Conversations in Marriage: A Community Intervention Program for Strengthening Marriage within the African-descent Community : Conversations in Marriage: A Community Intervention Program for Strengthening Marriage within the African-descent Community By
Drs. Sandra andamp; Daryl Rowe
April 14, 2007
California Psychological Association
Costa Mesa, CA Our Goals Today: Our Goals Today Discuss an innovative, culturally-specific approach to working with African American couples
Review theoretical basis of this approach – African-centered metatheory
Overview key element of the program – use of African proverbs
Review components of the program
Discuss therapeutic implications
The Word is …: The Word is … the Word is
that the Women and the Men
will Love again
strong, intertwined, resilient and spirit-filled -
will reappear and Children -
the very fruits and seeds of our struggle -
playing and growing
common-place and contagious
~ Haki Madhubuti African-Centered Metatheory: African-Centered Metatheory Theoretical advancement in the social sciences
Responsive to the specific features of persons of African descent
Issues (Nobles, 1998). Why this work…: Why this work… Clear evidence that culture and ethnicity play significant roles in shaping the relational experiences of African Americans
Vulnerability of African American marriage has been well-documented during the past forty years
US Census data suggest that only 41% of African American adults are married
'The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people' African-Centered Metatheory: African-Centered Metatheory African-centered metatheory considers:
Sociocultural and familial factors,
Environmental context and stressors,
Readiness to change, and
Level of social support to develop more effective alternative interventions for persons of African descent African-Centeredness: African-Centeredness 'African centeredness represents a concept which categorizes a 'quality of thought and practice' which is rooted in the cultural image and interest of people of African ancestry and which represents and reflects the life experiences, history and traditions of people of African ancestry as the center of analyses' … In essence, African centeredness represents the fact, that as human beings, people of African ancestry have the right and responsibility to 'center' themselves in their own subjective possibilities and potentialities and through the recentering process reproduce and refine the best of the human essence.' (Nobles, 1998, p. 190). Conversations In Marriage (CIM): Conversations In Marriage (CIM) (CIM), is an African-centered marital intervention; a community empowerment program designed to strengthen relationship skills and sustain healthy marriages among African American couples by promoting marriage education through a series of semi-structured seminars.
CIM grew out of more than 40 years combined experience providing counseling and psychotherapy with African American couples, families and individuals. Insights leading to CIM: Insights leading to CIM In working with African American couples, highlighting the legacy of healthy African American families within the context of community survival can help facilitate readiness for change
Participatory discussions facilitated more disclosure and openness
Group recitations can help foster a sense of shared purpose
Incorporating African proverbs prompted more insights for sustaining healthy marriages Marriage Conversations: Marriage Conversations Opportunity for critical dialogue and exchange
Conversations are different ways of learning:
Therapeutic but NOT therapy
More active, not passive,
More multi-directional not unidirectional
Unstructured and flexible
More egalitarian, not authoritarian Slide12: 'He who begins a conversation does not foresee the end' African Proverbs: African Proverbs African proverbs are collections of metaphorical statements, usually short and to the point, which convey general truths about life, people and community (Ackah, 1988).
Proverbs gain their power from their situational context – they originate from experience and convey insights metaphorically Slide14: 'A proverb is a horse which can carry one swiftly to the discovery of ideas'.
Purposes of Proverbs: Purposes of Proverbs To Express Truths
As Guides for Conduct
As Commentary on Behavior
To Express Values
To Express Truths: To Express Truths 'If you know the beginning well, the end will not trouble you'
'That which is good is never finished' As Guides for Conduct: As Guides for Conduct 'You must act as if it is impossible to fail'
'Goodness must be repaid with goodness' As Commentary on Human Behavior: As Commentary on Human Behavior 'It is the heart that gives,
the hands only let go'
'Talking with one another is loving one another' To Express Values: To Express Values 'You may be a giant of a man,
you may begin to grow gray hair,
you may be bald and
toothless with age,
but if you are unmarried –
you are nothing' Slide20: 'I pointed out to you the stars and all you saw was the tip of my finger' CIM Format : CIM Format Review poem
Introduction of Presenters
'Conversation' – topic of the week
Defining Marriage: Defining Marriage Traditionally marriage has been the marker of adulthood
Seen as the focus of existence
Establishes and maintains family
Was the basis of community Historical Role of Marriage for African Americans: Historical Role of Marriage for African Americans Early Africans in the U.S. remembered importance of marriage
1890 Census data
Following emancipation, 88% of men and 92% of women, aged 35- 44 were married or widowed
Steady decline since
1990 Census data – only 88.2 men per 100 AA women
2000 Census data – only 1/3 are married; 2/3 of AA women not married; marry later; higher rates of divorce andamp; less likely to ever marry (est. only 70% of AA women born in ’54; 86% of AA men) Slide24: 'A people with power look for the source of problems within themselves'
Unrealistic Expectations: Marriage Myths: Unrealistic Expectations: Marriage Myths Salient myths that interfere with the fulfillment of one’s duty and obligations toward marriage and community building
'The pot will smell of what is put into it'
Making Marriage Meaningful: Making Marriage Meaningful Marriage allows us to fulfill our life purposes
Marriage is means for offering the gifts we carry
Meaningful marriage happens when we fulfill our life purpose through providing our gifts
'What one cultivates is what
one harvests' Slide27: 'Only one who goes into the forest comes back with firewood'
Preserving Friendship in Marriage: Preserving Friendship in Marriage Why friendship is important?
The importance of establishing and sustaining deep, open and intimate friendships with one’s spouse
'Friendship is like a field you can harvest every season' Slide29: 'The friends of our friends are our friends'
'A friend is someone you share the path with' Choice & Commitment: Choice andamp; Commitment Explores the necessity of making good choices to facilitate longstanding commitment
'One who bathes willingly with cold water doesn’t feel the cold' Slide31: 'Once you have made up your mind to cross a river by walking through it, you do not mind getting your stomach wet' Celebrations & Ceremony: Celebrations andamp; Ceremony The importance and necessity of celebrating and creating ceremonies to mark the progress of one’s continued journey in marriage
'Don’t let the emotions of the moment interfere with the celebrations of a lifetime' Faith & Forgiveness: Faith andamp; Forgiveness Marriage is fundamentally about compromise
Minor problems are commonplace
Major problems are also commonplace
Forgiveness is essential for marriage to continue
Forgiveness is a choice we make; what we decide to do
Restoring trust takes time, based on doing things differently Slide34:
'Rain does not fall on one roof alone' Slide35:
'To one who does not know, a small garden is a forest' Rebirth & Rejuvenation: Rebirth andamp; Rejuvenation The necessity of renewing long-term commitment to marriage regularly
'He who does not mend his clothes will soon have none'
'There is nothing so good, it can not be improved' Slide37: 'Before shooting,
one must aim' Slide38: 'Water is never tired of flowing'
'If you are building a house and the nail breaks, do you stop building, or do you change the nail?' Slide39:
'If you get your bundle ready, you will be helped to carry it'
' Happiness is temporary, commitment is eternal'
Community Survival Respect Gender Role Identification:
'Anticipate the good, so you can enjoy it' Respect Gender Role Identification The Union of Two: The Union of Two
The Pledge of Our Commitment to Marriage
Adapted from 'The Union of Two: for Ife and Jake', by Haki Madhubuti, 1986 Slide43: 'Let your love be like the misty rain, coming softly but flooding the river'