Before I tell you the name of the program, I want to first tell you something important about my ex-husband and myself. We are both diehard atheists. We have no spiritual background and have no need for it. We bow only to the laws of physics.
The program we attended is a product of the Catholic Church. It began in the province of Quebec, Canada in 1977 in the French language. It was later adapted to English and then spread through the United States. There are about 230 individual program communities throughout 26 countries, with about 150 locations in America.
To say we two atheists were dubious about attending what we knew had a religious agenda is another understatement. My ex-husband, however, had heard about it from co-workers who said the religious part of it was not relevant unless you wanted it to be. Again, I attended for the time away from work and kids. I didn’t care if they preached. I could ignore it while I ate food I didn’t have to cook or clean up after.
My ex-husband’s friends were right: the religious aspect of the weekend was minimal, and only relevant if you wanted it to be. We did not feel put out, excluded, or lectured to in any way. Those couples who were religious said they felt empowered by the religious references. In this, the program is win-win regardless of your beliefs. The religious references were not gratuitous, and they were relevant to the subject of marriage and healing pain born of love gone awry. In this, the references were generic; they could’ve come from fables or mythology, and still — as presented and in context – they were useful to us, even though they did not stem from our particular beliefs (in our case, physics and general science).
I don’t know what the future holds for us. All I know is that, for now, there is an us. That’s more than I could’ve hoped for; and how it feels now is more than I ever dreamed of, even as a young bride. We now have a marriage of sorts, even though we’re not married and are in fact divorced. Frankly, I feel uncomfortable referring to him as my ex-husband. We’re friends — and inconceivably — sexy, vibrant, close friends. Now, though — and he said it best — our marriage then was on paper and so is the divorce. What we have between us now is real. If we do put it to paper, it won’t be for the legality of it; it will be for the celebration of it. Again, I don’t know where we’re going from here, but I do know it’s an honest road paved with hope, love, and encouragement.