Anybody else have a bad WWME experience?

We just got back from a marriage encounter weekend and hated most of it. Anybody else get a bad taste in their mouth by having one overly simplistic psych101 communication method jammed down your throat like it was the 11th commandment? Or get turned off by the idea that a supposed Catholic group feels they need to "renew the Church" when in reality they need to renew themselves for the sake of the Church. And did anybody else feel like you could have just been handed the book and left instead of getting lectured to for an entire weekend?

Oh and what was your experience at the Sunday ending.. ours involved lay people blessing a priest :eek: and couples receiving communion together. :shrug:

Any thoughts? Seems like WWME censors any opposing views and is believes they are the key to the very salvation of the world.

I did not enjoy our WWME weekend at all. My main concern was with the method itself. Maybe I missed the point, but I cannot understand what good it does to talk on and on about my feelings like that - to the point of using the color red to describe how angry I am, or the ocean to describe my mood.

I also had a problem with the clocks being removed from the room, the confinement during the weekend, and the “forced sharing” at meals.

I did not like it at all…

I completely agree (to a point). I think it is important to talk about feelings but only to the degree that it allows you to discern how important something is to someone and to yourself so you can better deal with issues. To communicate without any type of problem solving is like the guy on fire walking into a shrinks office and all the doc keeps saying is "I understand you are on fire, but how do you FEEL about that"

We went, expecting renewal. By Saturday evening, we had one of the worst weekend of our lives. I honestly think it was one of the most damaging events in our almost 30 year marriage. We left on Sunday morning, citing family reasons for leaving. (It was true, we needed to save our marriage :))

I think it might work for marriages with serious communication problem, but for us all it did was resurrect all the bad stuff that happened over the years, and it a very bad way.

As it was our first retreat together, ever, it also left a very bad taste in our mouths. Now, a year and a half later I think the format may work for those who are “on the rocks”, but we didn’t need to be told that we loved each other and the importance of God’s sacramental blessings. We have had them for many years.

Since that time, I have been involved in many other retreats in Prison and one Cursillo (mine), these have been very renewing with the Holy Spririt present and running them. We felt like the devil was running interference at the WWME in our marriage at least.

I have not really analysed exactly why it was so bad, but we use it as an example of how a retreat can go wrong.

Sorry if I still sound angry about it, but it was a bad weekend.

DH and I didn’t do the WWME, but we did Engaged Encounter and also Retrouvaille. I found both weekends to be exhausting – to the point that it caused a fight between him and I. He fell asleep for the last session on Saturday night of Retrouvaille and I was so upset that he didn’t hang in there for the last presentation. Anyway… as for the communication tool, I found it to be extremely helpful. DH has a way of not communicating any feelings except for anger. He is very hard to read and isn’t expressive at all. The dialogue tool is a great way for us to share feelings about important topics in a safe way. At first the format feels a little awkward and unnatural, but the more you do it, the better it gets.

I do have to add that my husband and I attended an Engaged Encounter weekend before we were married and loved it. It was not at all the same as WWME. We had to write down our thoughts on different subjects but weren't being told HOW to write them down. It think that was the difference.

Yes as I remember Engaged Encounter did talk about the importance of communication for the purpose of problem solving. Which is what communication is for! Now sometimes it ends up that the problem needing to be solved is a recognition of emotions or the need for one person to just get something off their chest so they can move forward. EE also involved getting down to what you really believe and what your SO believes so that you can truly determine if you are compatible for life together.

The purpose of WWME is supposedly to make bonds stronger… EE is about making sure those bonds are real. I was engaged twice and at both my encounters at least one couple broke up afterwards. And that is one of the intents.

However I wish WWME did a better job telling why it is important to communicate and give tools (plural) for people to pick from.

Oh and did anybody elses weekend end with them soliciting specific donations of large amounts of money (they encouraged a minimum donation of almost $300 all the way up to over $7000). They also encourage donating out of substance and not out of excess which they took directly from the Church’s teaching on tithing… something I found very offensive and just another example of WWME putting themselves on equal ground with the Church.

