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How to Have a Better Sex Life by Understanding Your Love Style (Part 2 of 2)

How to Have a Better Sex Life by Understanding Your Love Style (Part 2 of 2)

Counselors Milan and Kay Yerkovich outline the four basic attachment styles (avoider, pleaser, vacillator, & chaotic) in terms of how each approaches marital intimacy and describe how the healing of your style can help overcome barriers to physical intimacy with your spouse. (Part 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: February 14, 2020

John Fuller: Today on Focus on the Family we have another Best of 2020 broadcast to share with you. And last time we featured a conversation that was recorded earlier this year with Milan and Kay Yerkovich about physical intimacy in marriage. And obviously this is a topic not suitable for younger listeners. Now, here’s how Milan, uh, made a powerful observation last time about his relationship with Kay.

Excerpt:

Milan Yerkovich: I had to learn to take a very hard look at myself. What was my orientation toward sexuality? I had to face my reality, how the world had shaped me, how the culture had shaped me-

Jim Daly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Milan: … and I would have to say that through my adolescent years and through my college and my first few years of marriage, sexuality was out of proportion in my head. It was at a place where it had too much dominance and, and priority of thought. And then I, that was not fair then in our relationship here-

Jim: Right.

Milan: … because sexuality had this very high attention level in my mind but then when Kay was expected to try to keep up with that, it was not fair.

End of Excerpt

John: The good news is that the Yerkovichs were able to work through those issues and you’ll hear more of their story today. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly.

Jim: John, this conversation we had with Milan and Kay is part of a collection of Best of broadcasts from this year and I really recommend our listeners go to the website to learn more about these outstanding programs, and these are measured by your response. Uh, this collection includes some great encouragement from Connie Albers about better ways to connect with your teenager, Dr. Greg Smalley and Dr. Bob Paul from our Hope Restored team, uh, they talked about lies that can destroy your marriage. Cathy Lipp shared some tips on getting rid of the clutter in your home.

John: That seems to be one of those themes that can be year-round, Jim.

Jim: Yeah, definitely. (laughs) All of these are great programs with top-notch guests and I know you’ll benefit from, uh, reviewing this content again and again. In fact, you may want to share it with some friends or with your church.

John: And you can learn about our Best of 2020 collection at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and return now to part two of our conversation with the Yerkovichs.

Jim: Hey, welcome, Milan and Kay, back to Focus on the Family.

Kay Yerkovich: Thank you.

Milan: We’re glad to be here.

Jim: Great to have you with us. I love talking with you because you’ve, I mean, how many couples, your estimate, how many couples have you helped over the years? I mean, thousands upon thousands.

Milan: Well, in our offices, as well as in our speaking and in our workshops, we encounter thousands of people-

Jim: Yeah.

Milan: … a year.

Jim: So, the point of mentioning that is you, you have a database that’s pretty rich.

Milan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jim: I mean, you can see these, uh, life, uh, issues playing out. You can apply these brilliant insights that you have discovered through reading God’s Word and applying what you’ve learned in counseling, to help couples do a better job, particularly in their physical intimacy. But, uh, we’ve talked about these love styles. Let’s, for the new listeners that didn’t hear us yesterday, let’s pick it up, uh, for them and quickly define those love styles again, how they apply to physical intimacy and then we’ll get in more to your story. So, who can take a run at the love styles?

Kay: All right, let’s start with the avoider. That was my style and the avoider is, comes from a family, there was a lack of emotional connection, a lack of vulnerability. So, some of the issues in marriage for both males and females who are avoiders, is that they don’t really connect on any sort of an emotional level. They engage in sex as an act or something you do but it’s not very personal.

Jim: Kinda a obligation maybe?

Kay: Uh, it c- maybe for the woman it’s more obligation and it’s, uh, for the man, I think they tend to objectify-

Jim: Right.

Kay: … uh, women because they, you know, they’re not really taught to see the whole person.

Jim: They don’t connect.

Kay: They don’t connect to the emotional side.

