Intentional Living with Tanya Hale

Episode 281

Mid-Life Sexuality with Jennifer Finlayson-Fife

#281: Mid-Life Sexuality with Jennifer Finlayson-Fife

Tanya Hale 00:00

Hey there, welcome to Intentional Living with Tanya Hale. This is episode number 281: "Midlife Sexuality with Jennifer Finlayson-Fife." Welcome to your place for finding greater happiness through intentional growth, because we don't just fall into the life of our dreams...we choose to create it. This is Tanya Hale and I'm your host for Intentional Living.

Tanya Hale 00:20

All right, hey there, my friends. Welcome to the podcast today, just so glad to have you. This work, more and more, is just so vital and so important to me. The work not only that it's doing in my own life, but the work that I get to help my clients do, I just see how vital and how important this is and I love it so much. Helping you, helping me, to get to a place where our relationships are cleaner. They're stronger. They're more intimate. It's so important and that's why I'm just super super excited about today's podcast. I got to chat with Jennifer Finlayson-Fife this week and it was amazing. She is just so kind and so knowledgeable and just a pleasant, lovely person. So everything that you see is exactly how she was. She's just great.

Tanya Hale 01:09

If you don't know who Jennifer Finlayson-Fife is, she is an LDS sex therapist, but she works a lot not only physical intimacy, but also emotional intimacy She works a lot in that realm and her work is just so great. I know that after my divorce about three years ago, so about five years after my divorce, I finally was like, "okay I need to tackle the sexuality piece of my life" and her work was so instrumental in helping me to to clean up a lot of thought errors and a lot of ideas and beliefs that I had about sex. And I will also say that before I met Sione and we got married, she did some coaching with him and his ex-wife and something that she told him shifted everything for him in the person that he is now. And so she's had a big impact on his life as well. So she's somebody that we always are talking about. Her stuff, we listen to her podcasts, we take her classes, just good stuff. So if you have not checked out Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's stuff, you're going to want to do that if sexuality is a thing for you.

Tanya Hale 02:22

I had one big "ah-ha" in this interview with her that has in the last 24 hours since I chatted with her, I just keep thinking about it and keep thinking about it. And it's this place of how vital tapping into our sexuality is to our idea of our self-concept, being known to ourselves. And we'll talk about that a little bit more in the podcast, but it... It has just really filled in a lot of pieces for me, just understanding that piece. So we're just gonna jump in, I mean, I've jumped in, we're three minutes in already, but here we go. I am just gonna start this podcast. I think you're going to love it. Thank you so much for being here and I'm gonna see you next week and your minds are gonna be blown by what I get to discuss with Jennifer here. See you later, bye.

Tanya Hale 03:15

So welcome to the podcast today. I am just honored. Honored beyond words to have Jennifer Finlayson-FIfe with us today.

Jennifer, will you just give a quick rundown of your bio and where you come from and why I would even want you on here today?

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 03:30

I don't know the answer to that. But I have a PhD in counseling psychology and I have done counseling through the years and working with couples around intimacy issues, both emotional and sexual intimacy, and how to create more satisfying relationships. I'm doing much less counseling now, I'm doing a lot more online teaching and podcasting and in-person events and coaching to help couples learn principles that they can apply in their own lives to have richer, more satisfying intimate relationships. So that's the work I do.

Tanya Hale 04:13

Yeah, amazing work. I will tell you, I found Jennifer about three years ago when I'd been divorced at that time about five years and I was at a place in my life where I was just like, "you know what, why would I wanna mess up my life with a man?" Because after my divorce and all of that struggle and getting myself to what felt like a really good emotional place, I hadn't done any work on sexuality and that had been a pretty big issue in my previous marriage. And I was listening to a female entrepreneur on a podcast and she was talking about how to step into our femininity as entrepreneurs and how that could work to our benefit. And she mentioned something about women and she says, "if women are well rested, if they're well sexed, if they're well..." and my brain just went "wait a minute, wait a minute." And I don't know that I heard much else of what she said. And I turned it off and I was like, "well sexed? Like, I don't even know what she means by that" because sex had always been such a challenge in my previous marriage. And I think a lot of that was the 70s and 80s growing up and the messages that we received about sex and it always seemed like sexuality and spirituality were placed on opposite ends and you couldn't have both. And if I wanted to be spiritual and close to God, I didn't know how to incorporate the sexuality. But at that point, I went into a big search and I found you. I think you had been on my Facebook stuff for a little bit and I was always like, "I don't need sexuality stuff." And then I finally clued in and started listening to your stuff and was blown away. And I found a couple of other podcasts and I just did a really deep dive into sexuality and it's made a huge, huge impact on my life individually, but also my life in my marriage with my husband now.

