On the Regular version of today’s show …
I’m joined by Deb Thomas, a fellow LMFT and Sex Therapist and we discuss how metaphors can be helpful when it comes to addressing your sex life.
Learn more about Deb at https://nwioi.com/
On the Xtended version …
Deb Thomas and I continue our conversation although for this segment we talk about what it’s like working with a sex therapist.
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Transcript of Episode
You’ve turned on Sexy Marriage Radio where the best sex happens in the marriage bed. Here’s your host, Dr. Corey Allen.
Corey Allan: Straight from iTunes, Pam as we get started with Sexy Marriage Radio today, this came in over the summer and it says, “I’ve been a Christian marriage podcast binge for the past year and a half or so, and have noticed there’s a lot of lax, not very biblically sound advice giving on the airways masquerading as Christian advice, ie., the host saying they don’t think X, Y, Z is a big deal in marriage even though the Bible specifically says it is and should be done for the health of the marriage and individual. This podcast is not one of those. I love how Dr. Corey comes from a professional perspective, has secular and Christian guests and sources and doesn’t force his spiritual beliefs on the listener while also letting the listener know his beliefs which are biblically based. How you do life is how you do sex and vice versa is so true. And it’s also so true that you have to work on yourself first if you want a better marriage. Thank you Dr. Corey and Pam, you’ve already helped my husband and I so much in just a short several months of listening.”
Pam Allan: Ah, thank you so much for that.
Corey Allan: Absolutely.
Pam Allan: It’s kind of a great summary of what we wanted to be.
Corey Allan: That is totally what we’re trying to do because we’re trying to just present good information that helps your marriage be the best it can be and your relationship being best it can be, but more importantly, your life even be the best it can be. And so welcome to Sexy Marriage Radio where we love that people may jump on iTunes like that and leave comments and reviews. And if you like the show, please jump on there and rate and review, leave a comment or do that in whatever means you choose to listen. Also, we love to hear from you, (214) 702-9565 is how you can let us know what’s going on in your world with any questions or comment or praise or topics you want to see us cover because we go where the audience and the Sexy Marriage Radio nation wants us to go in large part.
Corey Allan: And we try to answer your questions and we try to also be, if you have a place that you don’t know where you can ask questions because you’re not going to bring it up in your small group or at a coworker lunch or with your parents or anything like that, we’ll go there and we want to be a source that can help you make your marriage what it can be.
Pam Allan: Yeah, we want to help you on that journey.
Corey Allan: And there’s also just a few moments we want to take out at the beginning of this show, because October 11th which as this is airing is just a couple days away, is actually the eighth birthday of Sexy Marriage Radio.
Pam Allan: Happy birthday.
Corey Allan: Which is a really cool accomplishment to think that eight years ago we hit the airwaves with three shows, because I remember that vividly. We had three in the can with Gina and I that got started with just this whole idea of why Sexy Marriage Radio. And it was really because we wanted to help frame a conversation and talk about stuff in married life and in sex that wasn’t normally addressed in a straightforward, honest manner, but also had an air of value and spirituality and just some overall health involved. Because if you look at a lot of the information out there, it really is in this world we live in a lot of anything goes. And what we believe here at Sexy Marriage Radio and as part of the Sexy Marriage Radio nation is that married sex is a sacred area for sex and we want it to be fabulous for couples. Even though we know it always isn’t sometimes. There’s struggle.
Pam Allan: Yeah, there’s struggle. There’s pain, there’s times when you just don’t want it to even be there for you. Want to help walk you through it. And I appreciate the grit you’ve had over the last eight years in making this continue and flourish like it has.
Corey Allan: Well, thank you. And I appreciate the fact that you’ve just come onboard in the last year and a half or so. And so a shout out to Gina Parris and to Shannon Etheridge.
Pam Allan: Absolutely.
Corey Allan: The other two ladies that helped carry this thing with me all the way through, but eight years is a big accomplishment. Here’s to eight more.
Pam Allan: Yeah, looking forward to it.
Corey Allan: Because we love what we do. We love being able on the air with you guys and we love the feedback that you guys give us. And so celebrate with us this this week by just emailing in if you want feedback, to Sexy Marriage Radio, call in, just share a little bit. This isn’t, we’re going to spend too much time on this, but it’s something that’s worth noting. And we want to celebrate that and say thank you to you guys as the Sexy Marriage Radio nation for helping make this thing all possible.
Corey Allan: Coming up on today’s regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio, a guest is joining us named Deb Thomas, she’s a licensed marriage and family therapist up in the Seattle area that’s also a sex therapist. And so she and I had a conversation about what are some of the metaphors she uses when it comes to working with sex therapy with her clients because she has a largely Christian population she worked with also. And so how do you frame those conversations to get people talking? And she uses the metaphor of food a lot and it’s a fantastic conversation that helps just enter into that realm a little easier.
