Information for Retrouvaille Couples Seeking Information about Marriage Rediscovery
Many couples from within the Retrouvaille ministry may wonder what Marriage Rediscovery is and how it may affect the Retrouvaille ministry. There is a great deal of speculation based on incomplete information. This page in intended to help clarify what Marriage Rediscovery is, and how it relates to Retrouvaille.
Retrouvaille is a Marriage Program. Marriage Rediscovery is a Marriage Help Platform and a Program
Retrouvaille provides a wonderful program of a weekend plus followup sessions to help struggling marriages, and focuses specifically on its own program and couples that attend it. Marriage Rediscovery is first and foremost a platform for marriage enrichment and help, which may often create more awareness of the Retrouvaille Program and encourage couples to attend it. However, it does not limit itself to helping promote Retrouvaille. Instead, it is dedicated to help couples find what best suits their needs and desires. Additionally, the creators of Marriage Rediscovery have found many programs for good marriages, and several for marriages in crisis. But there is little for everyone in-between. Similarly, many of the programs focus on a specific religious denomination, and have many rules that disqualify some committed couples from attending. With that in mind, Marriage Rediscovery is developing a program to fill those gaps.
Does Marriage Rediscovery Compete with Retrouvaille?
No. This is described in greater detail below, but this is a big fear among many that serve in Retrouvaille. The Retrouvaille program focuses on providing help for struggling married couples. Marriage Rediscovery is a a platform that will actively promote this in an effort to help Retrouvaille get the word out significantly more, and help more couples than ever.
However, there are segments of couples that Retrouvaille does not serve, and Marriage Rediscovery is creating a program for that segment. First, Retrouvaille’s program presumes a couple is in a struggling marriage. In doing so, many couples that are not in crisis are not attracted to the kind of help Retrouvaille can provide. Marriage Rediscovery’s program is being developed to attract those couples that are not in a blissful relationship, but would not consider their marriages in crisis. Additionally, Retrouvaille does not serve committed cohabiting couples. Marriage Rediscovery’s program will allow for this, while making a clear case to help couples see the value in a marriage covenant.
When couples are on the MR website, if their needs are in line with what Retrouvaille offers, the website is geared to help direct them specifically to the Retrouvaille program. To help increase awareness of Retrouvaille
With Respect to Marrige Rediscovery's Weekend Program:
How are Retrouvaille & Marriage Rediscovery Similar?
How are Retrouvaille & Marriage Rediscovery Different?
While Marriage Rediscovery is being organized by a group of couples from the Retrouvaille ministry, to see it as a split would be no different than seeing Retrouvaille as a split from Marriage Encounter. It is being created to serve various needs, which extend far beyond denomination or marital status.
Marriage Rediscovery is creating new content that Retrouvaille would take decades to implement. It is addressing policies that, if changed by Retrouvaille, could put many communities in jeopardy. Furthermore, it will not operate on the traditional Retrouvaille community model, so Retrouvaille communities won’t be “switching sides.”
Quite the contrary, Marriage Rediscovery seeks to be a sister ministry with Retrouvaille, walking hand in hand. The founders of Marriage Rediscovery started with the concept of being a more autonomous, outreach weekend concept within the Retrouvaille ministry in order to serve couples in need that are not served by existing communities. Marriage Rediscovery’s goal is to serve differently than Retrouvaille, but always in a cooperative manner that we would all help one another, serve together, having a similar mission. In fact, it is entirely feasible that Marriage Rediscovery may be a catalyst to starting new Retrouvaille communities!
Retrouvaille exists specifically to attract couples to its own program, and serve those couples. Marriage Rediscovery is a platform that seeks to help couples online, which may lead them to a variety of marriage ministries, including Retrouvaille. In this sense, Marriage Rediscovery is not competition for Retrouvaille. It is a supporter of Retrouvaille.
The fact that Marriage Rediscovery also provides a program similar to that of Retrouvaille should not be seen as competitive, as it seeks to fill in gaps where Retrouvaille does not serve. This includes the fact that it takes a more ecumenical approach, allows cohabiting couples, does not focus on couples in crisis, and seeks to offer programs in areas Retrouvaille does not serve. As such, the goal is for MR to be seen as an expansion for both Retrouvaille and Marriage Encounter.
Consider this: Do a group of churches see themselves as competitors, or do they see themselves as collectively serving the body of Christ? Whether or not this is competition, is a matter of perspective and spiritual outlook.