Tanya Hale 06:02

So anyway, my background with midlife sexuality is, I don't think, too uncommon for a lot of women. And I think a lot of women are age have been in long term marriages where for various reasons, they've never stepped into their sexuality in a positive way and they seem to frequently be in a space of avoiding and dismissing sex with their partner. And I have even had women many, many times say that they would be happy if they never had to have sex again. And I want to step into this space with you and have you share some of your understandings and ideas about how do women get to this space? And how is it hurting us? And how do we work through it if we want to?

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 06:47

Well, I think there is a cultural piece and maybe a biological piece that women in, you know, the middle of marriage can just feel like sexuality has nothing to do with their happiness and just this burden, often, that's happening in the marriage if they're married or if they're not married, it's just something they don't think about or try not to think about. I think there is a cultural piece depending on, you know, the environment you grew up in. I work especially with people who have grown up in the Latter-day Saint tradition and a more conservative way of thinking about sexuality. And a lot of times in conservative traditions, women in particular, are given the message that, as you said: if you are spiritual or you are good, you are not sexual. And also the idea that the most ideal woman is pure, like she's the one who's the most desirable. And so if I want to be desirable to a future partner, I want to be valued, I want to be considered the right kind of person, I need to suppress my sexuality or at least not focus on it. And so a lot of times women will enter into marriage with the idea that sexuality is something you do for a husband. It's a service you provide. But it's not about you and your pleasure, you and your sexuality. I mean, "your sexuality exists for his benefit" is often the kind of traditional religious idea.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 08:21

And so when it's in that frame of duty, then it very quickly becomes something that's not me. Something I maybe offer or something I do when I should, but it's not linked to my sense of self and my well-being and my happiness. The other reason I think is a little bit more biological, is that men have a hard time not discovering their sexuality. Their sexuality is more external, women's is more internal. So there's often women who just don't ever really encounter it or make sense of their capacity for arousal. The other thing is that women, I think for psychobiological reasons, are often more picky about their sexual engagement. And so because women care about the quality of the sexual encounter, if their relationship is not very satisfying (and I don't mean that women are just passive victims in this because we can co -create not happy relationships), but if you're in a marriage where you don't feel a lot of respect for your partner or you don't feel respected by your partner, oftentimes sexuality for women will plummet more than it will for men as a group because women tend to be choosier about when they engage their sexuality, when they really are going to let someone into their body. And so if the marriage has kind of got a lot of resentment in it, absence of a lot of honesty and genuine engagement, sexuality can easily just become something that a woman doesn't wanna do. She just doesn't want to let him in on that level. And so it can be easy to either be superficially engaged, sexually or not engaged at all.

Tanya Hale 10:08

Right. I think that I noticed probably both of those, I mean, all of those ideas in my previous marriage, right? This space of, I love when you talk about desirability, like we feel as women like we're supposed to be desired, but moving into the place of desiring was kind of taboo, right? Like we're not supposed to have those feelings, those more base desires is how I always turned it for a lot of years, right? I thought it's just almost animalistic. Like I'm not closer to God when I'm more human, stepping into this.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 10:46

Exactly. And so we can learn a fear of the body and then always be kind of divided from our own bodies and our own selves. And so to that podcaster, she's talking about, like you're in your strength and you let yourself receive care and when she's saying women that are well -sexed or like it's kind of like that, they are comfortable in their bodies, comfortable in their capacity. And that's just a very different idea, I think, than a lot of women learn growing up.

Tanya Hale 11:24

Yeah, I think absolutely in our culture for sure, the very conservative Christian culture, there seems to be a lot of we either just don't talk about it or it's talked about on the side as "yeah, but" kind of a thing rather than "yes and."

