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Saving A Loveless, Sexless Marriage: The Miracle of Retrouvaille

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In December of 2005, I related the story of my friend, Olencia*. She had struggled for most of her 15-year marriage, living without sex and eventually without love. Many dollars spent on years of individual and marital counseling, a marital retreat, seminars, books, and everything the Internet had to offer on the subject left her completely drained and devoid of any answers. Her husband’s distance was relentless, her every effort was for naught, and their marriage was dead in the water.

She wrestled with the decision to file for separation, and was beside herself when she finally resigned to divorce. Her marriage ended amiably enough in that both of them, with nothing left to give the marriage, were too exhausted to do anything more than sign the papers.

As her friend, I was supportive of whatever decision she made because I knew how dark and tumultuous her marriage had been and the toll it took on the entire family. As a wife, I hoped they would find some kind of resolution because I am painfully aware of the cost of divorce, both financially and emotionally.

Shortly after she divorced, Olencia had said she would provide me with a follow-up that I could in turn share with all those who had read the story of her disastrous marriage. True to her word, I received the letter I hoped would contain some measure of solace and peace of mind. It did, but not for any of the reasons I thought it would.

For years, we’d both heard it and said it ourselves: If only one person in a marriage is willing to makes changes, there’s still hope. In direct, if not assaulting, contradiction to this useless platitude, I took one very important lesson from her letter: A marriage is two people, not one person. Therefore, it will always take two to tango.

Here then, is the rest of Olencia’s story – so far:

I hope you will read all the way through even though it is quite long. I would ask, too, that you not jump ahead. It’s important to me that you understand how I got to each point, and how I ended up where I did. Without all of this, the end result will make little sense.

As you know, I struggled for years and years with my husband. Our relationship started out so strong, and it became a farce so quickly. I lived in a lonely, dark, cold, and desperate marriage without love and sex until we separated and eventually divorced. The dollar cost notwithstanding, the emotional devastation has been incalculable. That said, the freedom and relief of getting out from under that blanket of despair is indescribable and did much to temper the pain of the divorce itself. Mostly it was the relief. I had no idea how heavy the weight of that marriage was until it was no longer my burden.

My now ex-husband did something rather uncharacteristic a couple of months ago in that he called me on the phone – and not just to discuss custody or child support. He wanted to know if I'd be interested in attending a marriage retreat. Of course I said absolutely not and hung up. I was disgusted with the suggestion and could not believe the audacity of this man to ask me this — of all things — when we’d already been down that road only to end up in divorce court. In my mind, it was because of his unwillingness to change anything.

We now live in different cities, so imagine my dismay when he showed up at my front door. He was insistent, but polite. I didn't let him in; we went out for coffee instead. I gave him five minutes to talk, and he did.

At the end of the five minutes, I tentatively agreed to attend the retreat because he not only described a relaxing environment, he also agreed to pay for it. Mostly, I wanted time away from work and children, and it would be a kind of closure for me to prove to him once and for all that our marriage never stood a chance because of his abject refusal to change.

I was determined that whatever he was trying to pull at that moment wasn’t going to work. I knew from years of living with him that any nice thing he did was temporary and would be followed by anger, deep emotional rejection, and more distance. I told him I was still too exhausted from that long haul, I was still healing, and mostly I saw no reason whatsoever to even consider his point of view when he could've changed at any time during all those years. It'd all been worked out in a court of law, and that was good enough for me. It was simply too late. I had nothing to offer but indifference.

I finally conceded to go only because I desperately needed time away from my own life and could not afford to do so. That I could eat food I didn't have to cook was a bonus. When he said he’d pay for the entire cost of the retreat, that sealed the deal. I would later find out no one is turned away from this particular retreat because of an inability to pay.

When we got there, I was surprised to find that, of the 30 couples in attendance, four of them were also divorced. Half of them were separated and came in different cars. Every marriage there was in trouble, and I couldn’t fathom what would compel a divorced couple to attend – other than the reason I was there. Still, I knew our marriage had been the worst and saw no reason to make any effort at all because of how bad it had been. I knew there was no chance of reconciliation and was only there for the rest.

