If you've paid any attention at all over the last months, you have seen that my marriage has had its share of challenges. Do I think we're headed for divorce court? No, we're too stubborn for all of that. Do we argue and scream all the time? No, that's too much drama. Could things be a lot better? Yeah.
We have been to a few counseling sessions. Since June, I think we've managed three. With dear hub's job, one never knows when he will be home. So we make an appointment, only to cancel it because he is gone, or he hasn't gone anywhere, but might, and we can't afford to turn down any jobs, because things are slow. In the interest of full disclosure, I've cancelled a few, too. A few months ago, I saw a blurb in the church bulletin for a program called Retrouvaille. It wasn't totally foreign to me. My parents had separated many years back, and they had attended this 20 or so years ago. It seemed to have helped. They advertise the program as "a lifeline for marriages".
It is a weekend program, followed by six 4-hour follow-up sessions (or twelve 2-hour sessions, I guess). Hubby agreed to the weekend!, but not the follow-ups. They let us sign up anyway.
This past weekend, was our weekend. It was held at a retreat center about 45 minutes from home. We had to be there Friday night around 7:30. It was rainy and overcast, but as we turned off the main road to the road that would take us to the location, there was a rainbow in the sky! I took that as a good sign. Our accommodations were not five-star, but comfortable. No TV in the room.
They kicked things off that evening at 8:00 pm. As I looked around, there were about 20 other couples. I was struck by how young many were. One wife was pregnant. At least one couple was separated. Another wife, who I chatted with during breaks said she'd filed a restraining order last week. I'm sure there were all kinds of issues.
The weekend was full, but the time seemed to fly. We explored feelings and we dialogued with our spouse. There was no group sharing. There would be a presentation led by a priest and three couples who had been down the same road we were now traveling, and then a question to write about and share with our spouse. Saturday started with Mass, and things continued until 10:00 p.m. or later. Sunday, was also a full day - ending with Mass around 5 pm. Even though, it is Catholic in origin, and there is a priest on the team, people of all faiths (or none at all) are welcome.
It was a weekend of discovery for me. I discovered things about myself and how I have affected the relationship. What a bummer to find out that it's not all the other person's fault! ;-) I also cannot fail to mention how much I appreciate my husband's willingness to come and attempt the program. We have not spent that much time together without distractions in about 100 years.
And the rediscovery - what "retrouvaille" actually means - is a process, I think, for each couple. As we left, the presenters told us that couples leave on one of two roads: the Road to Damascus or the Road to Emmaus. Those on the Road to Damascus are hit by a sudden realization of what they need to do (like Paul - when he was knocked to the ground...) and just need to get to it. Those on the Road to Emmaus are like the two disciples that walked along the road after the crucifixion, disappointed and dejected that all that they had hoped for did not seem to be working out. However, Jesus was walking along with them.
We are on the Road to Emmaus, I think. There were a lot of ups and downs. We have - so far - been faithful to our "homework" and are both interested in making it better. I am pretty sure that dear hubby will come with me to the follow-up this Saturday unless he is working. I contacted one of the couples after the weekend with a couple of questions, and they were encouraging, but mentioned that it is often 1 step forward and a couple back for a while. So, if you're a praying person, please keep us (and the other couples) in your prayers. And if you think your marriage could use a lifeline...consider Retrouvaille.