Fruit of the Womb
Fruit of the Womb

Cruise - 2 - A Lesson in Group Therapy

The last day of the cruise was overcast, rainy, and cold. For those who had gotten too much sun already, that was probably a blessing! We were not in sight of land and the open water was rougher than it had been – out came the Dramamine. Anyway, not having had time to partake of many of the on-board, below deck activities to that point, the nasty weather was the perfect opportunity to do so. One of those activities was a take-off on the old game show “The Newly Wed Game.” Only in this case, the couples selected to compete ran the gamut of time spent in wedded bliss: the first couple having been married only two days (they took the cruise to get married on Grand Cayman with 57 family members); the second 15 years; and, the third more than 50 years. The cruise director more-or-less randomly selected these couples from the audience, but they couldn’t have been better choices if there had been an actual preselection process.

The game was set up as on the old television show. The women were left on stage and the men were taken to a room off-stage where they could not hear the answers their spouses gave to a series of questions. They were instructed that they HAD to answer every question, they should not be shy nor try to ‘protect’ their spouses or themselves, and they should consider answering with the first thoughts that came into their heads after the question was asked. They were asked to “keep it clean” in a way that avoided nasty language but still conveyed the message, which for these couples could have been an obstacle because they were all traveling with close family and friends. To the credit of the ‘contestants’ in the end, they couldn’t have done a better job if they had had the opportunity to preview the questions and think about their responses. The actual questions were as follows:

• Remember when, where, and some details related to the first time you met your partner.
• What do you think is your partner’s most annoying habit?
• How would your partner complete the following phrase: You haven’t seen ugly until you’ve seen my wife’s….
• When your partner emerges from the shower, does he most resemble a stretch limousine, a Ford pickup truck, or a pink VW Beetle with two flat tires?
• If you had a parrot that lived in your bedroom, what phrase(s) would he be most likely to pick up on and repeat?
• Sex hasn’t been the same since…(when, where, details of surroundings, situation, etc.- leave out the actual intimate details and sound effects)
• The last time you made whoopee it was like which holiday: 4th of July (fireworks and sparklers), Halloween (Tricks and Treats), Thanksgiving (grateful for left over turkey), or Presidents’ Day (honoring the dead)?
• If your partner was suddenly stranded on a deserted island with another woman, would he say he would rather she be a hooker or a nun?

So, now, you may ask, why am I including this ‘game show’ on a website that is supposed to be devoted to ‘expert medical opinion’. The reasons are very simple. First, it was one of the most enjoyable and memorable moments of the cruise. I haven’t laughed so hard in quite awhile, and everyone in the audience (including the ‘contestants’ families, their children of all ages, and friends) would probably agree. Second, it was clear as the ‘show’ progressed that these were all questions that led to conversations that had never transpired between any of the couples over the days/years they had been together. Thirdly, it dawned on me as the atmosphere shifted from nervous laughter (even if “what goes on on the ship, stays on the ship”), and some unease about the position in which the contestants had been placed (AND GRATITUDE THAT IT WASN’T US!), to rapt attention and anticipation of the next responses, drawing the entire audience into the ‘game’ as participants themselves, that a catharsis of sorts was taking place. You could see everyone answering the questions in their own heads as if they had actually been up there on the stage.

What occurred to me at the time (in my 'expert medical opinion') was that this was an amazing form of group therapy. I have observed over the years, the greatest risks to relationships are poor (or, complete lack of) communication, loss of the ability to laugh at/with one another and together, and reluctance to share our personal concerns with other individuals we can trust. This ‘game’ successfully overcame all of those barriers and it did so during the course of only an hour. Even if they didn’t know why, I think everyone left that auditorium with a sense that something special had happened and also with a better appreciation and understanding of their own interpersonal relationships. Incidentally, the contestants were thanked with a standing ovation and I do not think I have ever seen one that was more sincere and from the heart!

So, take the challenge! If you haven’t done so already, answer each of the questions above by yourself and write down your responses. Follow the same rules: answer every question, do not be shy nor try to ‘protect’ your partner or yourself, and consider answering with the first thoughts that come into your head after reading the question (you don’t have to keep it clean!). See if you can get your partner to do the same and then share the results. Then, take the conversation wherever it leads you. If that is to somewhere you haven’t been before, or been to in awhile, keep on with the ‘game’ and please let me know if something really ‘special’ comes out of it!

By the way, one of the best answers was the very last response to the last question by the couple that had been married 50+ years. The woman answered that she thought her husband would prefer to be stranded on the deserted island with the ‘hooker’. Not knowing this, her husband responded, ever so tactfully, that he would prefer a “nun by day, and a hooker by night.” They both laughed until the tears streamed down their faces and so did we!
Dr T
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