SINCE MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER (ME) Singapore introduced the concept of gift vouchers, we have heard so many wonderful stories of how the voucher has changed hands from the buyer to the couple who redeem it – the ME Weekend, a worldwide marriage enrichment programme.

Leslie, a vivacious 10-year girl did not hesitate to empty her piggy bank after a homily at Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour to raise $25 to buy a gift of a "romantic getaway" for her parents. Jerome and Jacqueline said they had been reminded many times by Jackie’s godparents about attending ME. The procrastination stopped when their daughter, Leslie said the voucher was unrefundable! Seriously, which parent would turn down a present (and a hard earned one, too) from their child.

Tammy admitted that she and her husband Julian were not ecstatic about the ME gift voucher from Tammy’s parents. Not that they were ungracious but they just had their first baby in their fourth year of marriage. Though the voucher had a 12-month validity they waited slightly over a year to attend the ME Weekend when their daughter was older. What they’ve gotten from it definitely did not have an expiry date. They benefitted from "the exclusive couple time during the weekend; very practical insights into your couple relationship and how you can grow it (and at your own pace!); and even now, continuing with other couples on that same life journey and helping each other along."

Kevin and Nicole who attended ME Weekend many years ago find inviting their close friends by using the gift voucher very effective. One of their receiving couples, Jeffrey and Anne’s first reaction was, "Oh, no! Would we have to sit around in a circle and bare our souls? Aargh!" Of course, they later found out that their initial thoughts were unfounded (no, there is no circle nor baring of souls as a participant). If they had not been "nudged" with this
gift, they would probably be thinking of attending ME Weekend 15 years down the road when their kids would have grown up and left home. However, they happily went along, on their trust in the goodness of Kevin and Nicole, to reap the rewards of the programme now rather than later. Married for 16 years with four children, they admitted that "there is still something to be learnt: hope that all is not lost when the marriage is losing its sparks and getting jaded; a way to heal and reconcile, and be at peace with each other."

Spouses can give a gift voucher to their significant half too. It is your precious gift of time to him or her, totally dedicated to reflecting, taking stock and enriching your couple relationship. Seventeen years ago, as our 10th wedding anniversary neared, my husband asked what I would like to have. I replied, "A ME Weekend". Looking back, whilst the gift did not dent his bank account as a diamond ring would, it was our best investment that we both value till today.

There will be ME gift voucher promotions at various churches during Advent. The price is $50 to cover the registration fee, however, you can get it for just $25 at the promotions. Please look out for announcements in parish bulletins or visit this website, www.marriage-encounter-sg.org.  - By Ivy Quay

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