It is first important to truly understand Marriage Encounter historically. If you have this question, please read this section in full and let it sink in.
Marriage Encounter began as a movement, not an organization. It originated loosely in Spain in 1952, and loosely formed into a program in 1962. It was brought to Venezuela, then to some Spanish communities in the US. By 1967, a couple and a priest presented it at The Christian Family Movement convention at Notre Dame University, and the movement began to spread.
In 1969, Marriage Encounter evolved from being a “movement”, to being an “organization” with a leadership team. That is where ‘National Marriage Encounter” was born. However, there were some strong philosophical differences with the leadership, especially in New York. One of the differences was the concept of developing a “community” for support after the weekend. There were also other differences, such as focusing on the renewal of the Sacrament of matrimony in an effort to help renew the Catholic church. This led to a split, as “Worldwide Marriage Encounter” formed. In 1971, this new “Worldwide ME” started to spread with teams traveling to hold weekends and plant seeds to form communities.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter spread significantly more than National Marriage encounter, so it is often said that Worldwide Marriage Encounter killed National Marriage Encounter. But it is important to also consider that Retrouvaille was born out of Worldwide Marriage Encounter, not National Marriage Encounter.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter has always been a strictly Roman Catholic ministry, but allowed those of other faith traditions to spread the movement based on their own belief systems. This spawned “splinter groups,” such as Baptist Marriage Encounter, Episcopal Marriage Encounter, Lutheran Marriage Encounter, Mennonite & Brethren Marriage Encounter, Presbyterian Marriage Encounter, Reformed Marriage Encounter, Seventh-Day Adventist Marriage Encounter, Wesleyan Marriage Encounter, Jewish Marriage Encounter, and many more. Some failed, some thrived.
In 1977, only six years after Worldwide Marriage Encounter was formed, another “splinter group” formed. This group wanted to alter the program to focus more on struggling marriages, and with Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s blessing became known as Retrouvaille. Retrouvaille can be seen as a split from Marriage Encounter, or an expansion to better serve more couples. It is all about perspective.
Forty years later, little has changed in the ministry itself, both for Retrouvaille and for Marriage Encounter. Recently, a “splinter” group formed to create a Jewish Expression fo Retrouvaille in the same spirit in which Retrouvaille itself was formed.
However, there have been massive changes in the Church and Society. Just like that couple that saw an unfulfilled need in Marriage Encounter back in 1977, there are couples that see needs that are unfulfilled in Retrouvaille, and have formed what is referred to in a pejorative sense as a “splinter group” by some in Retrouvaille. That is Marriage Rediscovery. We judge that these people are looking at Marriage Rediscovery through the same lens “National Marriage Encounter” viewed “Worldwide Marriage Encounter,” and not through the same lens “Worldwide Marriage Encounter” saw “Retrouvaille.” We judge this to be in absolute disrespect to Retrouvaille’s own foundational principles.
The discussion so far leads to the concept and justification for a “split” from Retrouvaille. However, that is not what Marriage Rediscovery is seeking. We looked carefully at the Marriage Encounter history. We applaud their openness to support other groups that desired to spread the movement. However, we believe the method in which they did so was to their own detriment, as well as all of the other newly formed groups, including Retrouvaille.
They did “allow” for these other groups, and when they created their website, they even linked to them on one of their pages. But instead of splitting, splintering, and setting each on its own way, they missed a golden opportunity to create unity and attract even more couples to all of the programs. They could have actively promoted one another. They could have actively supported one another. They could have walked hand in hand as a strong group representing the greater Church in a show of unity. Each program different in its own way, but all supporting their primary mission together.
Imagine the effectiveness that one aggregator might have if there was a simple questionnaire on a website that led couples looking for marriage help to the right place, based on their beliefs and needs? Imagine if all of the programs that offered marriage help also acted as aggregators. This would not be a split, this would be a powerful boost to ALL.
Most important of all, it would show unity, and create significantly more mindshare for all of the marriage help ministries and help more couples.
This is primarily what Marriage Rediscovery is. A uniting force to showcase all dialogue-based marriage ministries. It also happens to offer a program as well that fills gaps the others do not, in order to help assure there is something for all couples seeking help.
This is VERY unlikely. Rather, it is more likely that it will INCREASE Retrouvaille’s numbers. Here is how:
In 2017, Retrouvaille served 4,525 couples.
At that time, there were 61.24 million married couples in The United States. That means that Retrouvaille served roughly one out of every fourteen thousand couples in the United States to be conservative.
