Skeptic Turned Believer of this Extreme Couples Therapy Show
By Brittany Banks
Beverly Hills, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/27/2015 – “What is the title of this show? Sex Box? What!? Me? I’m a real doctor. A traditional, classically trained, real doctor,” was Clinical Relationship Psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish’s initial response when she was approached about being an expert on WE tv’s new reality show. “My lawyer said, ‘Guess what? You’re not doing this show!’ I had the open-mindedness to say, ‘Let me go in, explore, and find out more.’ That’s what I’m hoping the viewing public will do: give it a chance and just see for themselves what it is and then make up their own minds,” Dr. Walfish avows. “I think people will see themselves in more than one couple.”
I cynically immersed myself in this assignment, but soon discovered that Sex Box is not the desperate gimmick one’s knee-jerk reaction may perceive it to be. Premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on WE tv, Sex Box is described as “a groundbreaking, unprecedented and life-changing way for couples in crisis to heal their sexual and emotional issues.” Each week, three couples from a wide variety of backgrounds bring their pressing concerns to a panel of three renowned experts: Sexologist and Clinical Psychotherapist Dr. Chris Donaghue, Pastor and Couples Counselor Dr. Yvonne Capehart, and the one I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with, Dr. Fran Walfish.
The theory behind Sex Box is based on a revolutionary, scientifically proven concept: In the first 15 minutes following intimacy, the “love” and “bonding” hormone oxytocin is pervading the body, enabling people to divulge their innermost feelings and reveal the root of their problems. Sex Box is the next best thing to actually being in the couples’ bedrooms. The pairs have (timed) sex on stage in front of a live studio audience, in a camera-free, soundproof, private sex chamber. There are no microphones, no shadows, and no skin is revealed. “It’s all done tastefully with class and respect to the couples,” Dr. Walfish emphasizes. Then, when the lovebirds emerge from the box, “they are vulnerable, emotionally open, raw, and available to allow the therapists to dig in deep.”
In many cases, the couples formerly relished wild, passionate-to-the-hilt sex lives, including sex tapes, role-playing, orgies – you name it. Then someone loses interest, babies get in the way, or a partner fails to reciprocate pleasure, for instance.
In the first episode tonight, you’ll meet Alexia and Christopher. Her libido peaked while she was pregnant; she even performed fellatio on him while she was in labor! The birth of their son changed everything, because Alexia converted to “mom” mode and no longer felt the urge to jump Christopher’s bones.
In episode two, airing Friday, March 6th, Taylor and Jarric seek advice from the experts. The duo, who have been together for four years, refer to their pre-parenthood sex life as “OUT OF THIS WORLD.” Their frequency of intercourse diminished from daily to every two weeks or sometimes once a month. They attribute their sexual issues to Taylor’s weight gain and accompanied lack of self-confidence. Jarric explains that Taylor has become so uncomfortable in her skin that she avoids getting completely naked.
Taylor was the one who contacted the show, “because I wanted help with our relationship NOW. Therapy isn’t cheap, and we just kept talking about going to counseling without actually making any moves to get there.” She also believed that an outsider’s unbiased opinion would be more helpful than advice from someone who knew them.
The couple’s perspectives differ in terms of the reactions they’ll receive from family, friends, and co-workers. Taylor admits that she’s a little nervous about exposing their personal business, but “I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to go on the show.” Jarric, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about the prospective criticism from others. “I have done more embarrassing things. We chose to go on this show for OUR relationship,” arguing that nothing else matters.
So how were they feeling when they were about to step out of the box to face the experts and audience? Taylor’s state of mind was, “Wow! Did I really just do this? Am I really about to tell them how sex went with my man?” Jarric thought that “it was hilarious knowing we just had sex – and everyone knew we just had sex!”
Dr. Walfish witnesses first-hand how “young, healthy, vigorous, gorgeous people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, are accepting being in sexless marriages. It’s really heartwrenching. People are not having sex and nobody’s talking about it!” Dr. Walfish praises WE tv for having the courage to lift the veil. “I wanted to be a part of giving a well-needed gift to American couples. The issues on this show are relatable and these couples are transformed in front of my very eyes,” she asserts.
Sex Box was an educational experience for Taylor, especially with regards to learning to convey her emotions. “It felt nice to be able to express my issues to a complete stranger and not be judged; just be helped and get genuine advice.” While the couple agrees that the show was beneficial to their relationship, they acknowledge that they still have a lot of work to do. “But the sex part is starting to spice back up!” announces Jarric.
Taylor and Jarric both recommend Sex Box to other couples. “You never know who may be going through what you’re going through. My ‘bravery’ of going on the show may have unknowingly helped someone else,” Taylor declares.
Jarric enthusiastically expressed, “If your relationship is on the rocks, why not do anything to fix it?!”
On a more general note, here’s Dr. Walfish’s #1 advice for all relationships: “Talking is the glue that holds people and relationships together. When you are at a standoff, when you’re having a power struggle or a conflict with your partner, learn how to take a deep breath, not fly off the handle, not collapse into tears, not attack and fire back, but rather take turns putting tape on your mouth, shutting up, and listening. Open your ears. Tolerate a different point of view. And then mirror or narrate out loud what you think your partner is saying. All you have to do is make the other person feel you get them. You hear and understand them. You’ll see – all the anger will disappear.”
Now, to answer your burning question (or at least mine): Is the Sex Box disinfected?
“YES! Capital Y, capital E, capital S, exclamation point, underline, underline, underline! In between each couple, it’s cleaned and disinfected by OSHA standards,” Dr. Walfish assures us. Good to know!