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 11:43

That's right. And it's kind of a little bit of a patronizing view of women as being innocent and virtuous and a little more childlike, you know, that we can then vilify men's sexuality, which is also a problem. But it's more that like women almost can't be bothered with this base thing that men maybe have to struggle with, but because they're so good and so sweet...So it's antithetical to the ideal and so a lot of women just naturally kind of push it away because they want to live that ideal. But then they don't have a view of what it is to be a mature adult woman who's at peace in her own skin.

Tanya Hale 12:27

Right, and I think that there's probably, I would dare say with zero evidence data, that there's more women in our in our society in middle age who come to that place, who don't have a sense of what that is, than there are women who do.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 12:43

Yeah, I think that's probably a fair guess.

Tanya Hale 12:46

So will you talk a little bit more about this idea where you said that that "our sexuality is often not linked to our sense of self" and why that's important and why it's a problem when it's not.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 12:59

Yeah, well so Dr. David Shnarch, who's someone that I trained with for about a decade, talks about the idea that we care more about belonging to our sense of self (and I'll explain what I mean by that) than we care about being sexual. And so if we have to forsake our sense of self to be sexual, we won't be, we won't want it. And so what I mean by that, then a sense of self is kind of this sense of belonging to me, because humans, we want to belong to other people, but we also want to belong to our own identity and our own values and our own beliefs. We don't want to feel like in order to be in a relationship, I have to give up the things that really matter to me or give up who I am. And especially sexually, we don't want to do that. Sexuality is so personal that we don't want to feel like we're servicing or just accommodating someone we don't want to have be there. And so that's why desire plummets, is if you feel like "being sexual is not me, it's not connected to who I am," then you're just going to not want to be sexual because to be sexual is to lose a part of yourself.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 14:18

And again, there's a lot of cultural pieces to this, like good women don't have sexual thoughts. Good women don't think about their desires, they think about what other people desire and need. Right, the selfless ideal. Or that weak women desire sex, right, base women. So if we learn to kind of dis-identify from our sexuality, right, we don't have it as...because the women that I work with who like sex, who want to be sexual or the women I work with who learn to integrate their sexuality, they start to see their sexuality as something that's a part of their strength and a part of their femaleness, right, that it's an important part of being true to themselves, to claiming their embodiments and embracing the entirety of who they are. Because then it feels more like, "wait, my pleasure also matters, not just my partner's. My desires matter in my life, who I am. I don't need to just give care, it matters that I also receive care." So there's like a self-respect that is important in integrating our sexuality and our bodies, right, when we grow up in a culture that's highly focused on a thin body as the ideal feminine. So just another version, it's not a religious version, but it's another version of teaching women to dis-identify with themselves and their bodies. "I'm supposed to be like that. I'm supposed to look like that. And if I don't, I'm not the right kind of woman." And so we are taught in a way to objectify, self-objectify, and to dis-identify with our whole, real bodies and sexuality, and to be what will please others.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 16:13

And that's very disruptive to a woman's strength. When we run around trying to please everyone, rather than trying to be true to who we really are and our real capacity. And so, you know, so much of what I teach is helping women to be more aware of and at peace with the fact of their capacity for pleasure, their capacity for desire, both in the sexual and non-sexual realms of their life, and to make more room for their own dignity and their own capacity and their desires in their life. And not at the expense of other people or anything like that, not that they're trampling over others to fulfill their own desires per se, but that they're not always deferring in relationships as a way to keep other people happy with them and to regard themselves in their relationships as true equals, as that their sexuality matters as much as their partner's does, that their pleasure matters as much as their partner's does. And for many women, that's a really big shift in mindset.

Tanya Hale 17:25

Yeah. I think it was for me. And I think that as I started listening to your content and other content, one of the big ideas that, for whatever reason, just really hit home for me was that God gave me my sexuality. And I just had an "aha" while you were talking about this, that part of my learning to step into my sexuality is also tied very closely with my self-respect. Like until I can embrace that part of me, I can't step into the full sense of who I was created to be. That's a part of it. And I love also the link that you just made with this equal partnership... until I step into my sexuality, I cannot show up as an equal partner in my marriage either.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 18:12

That's right. And a lot of times we're looking for our partner or others to make us feel like an equal or to make us feel good about ourselves. And of course what people do matters and it has an impact on it. But it's also the self-work of holding on to, of working out our relationship with ourselves, with our body, with our sexuality, with our dignity. It can be easy to kind of take a one-down position and hope that we'll keep the peace in our relationships, but it never does because we're not doing important spiritual work, in my opinion, which is working out our relationship to our own value and our own importance.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 18:54