Of those couples, there were roughly 900,000 divorces in the United States (Excluding Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, and New Mexico), so let’s take a wild guess and say the actual number is about 1,000,000.
That means that Retrouvaille served roughly 1 out of every 221 couples that wound up in divorce.
This number does not factor in the number of couples that are living in disillusionment, and are not about to be divorced, nor does it address the percentage of couples attending Retrouvaille that are not in this state. Those numbers are significantly higher, meaning that Retrouvaille serves in incredibly small fraction of them.
We cannot know the number, but based on divorce statistics, statistics on couples staying together unhappily, and those in committed cohabiting relationships, we can use a ridiculously conservative number to illustrate the numbers of couples that would be open to a marriage help program. Just for the numbers, let’s say that only 5% of married couples out there could use some help. This would assume that 95% of married couples are in marital bliss, but let’s just go with this number. It puts us at about 3,000,000 couples.
Retrouvaille serves 1 out of every 662 of those couples. That is 0.15% of the 5% of married couples that are not living in bliss in the United States alone.
Some have cited fear that MR would be in competition with Retrouvaille. That would certainly be a consideration if MR were targeting those same 4,535 couples out there. If that were the entire pool of marriages needing help, that would be a valid concern. But it is not even close.
Those 4,535 couples are a tiny sliver of our collective mission field. MR does not seek to “share” that pool. It seeks to radically expand that pool, such that even more would ultimately be served by Retrouvaille.
The reality is that the pool of numbers is in the MILLIONS and multiple organizations can reach those people in different ways, bringing the overall numbers higher across the board. If done in the right spirit, this is not competition. It is creative expansion and can help all organizations provide help for more couples.
Even if Retrouvaille were to increase its numbers by 1,000%, the number of couples served would be infinitesimal when compared to the actual number of couples needing help.
Retrouvaille targets a selective portion of this massive group, and it can only do so much with the limited resources at its disposal. But other ministries with the same goal, but different methods of spreading the word, different requirements, etc. can reach a much larger potential audience by multiplying their collective resources. If these ministries work cooperatively, promoting one another, everyone can benefit.
A simple way of looking at it is like this:
If you have a store that sells fruit, and it attracts 100 customers per day, you have 100 customers. But if you have 4 or 5 stores next to one another, you are now part of a “fruit market” that is not likely to attract 400 or 500, but significantly more, because people realize that there is more choice. All stores in this market benefit from all publicity and marketing each store does, not to mention the collective publicity they attract. If you offer good fruit that people like, you will wind up with significantly more than 100 customers per day… and so do the others. Everyone benefits from cooperation.
Are these stores competing for the same customers? Technically, yes. But this arrangement created a much larger pool of customers. In our case, we are non-profit ministries. Our goal is that couples get help. Do we really care which store they get it from, or can we call it a win that we created significantly more awareness and helped more couples across the board?
For the most part, these two things are like comparing apples and oranges. There is confusion, because both came to light at the same time, and both have two common, yet contentious themes they address. However, the similarities are barely the tip of the iceberg.
First we will address what they have in common:
( 1 ) Allowing Cohabiting Couples
The original restructuring plan proposed a change to the bylaws that would allow communities to decide if they will allow cohabiting couples on their weekends or not.
This was a highly contentious issue within Retrouvaille, and this change was not part of the proposal that finally passed.
Marriage Rediscovery simply will not ask any credentials of attending couples, and cohabiting couples will not be turned away, although a strong call to covenant marriage will be conveyed.
( 2 ) Catholicity of the Presenting Team
The restructuring proposal initially included a change in Article 6 of Retrouvaille bylaws to allow for a more inclusive mix of presenting teams, also to be determined at the regional or community level. This, too, was a highly contentious issue, and was not included in the proposal that finally passed.
Marriage Rediscovery will simply follow one rule. If the guidelines for a presentation are in line with your personal beliefs, you may present it.
Virtually everything included in the restructuring plan that passed has nothing to do with what Marriage Rediscovery is doing. In fact, Marriage Rediscovery is a fundamentally different ministry.
So What did the Retrouvaille Restructuring Plan that passed Achieve?
Quite simply, it was a vote to go forward with a plan that changes how Retrouvaille’s structure would change going forward, and made no changes whatsoever to the program or any policies.
