Marriage Encounter Weekend Format

The format of the Weekend is designed to enhance each couple’s skills in communicating intimately with each other in a loving, caring, and supportive manner.

The Weekend is led by Lay Couples and one Clergy Couple. The program consists of a series of presentations given by the leaders. The presenting couples talk for about 20 to 45 minutes on a topic. They talk about each topic in a very personal fashion, about very specific events in their lives, and about how it affected their relationship. After each presentation, the couples separate for a period of individual, silent reflection. One spouse stays in the large meeting room; the other spouse returns to their hotel room. After a period of personal reflection, the spouse in the meeting room returns to the couple’s hotel room. In the privacy of their rooms, couples practice their communication techniques. After a period of time, the couples return to the meeting room for a presentation on another topic. The Weekend progresses from one topic to the next; each presentation builds on the one before.

The topics covered during the Weekend are general and allow each couple to discuss privately the issues that are important to them: Who am I? Who are you? Who are we? How do we listen and reach out to each other? Within these areas couples may choose to develop specific issues that challenge and strengthen their relationships such as children, in-laws, parents, money, careers, time, working together, God, friends, purpose. With each topic the couples practice using and expanding communications skills.

The Weekend “works” because the presenting couples choose to be open and honest about events in their lives. Presenting couples acknowledge the sin in their relationship and describe how they have attempted to repair and strengthen their relationship.This creates an atmosphere that encourages couples to be intimate, honest, and open with each other.

Since there are no group discussions, the Weekend is an extremely private experience. This also allows each couple to start improving their communications skills from their own starting point. Those with excellent skills move them even higher. Those with weaker skills improve from where they are. At breaks and meals couples may choose to talk about the communication techniques, but specific personal issues are not discussed. The Weekend is a non-hostile process. There is no attempt to “pull apart” in order to “rebuild” in a better setting. The environment always strives to develop caring, loving, supportive, intimate relationships in couples.

The Weekend is not focused on counseling or problem solving. It strengthens the foundation of relationships: communication, trust, and love. This improved foundation is better able to support solving the problems that life hurls at all of us.

The Weekend is not an evangelism event. The couples leading the Weekend all see and express God’s presence in their lives. But there is no attempt to “convert” people to Christianity. The Weekend respects an individual’s religious convictions. Christians and non-Christians alike will benefit from the experience of the Weekend. Christians will come away seeing God as their partner as they work to strengthen their relationship; non-Christians will simply learn an extremely powerful communication technique. There is a Sunday Worship which all persons are invited to attend, but each person may participate in a manner in which they are comfortable.