We often hear of people in the workforce having to attend training courses, workshops, seminars etc., in order to keep their skills updated, or even having to learn new ones, in response to changes in their chosen field. This type of training is referred to as Continuing Professional Development.
But have you ever thought the same could apply to your marriage? It could even be referred to as Continuing Marriage Development.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME) gives married couples of all faiths an opportunity to take a break away from their everyday commitments and take the time to review their marriage skills, learn new skills and to enrich their marriages.
The first WWME weekends were held in the USA in 1968 and expansion to the rest of the world began in the early 1970s. The first WWME weekend in Australia was held in Sydney in February 1974 and by 1979, weekends were being held in all Australian states. At the same time, WWME in Australia reached out to New Zealand and Fiji and now, more than 40 years later, the mission of WWME continues with God’s work in the Pacific.
In 2013, we attended our first Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend at the Mt Carmel Retreat Centre in Varroville in southwest Sydney, where we rediscovered just how special we were to one another. We had no idea what an amazing impact this weekend would have on our marriage. We were inspired by the presenters as they shared their most intimate feelings about their marriages and realised how important it is to share our feelings with each other.
Since our weekend, our relationship has grown in leaps and bounds because of the special time we spend together sharing our feelings.
When we were married, we received a wonderful gift, but we didn’t open it. Many married couples have a gift just like this but don’t realise it. The gift represents the many graces of the sacrament of marriage. The catch was, we had to be willing to open ourselves and our relationship to this gift.
This is what the Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend is all about – opening and discovering the many gifts of your relationship.
On our weekend, we began to see that instead of being ordinary, we have a very special love. Before we went on the weekend, we thought our marriage was really good and wondered why it needed to get better. But we found that we had to let go of our good marriage to have a great marriage. The weekend brought us closer together than we had ever imagined. We were so happy we went on our Marriage Encounter weekend, it brought back that “just married” feeling.
Involvement with Worldwide Marriage Encounter doesn’t have to stop once you’ve attended a weekend.
Since our weekend, we have continued to be involved with our local Marriage Encounter community and have formed many close friendships which have enriched our own marriage.
You can join the Continuing the Journey (CTJ) program where you meet up with other couples who have attended a weekend. CTJ provides an opportunity to practise the tools you learnt on the weekend, learn more about WWME and socialise with other couples who have experienced the joy of a WWME weekend. Couples also meet up for social events such as pot luck dinners, barefoot lawn bowls and music performances.
Marriage Encounter weekends are also open to priests and religious, where they have the opportunity to get away from their everyday workload and focus on their relationship with the church and their community.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekends are held in most Australian capital cities. The next WWME weekend in Sydney will be a live-out retreat held on 21-22 August at St John Basco Parish, Engadine.
If you want to find out more about World Wide Marriage Encounter, or to register for the upcoming weekend in August, please visit www.wwme.org.au. We can even arrange (email us at email@example.com) to come to your parish and give a short talk about WWME at the end of your Sunday Masses.
Tracey and Richard Kaldasaun are the WWME Eastern (NSW/ACT) Unit Leaders.