It created a system in which The Retrouvaille International Board would be reduced from 22 people to 9 people (3 couples and 3 priests). One couple and priest from each “Area,” meaning North America, Latin America, and The rest of the world.
It then created new layers of leadership boards. For example, in North America, eleven new corporations and boards of directors will need to be created. One for the “Area” with a board of directors that is comprised of representatives from each region, and one for each of the ten regions in North America.
This will create an estimated 109 additional volunteer roles within the ministry above the local community to replace the 22 that are currently serving. The ministry will also need to absorb all of the cots for these eleven corporations to exist, meeting costs, filing costs, licensing costs, insurance, etc.
MR will have no “Global Team,” “Areas,” “Regions,” or “community boards of directors.” MR does not have a system of dues and levies. MR does not have independent, autonomous communities putting on weekends. MR will have a training system in place for presenting couples. MR will not have a “council.”
MR is based on an entirely different and simplified model. The restructuring plan of Retrouvaille has no affect on the MR program.
Marriage Rediscovery’s multi denominational nature will allow for broader publicity in media and churches of other denominations.
As a platform above all, MR will actively promote Retrouvaille weekends for communities that offer it. This is strictly for the benefit of reaching more couples than ever before. In doing so, significantly more couples will learn of the Retrouvaille program, and ultimately this can lead to more couples and more successful communities.
Furthermore, if Marriage Rediscovery does outreach weekends that ultimately form a small group that would like to align with Retrouvaille, Marriage Rediscovery would be in strong support.
Yes, all couples and clergy serving in MR at the time of this printing are also committed to continue serving in their local Retrouvaille communities. Just as most Retrouvaille priests are also Marriage Encounter priests, there is no reason any couple or priest would be turned away from MR.
It depends on your community and its desires.
If you have a healthy Retrouvaille community, MR offers you another place to promote your program.
If your Retrouvaille community is struggling in any way, MR may be able to provide a lifeline for you. It may be as simple as some financial aid, or as much as having us fully organize your weekends and Posts for you. Your community might desire to only worry about a CORE, and the MR team can negotiate your weekend location, handle the registration, bring in a presenting team, do promotion of your weekend, and do virtually everything needed to provide the Post sessions.
If you would like to have the MR program brought to your area, MR would be happy to organize that as well, and your community can be part of both the Retrouvaille program and the MR program.
*Note: In order for MR to help you with your Retrouvaille program, you must have an assigned Retrouvaille Community Number and be a community in good standing.
We would most certainly hope not. If you have a community that is currently in good shape, you have presenting teams, a CORE, and financial stability, there would be no incentive to break the affiliation with Retrouvaille, and we would hope you would go on doing Retrouvaille weekends as you always have. As answered in the last question, we simply offer you some free promotion.
Marriage Rediscovery will offer you an online small-group section for your CORE group and community, it will help you promote your Retrouvaille weekends, and will not ask for any dues whatsoever. You can go on doing weekends as you always have, and get a little extra promotion.
If you would also like to form a Marriage Rediscovery-specific small group, we will happily help you as they develop.
Additionally, if you would like to consider Marriage Rediscovery weekends in your area alongside your Retrouvaille weekends, in which your community members help, Marriage Rediscovery will look at the feasibility, and if we see a possibility, we will handle all of the logistics, promotion, and expenses associated with the weekend and follow-up sessions.
All we ask of you if you want to also offer the Marriage Rediscovery Program, is that you recognize and embrace the fact that Marriage Rediscovery is multi-denominational, and open to cohabiting couples, as well as legally married couples. When you present the Retrouvaille program, it would be expected that you follow all of Retrouvaille’s bylaws and policies.
In other words, it is completely up to you. Marriage Rediscovery is not attempting to replace or compete with Retrouvaille. We are working to promote marriage ministry as a whole.
Simply put, that would be an extremely difficult decision for a community to make. To make that decision would require the local Retrouvaille community to make some very difficult decisions that they would be highly unlikely to make:
(1) They would have to accept that the ministry is multi denominational in nature.
(2) They would have to make the decision that they are no longer organizing their weekends, but someone else is.
(3) They would have to accept that weekend registration fees and donations would no longer go to their community.
(4) There would no longer be any reason for them to keep their community corporation or leadership roles.
(5) They would need to accept the their community would essentially now be just CORE.
(6) They would need to liquidate their assets, and donate all excess funds according to their bylaws.
Would some communities consider this? Maybe, but we see it as highly unlikely unless a community is struggling so much that they are facing closure. Even in such a case, MR may be the vehicle that helps your Retrouvaille community stay open.
