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A marriage enrichment programme : a study of the proposed contribution of a modern pastoral care and counselling model to urbanised Xhosa communities with special reference to the congregants at Umtata Methodist Church, Eastern Cape.

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This study was done to explore how modern Pastoral Care and Counselling models could be in dialogue with some valuable Xhosa traditional practices in the urbanised context around Umtata in the Eastern Cape. The intention is to provide a marriage enrichment programme to the congregants of the Methodist Church in this region. This has been offered in response to increase in the rate of divorce, separation and emotional distress experienced by many couples in the area. Chapter one offers the methodological framework for the entire theoretical and practical study. The second chapter explores various concepts of the family systems theory with particular focus on Murray Bowen's systems theory. This should bring forth a clear understanding of behavioural patterns which manifest in marriage when the system loses equilibrium. Grounded in the family systems theory is the concept of normal family processes. The third chapter looks into the understanding of normal family processes as brought across by various American authors. The chapter takes the interpretation further by looking into normal family processes in the original Xhosa cultural communities. The reason for the exercise is to bring awareness about what is normal before one can address what is abnormal. This is for widening the horizons so that what is culturally normal should not be labelled as abnormal. The fourth chapter prepares groundwork for the establishment of intervention and counselling strategies specifically within the Xhosa communities around Umtata. This chapter is field work done through interviews so as to gain an awareness about what the people of this region presently think, feel and say about marriage and family life experiences. The fifth chapter looks into the minister's uniqueness in marriage enrichment in comparison with his or her colleagues in medical, social work and family therapy or psychotherapy fields. A theological exploration is dealt with in the sixth chapter with a view to contend with biblical principles applicable to marriage. Chapter seven discusses a training model for a lay team of twelve members to promote the concept of the priesthood of all believers. The views of authors like Switzer, Clinebell, Colilns, Herbert Otto and others are consulted and opened to dialogue with Xhosa Traditional practices offered by oral sources. Chapter eight focuses on premarital education. Within this eduGative counselling, a hand-out on marriage contracts is prepared in both English and the vernacular language. Interdisciplinary work has been included through the engagement of resource personnel from the medical, financial and legal fields. Chapter nine actually presents the Marriage Enrichment Programme in a workshop form. Within the programme, theoretical and practical work is done in contextual bible study, communication and conflict resolution exercises as well as conscietisation about valuable Xhosa traditional marriage practices. The contextual model on marriage enrichment is offered to a group of forty-four congregants. The evaluation forms provide a positive result of this marriage enrichment model. The results express a need to address marital problems in our communities. This does give support to the Hypothesis that was tested. Modern pastoral care and counselling models can be adapted to traditional context with positive results. Lay involvement promotes maximum participation of the People of God in care giving. However, further results will be achieved with more workshops or retreats. More effectiveness will also come with the training of more lay teams. This demands large sampling in lay training, more interviewing and more involvement of the rural community elders for more information on traditional practices.


Thesis (M.Th.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2000


Marriage--Religious aspects--Christianity., Marriage--Religious aspects--Methodist Church., Marriage counselling--Religious aspects--Christianity., Dysfunctional families--Pastoral counselling of., Xhosa (African People)--Social life and customs, Theses--Theology.