Ep. 9 Carrie Mercer: True Intimacy is Looking Beyond Sex

Ken Krogue: Hi everybody. Ken Krogue and Thom Harrison with EternalCore podcast. Here with Carrie Mercer. So excited to have you here.

Carrie Mercer: Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Ken Krogue: Carrie’s going to be part of our EternalCore family. They’ve been doing a really fun project with some software and some solutions that we’re actually going to partner with for our community. So this is a really cool thing we’re going to be talking about, but you’ve got a pretty neat story. And some things you guys have been working through that cause you to even do all this. Do you mind walking us through that loop?

Carrie Mercer: We’ve been married, my husband and I, for about. Oh my gosh. Do I know how long? 13, 14 years just about, and things are great. We felt like we had a really good relationship, you know, we’ve had four children, all boys, so that gets a little crazy sometimes, but it’s fun.

Thom Harrison: Wow, a lot of testosterone in that family.

Carrie Mercer: Yeah. You know, so I fit in where I can, you know, play, do a little wrestling myself with them. But no, it’s great. And just through the years, you work on your relationship, you work on your marriage. So we’ve had some great ups and downs and you know, the normal things you find in marriage. Right? So I would say just a few years ago, probably about four or five years ago, we realized there was something missing in our marriage. And I think we kind of realized it a little bit throughout the entire time, but we kind of came to a head.

Carrie Mercer: I would say about that time, it was after our last child, and Josh really, I would say, he was the one that really was searching for something better for our marriage. I thought, you know, you talked to your friends, you talked to other couples and you’re trying to figure out how marriage works and what’s normal, what’s not normal. And I would say, for me, it seemed that we were pretty normal, you know. I’ve even talked to different friends and different couples, and we felt like we were going through the same things that they were. And so it felt, to me, I just thought, “Man, this is just what it is.” If you know all the different issues that might arise in marriage. I just thought that’s just marriage, and one day it’ll get better, right? Maybe when the kids are grown up, maybe when this slows down or that slows down. And then you realize, in life, nothing ever really slows down.

Carrie Mercer: And so you have to start really taking a look at your marriage and your relationship and finding ways to really connect and really make it to the relationship that you want and desire long-term. Right? Anyway, so, I would say we went to a couple of counselors and marriage counselors. They would tell us to communicate, you know, and talk together, which are all important things. But we were still missing something. It was, I would say, the side of intimacy. And with that, that has become a very important aspect for us in our marriage. What we have learned with Alisha, who was our therapist, she really brought us down this road of really examining all these different sides of a relationship.

Carrie Mercer: So not just the intimacy, and not just the communication, but it’s spiritual, physical, emotional, mental. All these things that really help you connect with your partner and have a really intimate relationship that further leads later to maybe more of a physical intimacy as well. Right? So I was the one that was a bit hesitant to start. I literally thought, “We’ve already seen other people.” I kind of had just; I didn’t really have an interest anymore to find any help. And I literally just thought, you know, “This is just the way it is, a lot of people deal with this, why can’t we just be like other couples that have issues, and we’ll just get through it somehow.” I’m grateful to Josh for fighting for our relationship and desiring something more than just the norm and just what was acceptable or what was okay. He wanted something fantastic and amazing. And deep inside, I wanted that too.

Carrie Mercer: So as he was searching and searching, he finally found the healing group, and so we went there. They just had a different philosophy, something richer and fuller that really, again, addressed all the aspects of our relationship. So, for us, it was so healing. And it was a long road. We had to go clear back to the beginning of our relationship and really break everything down. But, to this day I just, I am so grateful that we found that. As we have kind of gone through that experience, it has changed our lives and changed our marriage, changed our family for the better in so many ways.

Carrie Mercer: So I’m having that…I think that’s when the wheels started to turn a little bit. As soon as we would talk to other people, just friends and just random people, they… You know, when you’re into something, really in depth you’ll start to hear, maybe just your ears are open your eyes or you know, you see clearly. But you start to see it coming from everywhere, right? You might read articles, and you start hearing things and conversations that people are having, and it’s just more prevalent in your life, right? As you get into something like that.

Thom Harrison: It’s like driving a Volkswagen and then you notice all the other Volkswagens.

Carrie Mercer: Right. Yes, exactly that. So, as we started listening and other couples started coming to us. And, you know, wives started coming to me and husbands started coming to Josh as soon as they found out that we had gone through therapy and sex therapy. And, “What did that mean? Was it just, is there hope? Is there an answer?” And, for me, I literally just didn’t think there was an answer. So I always have to reflect on my emotions and my thoughts when I first started, because I didn’t think there was hope. I just thought it was, “You know what, we’re just gonna make it through this life and maybe there’s something better somewhere else or when we’re old.” And when were… I just thought, you know, “Maybe that’s it.” So as we’ve gone through this, and seeing an incredible change in our relationship, in our marriage, and in our lives, that’s what you start to want for these people that are asking.