In fact, it has never been part of MR’s vision that existing Retrouvaille communities would leave Retrouvaille. Our vision has always been that, at best, a community may choose to be part of both.
Each MR Weekend wlll have a chaplain, which may be a Roman Catholic Priest or a Pastor of other denomination, and possibly even both. The clergy role will have limited talks that they present, in which they are the focus of the presentation. These will cover the topics of covenant marriage, trust and forgiveness, among other things. The clergy will also be able to spend more time with couples seeking their council, or in the case of a Catholic priest, confession. A mass or religious service will occur on the weekend. A key component of this model is that clergy presence is not necessarily part of the entire weekend in order to help make it easier for clergy to participate and also fulfill their primary duties to their own congregation.
No, not for the MR program itself. It will only use Retrouvaille Program Materials when it acts as a service to help existing Retrouvaille communities do actual Retrouvaille weekends.
With respect to the MR Program, while many of the concepts that are familiar to Retrouvaille will be part of the program, just as many of these concepts are present in other dialogue-based marriage programs, Marriage Rediscovery is developing new content, based on a great deal of familiar themes.
Retrouvaille’s content cannot be used by MR for several reasons:
1) MR does not presume attending couples are in the misery stage, but does speak to that possibility.
2) MR intends to incorporate more sharing, less “instruction”, and fewer acronyms.
3) MR takes no denominational position in its programming, although it is biblically based.
4) MR desires to create a different flow, in which all presenting couples share their stories at the same level, content flows differently, and concepts not in Retrouvaille are introduced.
5) Clergy portions of the presentations will be made more dynamic and concentrated in particular portions of the weekend, thus providing an opportunity for more one on one time with couples rather than presenting during each talk.
6) Visual aids and Videos will be incorporated into many presentations to help provide more dynamic illustrations of topics covered.
7) Presenters of the MR program will not be “reading” their talks. They will be giving more dynamic presentations.
All of this makes it necessary to start from scratch, and not build on existing Retrouvaille talks. Similarly, Retrouvaille materials would be rendered unusable as a consequence.
We have heard chatter that people believe MR will be using Retrouvaille materials and programming. This stems solely from the fact that MR asked Retrouvaille’s International board for cooperation and a blessing to develop programming based on Retrouvaille’s material. This is no different than how Retrouvaille developed programming based on Marriage Encounter’s material, and Tikkiun Habriet’s programming was developed based on Retrouvaille’s.
To be completely clear, MR started from day one with every intention to develop a new program, and new material. This has not changed. There will be common themes. For example, the Dialogue is in no way a Retrouvaille concept. The concept of the decisions is not a Retrouvaille concept. The concept of married singleness is not a Retrouvaille concept. The concept of masks is not a Retrouvaille concept, nor are the concepts of personality styles and so much more. But there are other concepts that Retrouvaille does not tackle, such as love languages, the concept of a love tank, and much more.
MR’s programming will cover these things. Mostly in different terms, with more sharing and less teaching, and with varied levels of emphasis. But it will be completely original programming. It will surely be reminiscent of Retrouvaille, in the same way that Retrouvaille is reminiscent of Marriage Encounter. But they are different things.
The concept of MR followup sessions will also be similar in nature, but different. MR’s followup sessions will be primarily on a series of “deeper dives” into weekend concepts, but will then fork out into a third level of more personalized curriculum based on couple-specific topics. This personalized instruction could be related to topics such as recovering from infidelity, blended family struggles, anger management, and much more.
The Retrouvaille community model places all expenses and risk on the individual communities, and assesses 5% dues for the International Board to operate and market the ministry. This model puts all risk on communities, and duplicates all sorts of redundant expenses over and over for each community. For example, if there are 100 Retrouvaille communities, you have 100 corporations, 100 insurance policies, 100 accountants, 100 tax filings, 100 bank accounts, and so on.
Since each community requires a prudent reserve to absorb its risk, you have 100 prudent reserves. If 100 communities had $10,000 in prudent reserves each, that would equate too $1,000,000.00 total, much of which could otherwise be used to expand the ministry, spread the word, and help more couples. In real numbers, while many communities see a $10,000 reserve as something they wish they could achieve, some communities are holding onto six figures in their bank accounts, just in case they run into a dry period one day. This is all money that is not working to serve the ministry mission.
