When I was newly ordained, a couple from my parish asked me to go on a Marriage Encounter Weekend. As you might expect, my first reaction was somewhat puzzled. I am obviously not married. What would be the benefit of me attending such a weekend?
Over a quarter of a century later, I can honestly say that this experience (and its aftermath) had one of the most profound and lasting effects on me as a person and on my priestly ministry. This is probably not something that I would have chosen to do myself. It would certainly not even be on my “radar screen.” Yet, what happened as a result can only be described as life-changing. And it was thanks to a couple who simply invited me to try such an experience.
For approximately twenty-seven years, I have been presenting the Marriage Encounter Weekend usually twice a year. Together with a team of three couples, we present a series of talks to couples (and sometimes to priests and religious) with the goal of making good marriages better. The Marriage Encounter Weekend is not primarily designed for troubled marriages. It is meant to open up the lines of communication between husband and wife in what is essentially a private experience between the husband and wife.
What it did for me personally was help me understand married couples (and their families) better, help me open up lines of communication, help me better understand my relationship to the Church—the Body of Christ--and also to understand my feelings. Feelings, in particular, are not something most men know how to deal with or choose to deal with at all
Ladies, have you ever felt that your husband sometimes doesn’t seem to understand you? Guys, are your wives sometimes still a mystery to you in many ways? Do you both ever wonder if there is more to life than what you are currently experiencing? Then maybe it’s time to try a Marriage Encounter Weekend. You can be newly-married or married for fifty years. It does not matter. The weekend can help to make any marriage better.
If you are married and desire more for your marriage, I invite you to consider attending such a weekend. The next two weekends that I am scheduled to present are October 17, 18 and 19, 2014 and December 5, 6 and 7, 2014 (beginning on Friday evening) at the Golden Inn Hotel and Resort in Avalon. For further information, you can check out the South Jersey Worldwide Marriage Encounter website (http://wwme-southjersey.org) or call (609) 742-4035.
Many people are afraid of the unknown, afraid of change or may not want to “rock the boat.” I invite you, and ask you to suggest to your spouse the possibility of attending a Marriage Encounter Weekend.
I can only tell you from experience that it indeed has life-changing possibilities!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
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