Carrie Mercer: And then you start to realize, I didn’t even know that somebody existed like this. So for us, is it difficult for people to find somebody? Is it easy to ask for help? Is this, you know, okay to say that you may not have all the answers in your marriage to make it fantastic. I would say that most of the time people, it’s a little bit of, I don’t know if it’s a little bit of pride or a little bit of fear. “What will the answer be if I did seek help?” But, it holds them back from really seeking something better, you know? And for something that is the most important thing, or should be the most important thing in our lives, love and relationships and connection with people. What a sad thing that it’s just okay for a lot of people out there.

Thom Harrison: Yeah. And so many people when they hear the word intimacy, all they think about is sex instead of all of those other significant components that move together to enhance that intimacy.

Carrie Mercer: Right.

Thom Harrison: Often we just see it from our cultural or from our familial standpoint. We look at it with eyes that don’t see the whole picture, and don’t understand that there are many different components to enhancing intimacy in the relationship.

Carrie Mercer: Yes. And a lot of us, when you think about even the culture, what we’ve grown up with. You know, what did our parents have? What do we see people around us have? And that’s normal, I guess. Well maybe they didn’t have all the answers either. So when is it time for us to seek our own happiness and to seek what is fulfilling to us? For every couple, that is completely different. What does that look like for every couple? It’s different, right? But that’s the path that you want to search and be on, is that path. “What is the perfect path for us?” And it may not be the same as this friend over here.

Ken Krogue: How long was the process where you felt like you really started seeing significant improvement and your relationship just made impact.

Carrie Mercer: Sorry. It makes me a little emotional. But, I will say, after the first time.

Thom Harrison: Emotions are okay.

Carrie Mercer: Yeah, I will say after the very first time that we went in. You finally feel understood. You feel that you’re not the only one. And I think that’s the biggest fear. Am I the only one with problems? Am I the only one that feels this way? Every other couple seems to have it down, right? Or, if you look at other couples, and maybe they put on a good face or a good front, that everything is fine, that everything is perfect in their marriages. So I think that was a fear to me. “Gosh, am I the only one that has a problem with this” or “this is an issue or not?” Right? Anyway, it’s just interesting to be able to ask that and find that path.

Thom Harrison: Carrie, that’s one of our major focuses in EternalCore. It’s to create a community so people don’t feel like they’re the only one. They can come to our site. They can put on core experiences, and share that with other people, and create a community so they don’t feel alone. They can realize, and they can bring their spouse to it and say, “See, this has happened to other people. We can seek help.” And there is real help out there for people to deal with these things. So you know, I’ve heard that for 40 something years. People saying, “I felt so alone. I felt so alone in my depression. I felt so alone in my anxiety. I felt so alone in my sexual dysfunction. I felt so alone in my lack of intimacy in my relationship.” And when they could see that they weren’t alone, then, they opened themselves up to say, “We can get help. There’s something we can do.” And then you work together instead of trying to hide this difficulty and just shove it down and pretend like it’s not happening.

Carrie Mercer: Right and that’s something fantastic. Just as we’ve gone through this, we’ve noticed, you know what? It’s no more when you feel something, or when you think something, or you have an opinion about something within your relationship that it’s no longer, “Okay, well I’m just gonna put that aside. It doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t.” Everything matters. Every emotion you have, every thought, every feeling. And that is what you want to find is seeking that trust in that relationship, that you can share everything. And that is intimacy, right? And when you talk about, well, it’s not just sex; it is true intimacy, that you feel so connected. So, you know, just open with your partner that it is… You can share those things. The deepest desires, your wants, your needs.

Thom Harrison: You start seeing yourself differently, but also you start seeing your partner differently. You start liking them as a friend again. You know, you start connecting with their humanity. And just that alone can create a healing where you just start seeing them differently. And there’s no more secrets. And you’re just putting it all out there and admitting that, “Hey, there might be some difficulty here. And there’s something we can do about it, because both of us want to resolve this.” It’s Beautiful.

Carrie Mercer: I love it. Yeah. So, just as we’ve gone on, it really is something that we’ve desired for other couples to have. How easily accessible is this help? Is this knowledge or education even, you know… There’s a great need just to be educated about a lot of things in marriage and intimacy in relationships. And where do you find that help? So, that was just something that my husband and I have really wanted to do is just make sure that everybody has the knowledge or where to find this. “Where do we find this? Where do we go? Who can we ask for help?” So that’s kind of what our mission is, it’s that we can help marriages and relationships and families in general.

