Getting Started with Marriage Encounter Online
How To Experience Marriage Encounter Online
After making a commitment to make Marriage Encounter online, there are some steps that can be taken to gain the most benefit. First and foremost is one’s attitude. The technique is not nearly as important as cultivating a non-judgmental attitude. Often this can be done with a simple prayer for guidance before reading each presentation. Husbands and wives reflect and write separately on the questions that are given after each presentation.
Then, share your written reflections with your spouse. One primary point is, “Feelings are neither right nor wrong...they just are.” This is important, for we ask you to be non-judgmental in reading each other’s reflections. This is an exercise in open and honest communication, not a time for criticism.
Preparing to Begin:
The Format of the Marriage Encounter Online
While there are variations from the norm, the usual format of the program goes like this:
Step one: Presentation - At the beginning of each step you will find a short presentation on this website, prepared by one of our Guide Couples, giving a few key points and sharing examples from their life experiences. You can either read from the screen or print out the presentation to read at your appointed time. This presentation will set the atmosphere for you to reflect on your life experiences on the same topic. Feel free to take notes or underline points you wish to remember.
Step two: Personal Reflection (PR) - After each presentation, you will be given questions to answer regarding the topic. We ask that you reflect deeply and honestly on the questions, and write your responses on paper or in your notebook as a love letter to your spouse. Writing helps you to concentrate more deeply, and gives you a chance to express yourself openly and clearly. Once your thoughts and feelings are on paper, you’ll be able to listen better to your spouse. So, plan to go to separate rooms, and write your answers to the questions at the end of the presentation. You will be given a recommended limit for this time of PR.
Step three: Couple Dialogue (CD) - Come together and begin by exchanging your letters with a kiss and reading each other’s PR. Read it twice - once with your head to learn what is there, and once with your heart to understand the feelings behind the words. Next, each of you play back in your own words your spouse’s reply, trying very hard to clarify what your spouse wrote and the feelings that go with it. Each of you do this for the other, working to achieve a clear understanding of how each other feels on the topic. While this understanding takes time, it’s the key to new discoveries and growth. The goal is to understand each other even if you don’t agree. You will be given a recommended limit for this time of CD.
Write your reflections on these questions as a love letter to your spouse. Read your spouse’s letter twice and be satisfied that you understand each other before going on.
Setting the Stage
Jack and Jane, your host couple, spent a lot of time and effort working on a way to enhance this experience for you. As our ideas developed we asked some married couples for their opinions. Their comments helped us to solidify our ideas. Here is what we came up with.
We made our live Marriage Encounter (before the Internet) with other couples on a weekend in an old, inactive monastery that set high on a hill overlooking the city. The ambiance enhanced our experience -- the exterior appearance, the interior attention to details, even the character of the various rooms.
Each time we go into the city and look up to the hill it reminds us of our Marriage Encounter and how it has enriched our lives. As we imagined the effort and love that went into its design and construction we began to refer to this old monastery as our “Marriage Mansion”.
We see similarities between building a mansion and building a marriage. Each takes dedication, vision, planning, knowledge, ability, etc. But the result is so much worth the effort.
In order to make the Marriage Encounter Online program more enjoyable we have staged it in a make-believe or “virtual” mansion that sits atop a hill. So, if you will, we ask you to imagine that you are going to this mansion to attend the Marriage Encounter program.
As you approach the mansion notice the attention to details and the harmonious way the materials are joined together to give the overall structure its eye-catching appeal. The same applies to the inside; the way the mansion is laid out provides harmonious, gracious living for the owners and their guests.
In each room a Guide Couple will discuss with you an important aspect of married life and how they personally dealt with it. They are not teachers but their presentation is designed to help you zero in on your relationship. Then you will be given questions for your Personal Reflection (PR). After answering the questions, you will join together in a private room for your Couple Dialogue (CD).
Going into the Mansion
Now let’s go inside. We are entering into the Grand Wedding Foyer which is a tribute to the grandeur of marriage. Notice how the two staircases curve from the left and from the right and move upward, joining at the landing, and then continuing as single staircase to the owners’ suite. This symbolizes a man and woman joining together as husband and wife and then going on to spend their lives together.
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