Marriage Encounter - Myths and Misconceptions

Marriage Encounter is one of the most positive programs supporting marriage. It is also one of the most misunderstood.

The greatest misconception about Marriage Encounter is that a couple signs up because their marriage is in trouble. Just the opposite is true. Marriage Encounter is for couples who care deeply about their marriage. It is for those who want to build a dynamic, loving, long lasting relationship. Marriage Encounter is for couples married in civil ceremonies or in church. How long you have been married or previous marriages are not factors. Couples with big families, little families and blended families all can benefit greatly from this program. Those experiencing severely troubled relationships, filing for divorce or already separated should consider counseling in place of the Encounter.

A second misconception that keeps couples from experiencing this constructive, helpful program is that good marriages don’t have problems. All marriages have problems; it is how you handle the problems that make a marriage good or bad. Since marriage is made from two humans with all their faults and flaws, no marriage is perfect. All relationships have stresses or areas of disagreement.

A good marriage is one in which each spouse knows how to cooperate and help each other. This “knowing” does not come naturally, it is learned. Experience sometimes teaches us how to avoid hurting each other, but most often we just learn how to avoid each other. Marriage is a growing, living relationship. Marriage Encounter helps couples communicate on a more intimate level, building trust, closeness, and cooperation instead of avoidance. The program helps couples identify and focus on behaviors that strengthen their love. Marriage Encounter rejuvenates marriages that have fallen into the rut of being disconnected.

Trained team couples lead the Encounter, which lasts a weekend. They share from their own life experiences and challenges, focusing on how to use realities of every day life to deepen marital commitment. The Encounter Weekend is a series of steps examining all aspects of the relationship. There is an assignment at the end of each step, plus private time to discuss the assignment with your spouse.

Marriage Encounter was started by Father Gabriel Calvo, a Spanish priest, and real life married couples from Barcelona, Spain in the 1960’s. It was originally entitled “Encuentro Conjugal” which is intended to mean “to discover again.” The term was translated into English as “Marriage Encounter.”

American connotations of the word “encounter” cause fear that one will have to talk in a group about their marital problems. Not so! Marriage Encounter is a very private weekend. All communication is confidential between the husband and wife. Their discussions take place either in their room or in private on the peaceful grounds of the Renewal Center. Support couples work hard to provide a quiet, calm retreat environment away from the hassles of everyday life.

Fear is the biggest factor keeping couples away. They are afraid their marriage is beyond help or afraid other people will see their marriage is in trouble or even that their spouse does not love them anymore. However, at the end of the program, most couples walk away with a joyful sense of renewal,” says Bob Zielinski, long time Board Member. “The most common comment we hear from couples is that the Encounter ‘was the best weekend since our honeymoon’.”

Another myth is that the weekend is a conversion or commitment to a specific church. This is also simply not true. The Encounter deals with some faith issues; however it builds on the faith couples already have. National Marriage Encounter is an interfaith program. There is no pressure for a religious conversion. Using a gentle approach, the team leads couples to discover the meaning of faith in their own marriage.

Marriage Encounter has been in the United States since 1968. National Marriage Encounter of North Texas began holding weekend programs in 1972 at the Renewal Center next to Nolan High School in Fort Worth and continues to hold most of its programs at that location. The longevity of the Marriage Encounter is indeed a testament to its effectiveness.

The cost for the Marriage Encounter Weekend is $175 per couple and is all inclusive - covering room, meals and program. Reservations and a $60 deposit are required. Some scholarships are available for couples with financial need.

Encounters are currently scheduled for summer, fall and winter. For a current list of weekends click on "Registration" here or at the top of this page.

The goal of Marriage Encounter is to help families grow closer by helping couples build a stronger marriage.

For more information and a brochure about this program, please contact us.

Barbara and Bob Zielinski

Barbara and Bob Zielinski have been part of the National Marriage Encounter Movement since 1972.

NMENT is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization all donations are fully utilized to fund marriage enrichment programs.

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