Relationship expert and spiritual adviser of Atlanta-based ministry Progression Church, Calvin Roberson is saving one marriage at a time with the help of his sought-after counseling services. Roberson was once working as a New York Stock Exchange representative for 10 years and later left to pursue his calling as a full-time pastor. His expertise has been recognized all over the country and now you can watch him work his magic at home from your TV screens on the A&E docu-series, “Married at First Sight.” Roberson has taken over former show expert Greg Epstein’s position and is very excited to be a part of the incredible project. Rolling out caught up with Roberson to get the scoop on his tips on how to maintain a healthy marriage, his thoughts on why marriages aren’t working out in 2016 and his perspective on how important sex is in a marriage.
What inspired you want to devote so much of your career to helping people with their relationships?
From the beginning, one thing that is interesting is that my education is in theology for my undergrad and I have a masters degree in divinity. I have always been involved in counseling from a church perspective with pastoral counseling. What happened is once I got involved with that and started with the church I found that it became much more prevalent and I had a knack for it. People would come to me on different levels and ask for counseling and I would comply. After getting married it became a situation where we actually counseled couples together. We found that they were really benefiting from what we were doing so we started an organization called “Married and Naked” years ago in Ohio. It was very successful. We would have workshops for couples. We also had a marriage conference in 2009 which was also a success, but what we are doing now after finding so many couples that are in need is counseling them. We have always wanted to see other couples succeed. I experienced failure in my first marriage and realized if I had received the counseling I am giving people now it may have succeeded.
What are some of the common issues plaguing the marriages that frequent your counseling sessions?
I believe that the most common issue that I have ever encountered is communication. A lot of people think it’s financial issues or sexual issues, but to be honest with you, it’s about how to communicate about those things. A lot of folks don’t know the tools that are necessary to communicate. They either communicate out of anger or they don’t understand how, to be honest or open. They are afraid to be open with each other for fear of being accepted. Another thing is pride. You’d be surprised at how many people struggle with this whole thing of vulnerability. The reason we call our organization “Married and Naked” is because we want people to be completely vulnerable. You have to get rid of your pride to be able to share everything with another person.
What is the number one mistake most men and women make in a relationship?
The number one mistake most people make in a relationship is not being honest about who they really are. They are not completely honest about what they really feel. I believe that one mistake and I can even speak about my previous relationship was being able to reveal your past and being honest about your own desires and struggles. Marriage is not a cure-all. It is an opportunity to grow together. When people are not completely honest about who they are and what they need then it’s difficult, to be honest with someone else. Then you’ll always be suspicious about receiving what they have to give because you cant trust someone else’s honesty because you can’t be honest with yourself.
Why did you decide to get involved with the show?
I think the show kind of sought us out. We were contacted by an agency who asked us if we could help them find a couple for one of the earlier shows called “The Seven Year Switch.” We were kind of new to this whole thing. We had done media, conferences, and workshops but as far as TV we hadn’t done anything. When the casting agency called us we responded via email and found out this was something that we could help them do because we had couples that were pre-divorced so we decided to let them talk to them as a last resort of their relationship. The couples were talking so much about what they learned from us that the production company wanted to talk to us. They said they wanted to film us, so they filmed us giving a counseling sessions. The only requirement that I had was don’t stop filming once we start because this is a real thing to us. That’s what we did and while we were doing that we didn’t know that three people independently were on the set contacting the executive producer saying you’ve got to see these guys. The executive producer contacted us and then one thing led to another. They asked if I would consider being a relationship expert on the show. I prayed about it and said okay.
With three experts on one show discussing one controversial topic, do you guys ever bump heads?
Yes. We definitely do. There is a great respect we have for each other. We respect each other’s professionalism and us respect each others opinion. Bump heads as in anything that would be to the point where were sternly disagreed probably not. We try to come to a consensus at all times if it is about a couple or what have you. I think it’s a great thing because it helps us to see each other’s views. Sometimes they are able to shed light on something that maybe I’m not looking at.
Why do you think so many people need help with their relationships?
That’s a great question. What’s so interesting is that I believe in every other pursuit in life we have instructions. I used to a stockbroker for ten years and I had to go through some extreme testing. It was necessary in order to become a New York stock exchange broker. Everything I’ve done in life I have had to go through extensive training in order to do it whether it’s ministry or finance or what have you. What is interesting is that when it comes to marriage no one has training. We take these two independent individuals with all their baggage and expect them to get together and be happy. It does not work that way. I think that when you consider the fact that marriage is probably one of the most important decisions we make in life we don’t have any instructions outside of what you can read in books or obtain in counseling. Most people need help because they don’t really count the costs before they jump into this life-altering event. Marriage requires serious self-analysis.
Why is the value of marriage in 2016 is becoming less important to the current generation?
The generation that we’re seeing now is an instantaneous generation where everything is pretty much expected immediately wanting instant gratification from every direction. Everything is very quick whether it’s the microwave or the internet. Old school like my parents who were married 35 years before my dad died was just the way it was. Divorce wasn’t an option and I think that with the generation now because everything is so fast pace and “me” focused. Marriage requires commitment. The millennial generation now isn’t really accustomed to commitment and to understanding how that works.
How important a role does sex play in a marriage?
Sex is very important. Sex is the highest form of communication. When you first meet someone you want to talk to them and then after you talk to them a number of times the next thing you want to do it touch and hold hands and then after you hold hands you want to be closer and then eventually you kiss. All these are levels of intimacy and then, of course, the highest level of intimacy is sex or making love. It is very important because it’s a part of communication. I don’t think people look at it from that perspective. Sex is the highest form of communication, which is why we tend to teach people if you’re not planning on being with somebody then don’t communicate with them at that level. Couples have to come to a unified place in regards to sex where they understand that it’s not just about the act but more about the actors involved.
What three tips can you share to help men and women maintain a successful marriage?
This is something that has come from years of experience and couples counseling. I think the three things that I would say is CPR which would mean commitment. You need to be respectful of feelings and be true to your promise, but staying in your situation and working through your tough times. The second thing would be passion. A passionless marriage is a dead marriage. You need to be excited and it goes so far beyond what you see. The R is for respect. Respect requires that I value my spouse and consider them important. The things that I value I take care of. As a wife and husband, you ought to value and protect each other.