Milan: All right, let’s move to the next one. Pleasers are fearful. And because there was a, something that scared them in their early attachment experience, they wanna keep everybody close. And because if you’re close, then I feel safe and so there’s a problem with that because I don’t give you distance or I don’t ask what do you want or I don’t ask what are your needs. I’m not gonna ask you where you’re at emotionally, spiritually, relationally. But if I’m anxious, if I’m a pleaser, I will often want to initiate sex because it creates closeness and it makes my anxiety sort of dissolve and go away. So, it’s a disingenuous way of connecting. For the female pleaser, they will have a hard time saying no and they could emotionally incongruent with sexuality but they won’t have the ability to say no because you mentioned earlier, Kay, they lack boundaries, they lack the ability to resist, they lack an adult voice and so they will have a hard time if their spouse says, “Let’s have sex.” They won’t say no or worse. If their spouse says, “Let’s do something that God says not to do,” they will have a hard time saying no. And a lot of pleaser wives especially-

Jim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Milan: … find themselves in situations that are very much against God’s Word and, uh, because they have the inability to resist, which is the same as the victim, by the way.

Jim: Is that right?

Milan: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah, and I wanna, you, for the two types that you were and I when I say type I mean that family of origin things-

Kay: Right.

Milan: Yeah.

Jim: … the wounds that you encountered-

Kay: Right.

Jim: … and let’s dig into that, uh, to give the listener an idea of how they can look at their own lives and how they grew up to apply. So, you have experiences, you brought it into your marriage, you touched on it last time. And again, if you haven’t heard yesterday’s broadcast, get a hold of us, we’ll get it to you, you can download the Focus on the Family app or-

Milan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jim: … come to the Focus on the Family website for that. But Milan, let’s start with you as that pleaser. What was going in your family of origin that created the pleaser mentality in your life and then how you brought that into the marriage? Let’s get right into it.

Milan: Okay. I had a very angry parent, who was angry, and it was anger that was a surprise. It was anger that had, uh, I had no way to predict it, I didn’t know when it was gonna happen, it was just a blowup would occur.

Jim: Was it emotional anger, not physical abuse?

Milan: It w- it was emotional, but it was rage. It was, it was words and it was rage and anger, uh, and sometimes, uh, highly combative with people, uh, uh, you know, in public or a store and I was continually anxious n- not knowing when this was going to occur because I was just getting dragged along, I’m the little kid.

Jim: Right.

Milan: And I’m g-

Jim: How old are you at this point?

Milan: Well, I’m four, five, six, seven, eight-

Jim: So, you’re learning how to cope?

Milan: Well, I’m an anxious kid.

Jim: Yeah.

Milan: I never know when this bomb’s gonna go off-

Jim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Milan: … and so I am always tense. I’m hypervigilant, I’m watching, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. I’m looking for clues and signs. If there is difficulty in my home or I sense there’s a storm coming, I don’t go out to play, I stay inside to try to monitor what’s happening inside. And so that’s how I had developed this idea that if you’re okay, then I’m okay-

Jim: Right.

Milan: … (laughs) because if, if the home is tranquil and you’re smiling, then I can smile because I’m gonna be safe right now. So that grew up with me and I carried that into my adolescents, uh, and into adulthood. And unbeknownst to me, that early patterning, that early imprinting, carried forward into my relationship with Kay. And so, if she was okay, then I was okay. If she was quiet, that reminded me of the calm before the storm.

Jim: Okay.

Milan: And I would think something was wrong. She’s also an introvert, (laughs) so that added to the quiet-

Jim: So, she wouldn’t communicate with you, yeah.

Milan: Uh, sh- well, she was, uh, she was more quiet-

Jim: Yeah.

Milan: … but quietness, it was very unnerving to me. So, it set up a chasing, uh, “Are you sure you’re okay? Is everything all right? I, did I do anything wrong?” So that’s how I started off in life-

Jim: Yeah.

Milan: … and marriage exposed that that was till with me.

Jim: You know, Milan, I appreciate your vulnerability with that, in fact, in, in resource, the book, you mention how this even, and I don’t know where in your life stage this occurred, but even, uh, having, uh, use of pornography-

Milan: Yes.

