I recall my old roommate went to Engaged Encounter with his fiance’e. They have now been married six years. He told me that the discussions on things like communication, conflict resolution, and finance were good. However, he did say that the talk on sex was very short, with NFP being covered for about 15 minutes. Other friends I know who attended the same Engaged Encounter told me similar stories (these are all people who have gone within the past 9 years), and several priests I know advise married couples to attend NFP classes on their own before getting married.
I know of a couple who attended Engaged Encounter in one diocese (I won’t say which one). They said it was too much 1970’s and 1980’s pop psychology, that encouraged being “touchy feely” and most of the staff were senior citizens. The female participant mentioned that she felt more men need to be involved in putting the weekend together.
A few years back, I read the book *Sterilization and Reversal *that is published by One More Soul. Many had said that when they attended Engaged Encounter (many of these stories were from the late 1970’s through the 1980’s) they were often encouraged to use birth control. Some of the older priests today were taught this too, and fortunately, that is changing.
Other friends I know who attended Engaged Encounter enjoyed it, and one friend mentioned that out of the couples there, he and his fiance’e were one out of four couples present who were not already living together. There was quite a bit of literature passed out on the dangers of living together before getting married. Another friend mentioned that many couples present came with an attitude of “oh, when is this over?”
My brother just got engaged, and I told him that many of my married friends got more out of marriage preparation by doing the “sponsored couple” than from doing Engaged Encounter.
I would like to hear more stories from those who have attended Engaged Encounter. Basically, I think it depends on the staff, and varies between localities. I recall that the Bishop of Fargo (ND) mandates NFP Classes for Marriage Preparation, and some other dioceses have followed suit.
Some Engaged Encounters are probably really good, where others are not. Steve Wood talks about this too - he mentioned a good program on *Faith and Family *one afternoon called PREP.
I need to be careful about putting dissertations here.