Rhoda Talks about her Class: Open Relationship: Are They For You! It Could Save Your Marriage

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– Transcript –

Renee: Hi. I’m Renee Quintana and I’m here with Beyond the Bedroom to interview Rhoda Lipscomb. And, she is one of our wonderful presenters this year at Beyond the Bedroom and we’re really excited to get to know her a little bit better. And, Rhoda, so I just wanted to ask you a few questions regarding your class and also a little bit about your background. Can you give us a little bit of background about how you got involved in the topic that you’re speaking of? And I’m going to let people, or let everybody know what you’re talking about is open relationships basically. So tell us how you got involved with that.

Rhoda: Well, this, it’s kind of a two pronged approach. I mean, on the one hand, I’ve been a therapist for about twenty years and I’ve always worked in the field of human sexuality. I’ve been in private practice for about seven years as a sex therapist.

So, issues with human sexuality have always been just part of my work and part of what I do. About, my husband and I have been together for about thirteen years, married for about twelve. About five years ago we decided to open the relationship up, for a variety reasons. And, so, I know it not only from this academic, intellectual pursuit, but also from personal experience of what it’s like, and the people we’ve met and the people we know, who are friends of ours who also have successful relationships that are not the traditional norm.

Renee: Right. And so how long have you and your husband been in that type of relationship?

Rhoda: Our marriage has been open for a little over five years.

Renee: Okay. And what, what kind of makes that different? I mean, how is that, what’s so great about having an open relationship?

Rhoda: For us, I think, what’s great about it is that there’s a much deeper level of intimacy. Because to allow your partner to see other people sexually, and sometimes even romantically, and you have the knowledge and the belief that we’re still committed to each other. As we always say, we know we’re going home with each other at the end of the night.

Renee: Right. Yeah.

Rhoda: And neither one of us have any doubt about that. So, to let go of those fears and those insecurities that so many people hold on to, that keep them stuck.

Renee: Yeah, definitely. And, so, what would, I know, so the class that you’re going to be presenting at Beyond the Bedroom is regarding, like, an introduction to open relationships. Correct?

Rhoda: Absolutely. It’s very much an introduction. So it’s helping people understand what this is, what it isn’t, some of the terminology that you might hear, ways to avoid some of the pitfalls that either we’ve had to go through or we’ve seen other people go through, and how to kind of avoid that. How to negotiate this with your partner. How to talk about it. How to dip your toes in without having to just jump into the deep end of the pool.

Renee: Yeah. That’s definitely helpful I think, for people who are just getting started in that. So, in general, you know, if somebody’s considering an open relationship and they were to come to your class. What are some of the common problems that people experience in life that would, would make them want to attend your class?

Rhoda: Some of what they may have experienced is that, you know, we live in a culture where we get taught that exclusive sexual relationships are the only way, the only dynamic that will make a relationship successfully. And yet, while there are some people who are, what I would call monosexual, who really are perfectly happy only being with one sexual partner for the rest of their life. There’s a large percentage of population who are much more polysexual. Who, they need that variety. They need, they may only want to be emotionally attached to one person, but they need that variety with someone else. Otherwise, they are much more likely to want to look outside of the marriage. And then you get the problems that come with sneaking around and everybody’s not on the same page.

Renee: Yeah.

Rhoda: The great thing about open relationships is that everybody’s on the same page. There’s no sneaking around. It’s like everybody knows what’s going on. Everybody has agreed to a negotiated, whatever the rules are that go on within that particular dynamic. And every…what we’ve learned is that every couple has a slightly different dynamic and it depends on the people involved and what they’re comfortable with and how they’ve negotiated that.

So what works for my husband and I is not necessarily going to work for another couple. So they have to learn how to negotiate what’s going to work the best for them. And that’s part of what we talk about, is that you’ve got to…the two of you have to negotiate what’s best for you.

Renee: Yeah. Great. What would you say are three things that people would actually take away from your class, when they leave your class?

Rhoda: That’s a very good question. I think one of the things they’re going to take away is a permission to explore. Because sometimes people just need to give themselves that permission. They need someone to say, you know, it’s okay. It’s your marriage. It’s your relationship. You get to define how that looks. And as long as the two of you are happy with the dynamic, it doesn’t matter whether it looks like anybody else’s marriage that you know.

We’re also going to give them a lot of resources. A lot of the local resources for places to go, to begin kind of that process, to begin looking at how you do this, how you meet people. So not only online resources, but physical resources. Places that they can go where they can meet people, they can talk to them, they ask questions, “gee, how do you guys make this work”. So they’re definitely going to have that.

And, they’re going to have a chance to ask us what it’s like. You know, they’re going to get both the male and a female perspective. Because my husband and I do this class together. You know, he works in the corporate world, so he’s not necessarily part of the promoting of it. Because in my world, I mean, you know, who cares if you’re a sex therapist? You expect your therapist to, you know, not be sexually inhibited. But in his world, that’s a little different. But you’re going to get both a male and a female perspective. Because men and women, we tend to look at these things differently. And we tend to get different things out of it.

So we’ll talk a little bit about that, so that people can think, “Oh, okay. Maybe this can be for me. Maybe I can dip my toe in and see what it feels like”.

Renee: Great. So what, what’s one of the… I know that you work with a lot of people one on one, as a therapist. And, have you worked with somebody, you know, kind of worked through this situation with them? And if so, what happened, or you know, what kind of results, maybe, can you share with us that you’ve provided with somebody that has actually worked with you before, regarding this subject.

Rhoda: Well, I worked with a couple that I’ve worked with for years now, and initially, it was slightly different situation, but it was also that he had certain sexual needs that were not needs that she could fulfill. And, so, him having another partner, and opening that marriage up, was really the most realistic thing for them to do, to save the marriage. And she was a very traditional woman, this was not something she had ever imagined, ever wanted to do. She’s definitely one of those people whose very monosexual. She was perfectly happy in her long term marriage with only being sexual with her husband and no one else; she never fantasized about anyone else. It was just not what she wanted. But it most definitely was what he needed. And so we worked with them on how to negotiate that and how to work that out, so that both of them could get what they needed from their marriage, and keep their marriage going, and yet each of them could really get their needs met. And do it in an honest and open manner, so that both of them knew what was going on, both of them knew what the rules were, she was getting enough time and attention to fulfill her needs, and he also could then bring on another partner who would fulfill his specific sexual needs that then… and actually, the other partner and the wife, you know, now have some sort of a… I mean, friendship might be a little bit of a strong word, but they’re, they know each other, they have dinner together, they have a relationship with each other. So I mean, they know each other. So it actually worked out amazingly well. It’s amazing what people will do when, when the bottom line is that they want to make their marriage work.

Renee: Yes. Definitely. And I think that that’s where a lot of people are these days, you know, just trying to figure out a solution that’s going to make both parties happy and…

Rhoda: Right.

Renee: …not cause any problems. So, that’s good…

Rhoda: We have to get out of that win/lose thinking that our society tends to gravitate to. It’s like what we gravitate to in the field of law, in the field of sports. It’s all about one side wins and one sides loses. As opposed to how do we form a win/win situation, where both sides get their needs met and neither one has to give up everything for the other.

Renee: Right. Great.

Rhoda: And that’s a new concept for a lot of people.

Renee: Yeah, it is. So, last thing, I know we keep talking about people in relationships and being in an open relationship, what about somebody who is single? Is this a good class for them to attend?

Rhoda: Sure. There are certainly people who are single and in open relationships. So even if somebody is single, this still a good class for them to go to. If they want to try and figure out, “how do I negotiate that with people in dating? How do I bring up that subject? How do I talk about it intelligently?” This would be a great class for them. To be able to start building those dynamics from the beginning with, with new people that they’re dating. And I certainly know plenty of single people who, that’s the way they live their lives. They live their lives in open relationships and they look for other people who are either open to that dynamic or are already in that dynamic.

Renee: That’s good to know. Okay, so, just to let our listeners know, you can find out more information about Rhoda’s class on our event site, which is www.bedevent.com. And you can also register the even there. And, Rhoda, I’m interested to know, how do people contact you? Maybe if they want more information before the class, or if they want to see what your practice is about, do you have any information that you can share with us about that?

Rhoda: Well, my website is www.talkaboutsextherapy.com, which talks about my practice, it talks about the whole realm, the different things I work with. If they wanted to send me an email, they can send me an email at sexcounseling@yahoo.com. I’d be happy to answer any questions that people have.

Renee: Okay. And I know that you are planning on being at the even all weekend long, so people can pick your brain a little bit while you’re there, and see you around there too, right?

Rhoda: Oh, that’d be great.

Renee: Awesome. What are you looking forward to the most about the event?

Rhoda: I just, I love being around all the sex positive people. You know, I think most of the time we live in such a sex negative world and to be around a group of people who are, are so positive about the whole aspect of sexuality is just a joy to be around. And I really enjoy that.

Renee: Yeah, we do too. Well, great, thank you so much for your time this morning. And we really are looking forward to your class and can’t wait to see, you know, what people think about it.

Rhoda: Great. Well, thank you.