Jim: … as part of your journey. You know, again, for people, when we look at pornography particularly, we have a lot of resources on pornography-

Milan: Right.

Jim: … and I don’t wanna bog down on this, but I want to apply this principle that there are reasons that people are medicating with it. And it, it isn’t healthy, yet some estimate 60 to 70% of people in the church may be using pornography.

Milan: Oh, absolutely.

Jim: So, speak to that addiction that you had and then, you know, h- how you got control of that and, and why you got control of it.

Milan: Anxiety was at the root of why I found escapism in sexual thought. When we are anxious, when we have agitated feelings and emotions and we feel upset inside and we have all these difficult feelings and emotions that are inside each of our minds and bodies and we’re ruminating or we’re scared, we’re looking for escapes. And so, sex is a very convenient escape. As a matter of fact, it’s the number one escape for men…

Jim: Right.

Milan: … to go to. It’s the number one go to for men as a place to escape and for a little bit of time not to feel those anxious thoughts. So as a child, as an adolescent, sexual thought and sexual fantasy was a place of escape to literally get away from the bad feelings and have a sense of capacity to make them go away for a little while. It gave me a sense of control that I could make this agitation go away for a little-

Jim: Yeah.

Milan: … while. I didn’t realize as a child and as an adolescent that it wasn’t God’s will for my life. But the apostle Paul said, “You know, when I was a child, I used to think as a child, reason as a child and speak as a child but when I became an adult, I had to put off the childish ways and become an adult and start stepping into an adult mentality and reality.”

John: If you and your spouse are dealing with any of the marital concerns that we’ve been discussing today, please let us know. Get in touch and, uh, let us be of help to you. Our Focus on the Family counseling team can be a great starting point to assist you in taking some steps toward healing and rescuing perhaps your marriage. They’re just a phone call away. The number is 800, letter A, and the word FAMILY. When you call, we’ll schedule a time for one of our counselors to call you back and they’ll be happy to have an initial consultation with you.

And I would recommend that you, uh, peruse our entire Best Of 2020 collection of broadcasts. This, uh, conversation with the Yerkovichs is just one example of the great programs addressing marriage and parenting and your faith. Check out the entire collection at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

All right, let’s go ahead and continue now with this Best of presentation featuring Milan and Kay Yerkovich.

Jim: Uh, Kay, I’m coming to you in just a minute, so get ready. (laughs)

Kay: I’m ready.

Jim: But, Milan, did that addiction come into your marriage and for how long in your marriage was that happening?

Milan: Well, as happens with many places of escape, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, uh, sex, exercise, food, overeating, under-eating, all these things-

Jim: Yeah.

Milan: … develop because we have anxiety on inside and just depression and we wanna make it all go away. And of course, it carried with me into marriage and I didn’t know it was there. I couldn’t even, I wouldn’t even told you Jim and John that, that, that I was an anxious person.

Jim: Right.

Milan: I would, I didn’t think that way. All I knew is I felt agitated a lot and I exercised like crazy. And so, I carried it into marriage and of course with a sexual appetite, that I’ll veracious-

Jim: Obese yesterday, which I love that-

Milan: … yes-

Jim: … vision of that.

Milan: Yeah, uh, there was a sexual obesity because I had overfed something.

Jim: Huh.

Milan: And I then I come into marriage and all of a sudden it puts a massive strain on our relationship.

Jim: Now think of that in the context of God’s design for marriage. What you just described there is a lot of dysfunction coming in, God exposes it through your relationship with Kay-

Kay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jim: … and then you begin to heal.

Milan: Yeah, well, you-

Jim: I mean that is the way God intends this.

Kay: That’s very true but it, it took some time.

John: Yeah, I was gonna say, yesterday you said it was 15 years into your marriage.

Kay: It, it, yeah, well it was because this w- let’s call it sexual obesity, I think that’s a good word. I had no idea I was marrying a sexually obese man. But the pressure and the frequency of his desire, I felt I couldn’t keep up with. And I didn’t understa- I just thought, well, this is just normal, so I must be broken. And I prayed and prayed, “God, help me want sex as much as my husband does,” and God never did answer that prayer-

Jim: Right.

