Ever since Frank Chubb’s death I’ve been wanting to write about him. Harvey Barker did a lovely profile of Frank — and I’m not attempting to top that. But my husband and I knew him as our minister — but also through Marriage Encounter.
This was a very active movement at the time we were involved. A weekend was set aside — a very special weekend. Child care was arranged for. Meals — delicious meals — were all taken care of. Unexpected mail — often pushed under the door — showed that your Sponsor Couple had done a lot of quiet homework. In fact, the Sponsor Couple played quite a part — an important part — in making this weekend truly memorable.
And this wasn’t a weekend for troubled couples. On the contrary, these were couples who felt they already had a very good relationship. They just wanted to make a rich relationship richer.
It worked for us — probably because of the wise words that started every session. The Chubbs (I find it hard, even now, to think of Frank without Shirley) were wonderful leaders. But other than the little talks they gave us, we were forced to focus on each other. We wrote, and then we read, and then we talked. There were no interruptions. No visiting with couples in rooms nearby. We had our small world all to ourselves. Would such an opportunity ever happen again?
I’m told Marriage Encounter is still going strong in other parts of Canada. But from what I see, things have changed. For one thing, a lifelong marriage is no longer as popular an idea as it was. And leaders of the Chubbs’ calibre are hard, if not impossible, to find. Looking back, I realize what a huge amount of hard work and dedication they offered us. When the Chubbs finally retired, there seemed no one to replace them. For a while, Engagement Encounter seemed to be an option. But it never really seemed to gain popularity — at least in this area.
There are still marriages “built to last”, even if no ceremony has taken place. “Relationships” are intended to last, too. And the society pages are still filled, at times, with pictures of amazing, and no doubt expensive, marriage ceremonies. But the divorce rate is high. Great-grandparents shake their heads — and wonder. Marriage Encounter was one way to force couples to evaluate their relationships while things were going well. I’m sure some little problems were nipped in the bud. Too bad the idea didn’t last. But we always knew how great was our debt to Frank and Shirley Chubb. A fine man — sorely missed.
Dodi Morrison is a retired educator and freelance Penticton writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.