Marriage encounter weekend retreat

Lindsay Steele
Deacon John and Cheryl Wagner pose for a picture with Marriage Encounter Weekend materials at St. Vincent Center in Davenport earlier this month.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

CLINTON — Sometimes, married couples avoid talking about difficult feelings or topics, say leaders of an upcoming marriage retreat. Learning to talk about such things in a constructive and loving way can make a huge difference in a marriage.

A Marriage Encounter Weekend Retreat, led by four couples from the Diocese of Davenport, will take place Feb. 1-3 at Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton. The retreat aims to give couples the tools they need to interact well with each other and to see God’s role in their marriages, said Cheryl Wagner, who is married to Deacon John Wagner and is a member of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport. They are among the couples who will lead the retreat.

“We help couples learn to communicate in an effective way,” Deacon John said. “Couples will have the opportunity to learn new skills and enjoy being with each other.”

Marriage Encounter retreats, which have been around since 1970, are based in Catholic teaching but are open to people of all faiths. Father John Stack, parochial vicar of the Clinton parish, will serve as spiritual director. The retreat is intended for people of all ages and stages of marriage, but is not intended to be a fix for a marriage that is severely broken. “It’s not a weekend to save marriages. It’s a weekend to make good marriages better,” Deacon John said.

The presenting couples will speak on 12 different topics during the weekend. The couples leading the retreat range in age from late 30s to 60s. After each presentation, couples will have an opportunity to talk and reflect with their spouse. Presenting couples will share personal testimonies to model the kind of openness they’d like to see occur between spouses at the retreat.

For many couples, “Learning to express feelings without fighting is a big first step,” Deacon John said. “Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They just are. People are entitled to their feelings.”

“It’s about getting to a level of comfort in talking about them,” Cheryl said.

The cost for the weekend is $95. Financial assistance is available. Persons of all faiths are welcome. For more information or registration materials, contact the Wagners at (563) 391-2805 or (563) 320-7174. Deadline to apply is Jan. 25.

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