Rob and I had the opportunity to attended Engaged Encounter this past weekend as part of our required marriage preparation. We had the choice between doing a one day session or a weekend session. Based on experiences of friends and family, we decided that the weekend session would be much more fulfilling for use. We were correct.
The premise of Engaged Encounter is to get couples to talk to each other about topics or issues that had not been addressed thus far in the relationship. Honestly, Rob was hoping that his Notre Dame degree and St. X education would exempt us from going to ANY marriage prep. courses or retreats. Despite his wealth of Catholic School experience we were still required to attend.
As we are getting married in Dayton, our Engaged Encounter was sponsored by the Cincinnati Community. Rob thought that I would like the Jesuit Spiritual Retreat Center in Milford more than our other retreat option - especially because of the changing of the leaves.
In spite of the fact that Rob and I have been dating for over five years, I was really looking forward to going on retreat with him because it is something that we had not shared together. Plus we are facing increasing amounts of stress and I felt that a weekend away from cell phones and other distractions was needed - even if, as I thought, there wasn't anything I could gain from the experience.
The retreat involved 12 couples, 2 presenting couples, and a deacon. We were encouraged to interact with the other couples and we did. The focus of the weekend, though, wasn't to make new friends and socialize but was to spend time revealing our fears, insecurities, hopes, and desires for each other and our approaching marriage.
The format involved about a 30 minute presentation on a topic. The couples would then divide and spend about 20 minutes writing in response to reflection questions the built off of the presentation. They were not related to our comprehension of the presentation. After writing, the couples would come together and exchange writings and then discuss the responses and any questions regarding the responses.
Rob had and I had eerily similar responses for almost all the questions (which was reassuring as we think that we are completely compatible). We did find some questions that we had not discussed despite our many, many, many conversations.
On Sunday, we closed the weekend with a mass. The weekend was a truly awesome experience that I recommend to any couple contemplating marriage. No reservations.