According to Retrouvaille’s own reports, somewhere near $3,000,000 comes in each year. But almost all of that goes into many of these redundant expenses, prudent reserves, and actual program costs. The 5% dues paid to international are not enough to even begin to do anything significant to spread the word ministry-wide. This model is absolutely contrary to any feasible growth plan.
MR will turn this model upside down. MR is a single corporation with a 501(c)(3) status. It will handle all weekend programs, insurance, accounting, registrations, and associated risk. It will also directly receive donations made at the end of the weekend.
Associated-communities (or small groups) will essentially be similar to what Retrouvaille has currently for CORE. There will be no need to build big bank accounts to cover all of the overhead mentioned above. Member communities can simply follow a model similar to 12-Step programs, in which small donations are made at the local level to keep the small group going. MR will have no need to assess dues to these groups.
However, MR may offer some services to Retrouvaille communities that require it to absorb significant costs. In such cases, Retrouvaille communities optionally electing to utilize these services may be asked to help share their portion of those costs. This may be in the form of leveraging the benefits of shared advertising or communication services.
As a non-profit ministry, a true policy of full-transparency will be put in place so that all associated-communities have full access to see where MR’s money goes. While the details of this model are still in development, there will be an operations budget, a marketing and publicity budget, and a scholarship budget. The largest budget will be marketing and publicity, as the primary goal is to spread the word and attract more couples.
In terms of operational budget, unlike Retrouvaille, in the future, there will be a model for a mix of volunteer and paid positions within the ministry. For example, bookkeeping will be done by paid professionals that are accountable for their actions. It is likely that there will eventually be a need for weekend management teams that would be paid, full-time positions. In order to assure couples always hear a friendly voice when they call to ask questions, it is likely that there will be a paid full-time registration team.
The important takeaway from this, is that this is not a model to enrich anyone. This is a model to spread the ministry and assure consistency and quality.
The founders of Marriage Rediscovery have served in the Retrouvaille ministry at all levels. Aside from some of the theological and programatic changes we believe are warranted, we looked closely at both Retrouvaille and Marriage Encounter, based on publicly available information, and information anyone in the Retrouvaille council has available to them.
The big question plagues both Retrouvaille and Marriage Encounter. Why are the number of couples on weekends shrinking? Many people have come up with best guess answers. Fewer people are getting married. Fewer people are attending church. Fewer people feel a need to give it that one last try. There is so much available online now. The guesses are endless.
At the same time, we looked at church statistics, and saw the diminishing numbers of people attending church in traditional denominational expressions. The Catholic Church can point to the scandals, and other churches can point to whatever they desire, but there is one number that is not only increasing, but exploding at the seams. Nondenominational churches. We did some research into these, and found that there are really two flavors. The “name it and claim it” prosperity churches, and the purely biblical unaffiliated churches. We focused on the later, and found that wherever we looked, these churches had young congregations, and their services were standing room only. We also found that nothing they preached was inconsistent with traditional denominational churches. It was not the content of the message, it was the presentation. They are welcoming. We also learned another statistic. The vast majority of the people attending these churches came from traditional denominations. They were not looking for God to make them rich. They are looking to be spiritually fed by Jesus. They were looking for scripture, not ritual. This posed a question: Why are these churches growing like wildfire?
We decided to take that question closer to our ministry life. There had been ramblings about another marriage ministry called “Weekend to Remember.” Like these churches, they were multi-denominational, and we had heard that they were filling auditoriums, while we jump up and down in excitement when we get 30 couples on a Retrouvaille weekend. We wondered what they were doing, so we decided to investigate and even attend one of their weekends.
The weekend was in a very small city, yet there were over 350 attending couples there. At we sat through the weekend, we found it to be extremely shallow compared to what Retrouvaille and Marriage Encounter offer. But what if it hadn’t been? After all, we see it as shallow from our own perspective. But the couples don’t know how shallow it is when they sign up, and they signed 350+ couples up for that weekend in a very small city. 350+ couples looking for help and enrichment. We also learned that was one of their “small” weekends.
So why are they getting more than 10 times the number of people on one of their weekends than we get on one of our BIG weekends? We had to throw all of the previous assumptions out the window.
The answer: Marketing. We did a deep dive into how they are organized, and how they do their outreach. They had a phenomenal model that is completely contrary to Retrouvaille and Marriage Encounter’s community model. Their central organization manages all of the weekend events, so they have extreme efficiency by comparison. Additionally, all of the registration fees and donations go into one organizational account, allowing them to leverage significantly more on marketing and outreach. They also have a community structure, which is similar to Retrouvaille’s CORE. Finally, they have a team of paid staff mixed with volunteers, so that positions that require accountability are paid positions, and all of their local community groups serve as volunteers at the weekends.
