's such a simplistic example, but it's the kind of, honestly, it's these simple things that often do get in the way. You know what I would do, Shadi, I'd get those kids in there cleaning that kitchen before they go to bed. Chris, you've got the right process. Absolutely. So there's a research study called the Marriage Intimacy Project. So how did you conduct that study?

Give us a little of the background on that. Yeah, this was a really, really interesting process. We basically spent several years doing both kind of informal and what you might call qualitative research, like interviews, that kind of thing.

And sort of pilot surveys, you know, just trying to get people to share their thoughts. And then we started to see patterns. And we were trying, again, we were trying to dig out those little things that matter, like the little things that you kind of don't know matter. And so as we went along, we started seeing some of these patterns really strongly. And obviously, Dr. Mike, he has 35 years of clinical experience.

He had heard every story under the sun. And so there were several things that he suspected already would be coming out in the data. And so once we finished that initial process, we dove into the quantitative piece of it. And that was really where, okay, we've got opportunities to do these nationally representative surveys where we hired survey companies with high quality panels is sort of the word that you use. A panel is basically just a group of people that you know really well, you know their demographics, and you know that they're who they say they are. They've agreed to take surveys. So, for example, if I need to have African American men over 40 who are living in California, I can look for, you know, if I need 10 more of that, I can look for that specifically in that panel without having any idea of who these people are.

But I know that that's, you know, maybe a 44-year-old African American man in California and not a 17-year-old girl in Florida who's taking surveys for kicks and kind of pretending to be somebody else. And so that's the process that we did with the Marriage Intimacy Project. And I am so thrilled. It took us a long time.

It cost us $120,000. But we got really, really good data. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. If you go to Building Relationships, you'll find our featured resource, Secrets of Sex and Marriage, eight surprises that make all the difference. It's co-written by our guest today, Shanti Feldhahn.

And next week, her co-author will be with us for part two of the discussion. Again, go to Shanti, I think many people would wonder, how do you get honest answers from people about such an intimate area of their lives? You've told us some of the background of how you did this and the surveying and that sort of thing. But I still think people are reluctant to talk about this area, are they not?

Yes, very reluctant. And I will tell you, all the previous research studies that we've done, that sort of first stage of the process, it's usually like the money project, right? Or something about parenting, for example. I usually will walk up and down on the subway with $5 Starbucks gift cards and ask people random questions and say, if you fill out this little two-question survey, I'll give you a $5 Starbucks gift card. I don't need to know who you are. I just need to know what you think about these things. And people are usually really, really accommodating and helpful.

And they want to share their opinion and they want to share their thoughts and you get really good data. On this topic, I would be arrested and we would have needed a budget item for bail money, right? So what we did on this one was actually quite different. Jack and I did a bunch of the research with people who agreed to do anonymous interviews over Zoom with their camera blacked out and a fake name. And so we had no idea who these people were. And our camera was on so they could see us, but we couldn't see them.

And they chose whatever names they wanted, like Farm Boy and Buttercup or Wanda and Vision, like whoever they wanted to be as the couple. But they were able to be, because they were completely anonymous, we had no idea who they were, they could be really honest and share some really, actually, I think very in-depth issues in their hearts. And actually sometimes it was almost like a pseudo counseling session, which I was always nervous about because I'm not a counselor. But it was clear often they were talking about things together that they hadn't talked about before. And that was really helpful for us, not being counselors, to see because that's really where a lot of the need comes in.

It's not usually the big ticket issues that are getting in the way, it's these little things you just haven't talked about. So that was actually very instructive for us. Yeah.

It helps you gathering data, but also help them because they were, in answering those questions, they were hearing each other share things that they hadn't shared before. Yeah. Like, wait, really? Like, I can remember one story. One, this was a farmer and his wife in the Midwest, and he ran the farm and he had a bunch of different employees.

And so it's basically a family business with all of the stuff that comes along with having a family business, lots of long hours and whatever. And so they got on the phone with us and we're talking about, we had asked some pretty simple questions about, like, how often do you want to connect and how often do you want to connect? And one of the things that he said was, well, I really actually would love to connect four or five times a week, but she's so busy, she has the kids and running around with farm stuff. And I know that that's just not all that realistic. So I try to hang back.

I don't try to initiate very often because I'm trying to be sensitive to the fact that she's exhausted. Right. And there's this silence on the line because, of course, we can't see them. Right.

Their cameras blacked out. There's this pause for a minute and she says, wait, you're you're holding back. And he says, yeah. And and so we asked her, we're like, well, you know, I can't remember what her name was. You know, Wanda, Wanda, how often would you like to connect? And she's like four or five times a week.

