Marriage in the Catholic Church: Marriage Encounter

Friday, Feb. 14, 2020
Marriage in the Catholic Church: Marriage Encounter 
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SALT LAKE CITY — Jesús and Eva Mendoza have been married for 33 years, but it was not until 10 years ago that they decided to attend a Marriage Encounter weekend. The experience was so beneficial that now they coordinate the diocesan Marriage Encounter in Spanish.

“We have been serving in the parish for many years. … I didn’t think that I needed Marriage Encounter. I used to think that that was it, we already served and we were OK,” Jesús Mendoza said.

He never thought about how the Church could help their marriage, he said.

“But one day we finally decided to experience a Marriage Encounter weekend, and I realized how much I was missing in knowing my wife, in appreciating and learning about our life as a  couple,” he said.

After that weekend, their relationship as a married couple improved, as did their understanding of each other and their relationship with their children.

“The dialogue between us was more open. … My way of thinking changed, too,” Jesús Mendoza said.

After that weekend, both decided that they would keep Marriage Encounter alive in their lives. Now, after 10 years, they said that it has helped them in community matters as well.

“I see our community in a different sight; we both realized that we needed to help to change the world,” Jesús Mendoza said.

Families need to live a different lifestyle, he said; for example, the blessing of meals in families is a value that is almost nonexistent.

“It is very rare as a family – families have very little knowledge of all the Catholic family values, and that is part of what we want to change through Marriage Encounter, too,” he said.

Parents nowadays, instead of teaching their children in the faith, “they immediately accommodate them with electronic devices so they don’t bother them. … We see that at Masses and it shocks us,” Jesús Mendoza said.

Parents also tend to focus more on working and making money than on their children or spouse, Eva Mendoza said.

“We, as married couples, have to make our family as a priority,” she said. “If we don’t pay attention and give time to our children, they are going to get lost, and that’s what we are seeing. … Youth are lost. They take shelter in materialistic and damaging things instead of in their families.”

An analogy that Jesús Mendoza likes to share is that marriage is like a car.

“Thirty-three years ago, when we got married, our vision was to have a happy marriage and to be united until death do us part, as we promised in the altar. … So I tell couples that marriage is like a Beetle: As the time passes, it’s going to need  maintenance, it’s going to need oil changes, to put on new tires … so it can run, so it can be alive,” he said.

Unfortunately, nowadays when people buy a car, when the first thing goes wrong with it, they exchange it for a new one, he said.

“People tend to put aside things that require maintenance; when something doesn’t suit them, they discard it,” Jesús said.

Eva added that people now think that marriage is disposable, “and we cannot allow that.”  

Marriage Encounter is not only for couples who feel that they have issues, it also encourages couples to keep growing together, the Mendozas said as they invited all married couples to attend a Marriage Encounter weekend.

“Give your partner and yourself the opportunity to be listened to, to see the values of the Sacrament of Marriage,” Eva Mendoza said.

For information about Marriage Encounter in English, contact Buck Hawkins, buckhawkins@ymail.com. For information in Spanish, visit https://emm14.org/encuentro-matrimonial/ or email saltlakecity@emm14.org.

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