Author & Psychologist
Dr. James C. Dobson
The text that follows is from
Love Must Be Tough by Dr. James C. Dobson
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     For couples that have found it difficult to maintain the kind of intimacy and closeness I have described, I would like to offer the strongest endorsement for a program called Marriage Encounter. While not intended for marriages in serious jeopardy, this program is the best I've seen for improving the quality of communication within the family. The principles on which it is based are valid and effective.

     Shirley and I had heard about Marriage Encounter for years but had never found time to participate. Finally, at the urging of a pediatrician friend, we decided to experience ME for ourselves. Frankly, I attended for professional reasons, not expecting to get anything relevant to my wife and me. If there is anything I felt Shirley and I didn't need it was help in communicating. I have rarely been so wrong.

     The beauty of Marriage Encounter is that it has the ability to float to wherever the need is greatest. In our case, the need had little to do with communication in the classic sense. Instead, we discovered a secret source of tension that Shirley had not verbalized and I didn't know existed. It had to do with the recent deaths of eight senior members of our small family, six of whom were males. My wife had watched as the survivors struggled to cope with life alone and the awesome implications of sudden widowhood. Because Shirley and I were in our midforties, she was quietly worried about the possibility of losing me - and was wanting to know where we were going from here. My loving wife was also saying to herself, " I know Jim needed me when we were younger and he was struggling to establish himself professionally. But do I still have a prominent place in his heart?"

     One simply does not sit down and discuss such delicate matters, voice to voice, in the rush and hubbub of everyday life. They are held inside until (and if) an opportunity to express them is provided. For Shirley and me, that occurred throughout the Marriage Encounter program. In the early part of the weekend, we worked through the possibility of my death; then on the final morning, the issue of my continued love for her was laid to rest.

     Shirley was alone in our hotel room, expressing her private concern in a written statement to me. And by divine leadership I'm sure, I was in another room addressing the same issue, even though we had not discussed it. When we came together and renewed our commitment for the future, whatever it might hold, Shirley and I experienced on of the most emotional moments of our lives. It was a highlight of our twenty-one years together, and neither of us will ever forget it.

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Love Must Be Tough, Dr. James C. Dobson, copyright 1983, 1996, Word Publishing Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved.
The reprint of this text appears with the permission of Word Publishing.
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