WWME? What is that?

I had to chuckle at these comments. It’s been decades since I attended a Marriage Encounter weekend. My wife and I had been married about ten years and were more in love than ever. We’d been told the weekend was not for bad marriages but for good marriages.

After the first few sessions, it seemed to me that the ‘assignments’ we were given all had some negative bias, as if they were looking for problems. Plus, the pace was too exhausting, and some of the stuff was just way too hokey.

We’d been to retreats together which were much better than this. Afterwards we tried to avoid being drawn into marriage encounter groups ever again.

10-4 and ditto. Perhaps this group should start a new retreat format for marriages that actually are working :smiley: Apologize for the sarcasm sin here… :wink:

We've done both Marriage Encounter and Retrouvaille and found both extremely helpful. My best friend and her hubby went to Retrouvaille a couple years ago at my recommendation an thought it was fantastic.

Wow my husband and I attended a World Wide Marriage Encounter maybe 7 years ago? And it was nothing like the above posts mentioned. The people hosting it did a really nice job of showing how to communicate. Actually it was a lot like our Engagement Encounter. Nothing was forced upon us. From check in to check out it was pretty much the same as E.E. Lots of "examples’ from the hosting couples and even from the priest attending. We even renewed our wedding vows. Yes we were even told about receiving Jesus together…whats wrong with that? We are one flesh afterall?:shrug: Oh and side note…we met some really nice people at the shared meals. Sorry yours went so bad.

[quote="fellowChristian, post:12, topic:191570"]
Yes we were even told about receiving Jesus together....whats wrong with that? We are one flesh after all?:shrug:

[/quote]

But you don't receive Communion as one flesh or only one would have to receive. Communion, although 'communal', is very much a personal experience and these gimmicky additions just serve to take the focus off the One we are receiving and putting it on us.

Were there couples at these marriage encounters who were not both Catholic? I’m wondering how communion was given if the one spouse couldn’t receive communion.

Our experience wasn't great. I attributed it to a difference between dh and me in ability to recognize and write down our feelings (I'm good at it, he is not). I thought it could've been valuable, but since it was not meaningful to dh, it became very difficult and frustrating for me. I don't think ME is BAD, just perhaps not for everyone. I didn't feel like we had to cry into each other's shoulders, or anything. I thought it did present a good form of communication, but not everyone will take to it as quickly as others. I think that a large number of people would need extensive practice and one on one instruction/training/counseling to learn how to recognize their feelings and express them in the way that ME wants you to. To be clear, I think that their form of communication is sound. But if one of you is not quick about learning their method, you are not going to get anything out of it.

Then there are the people who already communicate really well, and don't need the dialogue method. I can see how it might be the wrong focus as well. ME definitely comes at you from the perspective of "you are missing a tool to have a good marriage, come here and we'll give it to you." I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't need that tool, but who could still benefit from a marriage retreat.

On to the liturgical abuses. Depending on what you mean by "receiving communion together" I don't know how wrong it is. But here's the thing. No one is going to make you and your spouse do anything, so if you don't want to receive communion together, then don't. I don't remember exactly what dh and I did at the Mass, but I'm pretty sure we went into the experience knowing that there might be some liturgical problems, and that we would just do what we knew to be right. No big deal. I wouldn't throw out an entire weekend of good instruction on communication, simply because the Mass at the end might be a little goofy or have some liturgical abuses. That would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Same with the after-sessions. If they're not your style, and if the group thing doesn't work for you (which it wouldn't with us), then don't do them. I looked at the ME experience as a learning process, which happened to have some fluff along side it. If you can benefit from the main stuff, just throw away the fluff. Of course, if the whole idea of ME doesn't work for you, then that's another story.

I went on a WWME weekend recently. I have mixed feeling about it.

Here are the plusses from my perspective.

