Each week on the Love and Money Podcast, brought to you by brightpeak, hosts Rafael Robert, director of Love & Money at brightpeak, and Debra Fileta, a licensed professional counselor and author, ask guests to bring forward a myth regarding relationships or finances, then dissect it together in a segment called “Bust a Myth.” In this week’s episode, our hosts are joined by Rich and DawnCheré Wilkerson, VOUS Church pastors and stars of reality show Rich in Faith, to bust a myth regarding counseling.

Rich: The myth that we brought this week is this idea that you only go to counseling once you have a problem. I think this is a myth that we see show up in so many different relationships that oftentimes, people decide to take a break once something breaks. And it’s always gonna be a mistake because the reality of it is, if we look at relationships like our car for a minute. We all know that our car throughout different moments needs a tune-up and an oil change.

But so often, we drive our car—our relationship car, if you will, to the point that it breaks down and then we take it into the shop. I think we have to change our mindset on this quite a bit. I think we have to start to see our relationships as living things that constantly need to be checked in on, constantly need to be re-evaluated, constantly need output and input from other people to make sure that we are being filled up with the right stuff. I know for DawnCheré and I, we put it on our calendar.

We wanna make sure we are processing with other voices to make sure that we’re getting outside voices into our relationship. It’s helped us. And we don’t just go [when] we have a problem. We’ve decided let’s make sure we’re talking about things before they become a problem.

DawnCheré: Right, and I think we see a really clear example in so many areas of our life that we take care of what God’s entrusted to us before it falls apart. I mean, you have your annual health exam, I go to the dentist on a regular basis, not just when something goes wrong. I get financial advice, not just when I’m in an emergency situation but when I’m planning for my future. And I think that, in a marriage and in a relationship, we should have a big vision for what the future holds, especially when you’ve invested to spend the rest of your life with that one person.

So I think that taking the time to meet with people who are further along on the journey than you are, who have more wisdom and have been through more situations and seasons than you’ve walked through together. I think it’s priceless to take the time and to spend the effort to sit down … and it doesn’t have to be an expensive thing. I love community and the power of church, that in church we have so many different ages and backgrounds and stories and I think that we find people in community who can speak into our lives and give wisdom and I think that the biggest mistake.

And it is such a myth that you save counseling for when things are falling apart, because the truth is, I think a lot of people look at counseling as going to the doctor, and we should really look at it as having a refresh button on our relationship that things are just gonna get better. You’re not gonna go in a downward spiral as you meet someone who’s further along than you.

Debra: I feel like I should just bundle what you guys said and use it as a commercial because I’m a professional counselor. I’m like, this is exactly right. And I see the sad stories where people are coming in post-problem. After things have gone crazy and after life is overwhelming and when there’s too many cracks that they don’t even know where to begin restoring the foundation. And the truth is we come to relationships with baggage and problems and issues and things we carry from our past that we don’t even realize. And then in the pressure cooker of marriage, these things multiply by a hundred and all of a sudden these things are facing us.

And I would like to backtrack for a minute and say that I think professional counseling isn’t just for couples. I think the best thing you can do for your future relationships if you’re currently single is to start the process of healing right now, while you’re standing alone, and work on that stuff and work on the baggage. And sometimes we sit and think, well I don’t think I have anything to work on and I don’t know what it is I need to work on. But I challenge you—your thoughts, your feelings, your behaviors, your interactions, those are all the different areas that can sometimes come with problems in areas that need to be refined and fine-tuned.

And I personally suggest … I know, obviously I’m coming from a bias because I am a professional counselor. But I really do suggest, even professional counselors need to get at least eight sessions of therapy with a counselor. Even if you don’t know what you have to talk about but that’s the whole point, is to process life through someone else’s lens and just get an objective perspective on where you’re at and where you need healing.

DawnCheré: I love what you’re saying Debra and I also feel like, not just for single people, but so often we meet with couples that, one of them is unwilling to go, and I think that shouldn’t hold back the other person from starting to process and starting to get the healing that they need in their life as they wait for the other person to come into a place of being comfortable to step into it.

Rafael: And Dawncheré you talked about hiding or holding information and having to hold it tight and thinking you can solve it yourself … I can’t help but think that comes back up here. And I just think this is such a fascinating thing because it’s not just about counseling. You all as pastors, I think obviously people come to you. You talk about community and reaching out in the money world obviously, it’s like hey only people who have money need a plan, or the plan is only when I have disposable income or for later in life.

This applies to so many areas, I think it really comes down to, are we putting out fires, or are we keeping things from going up in flames in the first place? And what resonates with me is not hiding from this and really being able to take it on and work with someone on these things. And what we’re talking about, I think it’s across all of these areas. Our love and money approach is very holistic. It is looking at your faith, your beliefs, your emotions, your cultural influences. And people often, when they do our programs, ask, “Why are you asking me what I believe about God and money when I thought you were gonna help me with a money plan?” It’s like because all of that matters, and you’re working through all of the stuff that influences your God-given story and you’ve gotta work that out.

And if you’ve got issues with communication or what’s enough for you and your faith is a struggle or one of you is unaligned with the other, I can’t help you that much with the money stuff, it’s not gonna work. So to me, going and getting help from trusted mentors, pastors, counselors, professionals, coaches, whatever, it’s like you need to be doing it so that things don’t catch on fire ever in the first place.

Debra: And the bottom line is, healthy people make healthy relationships. That’s the message I’m constantly putting out through the blog and ministry. And the healthier you are standing alone, the healthier your relationships are gonna be. So whether you join counseling by yourself or whether your spouse is willing to join you, or whether you’re a single person just looking ahead at life and all of the things ahead, just get yourself as healthy as you can be, that’s your responsibility and it will have a huge impact on the health of your relationships as well.

Rafael: Well then, Rich I can’t help but imagine it’s probably the question that people ask: Are we only going to God when we need help or when we’re in trouble. It’s akin to that kind of question.

Rich: Yeah, absolutely, I think that we gotta make sure that we are setting ourselves up consistently and frequently that we are building a healthy life. And we’ve always said that it’s healthy individuals that make a healthy relationship. Two healthy individuals make one healthy relationship. I think with our relationship with God, if we only go to him when things are bad, it’s not much of a relationship. We wanna be able to journey with God through the mountaintops and through the valley. And that’s how our relationships on earth are. My wife and I have actually learned to walk together with those things. We haven’t just learned to walk on the mountaintop, we learned to walk through the valley of hard times, and as we walk together we actually get stronger. And a lot of times the fires and the problems of life are the things that make us stronger. You think about gold having to be purified in fire. A relationship is gonna go through challenges and have problems, there are gonna be obstacles. But if we make sure that we’re involving other people and we’re learning preventative measures, if we make sure we build ourselves on a strong foundation, when the fire of life comes, I think our relationship will come out even stronger. So people have all of these different myths that they believe and they think that when a problem comes they should run away or get out. And a lot of it is just because they haven’t been educated and make sure that they safeguarded themselves before those things take place.

Rafael: I love that, consistent with everything you’re talking about and just going right out there and taking these things on. Even the emphasis for your book, like all of these people are talking about these things, I could run I could hide from this but I’m gonna write a book about it and put it out there to talk about. I think the message, at the end of the day is don’t run away or keep these things in the shadows, don’t hide them. Work them out, work them through, get healthy, work with people who can help you get healthy, whether that’s your relationship with God, with each other, with money and so on and so forth.

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