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Marriage encounter
  By Ucan  
  FROM his early days, Aquinas Fernando had always wanted his own way in dealing with others. This behavior continued into his married life and strained relations with his wife.

"When things were not done my way, I would get angry and scold my wife. Sometimes I wouldn't talk to her for days," Fernando, now 50, told UCA News.

His passion for movies too affected their relationship as he used to watch TV late into the night.

However, after attending the Church-run Marriage Encounter (ME) program 14 years ago, Fernando said he came to realize how his behavior had hurt his family.

"Gradually I realized my mistakes, how I had hurt the feelings of my wife, how she had felt lonely while I was enjoying films," said Fernando, who has a grownup son. "I'm a changed person now and we lead a happy family life."

Today, Fernando and his wife Rose are facilitators in the ME program, and often speak to other couples on the importance of dialogue in family life.

The Worldwide Marriage Encounter movement, which started in Spain and came to Sri Lanka in 1976, aims at helping married couples strengthen communication and understanding.

Dialogue 'key' to good relationship

This is done through weekend live-in sessions.

At present, 22 couples and five priests run the program, says Fernando. He and his wife are presently the National Coordinating Couple for ME in Sri Lanka.

The movement held a special training session for couple facilitators on April 10 at Nainamadama, north of Colombo on April 10.

For a marriage to be happy and successful, a couple needs to communicate not only on the intellectual level but also at the intimate level, Father Jude Nicholas Fernando told participants.

The key to a deeper relationship is dialogue, said the national coordinator priest for ME in Sri Lanka.

Ten couples and two priests attended the program.

Father Fernando told UCA News that "deeper dialogue is the need of the hour since the institution of marriage is crumbling in the world."

Today in his diocese thousands of people are working abroad. This presents problems for spouses who live apart from one another and is a cause of couples breaking up, he said.

Sarath Wickramathunga, who took part in the program with his wife Leona, told UCA News the program taught him many things.

"We should be humble before the other person. God has a dream for everyone. He has a dream for us to be the best couple. We can understand that dream through deeper dialogue."

ME is presently active in many countries in Asia.
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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