What do you think of when you hear the term power couple?
Do you think of couples who have a lot of influence? Do you picture a husband and wife who work as a team, with gifts that complement each other? Couples who are making a real impact in the world?
At Marriage Dynamics, our power couples are all of the above.
They facilitate marriage courses. And because they help couples build strong, resilient marriages, they impact generations.
But some of our real “rock stars” are facilitators who also train other couples to lead marriage courses.
Dr. Robert Wilson and his wife Stella are an MDI power couple with more than two decades of experience as facilitators and trainers. Both are retired educators. They have led marriage courses for hundreds of couples. And they have led more than 20 Facilitator Training Seminars.
This December, Robert and Stella will celebrate fifty years of marriage.
We sat down with the Wilsons to learn more about this golden power couple.
When Robert and Stella first experienced the Facilitator Training weekend, they had been married 27 years. And according to Stella, their marriage was good.
“It was good. But it got even better, it became an exceptional marriage. I’m not saying that it’s perfect,” Stella adds, “but we do see the growth and the commitment in our own marriage because of our involvement with Marriage Dynamics. “
Robert agrees, and says that each time they lead a course or a training, they continue to grow in their own marriage relationship.
“I think that’s the power and the magnitude of the courses… You have an opportunity to reexamine your own marriage, even as you lead the classes, to see there are things—there are growth opportunities in your relationship … That’s why we get so much joy out of leading and doing the classes as facilitators.”
Stella adds, “In fact, we have a joke around the house, when we look at each other, we’ll say, ‘You know, it’s time to have a class.’ So, that means that we need to attend one,” she laughs. “But it’s wonderful. Communication is better, our involvement with each other is also better.”
MDI’s nine-week marriage courses—Dynamic Marriage and United—are designed for couples who want to grow in their marriage relationship.
“They both address every aspect of marriage in helping the couples understand that there are things that they need to focus on and things that they can strengthen,” Robert says. “And that’s true if it’s just an okay marriage or one where they think that they’re in a great, great place.
The courses take place in the context of a small group, usually 8-12 couples. The group dynamic is where the magic happens.
Robert explains: “You serve in the capacity as the facilitator, but it’s the other students in the class that actually bring out the best in each other. Because what happens is, you start to identify and witness …growth in individuals, as well as couples. It’s that group dynamic that really is powerful. We kind of lead, guide, and direct the path… but seeing the growth in each other, that makes it work.”
Dynamic Marriage and United courses also help couples see that they are not alone in the ordinary struggles and challenges of marriages.
“I think that’s the power of the class as well, where we see the couples coming in. Of course, they’re a little apprehensive, not really sure of what’s going to take place and not sure of who is in the class, because they don’t know each other,” Stella says.
Trained facilitators help couples successfully navigate the course material as they build new friendships with others in the class.
Stella adds, “ I can tell you that the environment of the class is safe. It’s nonjudgmental. And the confidentiality within the setting helps the couples to feel safe and secure in bonding with the other couples and it helps them to feel that they’re just not alone. It’s amazing to see how the bonding transforms the couples and even after the class, how they still stay in contact with each other.”
The Wilson’s love to see course participants go through facilitator training and begin to lead courses themselves. And it’s especially rewarding to see couples who were struggling in their marriage build a strong relationship and then help others do the same.
Stella: “We had a couple that was involved in the class some years ago. They were struggling, but they made it through. What was so amazing was about a couple of years ago, we were doing a facilitator training… training couples to become facilitators. They were actually in the class to become facilitators. I just thought that was amazing, because of the journey, their marriage journey that they had gone through. They testified in the class that it was because of Marriage Dynamics that they were still together. Using the tools and the information that they had learned was a great part of them still being together.”
But couples don’t have to participate in a marriage course before learning how to facilitate a course, as Robert explains.
“Basically, the training takes place over a three-day period. And during that time, be it United or be it Dynamic Marriage, the couple actually go through step by step how to lead the class. [They learn] what are the important components of things that need to be done to ensure that the couples maximize their experience during that eight weeks.
During the training, they’ll go through the experience, as though they were actually in the class themselves, but just in a shorter duration. Meaning that this is in the training session. So, they’ll get samples of what the students would go through over the eight weeks. When they leave the training, they will have had a small snippet, if you will, of experience of what would transpire over an eight-week period.”
Robert says the training is a powerful experience. Many couples find their own marriage revitalized and transformed during the weekend.
Stella says the training process fully prepares couples to facilitate an MDI marriage course.
You learn in the training, it’s step by step. If you follow the model, it works. It’s day by day, step by step, exactly what you need to do. If you follow the recipe that Marriage Dynamics has laid out, it will work.
And this power couple continues to lead Facilitator Training because they have seen the results of Dynamic Marriage and United courses.
“It works!” Robert laughs.“You don’t stay attached to something for almost 20 years and not believe in the product. We’ve seen it. We have facilitated classes where individuals were in a very bad place and they evolved to an even better place. We’ve had individuals who were on the verge of divorce, but found through these classes that there was still hope and an opportunity. There’s still a chance.
I firmly believe that they do just what they [are designed to] do. If the individual puts forth the work, put forth the effort, they’re going to get positive results. Again, we’ve just seen it time and time and time again, you know, over almost 20 years of leading these classes.”
“I just want to say that the transformations that you see are just remarkable,” Stella adds. “I can’t think of a class or training session that we’ve led, that the transformations were not visible within the couples. If you have a passion and a desire to help other married couples, or even engaged couples, Marriage Dynamics is it. As Robert said, we’ve been involved for 20 years. You just don’t stay for 20 years if it doesn’t work.”
And that’s why the Robert and Stella Wilson are an MDI power couple!
Marriage Dynamics offers resources for couples at all ages and stages of marriage. Click here for a schedule of upcoming Facilitator Training Seminars. Click to find out more about our marriage courses. Or find help for a marriage in crisis.