Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Couple applauds effectiveness of Retrouvaille

the Inland Register

(From the Sept. 8, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

(Editor’s note: The following first-person account – the names have been changed – was sent to the IR by Roy and Betty Wheeler, who coordinate the Retrouvaille program in the Inland Northwest. Retrouvaille is a program that seeks to offer help to couples with troubled marriages.)

Julie: My name is Julie and my husband’s name is Bob. We have been married for 16 years. Our beautiful son is 13 years old, and we have been so happy with him. However, we have not been happy with each other.

By the time we attended the Retrouvaille program I felt desperate and trapped in a marriage that was never very good, and mediocre at best. We had been to many counselors over the years and had torn each other apart, time after time.It seemed as if we were a horrible tape that played out repeatedly the same fears and anger towards each other, over and over. We didn’t know what was wrong, or what else we could try that would make a difference in our turbulent relationship.

I felt total fear as I stepped into our Retrouvaille weekend. Not only did I have doubts that this last-ditch effort would work, I knew it would be miraculous if we were even talking to each other at the end of the weekend.

Twice during the weekend I almost called it quits. I think the greatest lesson Retrouvaille and the wonderful people who presented it gave to us is that we needed to communicate – and they showed us how. Learning to communicate drew us together in a totally new and different relationship, one that for the first time gave us the chance to trust that we are both on the same side and that we can love each other without fear.

Bob: Leading into the weekend, I had been losing all trust in Julie for what I saw as wrongs to our marriage and me. Our communication had broken down completely, to the point that we were just tolerating each other for the sake of our son.

It seemed no matter what I said or felt, she didn’t understand. We were always in opposition. I was frustrated, angry and disappointed. Nothing was turning out as planned.

As the weekend started I was uncertain as what to expect. Slowly, things began to change as we were given rules we both had to work in order to “level the playing field.” Step by step, we started to build up trust and communication again. I tried to forget about the past (it was a “future killer”) and start with a clean slate, looking only toward what could be.

I listened hard, both to Julie and my heart, and hope began to reappear. What a relief it was to have all that dead weight off my shoulders and a clear road ahead.

We haven’t arrived there yet, but we have a map, and are making progress toward our destination.

(Retrouvaille offers help to hurting marriages. Couples in troubled marriages are invited to explore an option other than simply enduring their pain or getting out of their marriage. Retrou-vaille is a Catholic program geared to rebuild marriages that have become unloving and uncaring, or for couples who are thinking of separation or divorce, but want to try again.

The next program in Spokane will begin on the weekend of Sept. 16. For information, call Roy or Betty Wheeler at 800-470-2230 or 208-255-5978, or visit the web site:

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