Audience Participation



When will I ever learn?

Okay, I’m busily writing what will hopefully be a more eventful chapter in the major storyline.  But I’m running into more dead-ends, here.  Since the professional isn’t stepping up, I’m going to ask input from YOU learned folks.


I submitted some questions that I thought were interesting and worth answering but it must be a busy time of year for various therapists.  So here you go:


#1. I’m in a bit of a rut or a holding pattern in my relationship with my wife.  We’re not getting anywhere.  Will therapy help move us out of that pattern, even if she does not participate?


#2. I know of a local Christian sex counselor who just happens to work through my wife’s church counseling center.  What sort of questions would be good to ask to make sure he’s competent?


#3. What would an initial first visit look like, assuming he is experienced and competent?  What could I expect? (I’m thinking of a solo visit before doing anything jointly, even if Arwyn would be keen to go along with it.)


That’s it.  I know a bunch of you have experience with this, and more of you have suggested it than actually done it.  But now it your chance.  Speak up and fill me in.




11 Responses to Audience Participation

  1. YOUR QUESTION: There’s a counselor who works out of my wife’s church counseling center who is a Christian sex therapist. If I decide to consult with him, what sort of questions should I ask him in an initial contact? What might I expect from a competent counselor in an initial visit?

    MY RESPONSE: I’d be more concerned about what the counselor asks you than I am about what you are planning to ask him.

    Is he (the counselor) focused on CHALLENGE and GROWTH primarily of the individual and then of the couple – or is trapped in the idea of trying to be so empathic that it will take weeks or even months before you and your wife can really get to talk?

    Has he studied David Schnarch? If not, I’d move on.

    Is he himself FREE, or is he anxious, and highly-strung?

    What does his theology tell him about who women are? Are women COMPLETELY equal with men and if not, I’d avoid him. Fully mature sex is impossible with perceived un-equals. If a man perceives himself as above a woman or “in charge” of his wife his mindset it robbing him of the very joy and sexual fulfillment he is seeking.

    Let me digress and say Christians ought to be the freest, most fun loving and joyful people of all people, who, when married, are also having the very best sexually full and active lives on the planet.

    Surely, knowing a creative God, being engaged in a dynamic relationship with the very Giver of life, the very source of joy – ought to translate every Christian marriage into a powerhouse of sexual joy and fulfillment? It seems to me that “sexless” and “Christian marriage” – apart from possibly very unusual circumstances, ought to be impossible to find. While, as a therapist I know this is not the case, it is not unreasonable to expect that people who claim to know and serve the Living God ought to enjoy and know the best sex and most powerful relationships life can offer.

    Since equal and respectful sex between a husband and wife is the physical representation of the love of God, sex between married Christians is in itself one of many acts of worship – at least with as much importance as reading the Bible or attending church.

    I hope some of this gives rise to discussion and helps you establish a reasonable connection with the person who works at your wife’s church. By the way, how does it come to be your wife’s church and not also you church?

    Respond soon.

    Rod Smith

  2. Emily says:

    I’m just not an expert on therapy, having never had couples therapy (despite my best efforts, he would just never go), but I have seen a counsellor for a while twice in my life and read books.

    1. Therapy may help. It may not. But it feels like you’ve pretty much exhausted what you can do on your own and like you might benefit from some more systematic help. The reality is that you can’t move from here without some effort and thought from Arwyn, and you may need some external input to put a bomb under her.

    2. Personally, I don’t think there are particular methods/authors they HAVE to know of or use. Just make sure they have decent qualifications from a reputable body. Also, give thought to looking for people who are really experienced in couples/family therapy, not just individual therapy, because the goals and approaches are not necessarily the same.

    I also think there is an element of personal rapport with therapy. You need to have at least some liking, and certainly some respect, for the therapist. In that sense, you kind of have to go on a mixture of qualifications and gut feeling.

    3. From my experience, a first visit would be very introductory. They would ask why you were there, what you would be hoping to get out of therapy. They would try to get a kind of overall sense of how you got to where you are. Then they would suggest a schedule for visits. They might also give you an initial exercise/approach to try before the next session.

    Honestly, Digger, I think you really have nothing to lose. At worst, it will be a waste of time. If it seems to be making things worse, you can always bail out. But it might really help.

  3. FTN says:

    You say “even if she will not participate,” but I find it amazing that anyone in a marriage would flat-out refuse something like that. But I’m constantly amazed by stuff like that, I suppose…

    “Honey, we desperately need something like this, and if you have any hope of seeing this marriage continue, if you have any desire for our children to have a Mother and a Father in the same house, then we need to at least try this.”

    “Nope. Won’t do it.”

    That would kind of say to me that she really doesn’t want to be married.

    And I’m actually kind of jealous that you know of a Christian sex counselor nearby.

  4. Desmond Jones says:

    We’ve had a fair bit of experience with counseling in one form or another – mostly relating to our kids and our parenting, but also some marriage counseling on a couple occasions when we just ‘hit a snag’.