Kay: … because I’m not a man.

Jim: Right.

Kay: And I think, you know, over time he, probably the first honest conversation he had with me was that he was driving in a car, memorizing scripture and what was the verse that you saw?

Milan: (laughs) I was memorizing verses and the verse was, “Bring every thought captive to the obedience of grace.” And I took this little stack of memory verses, I know exactly where I was on the freeway in the Orange County, Los Angeles area. And I took this stack of cards and I threw it against the car window on the opposite side and I said, “God, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I can’t do that.”

Jim: (laughs) Oh, but I love that, “God, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” (laughs)

Milan: I absolutely- I, I said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m supposed to bring every thought captive to the obedience of grace? You’re kidding.”

Kay: ’cause he knew where his mind was-

Milan: ’cause I knew where my mind was.

Jim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kay: We had this little unusual moment of honesty where he told me about that and he said, “I think my mind’s kind of out of control and I’m gonna try and learn to control it and put my focus totally on you,” which panicked me because I couldn’t keep up with his focus already. So, I tried to be the good Christian wife and I got a lot of Christian counseling, don’t deprive your husband and, you know, so I had, I just kept trying to keep up with his frequency and by year 15 I was resentful and I didn’t like sex and I wrote him a very honest letter, saying, “I can’t do this anymore. I, something has to change because I can’t keep up with you and I don’t, I don’t feel like I have a voice. I feel like if I say no, you get upset. Something has to change.”

Jim: What was your expectation of what the change would be and wh-

Kay: I had no, I had no idea.

Jim: Yeah, just something different.

Kay: And it was just all starting with an honest conversation and I didn’t even have the real courage to say it out loud, I wrote it in a letter and gave him the letter while, and sat there while he read it.

Jim: Now le- let’s pause there. I wanna come back to this but let’s, Kay, go to your story because let’s talk about why you’re responding this way. I mean, this is really interesting stuff and we all play a role. You might see yourself in Kay’s position or in Milan’s position. But, Kay, what was your family like? What were you dealing with and why would you give a letter to Milan rather than talking to him?

Kay: I had no sex education from my family. My dad was an alcoholic. He had a very womanizing-type personality and he divorced when I was, my mom when I was 17. So, and then there was just, there was really very little relationship ever but that really cut off any relationship. He just sort of got a new family and that was the end of the first family.

Jim: You know, when you say it that way, it feels like you expected it, like as a 16, 17-year-old girl, you kinda knew.

Kay: You know, no, my parents never fought.

Jim: Really?

Kay: It was a shock.

Jim: Okay.

Kay: It, it was a-

Jim: Wow.

Kay: … perfect example of a marriage where they swept everything under the rug and then one person just f- my, finally my dad said, “I’m out of here.”

Jim: Wow.

Kay: So, it was actually shock but it made me very distrustful of men-

Jim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kay: … and so I think there was that distrust coming into my marriage. And then when I felt so overwhelmed by the amount of neediness for, or the frequency level, that he was desiring, I tried to be the good Christian wife.

But I lacked a voice. I lacked the ability to really say no and make it stick. And so over time I just, you know, there were times I would cry after sex and he didn’t even know it because we didn’t have an honest relationship. So, honesty was the first step and I think that was very hard and that, that wound came from my family too because we never had deep talks about anything.

Jim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Milan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kay: I think if we had had more real talks in my family and a level of honesty, I would’ve been able to say my, my internal struggle a lot sooner. So, it was a very scary time for us because we knew something was very broken, but we didn’t know how it was look to fix it.

Jim: Okay, so you, now you’re at this point where you have this 15 year marriage that’s hanging by a thread basically because of the intimacy issue and you hand him a letter, what happens next?