Ken Krogue: Tell us a bit about the solution that you’ve pulled together. It’s pretty interesting. And, by the way everyone, our community has decided to join forces. We’re going to share in the solution that the Mercers have come up with. We’re pretty excited. So tell us what it looks like.

Carrie Mercer: So there’s a big push with telehealth in general. That is just a very convenient way for people to get help from any location, anytime they need it. Basically just helping people get a convenient solution for any medical health, mental needs that they might have. So ours is a platform that brings together therapists, educators, coaches that deal with these issues. What they’ll do is they’ll just get on this platform. And you, as a consumer, as a couple with this need, you can go on to this platform and you can choose from all of the therapists on there. You can choose how, like what hourly.

Ken Krogue: It’s like on online directory on your phone.

Carrie Mercer: Right. And so you will see intro videos. You will see how much they charge, right? So somebody might be on a little bit tighter budget. So you might want to look for something like that. But we have therapists from all over the country. Fantastic individuals that are just so anxious to help and get this information and education out there.

Ken Krogue: This took some serious work and you guys have been at it a couple years working on it.

Carrie Mercer: It’s been a few years. Yes, Yes we have. And we’ve tried to make it really convenient that you just pay right away. The therapist can be on there. You can get help instantly if you want, you know. We’ll have an instant session where, if you just want to ask a quick question, you want to send a quick message, you can get on there and just choose your therapist and ask a quick question. A lot of people think that even education or therapy, “Oh, is it hours and hours?” And you know it depends on what you’re looking for. Maybe, just in the moment, maybe you just have a quick question. “Hey, this happened. I’m just curious what you say about this,” and send a quick message. Then, that way you can start connecting with somebody that really knows what they’re talking about. There are a lot of different avenues I would say, especially in the world today with the Internet. There are a lot of different avenues that people can go to try and seek information and education. The thing is you have to be very careful where you go and make sure… All these therapists that we have and coaches and educators, they’re certified in sex education, and intimacy, and mental health. Make sure you’re getting correct information and correct answers to your questions.

Ken Krogue: That’s great. Well, it was so interesting. Thom had a pretty clear vision of where he felt we ought to go with this. And I’m more on the business side, from software actually. But, right from the beginning, he felt strongly that we needed to have a way in our community. Again, our community’s a little bit focused on specifically a God-centric approach to mental health. And that’s not always a comfortable thing to talk about in the typical psychiatric profession and psychology and counseling. So, our goal is to find those who are comfortable from a practitioner standpoint, who are open to people who come from a faith-based community to be open to that. And vice versa, are those who want to find a practitioner, they want to have a vetted person, like you say, who’s certified, confident, and able to speak clearly to that need. So we’re pretty grateful for you being willing to share that opportunity with our community also. Carrie and her husband will be there at the show. We’ll have some time while they even train us how to use things. We’ll be talking things through. And for practitioners, this is a way for you to… Talk to it from a practitioner’s standpoint, what kind of benefits does it offer?

Carrie Mercer: So it’s, Yeah. It’s actually a face-to-face video option.

Ken Krogue: Oh wow.

Carrie Mercer: So many times when my husband and I were going through it, and this is why we kind of thought about this when we were going through it. I was hesitant at first to even do the therapy, right? And I was looking for every excuse not to go, “Oh, I’m too busy.” Or “Oh the kids” or “Oh it’s later.” “Oh, I’d have to find a babysitter.” So, I’d either have to go in the middle of the day, and bring my little children, because how many times can I ask a babysitter, “I have a doctor’s appointment.” So I’d have to bring my kids, or I’d have to wait until my husband got home, then make the drive and have an 8:00 appointment at night.

Ken Krogue Wow.

Carrie Mercer: So, for me, by that time, I’m like, I’m ready to just wind down and go to bed. I don’t want to go out and have to drive across town. So you’re thinking of these excuses, and that’s what we thought of. You know, these people, what are the things that are holding them back from actually just getting the help and getting questions answered? So we want to make it as easy as possible. So with this, you can go ahead. Oh, how many times would I have loved to just put my little ones down for a nap and then take a video face-to-face session. I say face to face, but it’s over video chat, right? So she could take it, the therapist could take it from anywhere. I could take it from anywhere, and just sit down and sit at my computer. Just have a nice session. But you know, and for me, I think the video is awesome, because you love to see that body language, right? You love to see the facial expressions and things like that.

Thom Harrison: Very important.

Carrie Mercer: So instead of just over the phone, which you know, you could do, but it’s really nice to be able to see that person to have that connection with that coach, or educator, or therapist.