  • No clocks or watches. I don’t have to worry about time. My schedule is being taken care of by someone else. This is actually a great relief for someone like me.
  • The dialogue method is a nice tool, I particular difficulty expressing feelings. I have the full spectrum of feelings, but I tend to express shutdown and express anger. The dialogue method gave me and my wife to communicate our feeling in a way that worked for us.
  • We talked some of the difficult things that we had been uncomfortable talking about before.
  • I was able to encourage my (cradle catholic) wife to go to reconciliation, something she done less than 5 times in her life.
  • We renewed our vows.
  • I took the time to think back on my marriage day, and remember my wife walking down the aisle.
  • 3 dedicated couples and an active retired priest gave of themselves and travelled a distance to present for us, the local WWME group was also very helpful and supportive.

Here are the negatives.

  • A complete written dialogue example would have been nice - My wife and I fumbled for a while.
  • Dialogue on some of the questions was painful (ultimately a good thing, though)
  • Receiving Jesus together? Really? Holding hands is great, tasteful public display of affection is fine, sitting next to each other is fantastic, but side-by-side communion is logistically awkward at the very least
  • The hard sell on the donation at the end. Yes, I know this ministry needs money to run, and I understand that it costs real money to put on a weekend… Maybe this is a sign that I place too much value on money…
  • My wife was sick all weekend (pregnancy sickness)

The WorldWide Marriage Encounter weekend was worthwhile and had some strong positive benefits. We got to hear something interesting things from some other couples during the meals. I had some alone time with my wife. We have 3 children with one on the way, sometimes any time as just a couple is a blessing and a reminder that we need to be more diligent about making “us” time.

Ours was awful. I wrote a post about it on here right after we came back (I think it was this past July). It’s alll touchy, feelgood stuff… and the forced meals was miserable for me (I’m an introvert and hate forced socializing)… but the worst part was the abuses during the “Mass” on Sunday. It’s against Church law to receive communion “as a couple”, the vessels weren’t proper, the readings were done all wrong and no kneeling during the consecration. Oh, and I can’t forget how they opened up the prayers of the faithful to anything anyone wanted us to prayer for, and one of the women asked us to pray for her friend who is having in vitro fertilization, and not that this woman would realize what she was doing was wrong, but to pray that it went well so that she could have a family like they did. :eek::eek::eek:

I will NEVER go again.

1 Like

[quote="2ndChance, post:1, topic:191570"]
We just got back from a marriage encounter weekend and hated most of it. Anybody else get a bad taste in their mouth by having one overly simplistic psych101 communication method jammed down your throat like it was the 11th commandment? Or get turned off by the idea that a supposed Catholic group feels they need to "renew the Church" when in reality they need to renew themselves for the sake of the Church. And did anybody else feel like you could have just been handed the book and left instead of getting lectured to for an entire weekend?

Oh and what was your experience at the Sunday ending.. ours involved lay people blessing a priest :eek: and couples receiving communion together. :shrug:

Any thoughts? Seems like WWME censors any opposing views and is believes they are the key to the very salvation of the world.

[/quote]

My parents used to do Catholic marriage encounter. It was THE thing to do back in the 70s. YES I can relate to your concerns. I heard the pop-psych stuff from things my parents said and it drove me up a wall. Especially since it seems to be so glib and well-rehearsed. To be fair I think quality of WWME probably varies quite a bit; I imagine some couples handle it better than others. My mother watches Oprah and gets a lot of psychological knowledge from her and other shows like that. So you can imagine what this was like :)

It personally drove me up a wall to hear that it "makes good marriages better." That is a good slogan but it was stated with a degree of complacency that I found highly annoying. Everyone's marriage was considered good, even when I knew that was not the case from what the married couple said. It seemed more about telling people what they wanted to hear rather than truly helping them.

I also think I shouldn't have been hearing some of this information; things were discussed pretty openly at times.

Wow! We had a life changing weekend at our WWME Weekend two years ago. We loved it. The lack of a clock was actually very nice once we settled in to the weekend. We enjoyed the meal conversations. It was a very spiritual, very moving, very informative weekend. We are still using dialogue daily. At first it felt awkward but now it is an essential part of our day. I am so sorry others did not have the same wonderful experience. I wonder what was different?

Maybe it’s better for extroverts.

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