Kay: We, we prayed a really brave prayer. We said, “You know, God, we, we know that something’s broken.” We have this dance we do that we can’t, you know, he’s always chasing and asking am I fine, I’m always saying yeah, I’m fine, why do you keep asking me that. So, we knew-

Jim: (laughs)

Kay: … there was something broken, and we just said, “Will you show us what, what’s at the root of this? We don’t understand how, how to fix it.” And I can look back now and say we were missing emotional connection in every way. Neither one of us came from homes where we knew how to be honest, how to resolve conflict. We didn’t observe a family e- neither one of us had families who taught us how to listen well, who taught us how to, um, notice hurts and repair hurts.

So we were like starting off as really grade school kids, having to learn emotional connection and we- the very first thing that we did is we got a feeling word list and we just started having conversations that included feelings. And I really didn’t even know what my feelings were. I’d have to look on a list of paper and then make my first best guess ’cause I didn’t have a language for emotions.

So I would say in hindsight, God started to teach us about the whole subject of emotional connection and then he brought in this whole subject of attachment and the wounds of attachment and that’s where every, all the lights went on because I realized, well, no wonder I’m struggling sexually, I’m an avoider. I didn’t come from an affectionate home. I don’t know how to emotionally connect. I don’t know how to say what I want. I don’t even know what I need. No wonder I’m struggling.

Jim: So, when you look at year 15 and you’re now in year 46, describe the differences. And this is the proof in pudding.

Kay: Oh, it is. It, it could make me teary because I didn’t dream that you could have a relationship like this. My husband gave me everything my parents, he learned to give me the thing my parents never could.

Jim: Wow.

Kay: He learned to comfort me. I learned to let him hold me while I cried. He learned to let me hold him while he cried. We, we learned to delve into each other’s stories. Uh, when I heard about his childhood memories, which I’d never really taken the time to listen to up to the 15-year mark, it turned my heart towards compassion. I mean, the things that irritated me the most had a big old wound sitting under them.

Jim: Right.

Kay: And when I realized how anxious he was as a, a child, he’s like, the, well, no wonder he asked me a thousand times a week how I am. And so, I, I think we realized that understanding each other’s histories was key in really knowing the person you’re married to.

Jim: Hmm.

Kay: I would-

Milan: I, I, I asked the Lord, I have to see this woman in a different way. Would You please-

Kay: This is at the 15-year mark.

Milan: This was, yeah. I said, “There’s a frustration and I’m somehow,” and I just thought of this, I was walking down the street and one of the streetlamps flickered and went out-

Jim: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Milan: … and I said, “I’m doing that to Kay. I am flickering her light out and it’s gonna go out. There’s something wrong with how I’m seeing her and the stress I’m putting her under. Lord, help me to see her in a different way.” And one of the most profound answers to prayer I’ve ever had, within an hour, uh, I was driving on the freeway and I had to go do something and I was driving back home and all of a sudden I had this picture in my head of this little seven year old girl sitting on the end of a bed by herself, staring at the ground and nobody talking to her and her very alone. And nobody to connect with her and ask her, “How are you? What’s going on inside?” She was an alone little girl. And I said to her, I said, “I see the little you.” And it was a turning point in my relationship with Kay. And I came home, and I told you, wh- do you remember what I said?

Kay: Oh, yeah. He said, “I see the little girl in you,” and he told me that we- but she scares me to death. And I said, “Well, she scares me to death too. So that makes two of us. (laughs) Why don’t we try and figure out what to do, um, with this little girl?”

Milan: But what I said was I wanna get to know her.

Kay: And I wanna help her grow up.

Jim: Wow.

Kay: And that’s kinda what we did-

Jim: Yeah.

Kay: … is we helped each other grow up.

Jim: Well, and, Kay, that emotion you just gave us, that, over those many years of doing it better and better, hopefully year by year, uh, the intimacy that you feel today was well worth the trouble of the discipling yourself as you mentioned the other day, the working out the-

Milan: Disciplining – discipline – yeah. Yes. Yes.

Jim: … gymnasium-

Milan: Yes, yes.

Jim: … of working yourself out.

Milan: Today Kay is my best friend. There’s nobody else that I want. We can talk. We can negotiate. We listen. We provide support for each other that is found nowhere else.

Jim: Hmm.