Well, why aren't we? He was so polite and sensitive to the fact that his wife was a young mom. She had a bunch of little kids and was tired, which was all true. But they had literally never talked about it before they were on that interview. And that, oh, man, it's so encouraging when you see that sometimes just actually communicating can solve certain problems. And that's probably one of the major issues as to why couples don't make progress in this area is because they really are not discussing it. Was there one thing that you would say was most surprising to you or most important to you and all the things that you discovered?

Yeah, I was for me, I, I hear so much pain when I do not just interviews on this topic, but, you know, as a social researcher, I've been doing this for 20 years. And I hear pain and heartache and people not connecting well around whatever the issue is in marriage and certainly around this one. And I was so encouraged to see that one of the other things that we found one of the other surprises was that if you as one spouse, like this doesn't even need to be two sided.

It's better if it's two sided, but just one spouse will get curious about their partner and have that mindset of, huh, well, you know, like, for example, well, if you want to connect more than we're doing, why aren't we? Like, that's a curious kind of attitude. Or, you know, if you are, for example, the story about the farmer, if you're holding back, why are you holding back? Like, help me understand what's going on or him looking to his wife and saying, well, but I know you're always exhausted and I don't want to push you. So what would that look like for me to signal that, you know, I wanted to be together and to give you the space to say no, if you wanted to, what would that look like? That's a curious approach. And I was so encouraged to see that, honestly, curiosity is a bit of an antidote to so many of the heartaches that we have in our intimate relationship. Because so many of those heartaches are a lot of, it's kind of the hidden stuff that's down deep under the surface that we've maybe never articulated before or really known kind of how to even explain to ourselves. But when your spouse kind of gets that curious, well, what would that look like?

Tell me what it feels like to be exhausted and what, you know, with the kids and yet kind of wanting that connection. But, you know, how do we get there? What would that look like for you? What would be the ideal? That's the kind of approach that allows the person to kind of dig up, oh, okay, this is what would matter to me.

And this is how that process might work. And suddenly that curiosity has now been a solution to something that may have actually held you guys back for years. And it creates it creates a lot of intimacy, like not just physical intimacy, but emotional intimacy, because you're learning each other more.

So that was probably one of the biggest aha moments for me. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Shanti Feldhahn is joining us today and our featured resource today is the book Secrets of Sex and Marriage.

Eight surprises that make all the difference. You can find it at our website, That's Shanti, talk to the couple who may be listening who are really dealing with a lot of heartache in this part of their marriage. And maybe even thinking there's no hope for us. It's we've gone on too long.

It's just not getting any better. What would you say to that couple? Well, first thing obviously that needs to be said is I'm so sorry for that pain because this the pain in this area of life is truly a vulnerable area.

And there's often so much history underneath that. And there's so many different issues that could have made that come to be for them to come to that point where they are having that heartache. But the good news, honestly, I'm I am not a sex therapist like Dr. Seitzma. But even as a researcher, I have seen hundreds and hundreds of couples in that kind of deep, desperate, hopeless feeling situation who have actually been able to come out of that, even if, by the way, even if at the beginning it's only one person working on the situation. Now, by the way, this is not always going to work perfectly, especially because, you know, we're talking in most of these relationships. You're talking about a good willed couple. We found that in one of our earlier studies, we found that it was something like, you know, ninety nine point two, six, seven percent or something of couples deeply care about each other. And they have goodwill. There's this pain. But there is a there is a tiny little percentage where somebody just there. They're not in a good place as a spouse. Right.

Like they don't they stopped caring. Those are the places where you need to get extra help, where you need to go to somebody who can help you navigate that. But for the vast majority of cases, trust that your spouse cares about you and wants the best for you, because that's not wishful thinking, but is usually actually the case. And you've just gotten sideways. And if you will, even as a one partner, will start trying to be curious and reach out and listen and learn.

One of the things that often happens is that the other person's heart softens and then they start reaching out more. Right. And it starts a positive spiral. And that you've seen obviously, Dr. Chapman, you've seen that doesn't always happen, but it happens a lot. Yeah, you're right.

Right. What what can I do? The question, what can I do that would make things better for you in this area? Whoa, they'll answer. They'll answer. And then chances are down the line, they're going to ask you the same question.

So now you're moving in a positive direction. If I could just say that there is a lot of discussion today about whether it's even appropriate for one partner to be asking the other. You know, what can I do to make this easier for you or what could I do to work on me? Because there is a desire to have both people obviously work on the relationship. And that's truly important.

However, and you for you as a therapist, Dr. Chapman, you can probably give better advice than I could. Just because one person is saying, you know what, this marriage is important to me and I'm going to work on it. That doesn't diminish their value. That doesn't do anything to say that somehow they're letting the other person walk all over them.

Correct? No, no, absolutely. But it does say, you know, I want to make things better. And because we both have the need to feel loved and appreciated, we're far more likely to respond to that kind of thing when they see you really trying to reach out to meet their needs and communicate love to them. Because love stimulates love. But as you say, that doesn't always happen because let's look at our relationship with God. You know, God loves every one of us.

