Ideas for a Marriage Encounter Circle Presentation

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Marriage Encounter (ME) is a Christian faith-based, interdenominational organization committed to helping married couples work together to create stable, happy marriages. ME is led by former ME couples with advanced training. An ME weekend brings couples together to work on their relationship away from jobs, kids and everyday pressures. Couples are not restricted by age, length of relationship or faith. ME activities take place between husband and wife following a presentation and discussion, while circle presentations occur in a group.

Threats to Marriage

Present the five major threats to marriages: difficult adjustments, insufficient preparation for living as a couple, self-centeredness, lack of commitment and affairs. Explain how each of these threats can lead both husband and wife to feel isolated and hopeless. The lead couples may share how one or more of these threats affected their marriage and how they dealt with it. Couples return to their rooms and discuss the presentation, which threat or threats may be a current issue and how to proceed.

Interdependence and co-dependence

Read Genesis 2:18-23 to the group. Discuss how God showed man that he needed a partner. Discuss the importance and differences between interdependence, healthy co-dependence and unhealthy co-dependence. Leadership couples may describe how they express a need to the spouse so that the need is heard and elicits a response. Discuss the problems couples have when they maintain too much independence and not enough interdependence. Couples can break off to discuss this topic and assess where their relationship falls and ideas for improvement.

Communication Success

Men and women often communicate very differently. Men tend communicate in a liner, single-minded manner that relies on facts. Women's communication leans more toward relationships and community-building, tending to be more global in perspective. The discussion can explore how this differnce may create conflict and introdiuce ways to communicate that are likely to produce positive results. One model taught by Dr. Gary Smalley is called LUVR -- listening, understanding, validating and responding to the partner. Couples may break off to discuss how effectively they communicate and which strategies they might try to improve family communication.

Meeting Spousal Needs

A spouse is more likely to engage in an extramarital affair if the top five needs are not being met, according to Dr. Willard Harley, author of “His Needs, Her Needs.” Dr. Harley identifies the 10 basic needs as: sexual fulfillment, conversation, recreational companionship, affection, domestic support, financial support, admiration, honesty and openness, an attractive spouse and family commitment. Couples can use Harley’s “Emotional Needs Questionnaire” to explore how well they meet each other’s needs.


  • “His Needs, Her Needs”; Willard F. Harley Jr.; 1994.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

Photo Credits

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