Pam Allan: Wonderful.
Corey Allan: And then coming up on today’s extended version of Sexy Marriage Radio, which is deeper and longer plus there’s no ads, you can subscribe at smrnation.com. There’s a little more in depth conversation that Deb Thomas and I have and this one we do on, what’s it like on the couch with a sex therapist in their office. And so we just talk about our practices in some, a little behind the scenes. And I love this conversation because she and I come at this differently.
Pam Allan: Nice.
Corey Allan: And so there’s a little pushback on both sides as we’re talking because they’re both can be very effective, but we see the world differently when it comes to how we approach the subject with clients. All that’s coming up on today’s show.
Corey Allan: Joining me for this segment of Sexy Marriage Radio, I’m excited about this because it’s not too often that I get a chance to have sitting alongside me on the microphone, a fellow sex therapist that is willing to dive deep into that forbidden arena that sometimes we are reluctant to talk about. But Deb Thomas is a marriage family therapist up in the Seattle area, if I’m not mistaken.
Deb Thomas: Yes.
Corey Allan: Who we have crossed paths via some mutual friends, Seth and Melanie Studley with Anatomy of Marriage.
Deb Thomas: Awesome people.
Corey Allan: They are. Deb, thank you so much for joining the show today.
Deb Thomas: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I’m really excited. I’ve been a listener and I send my clients your way and I listen to some of the guests that you have. And I also just also listen for a different perspective. And so sometimes I think that you have a really masculine perspective since you don’t have another female therapist as a regular cohost. And so I think that’s just really helpful. It’s really helpful for a lot of my clients. And so I send them your way.
Corey Allan: Well good. Well that’s kind of interesting to hear that sometimes we have a masculine perspective because I would hope so since that’s, I try to be that in the way I do life. Deb, I’m curious, because there’s two things I want to tackle with you today and we’ll see how we get it, one with this segment during the free regular version and then in the extended content later. But, I’m interested because what I know about you from our conversations that we’re having, and as they’re unfolding, you operate in the world of trying to work with couples that also then dive into the sexual arena of talking and making that an issue. It’s on the table to be discussed and dealt with straightforward, which is a fabulous thing. Any marriage therapist that does not do sex therapy I’m always going, what do you talk about?
Deb Thomas: Why? Why?
Corey Allan: Because those…
Deb Thomas: If you work with couples, if you work with human beings, our sex and sexuality is just so important and it’s a part of who we are and it’s so taboo in our culture to talk about it. And so we’re just left isolated and alone. And so when you start talking, oh, it’s just so, it can be just so healing just to get those words out of your mouth.
Corey Allan: Absolutely. And so, but you also work with a predominantly Christian population.
Deb Thomas: I do.
Corey Allan: Where there’s another layer that can add cloudy to it because it’s not something that the church typically will address. And so I’m curious, how do you tackle that both on a therapeutic stance, if you will, but more on just kind of a situational environmental stance, if you will, of interjecting into that playing field. How do you blend that, your approach?
Deb Thomas: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good question and I think it varies a little bit, but the first I just start off right away letting couples know that I am open and willing to talk about sexual issues if they want to. And so my credentials help because they know I’ve had some training and they know that I specialized in that area, but before I was fully credentialed, what I would often say is I do talk about sex, I can talk about sex and I’ll let you know like if it gets beyond my education.
Corey Allan: Yeah. Which is a valid thing for every therapist or credentialed person to do, that if we get out of our lane, it’s on our shoulders to say, “Whoa, hold on. I don’t need to be using you guys as guinea pigs while I learn. We need to get you to somebody that can truly help, help the situation.”
Deb Thomas: Right, right. And well, and with every sex therapist, we can’t know everything and we can’t specialize in every kind of of issue. We still have to stay in that same place.
Corey Allan: But you’ve got, so one of the things I have found that helps when you’re talking about let’s attack the issue of sex and marriage, is you can come at it from two different ways. One is I’m just going to be straightforward and up front saying, “Hey, if you want to go there, I’ll go there.” But the other is to try to give a framework or some metaphors that that overlap. In some regards, Sexy Marriage Radio is that. That we’re going to be straightforward but we’re also going to try to you a framework you can use to talk about it where, one of the best compliments I’ve got in the history of Sexy Marriage Radio is from a listener that’s also a psychologist and a clinician.
Corey Allan: He refers clients to the show because he says, “Yeah, it’s a show about sex. But if you listen long enough, you’re going to find out it’s not a show about sex. It’s a show about life and being better.” And was like, that is fantastic. It is, it could be a language, but I’m curious, how do you use the different tools or resources or path inroads into talking about sex?
