Does Your Marriage Need Help?
Assessing Your Marriage
Marriage is a journey, not a destination. As with any journey, there are phases or ‘marriage stages’ that every couple experiences. These stages range from the passion-infused Romance Stage to the challenging Disillusionment and Misery Stages, and finally to the hopeful Awakening Stage. Understanding these stages is vital to maintaining a healthy, fulfilling marriage. But even more crucial is knowing when and where to seek ‘relationship help’. In this article, we delve into the transformative programs, particularly Retrouvaille, designed to equip you with tools for a thriving marital bond.
Recognizing The Marriage Stages
1. The Romance Stage
The Romance Stage is the first step in a marriage. It’s like the exciting start of a rollercoaster ride. You and your partner are really in love and everything about them seems perfect.
Here’s what usually happens during this stage:
1. Lots of Love: In the Romance Stage, you feel a strong love for your partner. You want to be near them all the time. This isn’t just about hugging and kissing; it’s about wanting to know their thoughts, hopes, and dreams.
2. They Seem Perfect: At this stage, you think your partner is amazing. It’s hard for you to see anything wrong with them. This is because your brain is full of happy feelings and chemicals that make you feel good and attached to your partner.
3. Sharing and Caring: During the Romance Stage, you care a lot about what your partner likes and dislikes. You want to share their hobbies, hang out with their friends, and even get to know their family. You find everything about them interesting.
4. Easy Talks: Talking with your partner is easy and fun in the Romance Stage. You enjoy deep talks about everything, from what happened during the day to what you hope for in the future. These conversations help you understand each other better.
Remember, though, the Romance Stage doesn’t last forever. Like any ride, it slows down. You start seeing that your partner isn’t perfect, and this can be tough. This change is normal and leads to the next stage of marriage – Disillusionment. But don’t worry! This is a chance to learn and grow together.
Enjoy the Romance Stage while it lasts, but also use this time to make your relationship stronger for the future.
2. The Disillusionment Stage:
After the exciting Romance Stage, the Disillusionment Stage is like the middle part of a rollercoaster ride. Things start to slow down and become a little more bumpy. This stage can be tough, but it’s also an important part of growing in your marriage.
Here’s what you might notice during this stage:
1. Changes: In the Disillusionment Stage, things start to change. You might see that your partner isn’t as perfect as you thought. You start to notice habits or behaviors that you don’t like, and you might feel frustrated or disappointed.
2. Slipping into old ways: We all have habits or ways of doing things that are comfortable for us. Sometimes, these habits aren’t good for our relationships. For example, you might start to forget to say “thank you” or stop doing little things that make your partner happy.
3. Taking each other for granted: When you get used to being with your partner, you might start to take them for granted. This means that you stop appreciating them and the things they do for you. You might start to feel like your relationship is a routine or a chore.
But don’t worry! This stage can be tough, but it’s also normal. It’s a chance for you and your partner to understand each other better and work through your problems. If you can do this, it can make your relationship stronger and more meaningful.
Remember, it’s okay to ask for help if you need it. There are people and programs out there that can help you and your partner to understand each other and improve your relationship.
3. The Misery Stage
After the Disillusionment Stage, most couples find themselves reaching the Misery Stage. Some couples naturally know how to avoid this or get out of it on their own, but just look at the divorce rate, and you will see the odds are low. T
his is like the scary part of the rollercoaster ride where you feel like you’re going down really fast. The Misery Stage can be very hard, but it’s also a sign that you and your partner might need to work on some things in your relationship.
Here’s what you might experience during this stage:
1. Lots of Fights: In the Misery Stage, you and your partner might argue a lot. These fights can be about big things or small things, and they often happen because you both are unhappy and don’t know how to fix it.
2. Feeling Stuck: During this stage, you might feel like you’re trapped. You may feel like you’re only staying in the relationship because it’s too hard to leave. Maybe you’re worried about money, or about your kids, or just about being alone.
3. Unhappiness: The Misery Stage is named that way because it’s a time when you and your partner might feel very sad or upset a lot of the time. You might not enjoy spending time together anymore and might even start to feel bad about yourself.
4. Symptoms Of Misery: All of these can lead to symptoms that care rise from being deep in this stage. These include drug or alcohol abuse, workaholsim, physical or emotional affairs, porn addiction, and more often than not, divorce.
But even though this stage is tough, and often seemingly impossible to recover from, it’s not the end of the road. It’s a big sign that you and your partner need to ask for help. There are people and programs, like Retrouvaille, that are designed to help couples who are going through tough times in their relationship.
Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. Going through the Misery Stage is tough, but with the right help and support, you and your partner can learn how to communicate better, achieve forgiveness, regain trust, understand each other, and find your way back to happiness.
The Awakening Stage:
Some couples are able to skip the misery stage and hop straight to Awakening on their own, or by getting help through programs like Retrouvaille, while others hit bottom before getting the help to get them there.
The Awakening Stage is like the end of the rollercoaster when things slow down and you can finally breathe again. This stage can be a relief, and it’s a really important part of making your marriage stronger.