This was the seed for our model. To create an organizational structure similar to the one we witnessed, but create content and programming not only with the depth of Retrouvaille and Marriage Encounter, but significantly more through use of an additional layer of online modules and groups.
From MR’s perspective, absolutely yes. We welcome all, and not only encourage it, but will help Retrouvaille communities that wish to affiliate with MR in their Retrouvaille ministry as well. This may be in the form of utilization of small group curriculum or simply to help you promote your community’s Retrouvaille weekends. It is important to note that MR does not seek to compete with Retrouvaille, but rather seeks to compliment and help one another.
MR itself will not operate outside of North America, but strongly encourages growth world-wide. Part of MR’s mission is to help spread globally. When an agreement is in place for expansion into another country, MR will license all programming to the organization representing MR in that country. The spin-off corporation will owe no dues to MR, and will be able to adapt the program as culturally appropriate, so long as the overall nature and core model of the programming is not changed. Additionally, MR will only license programming to organizations that operate on a similar not-for-profit model. An associated international MR program will be required to use the closest translation possible to Marriage Rediscovery, and adopt the Marriage Rediscovery logo.
If, at some point, there are fixed expenses that are shared by multiple affiliated national organizations, those expenses will be shared based on a percentage of how much said resources are consumed.
The big fear, we know. Can we look at this objectively?
Every organization in history that has grown and seen decline, has had several factors in common. One of the biggest is that they have grown so much that they lose focus on their mission, and there are so many disparate interests involved, that they can’t innovate, adapt, or get anything done. In these cases, they face several choices.
1) They can panic and fight an uphill battle with all of their baggage in tow.
2) They can get back to basics, and shed the baggage they have accumulated.
The first option simply never works. It is a death sentence. See JC Penny, Toys R Us, and so many others.
The second option is going to alienate those with alternate viewpoints, so will naturally evolve into one of two possible outcomes:
1) The “baggage” that is shed forms a separate organization and goes its separate way.
2) The “baggage” is neatly organized into a separate organization, and both organizations move forward separate, but together.
The first option creates a competitive environment, in which one is likely to eventually win, while the other loses.
The second, on the other hand, creates a cooperative environment, in which each moves forward hand in hand with the other, helping one another. They go forward with different ideas of how to reach a common goal, help carry one another in times of trouble.
If we look at the possible paths, there is one that will destroy Retrouvaille with or without MR.
There is another that will certainly lead to the creation of something like MR, and likely destroy Retrouvaille OR the other.
The last assures the greatest potential of success for both Retrouvaille and MR.
Objectively, the later is the obvious choice in the opinion of MR, but that requires both Retrouvaille International and MR to walk hand in hand. As many of us know, Retrouvaille’s International board chooses not to elect for this option. But MR still wants to help Retrouvaille as a whole, so we came up fourth option:
MR Supports and helps Retrouvaille communities, works to build them up and nurture them, even if Retrouvaille’s International Board is not in support of this. Meanwhile, MR also creates its supplementary program alongside Retrouvaille.
In other words, MR creates the cooperative environment with individual Retrouvaille communities, regardless of the Retrouvaille International Board’s support. Furthermore we do this while helping assure those Retrouvaille communities stay true to the Retrouvaille program, its bylaws and policies, so that they can remain in good standing with Retrouvaille International.
Every argument made against MR as been based on emotion, fear, and assumption. It has not been looked at objectively. If Retrouvaille’s International Board refuses an open dialogue with MR, they cannot look at it objectively. But that does not mean individual Retrouvaille communities cannot have their cake and eat it too.
Furthermore, there is the bigger question. Are we here for the couples we serve, or for the leaders of the organization we serve in? If the reader is here looking to provide as many solutions as possible to help couples, then it would seem this is a no-brainer. But if it is about the leadership of our “club”, Retrouvaille, Inc. Well, in that case, it is our belief that the reader is off mission.
In short, this only destroys Retrouvaille is Retrouvaille’s International Board abuses the power granted to them by the council. In such a case, Retrouvaille International, Inc. would likely dissolve, but MR would be there to help every Retrouvaille community that wishes to continue to offer the Retrouvaille program.
