The ‘I Choose Us’ Marriage Therapy: The Islands Experience
It was a weekend to remember in the Islands Region when the much anticipated “I CHOOSE US” therapy for the married finally kicked off on Thursday 2nd February and ended on Sunday 5th February 2012.
The atmosphere in the room was charged as people gathered with excitement and anticipation for what would indeed prove to be the Mother of all workshops.
The program was declared open by the lead evangelist Mr. Chris Ogbonnaya who was ably supported by his wife, Rolayo. Together, they formed a formidable tag team and shared from their wealth of experiences how to biblically and safely navigate the troubled waters of marriage.
The session began with a trip down memory lane to the first time we fell in love with our spouses and how we were prepared to do anything, and go anywhere just to show how much we loved our spouse. We also saw how “dangerously” we lived under the influence of dopamine, the chemical substance in our brain responsible for producing love feelings in huge doses especially in the early stages of marriage.
During the course of the program, we came to a vivid understanding of the four stages in a marriage relationship namely, infatuation stage, mutual affection stage, disintegration stage, and love connection.
At the infatuation stage or ‘love is blind stage’, the couples are still in the honeymoon period and madly in love with each other. They get very creative when together and can’t stop day dreaming about each other. All other concerns of life fall to the background and they never see anything wrong with each other. In fact, they are running on ‘auto pilot’ and are a perfect match for each other. Suddenly, everything becomes possible as the ‘caution’ part of their brains actually shrinks. However, the sad thing about this stage is that it only lasts a year or two and then the couple move to the next phase of their marriage.
At the mutual affection or ‘love can now see stage’ is where burning fire of the infatuation stage begins to die out and the couple adopt a brother-sister kind of relationship with each other. They are no longer as excited about each other as they were when they first met. They become very civil with each other and may actually sleep together in the same bed but not have any deep affection for each other.
When couples drift into the disintegration stage, they no longer have feelings but resentment for each other. They may still do things together like sleep in the same bed, go out on a date every now and then but are not really together in their hearts. There is really nothing to talk about with each other except problems at home or with the children. This is the most dangerous stage of all; this is the stage where divorce is imminent. This needs a lot of help and may need counselling and I Choose Us and many other workshops and therapy to get out of this stage.
And finally, the love connection stage is the healthy phase of intimacy where every marriage should strive to get to. There is emotional bond and love intimacy. Couples see each other as friends and lovers and as a result are open and mutually vulnerable with each other. They maintain eye contact with each other and can be themselves without any need to pretend or hide.
The interactive nature of the program made it fun and exciting for everyone coupled with the professional manner in which it was anchored. Participants were given take-home assignments as well as on-the-spot assessments in order to help evaluate the present state of their relationships with their spouse.
What made it all the more exciting was the movie clips scattered throughout the program that further drove home points of each class. Most of them were movies we have watched at some point but never really saw the connection to the real life challenges in our marriages.
In conclusion, we now have six syndicate groups in place as follow- up and treatment plan to some of the issues from the questionnaires and other marital issues from the therapy.
Emmanuel Ekpo/Islands Region