Retrouvaille Marriage Help

What is Retrouvaille?

Retrouvaille is a weekend program that focuses on changing the way a couple communicates.  It is primarily intended for couples that are in struggling marriages, often on the verge of divorce.

Retrouvaille weekends are presented by three peer couples and a presiding Roman Catholic priest.  However, the weekend is the first stage.  Some Retrouvaille weekends occasionally have a non-Catholic pastor and wife instead of a priest.  In those cases, any religious services during the weekend may be based on the presiding pastor’s denomination.  

Once a couple completes the weekend, there are a series of follow-up sessions couples are asked to attend in order to obtain greater lasting effectiveness.

What Happens on a Retrouvaille Weekend?

The weekend usually starts at around 8:00 PM on a Friday evening.  Attending couples are given a presentation by one of the presenting couples and the priest.  After the presentation, couples are given a question to answer in private.  The husband and the wife separate in order to write their reflections on the question, then join together in their room to privately dialogue on what each wrote.

Once done, couples are called back to the presentation room, where another of the couples will present on a new topic with the priest.  Most of the presentations are a mixture of teaching points, and the couple’s own personal sharing on the topic they are presenting.  At the end of each presentation, another question is given to the couples for private reflection by writing on the topic using a format the team will teach.  After the private reflection, the couples will dialogue on their writings in private.

This basic rotation repeats throughout the weekend, with lunch and dinner in between.  The presentations slowly build to more serious and profound topics as the weekend progresses, and address topics such as trust, forgiveness, family of origin, spirituality, and much more.

Sharing With Others during a Retrouvaille Weekend

Retrouvaille weekends are structured so that couples interact very little with other couples and presenting teams.  When a couple discusses their issues, they are doing so in private, with each other.  There are several opportunities to speak with all of the group present, but these are strictly voluntary sharing times, and not all couples are expected to speak up.

What is the Cost of Attending the Retrouvaille Program?

Retrouvaille programs are all held by volunteer couples, but there is a significant cost associated with keeping the program going.  Most Retrouvaille communities are semi-independent groups that charge a registration fee for each couple that attends.  The amount of the registration fee can vary greatly.  Some communities ask as little as $100 per couple for the weekend, and some ask near $600.  Invariably, this is considered your deposit, and on Sunday there will be a request for couples to make a significant donation.  This donation request may be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the Retrouvaille community where a couple attends, and the number participating couples.  The intention of the donations plus the registration fee is to cover the cost of the program, in addition to operational costs of the local community and worldwide ministry. None of the people serving in the program are paid for their services.

Does The Retrouvaille Program Work?

The program is fantastic, and works extremely well for couples that give it 100%.  Couples are told that they will get out of it as much as they put into it.  It is very important that both the husband and wife are willing to try, and open to the idea of putting their past behind them in order for the program to be as effective as possible for them.

Why is there so little information about the Retrouvaille Program's Schedule?

There is a belief within Retrouvaille that once you arrive on Friday night, that it is best to have no expectations, and to give yourself fully to the program.  In addition, couples are asked not to have communication with the outside world, watch TV, or use their mobile devices.  This is all done to help the couple focus as much as possible on one another with no distractions of timekeeping or outside influences.

Who is the program open to?

The only hard rule in Retrouvaille for attending couples are that they are legally married, in a traditional male-female marriage.  If a couple was married, and has been divorced, they are also encouraged to attend.  With respect to religion, while the program speaks from a Roman Catholic perspective, and includes a Roman Catholic priest (and mass twice during the weekend), it is not limited to attending couples that are Roman Catholic.

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