    We’ve had a couple really good ones, and some pretty useless ones. I couldn’t really tell you how to tell the difference ahead of time. Virtually every one we’ve seen was recommended to us by someone or other who we knew, so that didn’t really help.

    What Rod Smith says above really seems to ring true, tho. The counselors we’ve had who’ve been the most helpful were the ones who could challenge us to grow – to take what we learn and DO SOMETHING with it. The useless ones pretty much just listened and nodded.

    So, your first visit should be kind of like an interview – you put your stuff out there, and find out how the counselor is going to approach it. I’d be looking for some indication along the lines of, “Yeah, you can learn to deal with that, and I can help you do that.” If it’s just, nod and “I see. . .” move on.

    The thing for you and Arwyn, it seems, at least from what you’ve written here over the last couple years, is to take the challenge to really be honest with each other, get your guts on the table, decide that you want to deal with your stuff more than you want to avoid conflict, and figure out how to move forward.

    ‘Cuz honestly, what you’ve been doing isn’t working so well. . .

  5. Dave says:

    I can’t offer anything useful as far as your questions go, so I’ll just say that I’m crossing fingers, toes, etc for you both- and more importantly, you’re in my prayers.

  6. 2amsomewhere says:

    You probably would have expected to hear something like this from me, but I second Mr. Smith’s comments.

    BTW, I read Smith’s weekly column that used to run in the Circle City newspaper a few years ago, and I found his writings to be very insightful.


  7. diggerjones says:

    Thanks for the response Rod and I really did enjoy the digression! It does validate my feeling that where I’m at just isn’t right and reflects deeper issues.

    And Shnarch’s book finally came today.

    your input is valuable, Emily, as I know you’ve done some work individually under sometimes less than ideal conditions. But I do agree with Rod that a sex therapist that does not know Schnarch would be like a behaviorist that doesn’t know Skinner. And I am picky as far as methods I’m NOT going for, especially the psychodynamic perspective that tends to go on and on and on for years. I’ll spend some months on the work but not decades.

    FTN, they can be found in odd places like various church counseling centers. But this is an odd find to be sure, especially since we are out in the sticks when it comes to therapy services! Whether or not I deliver such an ultimatum depends on the input I get. I have no intention of forcing Arwyn into counseling and I’ll do my best to encourage without pressuring. I know pressure since she wants me to get into a 12 step group like she is, and I’ve been there and done that. Plus it hasn’t really impacted us intimacy-wise. So it really does not help at all. But I am going to need guidance.

    I appreciate your insight, Desmond. It sounds like you and Molly are on the same page, which makes it a bit easier, plus the issues with the kids paved tghe way to be open to that.

    Prayers will work for me, Dave! I pray that God illuminates the path far enough ahead to take the next steps. He’s walking alongside, regardless, and it’s nice to know you’re along for the ride, too!

    I sort of had you in mind, 2am, when I wrote this. Mr. Smith is a regular read of mine via web or RSS, and I do feel like I’ve gotten to “know” him via his blog. Now that I have the book, perhaps I’ll be able to decipher your blog a bit better! Or at least keep up.

    The biggest issue is TIME. Just a phone call seems like a big enough obstacle. A minor miracle might be in order here and I’ll be looking for it.


  8. Square1 says:

    I’ve not done “couples” or “sex” counseling, but have had experience with councelors in general. I concur on the “you need someone who will challenge you to grow”. In addition to that you need someone who will hold both of you accountable. Accountability is going to be a major factor for both you and Arwyn.

    You also need to look for someone who is skilled in communications techniques. I say this because underlying the sexual starvation there is also a communications starvation. You’re both avoiders. If you don’t communicate you don’t have intimacy, and for a woman if you don’t have intimacy, then what the hell is the point of having sex? (Pardon my language.)

    You need someone who will be able to provide a safe environment for both of you to be able to confront one another, and also to teach you both how to accept criticism. I still say you need to get “Marriage On The Rock”. I am no longer Christian, but that does not negate the value of the lessons and advice in that book. Both of you have to learn how to complain to each other, and how to have a receptive complaint department for each other. Books are great. They can give you good insight, but without that person holding you accountable on a regular basis it’s easy to get discouraged and abandon your efforts.

    Anyway, I’ll stop talking now. I do not have a perfect marriage by any means. Much of what I have said here is also me speaking about the speck in my own eye, so please understand that. But it is easier to see things sometimes when you are removed from the situation, than when you’re involved. Good luck! Insha’ Allah you will find a Godly counsellor who can guide you to a God centered and intimately fulfilling marriage, Digger. You and Arwyn both deserve that very much.

  9. Square1 says:

    Ha! I have a picture now. Just thought I’d share that.

  10. […] Rod was wondering about why Arwyn and I have different church group affiliations. Having only read one chapter, I can already see that Arwyn and I may actually be differentiating in a spiritual way that is congruent with what Schnarch talks about. Neither of us is really asking the other to conform to the other’s way of practicing Christianity, but we do have similar enough core beliefs. […]

  11. […] counseling for the two of them. It was like deja vu all over again from a short time ago only it was FTN pounding out the steady drum beat of how I really needed to get us into counseling. Now […]

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