At the core of our beliefs, we have long quoted John 4:1-42, The Woman at the Well.
Marriage Rediscovery centers itself in this scripture.
Jesus brings His ministry to Samaria, a place of unbelievers that were despised and considered to be worst of sinners. He sat at Jacob’s well and ministers to a Samaritan woman of loose morals that had five previous husbands and was currently cohabiting. Traditionally a rabbi would never speak to a woman in public, nor would a Jewish person ask a favor or accept a drink from a Samaritan’s cup, let alone a person of such questionable reputation.
Jesus ministered to those despised by the religious establishment. He made an amazing offer to this woman and to anyone who would drink His living water. Some came to Him by way of fear, some by hope, and in this case, by way of conscience. In breaking with traditional protocol and reaching out to this woman, Jesus not only reached her, but many others that she had brought to meet Him, as she felt safe with Him even when her sin was exposed.
Based on Catholic tradition as understood by many Bishops, Retrouvaille should not minister to cohabiting couples. This is understood and respected by MR, and MR exists in great part to fill this gap.
In the last question “What is the biblical Case for Marriage Rediscovery,” we focused on John 4:1-42, The Woman at the Well. She was cohabiting. But the Bible is full of examples in which Jesus clearly instructs us not to pick and choose who we minister to.
Just look at the parables in Luke 15. The Pharisees and scribes were aghast that Jesus would welcome such sinners and eat with them. Clearly, He was ministering to them.
1) Luke 15:3-7, The Parable of the Lost Sheep.
He uses the example of going to find just 1 lost sheep, and makes it clear that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Are cohabiting couples not lost sheep? Jesus did not mention that the lost sheep should have certain qualifications in order for Him to seek it out. A lost sheep is a lost sheep.
2) Luke 15:8-10, The Parable of the Lost Coin.
He doubled down, clearly to make sure this was understood. The woman does all she can to find just one lost coin, and He explains that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
ONE Sinner. Not one sinner that committed only certain kinds of sins.
3) Luke 15:11-32, The Parable of The Prodigal Son.
He doubles down yet again. And in Retrouvaille, we should all know this parable by heart, as it is read on every weekend. We ask: Do we believe that the father might have asked his son if he had been cohabiting outside of marriage when he came home? If so, would the father have changed his mind if he found out that after all his son had done, he also lived with a woman without being married? Would that have caused the father to cast his son away despite all the other things he had done?
We think not.
We believe that we are to minister to all. This does not mean that we whitewash the message. We try. In doing so, we also need to consider Matthew 10:14. We bring our message of covenant to them, and we try. We let the Holy Spirit work. But if they do not listen, we shake off the dust from our feet. In other words, we give it all we’ve got, and know that not everyone will listen. When those do not, we don’t get discouraged, but move on and keep ministering.
If you are presenting the Retrouvaille program, absolutely not. If we help you operate your Retrouvaille program or help you with any form of publicity, you must first be operating within the bylaws and policies of Retrouvaille. As long as Retrouvaille does not allow cohabiting couples, you should follow that rule when presenting a Retrouvaille weeken
However, if we present a MR program with the help of your community, it would be within the bylaws and policies of the MR program, which does allow cohabiting couples to attend.
This is a large project, and will take time to fully implement. As you can see, the website is currently in development.
Behind the scenes, the non-profit corporation and banking have been established, basic bylaws and articles of incorporation have been established, some are working on new outlines for the weekend and follow-up program. Some are testing some of the new concepts, Some are preparing a library for the blog and help articles for this website, and some are working on the small-group programs, and much more.
Our goal is that we will have a launch with small groups and a full functioning website by the end of 2019, and we will hold our first weekend in late 2020.
If you would like to start a MR small group, even alongside your existing CORE, fill out the form below, and we will get you all the information we can as it develops.
If you are a good writer, we would love to have as many people as possible contribute to the blog and helpful articles for couples. This can be anything from articles about how to get through crisis situations, to how to have a great date night. If it is something to help couples, we would love to have it.
If you or your community would like to financially help Marriage Rediscovery in its effort, we welcome any donations. Remember, that Marriage Rediscovery, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit in the United States, with a Public Charity Status 170(b)(1)(A)(vi), with an NTEE Classification of Family Counseling and type of Human Services – Multipurpose and Other. If you desire to make a donation, you can do so by clicking the button below Please also fill out the form below and let us know how you would like your donation to be used.
Donate to Marriage Rediscovery