In 1967, a program developed by a young Catholic priest in Spain to help married couples create a deeper and more honest relationship was presented as a weekend conference to seven couples and a few priests meeting at the University of Notre Dame. Almost immediately, the program now known as Marriage Encounter began to spread rapidly across the United States, and within quite different religious traditions. The weekends are open to all ages, and people of any (or no) faith. Alumni of the program lead most presentations, and follow-up conversations by couples are conducted privately in their own rooms.
The only cost for participants, who are housed and fed for the weekend as well as presented with ideas to discuss, is a $50-$100 registration fee. The approximately $600 per-couple cost has always been covered by donations—from groups like the New Hope Foundation, local churches, or in freewill gifts from participating couples who have been impressed by the program’s value. The best testimony to the effectiveness of this effort is the fact that with scant institutional structure it has spontaneously spread throughout the U.S. and more than 90 foreign countries, and into a variant that helps engaged couples.
- Background on Marriage Encounter, encounter.org/about