From the Encounters of Married Couples’ perspective, dialogue is a way of inner life, a spiritual path which leads one to sanctity in personal life, as well as in marital and social life. It is a path of bonding with God.
The objective of the Encounters of Married Couples is to renew the bond between a husband and a wife and between the married couple and God in resemblance of the love of Christ and Church (cf. Eph 5:21-33). The Encounters of Married Couples’s work aims at deeper understanding and, first of all, experiencing in daily life the essence of the Sacrament of Matrimony. This forms the basis for permanent development of the whole family as the domestic Church, and shows dialogue as a way of life. Our methods of work, based on the testimony of everyday life, refer both to the achievements of psychology and to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The charism of the Encounters of Married Couples is the ability to share the gift of dialogue with others and inspire them to enter into dialogue in their relationships. The mission of the Encounters of Married Couples is, on the one hand, to try to involve in various forms of our work as many married couples as possible, and also those preparing for marriage. On the other hand, it consists in striving for dialogue as a lifestyle to increasingly encompass all spheres of personal, marital and social life, and especially one’s bond with God.
We understand dialogue as a conversation held in truth and love, and leading to spouses’ meeting with each other and with God. Having adopted Thomas Aquinas’ thesis that “grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it”, the Encounters of Married Couples attaches great importance to getting to know one’s own and each other’s feelings, psychological needs and other natural personality traits, understood both as a gift and a task. The aim of recognizing feelings is to determine their proper place in one’s inner life, in accordance with the basics of psychology of communication and the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The basic elements of psychology of interpersonal communication adopted by the Encounters of Married Couples help to live according to the commandment to love God and neighbour. Also, we interpret Jesus’ words “Now remain in my love” (Jn. 15: 9b) as addressed especially to married couples. These words have been used by the founders as the title for the 'Encounters of Married Couples' Icon. Special importance is attached in the Encounters of Married Couples’ spirituality to following the “principles of dialogue”: the priority of listening over speaking, understanding over judging, sharing over discussing, and above all, forgiving. These principles also refer to one’s relationship with God; they concern prayer, the way of reading the Bible, examining one’s conscience, and reflecting before God on one’s way of life. We treat psychology of communication, as interpreted in the Encounters of Married Couples, as God’s gift that makes it easier to live according to the principles of dialogue.
Dialogue proposed to couples preparing for marriage during Evenings for Couples in Love helps them to take a mature decision concerning their future marriage, and to prepare for entering on sacramental marriage.
Bearing in mind dialogue as a universal means of communication, and our whole work being rooted in the Gospel and the teaching of the Catholic Church, the mission of the Encounters of Married Couples is to shape the whole of social life, and especially marital and family life, according to the principles of dialogue – beyond language, national, historical and political divisions. Our Association’s spirituality opens up a broad scope of cooperation between denominations.
The Encounters of Married Couples spirituality is shaped by married couples in cooperation with priests.
Text:. Irena and Jerzy Grzybowski