- Weekend Effect
Oregon Couple Makes an Anniversary Weekend
Daniel & Suzanne Bissey
The Marriage Encounter Weekend is Truly
We just discovered the universality of the M.E. Weekend in Blois
in the Loire
River Valley in France where all those beautiful Renaissance
castles are. We, Daniel & Suzanne, just made a Vivre
et Aimer (Marriage Encounter is called "To Live and
to Love" in France) Weekend March 12-14 along with 20 other
couples at the Foyer
Notre Dame, retreat center near the Loire River. The site was
ideal: no other groups, set far away from traffic, overlooking the
Loire River in the distance, a lovely park adjacent for dialogue
or break time and the basilica Notre Dame de la Trinite right next
Click for a larger image (JPG, 184KB)
Basilica Notre Dame de la Trinite
But why, you might ask, would we want to make a Weekend in France?
This was an anniversary Weekend for us. Our first weekend was in
a retreat center in Southern Oregon in 1987. For Daniel, who is
French, that Weekend was in a foreign language and in a foreign
country for him. This time it was Suzanne’s turn: a Weekend
in a country and a language not native to her.
Friday night when we got to the Retreat Center, Suzanne was tired
and grumpy and Daniel was hungry.
What a relief it was to be welcomed by such warm and charming
couples. It felt just like home. A couple helped us with our luggage
and one of the husbands insisted on driving us to a café
nearby where we could get a bite to eat quickly. We were immediately
put at ease. When we returned to the Center most of the couples
had arrived and were being welcomed by the community and teams and
getting acquainted in the reception area. We signed in, got our
name tags and soon it was time to go into the presenting room.
As the Weekend began with the first talk I (Suzanne) had a serious
moment of disappointment. I was convinced this was to be the "old"
Weekend because we all had to give our spouse’s most endearing
quality! I was terribly embarrassed and the feelings of irritation
and embarrassment I had had at this point of our Weekend in 1987
all surged through me. In my reflection I shared that with Daniel.
When Suzanne shared her reflection with me I (Daniel) shared that
I had decided to suspend all judgment about the Weekend. I intended
to experience it fully without making comparisons.
Well, Saturday morning I (Suzanne) realized this is not the "old"
Weekend, nor the current American Weekend, this is their Weekend
suited to the French culture. And Saturday night we had the confidence
to risk. It was worth it! We had committed to not coasting through
this Weekend. Our dialogues were rich and we had our list of French
feeling words handy.
Winter in France has been glum but during the 90/90 when it was
time to exchange our love letters, the sun came out to meet a blue
sky and the church bells began ringing like when we were going out
of the church on our wedding day. It was a sparkling moment. After
sharing our letters we opened the prayer couple letter our dear
friends from Oregon had sent with us to France. We truly felt loved
and supported. And we had been told on Friday evening that one couple
in particular was devoting this Weekend to praying for us. Wow!
Wonder who it is? Wonder where they live? Wonder if we’ll
see them at the Greet Off? We are supposing they have a Greet Off
Yes, the Weekend is universal. The same beautiful growth occurs
for the couples. It truly is a transformation. And the presence
of the Community on Friday night, serving at meals, and coming into
the room for the Greet Off is just like in the U.S. Their smiles
are contagious. Their warmth and sincerity are obvious. It is beautiful
to experience this love. Still we did notice some differences some
subtle, others noticeable. We noticed that even if the couples were
working very hard on their relationships, the atmosphere of the
Weekend was overall very relaxed. One of the couples observed at
one of the meal times what a sense of family atmosphere there was.
One big difference we found to be really interesting and quite effective
was the way the presenters often gave their sharings addressing
their spouse. For us it seemed to give us couples a good model and
made it very personal
Our Vivre et Aimer Weekend was wonderful What a joy for me (Suzanne)
to understand Daniel more completely by living the Weekend in his
own language and country. What the French presenting teams shared
corresponded so much to our experience as a couple. It was a revelation
to me much like the effect of the personality test during Encounter
with Self when we exchanged the results. It was that same kind of
aha! when I learned that Daniel’s dominant personality style
was that of a catalyst!
Click for a larger image (JPG, 50KB)
Vivre et Aimer Presenting Team (L-R): Jackie &
Jacqueline Sauret, Fr. René Rousseau, Christel & Luc
Bouteloup and Edith & François Virlet.
We are so grateful to the Team, like in the U.S. 3 couples and
a priest each so very special. And like in the U.S. the primary
mode of inviting is word of mouth. It seemed nearly every couple
had heard about the Weekend through friends or family. Let’s
continue to get the word out to all we know of the wonderful gift
of a Marriage Encounter Weekend and for all of us who have experienced
the Weekend let us continue the journey.
Love from France,
Daniel & Suzanne Bissey
Click for a larger image (JPG, 152KB)
Suzanne & Daniel Bissey
here for a printable page (no photos, PDF, 37KB)