Friends Couple Enrichment (FCE) is a ministry arising from the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) with a particular focus on couples in committed relationships. Couple Enrichment workshops facilitated by Friends Couple Enrichment help couples celebrate the joys and strengths of their relationship, and learn new ways to nurture ongoing joy and commitment. Website: friendscoupleenrichment.org
The January 2022 Friends Couple Enrichment (FCE) retreat at Ben Lomond Quaker Center in California was the first in-person retreat offered by FCE since March 2020. In March, FCE continued its online events with a retreat organized in partnership with Pendle Hill. At the annual Leader Couple meeting in January, FCE affirmed that both in-person and online events are valuable, and both will be continued. This will include an in-person workshop at Friends General Conference’s Gathering. FCE’s monthly online “Drop-in Dialogue” offers couples, who have experienced the power of witnessed dialogue, the chance to continue this spiritual practice on a regular basis. The group is fluid; some people return each month, and others less frequently. However, all participants appreciate the time dedicated to deepening their relationship. The online training for leaders, begun in 2021, has blossomed, and several couples will complete the training in 2022. While originally focused on preparing couples to lead in-person retreats, FCE added a section on offering online events. This self-paced training allows for more mentoring and discernment than the intensive four-day training of the past and has improved couples’ ability to ground their learning in Spirit. The next online information session for couples interested in becoming FCE Leader Couples is Sunday, August 14, 2022.
Despite the indefinite postponement of in-person gatherings due to COVID-19, Friends Couple Enrichment (FCE) has remained available to both Quakers and the wider community via its online presence and virtual events.
In February, FCE co-sponsored Pendle Hill’s First Monday Lecture, with Mike and Marsha Green presenting a talk on disciplined listening to an online audience of more than 100 participants. In March, FCE co-sponsored an online couples workshop with Pendle Hill, featuring three leader couple facilitators. FCE is again preparing for an online workshop at the Friends General Conference Gathering this summer.
FCE has launched a self-paced online training program for new leader couples. Three couples have begun the training process. Once a couple has completed the first module and been accepted into the program, they are invited to join gatherings of the entire FCE community.
Another new offering is the monthly online Drop-In Dialogue meeting on Zoom, which is open to couples who have already participated in an FCE workshop and want to practice their dialogue skills or witness other couples having dialogue.
In mid-January in Chicago, Ill., Friends Couple Enrichment (FCE) held its annual in-person meeting for leaders. The group worked on planning for the facilitation of upcoming couples’ workshops in various communities, including at Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa., and at the Friends General Conference (FGC) summer Gathering to be held in Radford, Va. (it was later announced to be an online-only event). The group also created a new training for prospective leader couples, much of which is online and self-directed to allow for greater flexibility.
When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in North America in March, several in-person couples’ events were canceled. The FGC Gathering workshop became shortened and virtual, with some of the participants meeting with the leader couple online multiple times after the Gathering.
FCE has continued using video conferencing to strengthen the leader couple community and the wider community. One leader couple has introduced a monthly drop-in dialogue session open to all past participants of FCE events. FCE continues to view couple dialogue as “a transformative practice that makes love more visible.”