Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 5, 2002
Couples encounter at heart level
Marriage Encounter opens partner's communication
By HELMA and JOHN VAN DEN BIJGAART
Special to the WCR
Another successful Marriage Encounter Weekend has taken place and 20 couples are still on a high as I write this letter. I look at the rose that came home with us after the weekend ended. It is still open and beautiful, the best it can be.
Couples with a good marriage deserve a weekend away to spend time together, just the two of you. "If you want your marriage to thrive, you have to nourish that relationship, keep it special for the two of you," says my wife Helma.
Great marriages are built by partners who put each other first, not only immediately after getting married, but ongoing into the future years of that relationship. For couples to be happy and content in their marriage, the partners must listen to each other with open hearts. They must keep their joint journey into the future interesting and stimulating.
As children come along and financial commitments take their toll on a relationship, couples have a tendency to stop going on dates and doing other activities together. If we don't enrich our own relationships, they can become stale and boring - till one day we may realize that "that one special person who we married" is now "someone we just take for granted."
A healthy relationship needs work, love and attention ongoing.
Marriage is a sacrament, instituted by the Lord himself. Both husband and wife are meant to be uniquely special to each other.
As a priest blesses each marriage, he is the official representative of the Church community at that function, since not everyone personally can be present.
Marriage is all about change, about supporting and building up each other, about experiencing things together and being open-minded, learning new ways and getting to know your "best buddy" in their good, and also their difficult moments, about acceptance and listening to each other with open hearts.
One of the women who took the weekend says it the best: "It seems that we can have lots of fun with friends, but whenever we spend time together at a Marriage-Encounter function my husband and I seem to connect better with each other. We feel mentally at peace, enjoy each other's company and we are glad to travel together on our journey as a couple."
Others agree and can identify.
A weekend spent together as a couple is time well spent. This last November weekend, everyone went home feeling like a miner who found the mother lode.
I myself feel like I've been swimming in a pool filled with champagne - bubbly, alive, refreshed, floating high and full of energy.
God creates miracles and the problems we experienced before the weekend are starting to turn into answers.
I feel in touch with my own emotions.
As a couple, we pray at night together. We both feel re-connected and part of a journey together with other committed couples.
We dare to risk trusting each other again.
Helma and I had the pleasure of watching this happen from close range in many couples that came for this weekend. We only assisted the couples in opening up to each other and to God. For us, watching them grow close was the harvest for being "team couple" on this Edmonton weekend.
(For more information on future Marriage Encounter weekends, call Zyg and Helen Slinko at 963-0188 or 483-0155.)