Christian couples have been charged not to see their spouses as the enemy when conflict rocks marriages.
The couples were given this charge in Festac Town when the I Choose Us Marriage Therapy was held from February 17 -19, 2012.
Speaking, the facilitator of the event and the Lead Evangelist of the ICOC , Mr Chris Ogbonnaya, reminded the couples that the devil through the human nature was the enemy and not one another.
The event which was attended by many disciple couples as well as several friends and relatives provided couples with a chance to look at challenges in marriage such as conflict in a new and positive light as Mr Ogbonnaya and his wife Rolayo, took them through the therapy which included Movie clips, Scriptural references and power point presentations, as well as quizzes and practical exercises for the participants.
Major marital ingredients such as Love and Respect; Vulnerability, Fidelity and Forgiveness as well as Awareness of each partner’s lifetraps were thoroughly examined; and practical tips and solutions to marital challenges provided through the 3-day event.
Couples were taught the value of Love Connection – an enduring type of love that is stronger than Infatuation. They learned that though Infatuation, which is the primary type of attraction couples feel during the courtship and early marriage years, can be compared to a roaring blaze or inferno, the Love Connection or Agape love is achieved through working persistently on communication, understanding each other’s weaknesses and being vulnerable. They were also taught how to fight fairly, and how to offer each other forgiveness as well as reconciliation after major problems.
Participants learned that love and respect play a huge role in successful marriages as, “without Love and respect the couple will feel detached and Love Connection will be severed.
The Ogbonnayas said that every marriage could be saved even if it had fallen into the Disintegration stage where couples merely cohabit as roommates or live in cold silence.
In the second session, they explained that each party in a marriage has roles to play and husbands present were urged to become Considerate Listeners, Responsible leaders in the home and Romantic Lovers. The men appeared to grab these concepts joyfully judging by their responses.
Wives on the other hand, discovered that by appreciating their husbands and what they do; initiating and participating in their partners’ world – his work, hobbies and dreams, as well as being active participants in their bedrooms, they could establish strong bonds or Love Connection in their marriages. For many women present, these concepts were new but achievable and they looked forward to practising all they had learned.
The Ogbonnayas went into detailed examination of the various fruits of dysfunctional homes and their effects on the lives of adults who were raised in such homes. He (Mr. Ogbonnaya) stated that “dysfunction is a gift that keeps on giving,” with the potential to harm future generations if not tackled now. He said the fruits known as Life Traps were acquired early in life and that they tend to colour a person’s relationships all through life unless they are arrested at some point, through recognition and efforts to change these attitudes using the scriptures and cognitive behavior.
The subsequent sessions touched on Choosing Vulnerability as a tool to overcome conflict and resolve issues in marriage, and also build intimacy between a couple. While they pointed out the fact that conflict is to be expected in any marriage, the Ogbonnayas said a good dose of humility, and a willingness to tap into one’s Child side or true self would help partners to fight fairly and achieve resolution. He warned them that some issues may never be fully resolved but with vulnerability and respectful communication, a couple could flourish in spite of the odds. He also added that vulnerability could lead to the risk of exploitation but assured that God offered protection to couples.
Defining vulnerability as the act of expressing one’s weaknesses and fears, he urged couples to practise it in a loving, calm atmosphere and to honour their partners above themselves, rather than belittle them. In addition, couples were encouraged to practise being vulnerable because the rewards outweigh the risks when done correctly.
The final session centred on fidelity and forgiveness. Here participants learned the reasons adduced by men and women for estrangement in marriage and the desire for cheating. They were then taught to recognize the signs of infidelity and offered practical tips to prevent their marriages from descending down that route, and to use these tips to prevent further damage and to be open to one another about any lapses.
Participants also rediscovered the beauty of fidelity with tips and lessons on how to rebuild intimacy in their marriages as intimacy not physical relationship is what restores trust between partners. Couples learned to understand why men and women react differently and to use these differences to build stronger marriages.
Reconciliation and forgiveness was the theme of the final session and couples were urged to grant forgiveness because God had granted them forgiveness. Outlining the steps to forgiveness and reconciliation, as well as the differences between these two concepts, Mr. Ogbonnaya said, “Forgiveness is an undeserved gift.”
The art of apologizing symbolizes humility and the facilitators offered this secret to couples as a tool for promoting easier reconciliation and forgiveness. Quoting Matthew 18 verses 32 and 35, the facilitators reminded participants that Forgiveness is akin to cancelling a debt.
In closing they urged the couples present to choose vulnerability, practice love and respect as well as fidelity and reconciliation so that they may have many wonderful years of love connection and be happy into the twilight of life.