WWME review of weekend program

My husband and I recently attended WWME. This program was wonderful for some of the couples there BUT it did not suit the needs of my husband and me. I wish that I would have had a better understanding of what the weekend entailed before going. My intent is not to criticize the program, some of the couples there were really fulfilled with the process. It just was NOT for us so I thought I would post what this program primarily consists of so couples considering WWME are better informed… I wanted to post on their actual website but there was no link to do this so I decided to post on CAF.

The gut of this program is the process of “dialoguing.” Couples listen to written dialogue of a married couple (3 couples presented and ran the weekend) and a written presentation from a priest regarding an issue (e.g. intimacy.) The attending couples then separate for a determined period of time to write letters to each other about this issue with the focus being on their “feelings.” Each couple then reunites in the privacy of their room where they are to read each other’s letters twice (once for the head, the 2nd time for the heart.) Then as a couple they choose whose feelings were stronger in the letters and discuss this. This process (dialoguing) was **repeated **throughout the entire weekend. Time limits were strict. Phone calls were given to each hotel room when couples were to return to the conference room and if you did not return, you were called a 2nd time. (Couple’s photos were on a table. as you entered the conference room you turned your picture over so they knew you were there.)

The entire weekend centered on this dialoguing process. We had hoped for a variety of different exercises between spouses. That would have been nice in case dialoguing wasn’t effective for you. We had also hoped for more scripture and church teaching on the sacrament of marriage (although there was some and prayer was included in the weekend.) It was nice to write each other a letter and talk about it, once or maybe twice. However, over and over again was not something either of us found effective or enjoyable.

There was VERY limited alone time for couples throughout the weekend. This was very disappointing for us. The days started at 7:30am and finished up between 9:30-10:00pm, all sessions revolved around writing and dialoguing. There were no other options. We did not have time to take a walk together or see anything outside of the hotel. That was frustrating for us.

Meals… You had assigned seating and sat with different couples every meal. There were questions at the table that the couples discussed during the meal. This actually was ok. It was a nice way to meet the other couples there. However, it would have been really nice to have one meal alone, just with your spouse, preferably Saturday’s evening meal.

That’s the just of it, hope this helps couples to decide if WWME is something that would benefit their marriage.

Sorry to hear that WWME didn’t meet your expectations. I know my wife and I did enjoy ours. I think from the simple fact that I communicate poorly. The WWME was good to help me learn how to communicate better. This has always been one of my weaknesses and I think that is the case for a lot of men.

I’m not really sure where to rank WWME as compared to some other retreats I’ve been on. I’ve been on a TEC, Cursillo, CHRP and various college retreats through our Newman center. Each has helped me in various ways.

The dialoguing at times was tedious, especially if it was a question we had largely already addressed, but overall I thought the benefits of having a weekend away from distractions to spend focused on communication with my wife was well worth it. I think the WWME should be strongly recommended for couples that do not communicate well. If, as a couple, you find that you don’t discuss “deep” topics on a regular basis (3-5 times per week) then WWME is likely for you. If you already are good at communicating and especially about discussing how you feel about various topics, WWME might not be for you.

Just my opinion.

Is WWME a specifically Catholic program?

It sounds great to me, something my husband and I never do. He would not like to have to eat dinner with others, though. What would they do if you just ordered room service and hung out in your room?


Sounds exactly what our EE weekend was, 12 years ago. Topic presented, go separate and answer questions, come together and discuss - ad nauseum. It bored us to tears, because every.single.topic that was discussed, we had already covered - extensively, before we were even engaged. So if you don’t discuss a lot, it was good for you.

I guess I don’t understand. You said there was too much dialoguing, but then you wanted time alone with your spouse for dinner. Why? to dialogue?

Anyone can look up documents on marriage to teach themselves, if you want that. My dad went to a retreat and they used the whole time to catechize…he was bitter at the end because he knew all of it. Did YOU really need the teaching on marriage for you, or were you hoping for it for other couples? If you wanted it for yourself, there’s nothing preventing you from reading TOB, and the other documents by the popes on marriage.

We went years ago. It really wasn’t our style.

I am glad, though, that it has helped many people.