Deb Thomas: Well, I think one of the problems that couples have, especially couples that have grown up environments where their family didn’t talk about sex, their church didn’t talk about sex. And if they did talk about it, it was really framed as here’s what you don’t do. Don’t do all of these behaviors and don’t lust and don’t, don’t, don’t, but not what do you do.
Corey Allan: Exactly.
Deb Thomas: What is good and lovely and pure and sacred? And how do we have conversations with that? Trying to find everyday language that isn’t necessarily about sex. Ester Perel talks about sex as a place you go. And so asking the questions, where do you guys go?
Corey Allan: Okay, that’s good.
Deb Thomas: Another that I use a lot is talking about food because we all know about food and sometimes sex can be like chocolate cake, it can be really good and really wonderful and sometimes sex can be like a McDonald’s hamburger.
Corey Allan: Okay I’m good, I’m tracking with you, let’s keep going.
Deb Thomas: It might satisfy you, but it might also leave you wanting something more.
Corey Allan: Okay. All right. Because I also think you could keep going with that where it might make you feel like afterwards, like that might not have been the best choice on the way I’m feeling about this after thinking back through it.
Deb Thomas: Right, right. And so being able to say to people, I often tell couples, especially couples with younger kids and kids in general, I’m a little beyond that. Like my kids are young adults and they’re out of the house.
Corey Allan: Congratulations to you.
Deb Thomas: It happened. And I miss them and it happened. Okay. Anyway. When talking about food, often thinking about different kinds of ways that we enjoy food. And we can’t always have an the amazing Thanksgiving dinner. We can’t always have the five course meal at the restaurant.
Corey Allan: Because we don’t have the time or the prep space or whatever it might take to actually get to achieving that.
Deb Thomas: Right. But, it is important to take time to intentionally have that time together. To intentionally have the five course meal and maybe the flowers that you arrived beforehand and the dancing or the looking at the moonlight afterwards, that it’s more than the meal and it’s the meal. But taking that time and intention and care, thinking about the conversation, planning ahead. That’s same with Thanksgiving dinner. Lots of planning. Your favorite, maybe Thanksgiving dinner kind of, some people might be thinking, oh dear, that brings up family. Take those people out of your head right now. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about tradition and your favorite things and every year please make that damn…
Corey Allan: Right. The favorite thing that only Thanksgiving typically offers up because if you think about it, it’s not, that’s not one of the normal course of our weekly, monthly recipes on the menu, but there is elements where special occasions bring out that. Or because even even going so far as, that’s when the china comes out or that’s when that bowl comes out that’s never around. Or some of those things that add to the ambiance in the field that make it even more special and elegant.
Deb Thomas: Yes. Yes. When talking about that, we can extend that metaphor and say, “Well, okay, so if we’re going to do Thanksgiving dinner, what is it that you like about Thanksgiving? What is it that you like about, what is it that you wish the tradition would die? Please.
Corey Allan: I don’t ever want to see another thing of green bean casserole.
Deb Thomas: Please no green bean casserole. I know you love it. I know we’ve done that for years and I’ve never told you. I’ve never had the courage to tell you that, meh, I just, I either hate it or it’s just like, eh. I don’t have to have it. But I think that, and I got this from Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers and I kind of took it off on my own, but she talks about having a menu of options. And can you as a couple develop a menu of options because we can’t always have, we can’t have, we don’t have the time to have that banquet of, one, we don’t want it. The ritual, we don’t want that every single night. Thanksgiving dinner every single night. We hate turkey. I like Sunday after we get rid of the turkey. And we don’t want the same thing. We’re not in the same places. We don’t have the same amount of time and energy and attention.
Corey Allan: Okay. That’s what’s funny. Real quick. I want to interject this Deb, because I just sit here and think of the difference of you got and I’m going to be, I’m going to step out on the limb in the whole world of stereotypical with male female, but I want to at least throw it out there since I’ve got you on the show with me. You’re sitting there making the comment of we hate turkey by Sunday because that’s, what I come across is variety is much more important for women than it is for men when you’re talking about the sexual repertoire. Because that metaphor still works. Because if you’re as the woman saying, “By Sunday I’m done with turkey.” I’m sitting there thinking, I could eat turkey sandwiches most every week.
Deb Thomas: For two more weeks.
Corey Allan: Yeah. I could keep going with turkey sandwiches because it gets the job done. It satisfies what worked last time so why not go back to the well and that’s just the nuances that I think are so powerful and this kind of a framework matters to help couples recognize the differences between men and women.
