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Finding hope for my marriage

By Tracey Adolfo, Community News, Aptos Times (US), 15th April 2009

I recently attended the Retrouvaille marriage programme with my husband. At thirty-three years old, I never would have admitted that I was in a troubled marriage. I knew deep inside that I did not want to live the rest of my life going back and forth from arguing to the silent treatment.

I went to Retrouvaille because I wanted HIM to change. I knew I wasn't perfect, but I believed that my issues weren't as destructive to our relationship as HIS issues. At some point, I decided to focus on me and let him focus on him. That was hard, especially when I was thinking of all the reasons that I was right about almost everything.

Reading the Retrouvaille pamphlet my sister had given me over a year ago, I was able to answer YES to four of the five questions on the front page. "Do you feel lost or alone? Are you hurt, frustrated or angry at each other? Are you arguing or simply shut down? Does talking about it only make it worse?" Yes, yes, yes and yes I thought in my head every time I looked over the brochure.

I was hesitant to sign up because I had to leave my four kids for a weekend and two of them are still babies. But I knew that our children needed us to do this just as much as we needed it for ourselves. It was time to find out what this programme was about about. So, we signed up for an October 2008 Retrouvaille weekend.

The presenting team shared their own stories of problems in their marriages. They told us about new tools and concepts they learned from Retrouvaille that helped them get past their problems. Then they taught us how to use those tools. No one ever asked us to share our own problems with anyone else. My husband and I were able to work on our relations privately with with the presenting team as our guides.

The weekend retreat taught us a lot. But, we learned that it needed more than a weekend to fix a marriage that took years to damage. Following the weekend retreat, we attended the post weekend sessions for three months. These sessions were key in helping me understand how to communicate with my husband and to change the way I act towards him. That is not always easy but I was really seeing a difference. So, I trusted the programme and kept working at it.

We now have the tools to change our old behaviours that were not working for us and get back to why we fell in love. We were taught how to communicate with each other in ways that would express our true emotions. We were encouraged to share both our pleasant and unpleasant emotions but without all the angry words. I found that the more I shared my feelings with him and the more we both listened to each other, the closer we came together.

I can now say I am in a marriage - a marriage of two committed people who will keep working because even though we can never be "fixed", we can choose to work together and communicate daily. This is now a marriage that is getting better and better each day. This is what I signed up for, for better or for worse.

Everything in life takes work and our marriage is not an exception. I am grateful that I am married to a man who will not just walk away because it's the easy way out. I am so glad we made the decision to have someone take care of our four children that weekend so we could attend Retrouvaille.

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