Last month my husband and I spoke at a marriage enrichment retreat in Ohio. It was a lovely event that offered encouraging talks from several married couples, breakout sessions, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as well as Mass and a very nice date night opportunity. By the time the event actually rolled around, the retreat was fairly well attended.
However, in discussions with the planning committee, they expressed frustration with the fact that many couples waited until the last minute to register. They were perplexed as to how such an encouraging and affordable event could continually be such a hard sell year after year. The same couples who think nothing of spending more than twice the amount on a nice dinner won’t commit to an event that will provide a lot more fruit for their marriage than what the local restaurant has on the menu.
This gathering wasn’t unique. We’ve found this to be true locally in our own state of Michigan as well as across the country and even among the faithful. When it comes to marriage events, especially in the retreat format, it seems that registrants wait until the very last minute or ignore the opportunity altogether.
But why? With all the surveys showing marriages still struggling and often ending in divorce, it would seem like couples should be flocking to these conferences. One recent report from the Pew Center found that divorce is on the rise among couples who have been married for long periods of time. Other research shows that the couples who pray together stay together. The Couple Prayer marriage ministry (www.coupleprayer.com) often cites the statistics that among couples who pray together regularly, the divorce rate, which nationally still stands at one out of two marriages, drops to one out of 1,105. And marriage retreats can be a major catalyst in bringing husbands and wives closer together, especially in helping them learn how to pray.
Read more at Our Sunday Visitor.