GUILFORD — Dozens of engaged and married couples from as far away as Canada carved out four hours on Saturday, September 9, to hear three talks about “Passion and Purpose for Marriage” presented by Allen Hunt, vice president for strategy and content for Dynamic Catholic Institute.
Blending information, humor, prayer, personal stories, music and sharing, Hunt held his audience at St. George Parish captive with talks on “Five Things Women Need to Know about Men,” “What Women Want Men to Know” and “The Most Important Word in a Marriage.” Spoiler alert: forgiveness “and her first cousin, grace.”
“This is a valuable experience for me,” said Dan Murphy, parishioner at St. Peter Claver in West Hartford. “There are probably a dozen other things I could have done today, and this wasn’t at the top, but I’m so glad I came.” Echoed his wife Patty, “I have friends in Chicago who told us about him [Hunt], and they were right.”
Hunt said that 50 percent of marriages today end in divorce.
“There comes a point in a relationship when you have to decide: Am I really in it?” he said. “And that usually happens within the first seven years.”
Quoting St. John of the Cross, he said that “God’s purpose is to make your soul great,” and by extension, “to make your marriage great.”
Hunt’s presentation is designed to help husbands and wives learn more about what makes their partner tick and how to love their spouse more meaningfully.
Among the pearls of wisdom, Hunt noted that men are programmed to see their role as “provider.” Consequently, they “need respect more than love”; they need sexual intimacy; and, he explained, they “do love even when they don’t communicate.”
“People respond better to praise than criticism,” he added. “We need respect more than love … someone to tell us they are proud of us.”
Women, in turn, need to feel special, feel listened to and to “let their mate influence them,” Hunt said.
While what he called the “love language” of men is conveyed through affirmations and physical touch, women require quality time and acts of service to be affirmed.
“They need to be listened to,” he said. “They need your undivided attention.”
Drawing laughter, he said that one woman told him that the secret to her long marriage was “I let him have my way,” while another offered that the secret was that “neither of us has died.”
Phil Smith, a member of St. Junipero Serra Parish in South Windsor, said Hunt’s presentation was worthwhile. “It’s very informative, inspiring and to the point. No matter what stage of your marriage, it always helps to attend events like this.” His wife Linda added, “It’s right on.”
Wanda Kavanaugh traveled six hours with her husband from a town north of Buffalo, N.Y., to attend the seminar. “It’s wonderful, very meaningful,” she said. “I’ve listened to several of his [Hunt’s] CD’s and he’s wonderful. It was worth the six-hour drive.”
St. George parishioners Bob and Pam Mongillo coordinated the event. Participants received a gift bag with books including Hunt’s The 21 Undeniable Secrets of Marriage and Decision Point, a book for confirmation that Dynamic Catholic hopes to put in the hands of every Catholic at no cost.
“We’re kind of like a Dynamic Catholic Parish,” said Father Stephen Sledesky, pastor of St. George Parish, which has hosted several Dynamic Catholic events.
“His talks are great,” Father Sledesky said about Hunt. “People need to hear about issues married couples face that we don’t often talk about,” he said. “And you can tell by looking at the audience that people are touched by his stories.”
The mission of the U.S.-based Dynamic Catholic, founded by speaker and evangelizer Matthew Kelly, is to “re-energize disengaged Catholics” and thus re-energize the Catholic Church, where only about 7 percent of Catholics contribute 80 percent of funds and hours in parishes today, according to the organization’s web site.
For more information, visit www.dynamiccatholic.com.
Hunt also is a regular columnist for Catholic Transcript magazine.