He gives us breath every day and people still spit in God's face and walk away. But I think we always feel better if we take initiative like that and ask that kind of question. We feel better about ourselves, even if ultimately the other person doesn't change. You know, another thing that I think people often ask is, you know, about this whole area of the relationship is, are we normal? Are we normal? You know, so let me just ask a couple of practical questions here in terms of frequency, the desire for frequency. What did your research indicate on this? Well, I'll answer that question, but I need to say as a caveat up front, it's really important for people to not assume that just because something is, for example, an average, that that's what they should be doing.

Because that can be weaponized, right? Like one spouse who maybe is the higher desire spouse may listen to this and go, see, see, that's how often you should be connecting. And it's like, no, I mean, everybody is different. There are medical issues and jobs and, you know, whatever.

So let me just say that as a caveat. But what we found actually was quite interesting. The average, if you set aside the percentage of people who are actually not connecting at all, which is unfortunately a relatively high number, nine percent of couples are having absolutely no intimacy whatsoever. But if you set aside the people who are sort of, you know, no sex or low sex marriages, the average is one and a third times per week. And now Jeff and I were doing a marriage conference recently and somebody came up to me and said, can you unpack that third? What does that mean? Does that mean that you stop a third of the way through?

Like what is that? And it's like, no, that just means four times every three weeks. But that's the average. And it was actually relatively similar for men and for women. Men were slightly higher than that. Women were slightly lower than that in terms of their desires, you know, what they desired.

But that's the average for what's actually happening. Did you have a favorite part of this of this whole project and working on it? Was there just one thing that was just the favorite part for you as you work through this? Oh, absolutely.

One hundred percent. It was spending three years in a meeting every week with Dr. Seitzma. One of the things that Jeff and I did literally starting in January or February of 2020, right before the pandemic, we started meeting with Dr. Mike from like 930 to 1230 every Wednesday just to dig into the massive amount of knowledge that he has in his head. And, you know, he has a lot of information from other sex therapists around the country. He's thought about these things a lot, especially in the Christian community.

And what's the biblical approach to different things? Because, you know, obviously the sex therapy world, there's plenty of people who come at it from a completely different perspective, philosophy. You know, like, yeah, use pornography in the bedroom. It'll help things along, you know, like that kind of thing. And so it was fascinating to just be able to pull out of him and listen to his perspective as a leader in this area and recognize both how important the sex therapy world is for people who do have some of those issues and do need to go further, and also how unbelievably simple some things can be to solve. And that is just so much hope for the average couple that may never sit in front of a sex therapist. You know, one or both of them is going not on your life, but digging out these little things, they can help themselves. That was just so encouraging to us.

Yeah, yeah. That's exciting to work together with someone who is outside your field in terms of, you know, actually being the counselor type person. So I can see where that would be exciting. We have a lot of listeners who are single adults. So is there any encouragement that you could give them coming out of this research? Or have you thought about it in those lines?

Absolutely. One of the things that we've seen most single adults, not all, but most, long to be married. Or they were married and they're single again and looking forward. And this is one of these areas that learning this stuff ahead of time can prevent so many issues. Because truly this area of life and this area of intimacy is such a central part of marriage and it goes so core into how we feel about ourselves and how our spouse feels about themselves. That if we learn some of the stuff in advance, we know exactly what questions to ask that person before we actually get to the altar. And I really, really encourage people to think this through and learn this stuff early. It does make a difference. Yeah.

Well, I hope that our singles will take encouragement with that and actually read this book because I think it'll be a help to them. Shanti, I have to ask you, if you had all this time with Dr. Seitzman, you and your husband, Jeff, there had to have been at least one time when you said, hey, time out, Dr. Mike, I got a question. We got a problem.

Did that ever happen? You know, actually, it's interesting. We were both, both us and Dr. Mike, we were very careful all the way through to be like, okay, we're going to have to keep this professional.

Because otherwise you start getting into TMI, it gets really awkward. And so I will, I will confess that there were probably a couple of cases where I said, now I was doing this interview the other day and this one husband said such and such, Dr. Mike, what do you think about that? There may have been a couple of those occasions along the way. Yeah, just a couple.

Just a couple. Shanti, thank you for being with us today. This has been insightful and we look forward next week to talking to Dr. Seitzman as he shares out of his past experience and his part in writing this book. So thanks for being with us today.

Thanks so much. This is an area that's a struggle in your marriage. We hope you've been encouraged by our conversation with Shanti Feldhahn, our featured resource is the book Secrets of Sex and Marriage, 8 Surprises That Make All the Difference. Find out more at That's And next week, Shanti's co-author, Dr. Michael Seitzman, joins us to continue the conversation on this important topic. Don't miss part two next week. Before we conclude, a big thank you to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-06 04:05:31 / 2023-05-06 04:22:11 / 17

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