And part of that is believing in a God who has granted us our dignity and our sexuality and our value and to grow into a self that can truly live that and understand it. I do a coaching podcast where I work with couples, real couples around their issues around intimacy, and a couple that I'm working with right now is, it hasn't been released yet, but she's always been in a kind of one-down position relative to her sexuality in her body, and he's always been in this one-up. And it's, they're very similar in their capacity for actual intimacy as a couple, how much they tolerate being really known, but they take these respective positions. And she's sometimes confused being one-down with being good, right? Just do what makes them happy, but resentful often and frustrated and feeling condescended to a lot. And as she has started to claim her own desires, her own sexuality, and her own equality in the marriage, her own strength, like she's a smart woman and she's suppressed a lot of it because she learned that's how you should be in her family of origin. But as she started to step in more honestly and to bring more of her genuine perspective and speak more directly about her desires, it's making the marriage so much better. And it's also getting him out of his false superiority, which he also needs. And so it's real time evidence that one-down does not serve oneself or a marriage or one's children for that matter. And as we kind of claim our dignity and our equality with others, we serve ourselves and the world better by doing that, right? Because we're living in what's true and our sexuality is a part of that claiming.

Tanya Hale 20:56

You know, as you talk about that, I think about my previous marriage and I was always putting myself in that one- down position, right? Like "this is my job, it's my duty, it's what I have to do." But then I would flip around and I would put myself in the one-up position thing and I'm just so much more righteous because I don't have these same desires and because I'm willing to serve you. And putting myself in either that one-up or one-down position is always so damaging to our relationships.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 21:25

That's right. Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. It's like, it can do an overt one-down, but then this kind of covert one-up, "this makes me better than you. I suffer more than you. I give up so much and you're those base person who wants sex all the time." And yeah, and those things are so alive in a marriage and so destructive, but very intuitive, especially if we haven't learned how to claim our strength and make room for it in a relationship.

Tanya Hale 21:58

Oh, I just love all of that. So let me ask you this for, for women who find themselves in this place, like really struggling to step into their sexuality, trying to figure it out, how do they start addressing all of these issues so that they can begin stepping into more sexuality?

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 22:17

Yeah, it's a big question. I like teach courses and things that kind of, you know, help people to start to look at their relationship to desire in general, their relationship to their bodies, their relationship to sexuality. Part of it is just starting to... the course that I teach, I just start by kind of laying out a lot of the traditions, the ways of thinking that a lot of women in the room have internalized. And sometimes you, you know, you can't change what you can't see. And so if you don't even know that it's existing, like it's, you know, like a goldfish doesn't know he's in water because he's always in water. And so sometimes it's helping people to see the water that they're swimming in, the air that they're breathing, because it's having a lot more impact than they realize and not being able to identify it means they can't even address it.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 23:12

So I started by just helping people better see what is shaping their low desire, for example. What are the meanings that are operating in their lives that they feel bad about themselves? And then, you know, helping people to kind of start looking at their relationship to themselves, their sexuality, desire, and then articulating a different way of thinking about how one could be in relationship to these things and how it, in fact, creates more strength and more joy, both within oneself and within one's relationship. So for a lot of people, it's like going into a reorientation of it because it's usually not for lack of trying for people. They're often trying to do what they think will solve the unhappiness in the marriage, just have more of this miserable sex and eventually, you know, he'll be happy with me or something. So it's not usually for lack of trying, it's just trying in a way that doesn't ever actually solve it. And so people need a new way of thinking. You know, of course I recommend my course or my podcast because it will help people start to reorient. But I think, you know, any kind of book that helps you just start understanding your sexuality as a woman is gonna help you think about the meanings that you've inherited that haven't been that helpful.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 24:37

But the other thing is, I think, you know, in line with that is learning about female sexuality. A lot of times we have internalized a very male-centric idea. Like when Masters and Johnson talked about the sexual response cycle, they were talking about male sexual response. And then a lot of women are like, "well, I take forever" and like, "what's wrong with me" and so on. But that's only because we have the idea that men's sexual response is the standard, rather than, "why are men so fast?"

Tanya Hale 25:10

"What is wrong with them?"

