About three weeks ago, N & I attended a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend in Tagaytay. When we were first invited by our wedding godparents to attend this session, we were very hesitant and maybe a little bit defensive too.
“We’re very busy with work and the kids have a lot of activities, we really don’t have time for it.”
“Our weekends are just always packed. We couldn’t possible get away.”
But my thought bubble was really something like…
“Everything is okay with our marriage. We don’t need marriage counselling.”
We had all kinds of excuses why we couldn’t go. But our sponsors were very persistent and tenacious that in the end, we found ourselves agreeing to go, albeit reluctantly.
Since we were there already, N & I decided to give it a real try. The weekend started slow for us but we listened and participated in all prescribed activities. As it progressed, I found myself gradually appreciating the process and the new discoveries I made about myself, about N and our togetherness. I will not divulge a lot details on what transpired during the weekend. I believe it will be best if a couple could experience it first-hand. But I’d like to share some of my learnings without giving away the essence of the experience.
1. My feelings are neither right nor wrong.
When I feel sad or angry or happy, no one can challenge my statement. My feelings are mine and mine alone and there is no morality to that. However, how I react to my feelings is an entirely different story. If I am upset with my husband and start shouting at him at the top of my lungs, then my actions become wrong.
All too often, we use “feel” in our statements liberally that we confuse our thoughts and judgements for feelings. When I say, “I feel that you don’t listen to me.”, it’s actually a statement of what I think and not of how I feel. However, if I say, “I feel sad when you don’t listen to me.”, that is an expression of my emotions.
2. God does not make junk.
A lot of times, we tend to see ourselves less than we really are. I am guilty of this myself! In an activity where we had to list down our strengths and weaknesses, I had quite a difficult time identifying my strengths but was all too quick to enumerate my flaws. Really, we can be our own worst critics! During the weekend, it was inspiring to be reminded that we are each beautiful in our own way and that we need to see and appreciate purselves before others can. And so, even though I know that I can never be perfect, I know that I have to accept and love myself – warts and all- before I can accept the love of the people around me, including N.
3. Love is a decision.
Love has been over romanticized in the movies that we tend to relate it to roses, chocolates and the giddy feelings we experience during courtship and honeymoon. I agree that romance is an important part of being in a loving relationship. I believe that couples should always find ways to keep that fire burning. But I also believe that those with enduring marriages are those who have stuck it out through ups and downs. I know it’s easier said than done. I recognize the heard work that it takes to decide to love someone when he is being stubborn or uncaring or indifferent. But marriage demands that of us – to continue saying “yes” to love, even in the most trying times.
The Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend experience was really a good chance for N & I to spend time together, just the two of us. I appreciate that we had the time to talk without distractions and reconnect with each other again. If only for that, I would recommend all married couples to go through the same experience. The weekend is not a therapy session nor a counselling group. It is not also a sharing session where you tell stories about your married life to the group. In fact, most of the time, couples are left to themselves to talk. It is really an experience between you and your spouse.
So if you think your marriage can benefit from this kind of experience, do check it out!
WORLDWIDE MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER