When we were preparing to become a presenting team couple for Worldwide Marriage Encounter, we were sent to a weekend training session that enhanced our own relationship as well as giving us more tools to help other couples with good marriages strengthen their relationships.
I had become afraid to fly when we moved to California, but God gave me the grace to get on the plane to Houston where the training took place.
We basically experienced the Weekend again, but at an even deeper level, and learned how all the talks work together to give the couples who go on a Weekend the best possible experience and the most powerful renewal of their marriage. One of the most enlightening experiences was having the participants divided into groups after a personality analysis, so everyone in the group had a similar personality style. In my group, called the catalysts, we wrote all over the newsprint, with arrows, balloons, and very messy script. My husband's group, by contrast, was filled with thinkers, who made a neat list of the things they wanted to record, and thought a long time about exactly how they wanted to say it. It was a good reminder that there are many different kinds of people in the world, that we are often married to someone who thinks and reacts in ways that may not make sense to us, but that we're called to appreciate our differences and learn to communicate across what might seem to be a great chasm of misunderstanding.
Communication is at the center of the Weekend. We learn to listen with our hearts, without judging, and to express ourselves in more loving ways so we can fall more deeply in love, grow in intimacy, and mirror God's love for his people. There were couples and a few priests from all over the country and all of us had a desire to share the gifts we had been given with couples whose marriages are "just fine" and see them blossom into husbands and wives passionately committed to each other, whose love overflows into their families and communities. By the time we left, when we ran into several couples from the training weekend at the airport, it felt like a celebration of a family reunion where we all shared a common faith and a mission to help other couples realize how powerful their love can be in revitalizing their families, churches and society.