Deb Thomas: Yeah, yeah, yeah. A lot of women well, and some of it is just our bodies are constantly changing. Our hormone levels are constantly changing and our attention and where we have our minds and how many other people’s needs we need to take care of might be part of that. There’s just a lot. But for the most part, I think that sometimes men will put up with a McDonald’s hamburger and they’ll be maybe not really satisfied, like the same way they would be with a larger meal, but they’re like, we don’t have time for anything else so that’s good. And some of my, or a good part of my female clients are like, if I have too many hamburgers, I just won’t eat. That’s just not going to work. I definitely, my clients definitely resonate with that and feel the same way. And it is most often females that say, “Hey, what you did Monday is not what I want you to do on Tuesday. Listen to me.” Now they don’t always have the voice to say that.
Corey Allan: Correct. It’s the message trying to be delivered, but it typically is layered and hidden in the reactions, emotions, everything else, right?
Deb Thomas: Well, and if they were taught that they don’t really talk about it and they’re not supposed to talk about it, how do you say, well, I, we did that Monday, so Tuesday, could we do something else? It’s just like they don’t even have it. They just know they don’t want Monday. And so, no leftovers please. Don’t do the same exact thing. Let’s have something, let’s add some variety to it.
Corey Allan: That’s good.
Deb Thomas: But that’s what we help them do, right?
Corey Allan: Yeah. No. And that’s great because the whole goal to me, and it sounds like this is exactly what you’re doing, is this is just about helping people grab a hold more of what’s going on in their life to be more intentional towards what they’re wanting, how to address what they don’t and how to even recognize it. And even if it’s to the case of I can recognize what I don’t want, but I don’t know exactly what I want, but if I got a framework to at least clearly address that, I’m further down the road.
Deb Thomas: Yeah. Sometimes these everyday metaphors help to create a framework to help start to identify and because we can talk about food.
Corey Allan: Yep. That’s not a shamed area typically.
Deb Thomas: It is.
Corey Allan: Okay, fair enough.
Deb Thomas: It can be. And people are, we have to have food multiple times a day and so we have to have developed some kind of language and many times food is the place where we gather and celebrate. And other times it’s just creating energy and allowing us to be able to put our attention in other places. And it’s needed and necessary. And I believe that about sex and I believe that we have a need for sex and that it’s good and lovely and pure in the right context. It can also in the bad, in the wrong context be really terrible and so can food.
Corey Allan: Yeah, well said. Well said. Deb, thanks for spending some time for this segment with me. I want the Sexy Marriage Radio nation to be able to know how can they find more of you if they are interested on anything that you offer, provide? Just where’s your online home so that they can find you?
Deb Thomas: Well one of the places is with the Northwest Institute on Intimacy, W-W-W-N-W-I-O-I.com. Oh, that was hard.
Speaker 1: Okay. You got it though. Well done.
Deb Thomas: And I do, I facilitate the retreats, the Passion for Life, intimacy retreats and we have one coming up in November and they are fabulous.
Corey Allan: Sweet.
Deb Thomas: And that you have three and a half, it goes from Thursday to Sunday and you have three and a half days of talking about banquets.
Corey Allan: Nice.
Deb Thomas: And talking about how do we talk about getting at what we want and really what are the ingredients of intimacy. They can also find me at Samaritan Center of Puget Sound on their website. And I’m starting in an Instagram called Deb Thomas Counseling. I actually have someone trying to help me because I’m like, I want to, I want to get the word out and I’m trying to learn how.
Corey Allan: Right. I got you. Well thank you so much for what you do. And then also just sharing the framework and the metaphor here. Thanks again.
Deb Thomas: Okay. Thank you. It was a honor and privilege.
Corey Allan: Well, Pam I love how there’s a lot of different ways to approach the subject of sex with couples. And there’s a lot of different things that can help. And ultimately I think the goal is how do you get in line with a resource that does help you? And so that’s what we try to be with Sexy Marriage Radio, where we want to be a resource that’s trusted and helpful. But I think we also, I’ll speak for you, would be the ones, if it’s not with us, we’ll help you find people.
Pam Allan: Oh certainly.
Corey Allan: That will help.
Pam Allan: Yeah. Whether geographically or if it’s personality wise, a better fit for you.
Corey Allan: Or even perspective.
Pam Allan: Perspective. Let’s get you hooked up with someone that can help.
Corey Allan: Because we want married life to be as vibrant as it can be for you. Thank you for spending a little bit of time with us today and for sure over the last eight years.
Pam Allan: Yeah, you guys are fabulous. Thank you so much, nation.
Corey Allan: Absolutely. this has been Sexy Marriage Radio. If we left something undone, (214) 702-9565 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you next time.