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Engaged Encounter

August 17th, 2007 at 03:16 am

My fiance and I went to the Catholic Engaged Encounter this past weekend. It was a bit of a waste of time, because we had talked about most of the topics already, but we did get some good out of it. I think what we got out of it most was an affirmation that we weren't rushing into this.

The format of this weekend was that everyone met in a big conference room with two married teaching couples, a priest, and all the engaged couples. There were probably 35 couples there. One of the married couples would tell a story in their lives that had to do with the topic, the priest would tell a story having to do with his congregation, they would go back and forth like this for about 20 minutes. Then, one of us would go to a room and the other would stay in the conference room, and we would write letters to each other having to do with the topic. After about 20 minutes of that, the person who stayed in the conference room would go meet their partner in the room. Each would read the other's writing, and then discuss if you had any problems or issues that needed to be talked about. Then, after about 20 minutes of that, we went back to the conference room.

First we talked about why we were even there. Why did we show up at the weekend retreat? What do we want to gain? I'm sure that a lot of people wrote "so the priest would marry us" or "she wanted me here, so I'm here."

Then, we talked about ourselves, and how each person comes into this union offering ourselves to the other person. Also about how we see ourselves and how other people see us, and if we feel the need to live up to someone else's expectations. We also talked about our family backgrounds, and how the way we grew up would impact our future relationships.

After that, we talked about our relationship. About how in marriage, there will be good times, there will be bad times, and that sometimes, you have to decide to love the other person because you won't like them at that moment. The point of this one was that there is a cycle of romance, disillusionment and joy in every relationship, and that it isn't always going to be rosy and sunny. We also talked about the romance, disillusionment and joy we have already had in our relationship. Just reading his letter to me on this one makes me want to shout out with happiness! I smile every time I read it.

That was it for Friday night. We then retired to our separate rooms (we're at a Catholic weekend retreat, after all) and got up early for mass the next morning. The first talk after that was "Openness in Communication." It talked about how to fight fairly, like no name-calling, no outside influences, no past history, no cheap shots. Don't go to bed angry. And HOLD HANDS. That one was kinda strange; you most likely don't want to hold hands with someone you are fighting with, but they explained that this way you realize that you are not trying to make the other person lose, but you are trying to make the best decision for your family. When we were discussing this one, I realized that I don't listen to what he is saying and take it to heart enough. I hear what he is saying, and I can talk intelligently about it at that moment, but I don't internalize it and remember it.

Next was "Signs of a closed relationship." This helped you realize if you were hiding something from the other partner, so you could spring it on them after the wedding, even if this wasn't intentional. Some of the questions you could answer were "what things to I talk with others about more easily than I do with you? What does that say about our relationship?" or "what doubts to I have about marrying you?" or "What do I expect of myself as your husband/wife? What do I expect of you as my husband/wife?". The one he answered was "Are we in agreement about how to handle the assets and debts each of us brings to this marriage? How will we do this?" We had quite the discussion over at the forums about my fiance having a high interest debt and that he was buying land and a tractor and a combine, and what I suspected is true...that he kept the farm loans current so he could keep operating, and that is why the credit card hadn't been paid. I am starting to realize that farming is going to be completely different from anything I have ever done...that even if you do the right things at the right time, if the rain doesn't come or the sun doesn't shine, you don't make it. With this discussion, I realized that he thinks about money a lot, mostly in the "where am I going to come up with that" line of thinking. He agreed that the high interest rate credit card had to go, but that you had to balance that out with keeping all the bills current. In this section, I talked about how I sometimes don't feel feminine, and that I have been so independent and in control since I have been out of school, I am worried that I won't make a good partner with anybody. And I worry that I won't make a good mother. Those are my doubts.

That takes us to about lunch on Saturday. Only another day to go...but I'll wait for that one for another time.

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