Thom Harrison: A few years ago, I partnered with Kristin Hodson and Alisha Burnett and we wrote a book called Real Intimacy. And I’ve had numerous people say to me, “I just wish that when I was reading I could just call you, or I could just have a moment with you to ask you about it. Because I heard something that really tweaked me or really caused me to think.” And then I thought, “If there were just some way I could talk to you about this or talked to Kristin or talked to Alisha about this. It would have just added so much to my experience with the book,” It sounds like right now you are creating that to where they can read articles and then they could come and talk to a certified sex therapist and actually have a face to face with them to answer those personal questions. I think that’s wonderful.

Carrie Mercer: So, as a therapist or educator or coach, you can get on and create an availability, when you would like to take sessions. Let’s say you want to stay home on Tuesday and Thursday and just take sessions from your home. You could do that, and set up your appointments. And your clients can get on and go ahead and set their own appointments. Then, it’ll send you reminders and things like that. So you can get on, but you also have the option if you find a few minutes where you have a cancellation or, you think, “Oh this evening, I could take some clients.” You could put instant availability on. And it’s interesting because we have coaches and educators that are using it right now. And we found that it’s interesting. They’re like, “Oh, as soon as my clients know I have this, it’s, “Oh, well I wish I could ask a quick question.”” And, just like you said, they’re finding that that’s happening now that it’s, “Oh I just have a quick question.” And then they’re able to just take these quick little sessions, quick little questions, you know, things like that to just help really connect more with their clients.

Carrie Mercer: So instead of waiting three weeks between a session or this or that. Or “Hey, I just need 15 minutes.” You can set a 15-minute, 30-minute, hour or 45-minute appointment, whatever you want.

Thom Harrison: Can they pay for this session online also?

Carrie Mercer: Yes. Everything is just immediate. So it’s easy pay and then easy for the therapist, coach and educators.

Thom Harrison: So you just use a credit card, just put it in, and charge it for the amount of time you spend?

Carrie Mercer: Yes. yes.

Thom Harrison: I’ve always wondered why therapists didn’t understand that billable hour like lawyers do, you know? They always add on that extra 15 minutes after. Therapists haven’t figured that out yet.

Carrie Mercer: Right, right.

Ken Krogue: It’s always rounding up.

Carrie Mercer: But, it’s great. And hopefully it will make things a little bit easier for the coaches and educators and therapists. But it’s, instead of all these trying to collect the bills, and the money, and what not, you know, it’ll be a little bit easier for them and for the client as well. You don’t get a bill later. That it’s just, “Hey, we just get this out of the way, knock it out.”

Ken Krogue: That’s great.

Carrie Mercer: Hopefully that helps,

Ken Krogue: You know, in my world, my former life, a founder of a software company, insidesales.com. Back in the early nineties, everybody was still selling face to face. And nobody really believed that we could change the entire paradigm. Where you could interact remotely. In fact, we decided inside sales means remote sales. So, it sounds like that’s now moved into the realm of therapy.

Carrie Mercer: Yes

Ken Krogue: This is awesome.

Carrie Mercer: Yeah.

Thom Harrison: Well, it allows for so many more people to access good clinicians. And that’s one of the things we’re trying to do at EternalCore is to allow everyone who wants to belong, to be able to access these individuals. And to be able to gain that expertise without having to get on a plane and travel to Salt Lake City or to Arizona or to Denver or wherever they are.

Carrie Mercer: And we have met so many therapists, coaches, and educators. They do so… Their work is amazing. They work with so many people, thousands of people. And yet, they’re driving. This one therapist was like, “I drive up and down the coast of California, because I’m just trying to hit all these people. And they don’t know anybody else, and so they’re using me, but I’m going all over the place. Oh it would be so nice to just be able to quickly connect.” And you know, other therapists that are like, “Oh, I’m the only one in my state that does this.” What? So people have to drive hours and hours and hours. So it’s literally like one month between sessions, because that’s the only time they can find to drive four or five hours.

Thom Harrison: I found, in the last part of my clinical practice, how wonderful it was to be able to meet a person, have a face to face, and then you can maintain that over video so much more. And you can see them if a baby gets sick, because they can put the child down or they can even be sitting there with the child in their lap. And we can have a conversation. It just added so much more, added a whole different dimension to the whole therapeutic process.

Ken Krogue: Thanks for the courage to stand up and say, you know, “We’re a couple, we have problems.” Lots of people have problems, but a lot of people don’t admit it. So you guys have pioneered a whole new approach. I think it’s going to do a lot of good in the world,

Thom Harrison: But the reality is we all have problems. All of us are struggling with something, and it’s very important that we’re willing to admit that and then reach out and get that help that we need. We appreciate so much your coming. It’s been a great opportunity to chat with you today.

Carrie Mercer: Oh, it’s wonderful for me to be here.

Thom Harrison: We look forward to seeing you at the conference. So come to the conference on March 29th and 30th at Little America and enjoy all these wonderful individuals that we’ve been having on the cast.

Ken Krogue: Thanks everybody.

Carrie Mercer: Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *