The idea of finding true love and lasting happiness has been instilled within us since early childhood. After our first bitter quarrel with a spouse, disillusionment sets in and we are thrown back to earth as we ask
ourselves the perplexing question: How do we really find genuine love that lasts?
Well, I am glad to say that "happily ever after" IS possible for married partners who continue to learn and grow. The key thing to remember is "love works only as long as we do." One of the secrets to finding lasting love is to continually take concrete steps to utilize our full capacity to love. For my wife Diane and I, our Marriage Encounter Weekend was a critical step along the way.
When Diane first suggested that we have my sister take care of our children for two days so that we could spend a whole weekend with other couples we had never met, I had serious reservations. But I knew our marriage could only benefit if we took time out to work on it, so I went along. To my surprise, the weekend was not only the marriage "tune-up" I expected, it turned out to be a life-changing experience.
During the weekend we became closer than we had ever been to each other. We discovered each other in new and meaningful ways. We learned how to share feelings while avoiding the natural tendency to blame or criticize. We learned a dialoguing technique that helped us to open up to each other in ways I truly did not imagine were possible. Although there were some rough spots, we were given new communication skills which enabled us to work through the sticky problems.
Love is much more than an emotion that makes us feel good. Loving someone is a consciously developed skill that requires a great deal of continual hard effort. I have always said "We must sow love to reap love, but only by daily cultivation will the harvest be abundant." Spending a Marriage Encounter Weekend as a couple gave Diane and I practical skills we could take home and use on a daily basis so that together we could reap the full abundance of our love as it was truly meant to be.
William Oak - Author of "For Love or Nothing"