The "family reunions" project based at Saint Elisabeth Convent helps families in crisis work together to mend their relationships and breathe new life into them. The participants are encouraged to find joint solutions to their problems and relearn the essential family life skills, including communication, understanding and sympathy. It has helped families with different lengths of married life ranging from several years to several decades. It serves willing families from all over Belarus.
The organisers of the project are Archpriest Vladimir Sherdak and his wife Inna. In their view, we often have the illusion that love and happiness in marriage come automatically. As a result, we become too preoccupied with our daily routine do not invest enough effort in our relationship. We rarely challenge ourselves to listen to our spouses well and to understand them. "We like to read and watch love stories in which two lovers meet, marry and live happily ever after as if they had won a lottery. A successful marriage is a life project that takes a sense of purpose and perspective,” say the organisers.
The family meetings, or reunions, take place every several months. Saint Elisabeth Convent hosted the last reunion at the end of May. Participant A, married for ten years, says, “All too often, people take long to notice a problem and tend to ignore it until their relationship hits a crisis point. The reunions are very effective. After ten years of marriage, I did not expect that an open and honest conversation can make so much difference."
Participant B, married for almost 30 years, says, “I have attended several reunions. Each meeting taught me many new things about relationships. We have put these ideas into practice together with my wife, and our relationship has improved remarkably."
Another participant, a teacher with ten years of married life, explains, "At first, I felt vulnerable. But learning to express my feelings non-judgmentally increased my confidence greatly. I also learned to listen to my husband and understand how he feels. We both how like-minded we were and how much we shared the same feelings. This experience made us more understanding of one another. We have become a lot closer.”
Another participant is preparing to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of her marriage. She says, “Our relationship has improved a lot, and we are both confident that it is on the right track. Our grown-up son is pleased to see us among the participants of the family reunions. He sees us as a model for building his own family life.”
All the families view the reunions as a great time spent together and an excellent opportunity to learn to understand and listen. They appreciate their shared progress in building stronger and more loving families. Couples may join by registering by phone or e-mail.