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 25:11

"Don't they know how to enjoy anything?" So it's just kind of been the sort of thing "well I'm the problem" rather than "good couples sexuality tends to mirror a woman's sexual response cycle." Right, and men are able to regulate their capacity for orgasm to be more in sync with their partners. Right, but if women feel like they're trying to catch up or that there's something broken about them, it actually makes it worse because when you sit there and think "what's the matter with me" that doesn't tend to be a very exciting thought and so that makes you less likely to orgasm, which then makes you feel even more broken, which makes you not want to have sex the next time because nobody wants to go do something that makes them feel broken.

Tanya Hale 25:57

Yeah, it seems very complex because it seems to me, from my point of view, that so much of everything we hear about sex in the world, from church, from Hollywood, from society, is all geared toward like shutting us down in so many ways. Like even, you know, as you talked about like the Hollywood idea of what does good sex look like. I mean, it's like "in and out and we've got this" and the woman just gets aroused really quickly. And so it just seems like there's so much working against us to really have a healthy view of sexuality.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 26:38

I think that's true. And I think even now an idea is like women that are really with it and cool are very free in their sexuality and they're happy to be as impersonal in sex as men have traditionally been. And so there's always kind of these standards that exist in society, and just plan on this is what societies do...this is what you need to do to demonstrate you're the right kind of person. And oftentimes sometimes those ideas are healthy and valuable for us. But oftentimes they serve other purposes, not necessarily our strength. Societies tend to be good at creating a collective reality that's stable, but not necessarily flourishing of individual members. Institutions don't tend to do a great job at that. So usually there is economic reasons why Hollywood wants to sell a certain idea about sex. There's social reasons why in the Victoria era they were really suppressing women's sexuality. They were afraid of society going awry when men were leaving home and working in post-Industrial Revolution. So there was a lot of focus on women not being sexual as a way of trying to keep society stable.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 28:04

So there's oftentimes other objectives that are driving the sexual mores than what will really help people be happy. And so I think, you know, we have to be wise consumers of the ideas around us. But maybe looking to role models of people who are at peace in their bodies, people who enjoy sexuality and have meaningful, committed, loving relationships, right? And how have they led their lives? How do they relate to themselves? How do they relate to their body? How do they relate to their desires? Are there people that I can learn from that I think actually understand how to be embodied in a way that creates strength in them and in their relationships?

Tanya Hale 28:58

And I think that's where your work has been so valuable. I think because it's providing so many of us with this alternative view of what sexuality really looks like for us as women and why it's so valuable that we step into it. And I think a lot of women just think, I don't want anything to do with it. I'm just going to turn it all off because that's easier than dealing with all the complexities of what's going on here.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 29:26

It can sure seem easier, except I think, of course, if you're in a marriage, then shutting it off creates all kinds of difficulty usually. It is sort of like "pick my difficulty." The difficulty of addressing something that scares me or the difficulty of not addressing it. But yeah, I think a lot of people wish it weren't there, wish they didn't need to deal with it on some level because it can be frightening.

Tanya Hale 29:52

Yeah. Well, and the more we avoid it, the less intimacy we have in our marriages, which just increases the difficulty because a huge part of marriages is learning how to be intimate, not just sexually, but emotionally stepping into that and not stepping into the sexuality really hinders both kinds of intimacy for sure.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 30:13

That's right. And I think marriage is often a pressure cooker really of self-development and so if you don't learn how to really be a self and instead you take refuge in a one-up position or a one-down position and you don't learn how to be a full self that can collaborate and truly partner, you're going to suffer in marriage. And so marriage pressures you on that question. And so it's a hard... Development wants to happen and it does pressure us, but it is not comfortable too. So it's easy to want to avoid it because it means growing out of of the self that we know into something stronger.

Tanya Hale 31:01

So let's move on, if we can, to menopause and women in menopause. And even for, I think, I would love to look at women who have had a good sexuality and how is menopause going to impact that? And also women who have struggled with sexuality and how does menopause impact that? And how do we address some of these issues around menopause?