Milan: So, we’re not seeking because of a void to go run to some fantasy that I think will fill me up.

Jim: Yeah.

Kay: And I’ll say one more thing. Probably the most profound thing I did that changed how I felt about sex was allowing my husband to hold me and grieving in his arms things that I went through as a kid. It was more vulnerable than sex-

Jim: Huh.

Kay: … to open up my heart, to tell him what the wounds were, to feel the wounds in the presence of another person and to learn to receive comfort. That level of emotional vulnerability completely transformed how I felt about sex because now sex is a representation and celebration of that level of connection.

Jim: Yeah. This has been so good. I mean, my jaw is hanging down because I think so many people are going to be helped. I’m really inspired by what you’ve said and what you’ve done and the resources you’ve created to help couples do a better job of honoring the Lord. What you’ve really described is the way Christian marriage should appear and what it should look like and not just on the outside, but deeply on the inside. And your level of satisfaction is quite a testimony to the Lord.

Kay: It’s, I had never even dreamed it was possible.

Jim: Yeah. This is the real deal, and this is what it should be like and it should be attracting the world to engage Christ in that way, right? Your lives are a testimony to those around you, to say this is the way it should be.

Milan: So, could I share a closing thought?

Jim: Yes.

Milan: Mike Mason in his book, The Mystery of Marriage, written 30 years ago, uses as the key verse in Proverbs, “Iron sharpens iron. So, one man sharpens another.” And we don’t think of that in marriage. We don’t want marriage to be a sharpening place. But if you think about it, sharpening involves friction-

Jim: Right.

Milan: … and heat. But it has to be at the right angle in order to refine and sharpen and hone. And we all like sharp objects. We hate it when we come across dull scissors or a dull knife-

Jim: (laughs)

Milan: … and we’re going, “Darn, where’s my, my sharpener?” And Kay and I sharpened each other, and we helped each other literally grow up and replace the deficits from our childhood, and we sharpened each other.

Jim: Well, here it is. And it’s available to you. I mean, uh, Milan and Kay have done a wonderful job, both in their video series, the books that they’ve written, along with their other, uh, resources, their study guides, everything and, uh, we’ll make that available to you here at Focus on the Family. I don’t even understand why a couple would not want to do this and get involved and really better understand themselves.

Kay: I, I hope they will. I hope we can inspire some people to really know that that hard work, it, it was three years.

Jim: Yeah.

Kay: The benefits have been-

Milan: Astronomical.

Kay: … astronomical.

Milan: But you have to pick your pain. The pain of growth versus the pain of staying stuck.

Jim: Right.

Milan: And we picked the pain of growth.

Jim: Well said. Great to have you with us.

Kay: So, so nice to be here. We love being at Focus.

John: Well, we’re so glad you could join us for this Best of 2020 broadcast featuring Milan and Kay Yerkovich on Focus on the Family. Uh, they have provided us with a bundle of follow-up resources that I know you’re gonna find helpful. Uh, they have their book, How We Love, which gives more detail about the different love styles and how they work. And then Milan and Kay also recorded an extra audio message about the five top things you need for a healthier sex life. And then finally, we’re going to include a CD copy of this entire two-part conversation with them.

When you send a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today, we’ll say thank you by sending that bundle right out to you. Uh, we are so appreciative of your help in rescuing and strengthening marriages and our goal is to give more families hope as we head into the new year and your generosity plays a big part in that.

Jim: And, John, we need to remind everyone that Focus has a matching gift opportunity going on right now, thanks to some generous Friends of the Ministry. So, any gift you send this month will have, uh, double the impact, encouraging more families, equipping more parents, and saving more pre-born babies. So, please, give generously to Focus on the Family today.

John: Yes, stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800- 232-6459. And, uh, when you get in touch, be sure to request that bundle of resources.

Well, we hope you have a great weekend with your family and your church family as well. And then, uh, plan to join us on Monday. We’ll have another Best of broadcast, featuring Jonathan McKee talking about raising godly sons.

Teaser:

Jonathan McKee: The more we invest in them, then they’re navigate some of these conversations with you and that’s where values are passed on.

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