Extreme Sex Differences: Elisa and Doug
Dr. Phil speaks with couples who say their sexual problems are destroying their relationships.
"Doug and I have a great relationship, but our main issue is sex," says Elisa, 20. "I have sex with my fiancé because he enjoys it, but I don't really want to. I was raised to believe that sex was dirty and even now I can't get it out of my mind. When I have sex, it makes me feel gross and dirty. If I never had sex again, I wouldn't care."

Elisa marks down the dates they have sex so she meets his needs at least once a week, but she often cries during it. "If I don't cry during sex, I usually cry afterward," says Elisa. "I would prefer to use a vibrator than have sex with my fiancé only because it takes away a lot of the guilt. Doug does want me to tell him I love him during sex, but I can't do that. I do try to express my love to Doug, but sex and love don't make sense to me. Doug is a very romantic guy and he'll often try and light candles, but I get turned off. If I had kids already, I would never have to have sex again and that would be fine with me."
"If I had my way, I would have sex with her at least once a day," says Doug, 25. "Realistically, I'd love to have sex with her at least three times a week. We have sex about once a week, if that. My greatest fear is that she's just never going to want to have sex with me again, ever. I would like for Elisa to enjoy having sex with me instead of doing it just to shut me up. Sometimes she does inform me that she will not be able to have an orgasm so she tells me to finish up so she can go to sleep."

Doug still plans on marrying Elisa, but he says, "If there is no sex at all, I don't see too happy of a marriage."

They turn to Dr. Phil. Doug wants advice for getting Elisa to enjoy sex and Elisa wants to stop thinking sex is dirty.
Dr. Phil asks Elisa, "Consciously, logically, as you sit here, do you think it's dirty?"

"No, I know that it isn't supposed to be a dirty thing, but emotionally, I can't get it to be a normal thing for me," she says.

"You said using sex and love in the same sentence makes you physically ill?"

"It doesn't make sense to me," says Elisa. "It's not making love, it's just sex ... I see sex as a way to have kids, and because I'm willing to have a child with him, that's me showing my love through sex."

Elisa was raised to believe that masturbation and sex before marriage is wrong, but mostly sex was just not discussed in her upbringing.

Dr. Phil points out her inconsistencies because Elisa does have premarital sex and uses a vibrator.

"I think that just some of it stuck with me, unfortunately, and I don't know how to have a normal sexual relationship with him now," she says.
Dr. Phil turns to Doug. "Would you marry her? If you knew that this is what you were buying into, if you knew that she said, 'I have a dysfunction about this and my preference is to never have sex again,' would you sign up for a lifetime of that?"

"Yes, I would," says Doug.

"Tell me why," Dr. Phil probes.

"Because I love her. And sex isn't everything," he says.

"But it's something," argues Dr. Phil.

"It is something," agrees Doug. "But if she was in a car accident and was physically unable to have sex, I would still love her and marry her. Because sex isn't everything."

"So you would sign up for 50, 60, 70 years of rejection?"

"Yes," says Doug.
Dr. Phil turns back to Elisa. "You have what we call automatic thoughts," he says. "You've been programmed by powerful people in your life: parents, clergy, teachers, role models, different people have programmed you with certain things. They said, 'These are the values and beliefs you need to embrace.'"

Dr. Phil points out that Elisa sometimes wants to have sex when Doug is at work, but the closer it gets to him getting home, the more her guilty thoughts get the better of her. "What's happening is you're having automatic thoughts," he says about her ideas that sex is wrong, dirty and gross. "These things are just like a tape playing over and over in your head like elevator music. But it plays really fast so you don't even hear it. And what you've got to do is replace that with conscious thoughts. You have to slow down your internal dialogue and you need to write them down."
Dr. Phil recommends Elisa write those thoughts down, challenge them and then replace them with rational, accurate thoughts. "You are an adult now. You get to choose what you think, feel, believe and value. You gave your power away to people in your past. They're not here anymore, but yet they're running your relationship because they programmed you. It's like you've been brainwashed so you have to deprogram yourself."

He recommends she give herself the Litmus Test for Logic. There are four questions she should ask herself about her guilty thoughts: Is it a true fact? Does it serve her best interest? Does it protect and prolong her health? Does it get her what she wants?

"You need to test every one of your thoughts with that and when it doesn't pass, you need to generate an alternative," says Dr. Phil. "If it's not gross, what is it? 'It's a way to share with the man that I love. It's another level of communication and relation.' And you need to consciously, purposefully start programming yourself. Every time you have one of those guilt feelings, you need to stop and go through that list of alternative rational thinking," he says. "Feelings flow from thought. If you change your thinking, you change your emotion."

"You can change this in a matter of days or weeks," Dr. Phil reassures her.