Your post, though critical, was also vague. I am assuming that you are pro-wwme, which as I stated in my review was fine for some of the couples there, just not for us.

To address your comments:
Dinner alone would be some nice time for conversation, which is NOT dialoguing (I explained that process in my review.) The weekend lacked alone time together with the exception of the allotted dialoguing time. The majority of the weekend consisted of listening to the 3 couples dialoguing in front of the attendees. Definitely more time was spent on that than time spent with your spouse. Some couples verbalized their discomfort with the community meals. Also we were told to limit socializing. Every meal should NOT have been social.After all this was to be a marriage encounter for the couples attending.

Teaching ourselves about the marriage sacrament through reading documents? Really? So are we not to welcome homilies on Sunday? After all, we could really just study the gospel readings ourselves. Why send our children to religious education? Just have them read the book. I could give endless examples. My comment that was the program needed more variety, including more scripture and church teaching on the sacrament of marriage Perhaps I should have used the word *discussion *instead of teaching? That is pretty picky though.

As far as your comment *Did YOU really need the teaching on marriage for you, or were you hoping for it for other couples? * That does not deserve a reply.

I apologize if my response is defensive. I sincerely tried and feel that I kept my review of wwme very objective and fair.

For what its worth, I thought your post was objective and fair. Although we got quite a bit out of the marriage encounter weekend I can understand how a couple who already communicates well would find the course a waste of time. I quote the above comment because to me, reviewing the scriptures and church teachings would have been boring. Somehow, I don’t really know how or when, I learned a lot of that stuff along the way, so unless it was a really IN-DEPTH review, it is likely that I would have been bored to tears.

I think they would be better served by perhaps being more open and upfront by what WWME is and what it is not. I’m not sure why they try to keep what goes on at these retreats so secret. It was the same for CRHP and Cursillo. Its like they either think people wouldn’t want to attend if they knew what went on or that for some reason they want the events to be a surprise. Either way, I know when I am plugging retreats to people I usually let them know what to expect. I never did get the big hush-hush about what happened on the retreat.

I’ve thought WWME is good for couples that struggle with maintaining regular discussions about important topics. If all you talk about with your spouse is stuff you can find in the newspaper its likely WWME will do you some good. If you are already regularly discussing topics like, What do I find most interesting about our spiritual lives? Or How are we doing on our Catholic commitments? Which areas in our lives do I feel need the most improving etc etc… then most likely WWME is going to be slow. As a person who, even at 32, is still too insecure to talk about anything that might ruffle my wife’s feathers, I can attest that WWME helped me break down some of those communication barriers. I still have a ways to go, but WWME was good for us and an eye-opener for me since I don’t think I realized how poorly I communicated what my deep interior thoughts were to my wife.

Just my 2-cents.

Don’t assume so much. I’m neither pro or anti. Never been . I just didn’t understand you- I was not being critical.

The thing is here— it seems that people go to these things thinking they will be completely different afterwards. Thats not what it’s for. It’s to teach the tools to couples, in a way they feel confident to continue on their own, to continue the process on their own after.

Thanks for your 2 cents and I completely agree with you that any retreat should have a very thorough explanation of what it entails. That was the whole reason for my post, so that couples considering could make a more informed decision of if it is something for them. We had a relative drive 4 hours 1-way to babysit the weekend for us and the retreat was a considerable amount of money. I just wish I would have known what I was getting into. I’m glad for you that this was beneficial for you and your wife. We’re all different and this just wasn’t our thing. Live and learn :slight_smile:

Cathlikrn, I am sorry you experienced such a disappointing weekend with WWME. We attended our weekend in February and absolutely loved it! The only thing we knew about the weekend before attending was that we would hear presentations by couples and a priest, then have time to discuss those presentations in the privacy of our own room. We went to experience a wonderful weekend together. God blessed us not just with a wonderful weekend but with blessings each day since our weekend.

We had been married 28 years at the time and already had good communication skills sharing our feeling and thoughts with each other, probably on every topic covered during the weekend. Yet, we enjoyed the focus of the presentations and enjoyed sharing love letters privately with each other.

As you mentioned, time limits were adhered to in order to stay on schedule. We were told what time to return to the meeting room or received a knock on our door to know it was time to rejoin the group. It was important for all of us to be present before the next talk, to avoid disruption and so every couple experienced the entire encounter.