Here’s what happens during this stage:
1. Seeking Help: In the Awakening Stage, you and your partner realize that you need to make changes in your relationship. You might start to look for help, like going to a program like Retrouvaille. These programs can teach you how to talk to each other better, solve problems, and make your relationship stronger. It helps you understand that your love is actually a decision, not a feeling. The same goes for trust and forgiveness. It helps you learn how to make these decisions and make them turn into feelings.
2. Better Communication: During this stage, you and your partner learn to talk to each other in a better way. You start to understand each other’s feelings and thoughts more clearly. This helps to solve arguments and make you feel closer to each other.
3. Doing Things for Each Other: In the Awakening Stage, you start to do things for your partner that you used to do in the Romance Stage. These might be small things like making them coffee in the morning or big things like planning a surprise date. These actions show that you care about your partner and want to make them happy.
4. Feeling Love Again: As you start to work through your problems and understand each other better, you might start to feel the love that you felt during the Romance Stage. But this love is even stronger and deeper because it’s based on really knowing and understanding each other.
The Awakening Stage can be a great time in your relationship. It’s a time to learn, grow, and fall in love with your partner all over again. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help and to keep working on your relationship.
Giving Your Marriage the Care It Needs: A Look at The Retrouvaille Program
Every marriage has its ups and downs. Sometimes, navigating these waves can be challenging. That’s when Retrouvaille steps in. It’s a unique program that respects your need for privacy while providing guidance to help strengthen your marriage, or even rebuild it from the ashes. Here’s how it works:
1. An Anonymous Weekend: The journey with Retrouvaille begins with a weekend retreat, but don’t let the idea of a ‘retreat’ scare you. Although other couples are also attending, your experience will be completely anonymous. No one needs to know who you are, and you don’t have to share your personal issues with others.
2. Respect for Your Privacy: Retrouvaille is a program that understands the importance of keeping your marital issues private. You won’t be asked to air your problems to the group. Instead, you and your spouse will work together in your own private space, focusing on each other without outside judgement or interference.
3. Learning from Experienced Couples: While you and your spouse keep your issues private, there are ‘team couples’ who share their stories. These couples have faced similar challenges in their own marriages and managed to overcome them. Their stories offer valuable lessons and hope, without breaching your personal privacy.
If you feel a special connection with a team couple, you are always welcome to tell them as little or as much as you want, while knowing that anything you tell them is absolutely confidential. Even other team couples will not know anything you talk about.
4. Personal Exercises in Privacy: The real work in Retrouvaille happens in the privacy of your own space. The team couples guide you and your partner through a series of exercises that help improve communication and problem-solving. These exercises are done in complete privacy, as if you were becoming your own marriage counselors.
5. Ongoing Support: The initial weekend retreat is just the start. Following the retreat are six more meetings, each maintaining the same level of privacy and anonymity. These sessions allow you and your spouse to practice and strengthen the skills you’ve learned, with ongoing support from the Retrouvaille community.
6. A Safe Bet for Every Marriage: Retrouvaille isn’t just for troubled marriages. Even newlyweds or couples with a strong relationship can benefit. Think of Retrouvaille as insurance for your marriage, equipping you with the skills to resolve potential issues before they escalate, all within an anonymous and safe environment.
Exploring Marriage Encounter: An Introduction to Relationship Enrichment
Marriage Encounter offers a valuable approach to celebrating and enhancing existing relationships. It’s a program designed to boost the love within marriages that are already strong and stable. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Boosting Great Marriages: Marriage Encounter is designed for couples who have a healthy marriage but desire to take it a step further. It’s an opportunity to discover even more about your partner, deepening your connection.
2. A Refreshing Weekend: The program begins with a weekend retreat, offering a unique opportunity to enjoy quality time together in a supportive, loving environment away from daily distractions.
3. Promoting Open Dialogue: The retreat encourages open communication, allowing couples to discuss matters that they might not ordinarily bring up in daily life.
4. Celebrating Love: Marriage Encounter emphasizes the celebration of love, fostering a deep appreciation for each other and encouraging couples to cherish their shared experiences.
While Marriage Encounter is more of a retreat, Retrouvaille is like an intensive workshop. The depth Retrouvaille offers is second to none, going beyond celebration to help couples gain profound insights into their relationship, equipping them with valuable tools to improve their communication, and navigate through any marital issues.
Many couples who have experienced both programs often express that, in hindsight, they would have preferred to start with Retrouvaille due to its extensive approach. Interestingly, Retrouvaille was created by couples who had previously attended Marriage Encounter but felt the need for a more comprehensive program.
Therefore, while Marriage Encounter can be a wonderful experience for couples looking to enjoy a deeper bond, those searching for an in-depth exploration of their relationship, whether in good times or troubled, may find Retrouvaille to be the better fit.
Each program has its unique value in enhancing and nurturing marriages. While Marriage Encounter offers a chance to celebrate love and improve good marriages, Retrouvaille provides the tools and guidance to deepen your understanding of each other and manage the challenges that may arise.