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 31:27

Well, I'm speaking from the position of a therapist and coach, not from an MD position because I think a good doctor can give women input on the things that they can do with menopause. I hit menopause a few years ago. And for personal experience, I would say there has been a slight shift in just how much, how to say it, like my body did more of the work before, where I think maybe I have to do a little more psychological work now, like kind of, you know, think thoughts and, you know, kind of get my mind into a specific place. But what I maybe have been the most struck with is how much it hasn't changed. Like how much, and now this was, I also had a comfortable relationship to my desires, a comfortable relationship to my sexuality and being an active agent in that process. So it's not like I needed to learn how to do that. I just had to work a little harder post-menopause, you know, and not a lot harder, just a little. I think I was afraid of it. And when I was going through menopause, I had a period where it kind of plummeted because I was just kind of terrified that my body was no longer gonna work with me and that I was gonna lose something that really mattered to me and that fear made it more difficult for a while. But once I kind of got over the initial panic, you know, it struck me like how much one's mind, you know, sometimes you've heard people say that the mind or the brain is the most important sex organ. And I think that there's a ton of truth in that. Like if you think, "oh, I hit menopause, therefore this is gonna be a big problem." It might be a bigger problem than it actually needs to be.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 33:24

All that said, if women really do have a plummet, you know, in hormone levels and therefore desire, you can get a testosterone pellet. There's different options. I don't know that I can remember what all those options are, but there are ways that women can have either local testosterone cream if there's a lot of vaginal dryness. They can have, I think, a pellet that they insert, I think once a year or something like that, that I've heard from women that I work with has been very helpful for them, that they just felt, much more able. In fact, their desire really kind of surged in a way and that they've really enjoyed that hormonal help. And then I don't know all the options for women who don't want to do some form of hormone replacement.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 34:11

But I guess what I would just say is that humans are built to be capable of being sexual their whole lives. Like we're just sexual beings from in utero to death. And so while you may have to work with your body more and be more patient with yourselves, both of you, that there's still plenty of room for sensuality, closeness, pleasure, and it might look different as you get older, but I think it actually opens up the door for more intimacy, right? Because when you're younger, it can be more orgasm-focused and goal-focused. where I think many people post-menopause speak of it as something that is more sensual, maybe takes longer, but there's a lot more kind of freedom of connection. As we get more comfortable with ourselves and our bodies, there's more, we're less anxious about our sexuality, we're less anxious about intimacy. And so there's a lot of goodness and pleasure there potentially for people in that post-menopausal period.

Tanya Hale 35:22

It seems to me, along with that, that as we have to communicate about some of the changes and as we have to step into that, that that also increases that knowing-and-being-known space that we want, that being seen and the ability to see our partner and to hear them and understand that and increase that intimacy.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 35:47

Exactly, I cannot think of the name. I think it might have been Barry McCarthy, the sex researcher, and he said, pretty sure it was him, that men in their 60s, couples in their 60s, it's most likely the men to terminate the sexual relationship. And he said, this is because many men can't tolerate the vulnerability of having erectile dysfunction, having their body not respond as reliably as it once did and because that feels so exposing and they need too much to feel that they're always on top of it and the one that's sexually able, that that would erode the willingness to show up. Which is very sad, of course, and of course not every man is gonna do that, but if your sense of self is dependent on always being together, you're not gonna want that closeness, but I think other people say like, "look, we're human, we are mortal, and we have each other and I can tolerate my humanity being evident here to me and to you. And we can have something really rich together, even if our bodies disappoint us sometimes."

Tanya Hale 37:06

Oh, I love that. I love that. That's so good. All right. One last area that I just kind of wanted to focus on today is single women. You know, whether it's through divorce, I work with a lot of divorced women, but how is a single woman to continue or even begin to connect with their sexuality as a healthy part of their sense of self, their self-respect that we've talked about? How do single women do that and still feel like they're in alignment with gospel teachings and that kind of stuff?

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 37:44

Well, I don't think you have to be sexual, to be embracing of and comfortable with your sexual nature. And you know, I think that there's a lot of people who are even sexual who have no comfort with their sexual nature, right? So that is to say, I don't think those two necessarily have to go together. I mean, there's limits on how much you can develop your sexuality if you're not being sexual. But so much of it is just, do I cherish my body? Am I grateful for my sexual capacity? Right? There were women that I interviewed in my dissertation, because I researched LDS women's relationship to sexuality and how that how that shaped their marital experiences. And the women who transitioned happily into marriage and were enjoying sex in marriage, all of those women, they were the minority of the group I studied. But all of those women had positive feelings about their sexual nature prior to marriage. That is to say, they discovered their capacity for pleasure, or they somehow became aware of their sexuality as this pleasurable reality. And even if they were very conservative in their choices, right, they had a positive feeling about it, they saw it as a good thing, even if it was something they were going to wait for. Well, that's somebody who is embracing her sexuality, right? There were other women who just would have this feeling of shame about, you know, one person who sat on a teddy bear or a doll and her body responded, and she immediately felt shame about it. Well, even in marriage, she continued to feel shame, even though she was being sexual. And so I would say that's somebody who has not yet been able to integrate her body and her sexuality.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 39:34

