Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lots of fatigue, lots of love

Mr. Snow Cone and I opted to spend this warm, sunny June weekend cooped up indoors.  What could possibly cause us to ignore the good weather and deny ourselves any time in the sun?  We were on a Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend, fulfilling our marriage preparation requirement to get married in the Catholic Church. 

 Image via Ohio Marriage

The set-up of the retreat was pretty straightforward: there were 26 engaged couples, and three presenting couples who have been married for any number of years.  We covered a wide spectrum of topics, such as forgiveness, family, communication, disagreements, and careers, among others.  For every topic, we listened to the presenting couples go over the basics of the issue, including some of their own personal experiences.  We then were tasked with answering a list of discussion questions in our retreat journals.  When it came time to reflect and write, each couple separated for approximately 20 minutes before privately reuniting with their other half to share what each had written.  

I really enjoyed this set-up because it allowed Mr. Snow Cone and I the opportunity to address issues that we've specifically faced in our past or obstacles we anticipate in our future.  It was very private and individualized, which I thought served us well.  There's little point in listening to a presentation on being a stay-at-home parent when it's already been decided that both spouses will pursue careers even after children.  Instead, we were presented with open-ended questions that sparked discussion and conversation for the two of us based on our own specific relationship.  The writing and sharing format helped both of us to think honestly and independently - we had the opportunity to really prepare our thoughts and have a worthwhile discussion instead of speaking off the cuff, resulting in confusion, miscommunication, or some hurt feelings.

On a whole, the weekend was really fatiguing, but really rewarding.  It was a lot of hours spent writing, reflecting, sharing, and listening.  In many instances, it really pushed us to talk about topics we'd skirted around in the past or have blunt conversations about issues that had been ignored until now.  Despite the physical, mental, and emotional fatigue that occurred as a result of the retreat, I'm really glad we opted to pursue this option.  I think we learned more about each other's perspectives, opinions, and feelings on a couple matters.  And, when you've dated for more than eight years, learning new things about your partner is a relatively rare occurrence, which is always special.  Without a doubt, I feel closer to Mr. Snow Cone now and even if I don't have all my ducks in a row to have a wedding with him, I'm beyond ready to be married to him.
At the Outer Banks, a few weeks before retreat

Has anyone else out there had a positive experience with a marriage preparation event?  Share!

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