I assume WWME has found dialoging to be a very effective method of deepening communications between spouses and therefore focuses the weekend on teaching this through sharing love letters. I found it rewarding to have the time to learn this very personal and deeply loving why to communicate to my husband. I love his letters to me. Learning and then practicing this communication technique was helpful. To learn something new I need to practice it several times, which is what our dialogue time gave us - a chance to try this new form of communicating. I think experiencing this is the best way to see if it is effective in your relationship with your spouse. Like a trip to a beautiful land - we learn so much more when we are actually there seeing and trying new things ourselves.

I’m sorry your experience in sharing love letters and dialoguing with each other was not as rewarding.

There were so many beautiful topics on the sacrament of matrimony that the presenting couples and priest shared with us. -Loving our spouse even when they seem to not understand what we want. -Learning to really listen to our spouse in spite of having so many things on our mind. -Making time just for us as a couple each day (with a large family it can be easy to focus on the needs of the children as Mom and Dad, letting our time as Husband and Wife be pushed aside).

We were so impressed with not just the presenting priest but with the priest who made his weekend along side us. We went to strengthen our marriage. The priests who make a weekend come to strengthen their bond with the Bride of Christ - the Church - that is “all of us”.

We had such a different experience of alone time together than you. Our weekend was very romantic for us. Our time in our room allowed for sharing our love letters and personal private time. We were at a beautiful Benedictine Abbey and had several chances to take walks together. Being at a quiet abbey, the walks together had no distractions of a busy city or hotel patrons. We took our Friday evening meal with us from home and shared it together in our room at the close of Friday’s events. We wanted our room at the abbey to be “our room” and took our own pillows, sheets, and towels…so we had the simple beauty and feel of our own bedroom to share our together time. We took a beautiful plate of fresh fruit, nuts, and chocolates for our time in our room.

We enjoyed having assigned seating during our meal times. As you mentioned this allowed us to meet more couples. We enjoyed the “ice-breaker” questions that were on the table keeping with the theme of marriage.

I don’t know if either your writing or my writing of our experiences will help a couple decide if sharing a weekend together on a Worldwide Marriage Encounter is something that will bless their marriage. The presentations given by the husband and wife teams and the priest were beautiful. The time we had to share with each other in our own room was wonderful. Our meals with other couples were enjoyable. We have been blessed by what we heard, what we shared in the privacy of our own room, by our continued daily dialogue, and by all the prayers that covered the weekend.

God blessed us with far more than a wonderful time together. We are thankful to the couples and priest for their hours and hours of preparation and prayer, and the WWME movement as a whole for their investment in us and every couple.

We traveled far to attend, as well as, had someone travel far to watch our younger children. We were not charged for our weekend except for a small registration fee. Our cost to WWME was in the form of a donation of our chosen amount. Our donation to WWME will be applied to future weekends. This enables every couple to have a chance to attend regardless of their finances.

Rose Mary

I think it is true that for couples that communicate really well, the dialogue process may not be useful. Although my guess is that most couples’ communication can be improved, even people who are pretty good at it. The opposite is also true. There are some people who are not able to make “I feel” statements and who aren’t aware of their emotions enough to dialogue effectively either. For some people, it would take a lot more than a weekend, and a couple of tips that WWME provides to learn how to do that. In the case of a couple who is evenly matched in the emotion/feelings/communication department, they might get through the weekend, but wish there was more. In the case of a couple who is unevenly matched (ie one who is good at feelings and one who is emotionally disconnected), then it can be a very frustrating experience.

It is the in betweens who find dialoguing helpful, and it whether or not you are willing/find it fruitful to spend an entire weekend doing it, is also somewhat personality based.

Personally, I wouldn’t want that particular weekend to be INSTRUCTIVE about the Church teaching on marriage, because it think the instruction would distract from the goal of the weekend, which is improving emotional intimacy between spouses. I DO think that it should be part of the Engaged Encounter weekends, and I do wish there was a way to get more of that message out there to marrieds - I’m just not sure how you could fit it into a WWME weekend without sacrificing something else important.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.