And so, you know, do you, do you cover yourself up because you're ashamed of your sexuality, right? Do you flaunt your sexuality because you're actually anxious about it and trying to get validation through it? Or do you kind of hold the dignity of your body and of your beauty even and you're not ashamed of it, but you dress in a way that actually respects your attractiveness. I'm not sure how to exactly say it, it's like you're not afraid of your attractiveness, but you're also not trying to extract something from others with it. And you can kind of feel it in people that they enjoy their attractiveness, they enjoy the fact of their sexuality, but they have their dignity intact as well. And so I think that's really what it is. I think my kids could feel, they didn't know anything specific about my relationship with my husband, obviously, but they could feel that I was comfortable in my own skin, that I felt good in my body, that I liked it when their dad would touch me or kiss me. And so there's a way in which you can feel this person is at peace in her own skin. And that's what I think we're going for. Like, can I embrace and cherish this body that I have, including the sexuality of it, even if I'm making decisions around my sexuality, that, you know, include not being fully sexual right now because I have other values, but that's not a rejection of sexuality. That's just making decisions that are in line with what you believe and feel is best for you.

Tanya Hale 41:15

Okay, I love that like circling back around to this space of our sense of self, right? Or really stepping into what God has given us. He's given us our bodies and they are a gift, right? And I think oftentimes we forget that not only are they a gift, but this sexuality is from God. He put this in us. It's part of what we need to learn how to develop to fully step into our capacity here.

Oh, so good. Jennifer, thank you so, so much. I've loved everything you've shared with us today.

Tanya Hale 41:51

Will you take a few minutes just here at the end and let people know about your... I've taken your art of desire class and I loved that. And you know, talk about several of the classes. I know that you're working on a book as well and just kind of fill us in on all that good stuff.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 42:04

Okay, great. Yeah, so first, if you go to my website, you can find a lot there, which is just my last name,, but I have two podcasts. One is the subscription podcast, where I'm working with actual couples around their intimate relationship. I have five online courses around, basically one is how to talk to your kids about sex, but then I have one for men and one for women that is about self and sexual development, how to be in a peaceful relationship with myself, my body and my desires. And then I have two couples courses, strengthening your relationship and enhancing sexual intimacy. So they're really, they're self-paced courses and they're designed to be able to learn principles and to see in yourself why your marriage is stuck, why you feel stuck in your sexual relationship, what it is you need to get worked out in your relationship to yourself. So that's the goal of the course is to really give couples tools that they can use to make their marriages and their relationships better.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 43:12

So and then I'm working on a book. I have the first draft done, but I've got to get it revised a little bit, but it's basically looking at LDS theology and the integration of sexuality and spirituality, how they are basically linked and the more we develop, the more we can understand how much our spirituality impacts our sexuality and how much our sexuality impacts our spirituality, that we really have a theology of embodiment that's really essential to our spiritual progression.

Tanya Hale 43:44

I'm super excited for that book. I love your work. I just thank you so much for your time today and for answering these questions. I think it's going to be really, I mean, I know for me, like just making that connection between my sense of self, like my real self-respect, can only come as I really stepped into that sexuality. I think that was that was a big big "aha for me today. Kind of closing... I don't know if it closed it up, but it added to my circle of understanding and what's going on. So thank you for that.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 44:14

You're so welcome. My pleasure.

Tanya Hale 44:17

Thank you very much and have a great day.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife 44:20

Thank you. Bye.

Tanya Hale 44:23

Thank you so much for joining me today. If you would love to receive some weekend motivation, be sure to sign up for my free "weekend win" Friday email, a short and quick message to help you have a better weekend and position yourself for a more productive week. Go to to sign up and learn more about life coaching and how it can help you get to your best self ever. See ya.