Even though all 60 people were in the presentation room, it was made clear from the get-go that we were there for the person we came with and ourselves. There was to be no socializing between presentations, nor were there going to be exchanges in the group during or after the presentations.

I almost got up and left. No amount of free food and time away from the kids was going to be worth spending the entire weekend with someone I’d just divorced. I stayed only because I don’t drive at night – and it was already 8:00 in the evening at that point.

The retreat presentations started as soon as we were settled in on Friday evening. By the end of Friday night (after two presentations) I started to rethink my reasons for being there; rather I started to rethink my reasons for wanting to leave. I would discover at breakfast the following morning that the other ex-wives felt the same way. There was a strange bit of camaraderie to be had in our “group” decision to stay and see how things went.

By midday Saturday (after several presentations), I felt a compassion for my ex-husband I'd not felt in years. It was an unexpected feeling and most disconcerting. I had no idea what the hell was going on with me, but I had no faith in it. It was surely situational and would go away like any other emotion. At first I didn't share this with him, but by late afternoon it was clear there had been a definite shift in both of us. I felt — dare I say it — close to him. He shared some things he’d felt (who was this man?) and from this I felt comfortable enough to share how I felt (was this me?).

By Saturday evening there was more than a shift. There was a sense between us that we had just leapt a huge gorge – together. By late in the evening Saturday — and I know this is going to sound crazy because of everything we’ve been through and the sexless years and the divorce — I felt attracted to him.

I found myself looking at him longer each time I looked at him. At 10:00 on Saturday night, he winked at me. I know what time it was because I’d just checked the clock and noticed how much later it was than I’d thought. Normally I would be tired by that time of night. I felt strangely energized.

As if that weren’t unbelievable enough, we had sex that night. Seriously. The man who wouldn’t and then later claimed he couldn’t all those years, made love to me – and not a wham-bam kind of sex and not the going-through-the-motions kind. The actual sex act itself lasted only about 10 minutes, but a lot went on before that, and after – a lot of good stuff that fondly rumbles through my mind even as I write. I was shocked and completely broadsided by my own feelings about him and my desire for him. I couldn’t believe he started any of it. It was that wink, and then some awkward gestures that, in light of what he’d shared throughout the day, I now saw as sweet rather than repulsive.

This is very important to note because not 24 hours prior, I all but hated the man. Our divorce was amiable because I’d already spent years grieving the loss of love, sex, and our future. We lived for years as roommates, two people in the same house with the same last name. That was the extent of what we had in common, and by the end of it that was fine by both of us.

The program somehow shook that up. He hadn't changed, per se; rather he showed me a side of himself I’d never seen before and never knew. He would later tell me he was showing me things he hadn't even known about himself, so it wasn’t that he had changed – and it wasn’t just him sharing. I found out a lot about myself – and here I thought I’d been through enough counseling and done enough reading, writing, crying, and grieving to know everything about myself. I was wrong.

My biggest complaint in the years after our wedding was that he had quickly changed into a brooding, sexless, and cold steel pillar of a man. I didn’t know why this had happened, and he was resistant to my every attempt to find out what was wrong and fix it. I longed for the man I’d married – who doted on me endlessly and expressed his love for me in many ways, the best of which was a full and satisfying sex life. I never got over the pain of his numerous rejections and I never stopped wondering where things went wrong – until this retreat.

The program called for several follow-up sessions, and we are at the third one this week. The retreat location was closest to my house. He not only traveled for the retreat, he has traveled to attend the follow-ups. We are now discussing the possibility of him moving to this city (he already telecommutes) to spend more time with the kids.

We have discussed the time we’ve spent together – time that has been unbelievably intense, intimate, and emotional. I’m not ready to reconcile to the point of him moving in or remarriage, and I told him as much. He said he didn’t want to live with me unless we were remarried and that he felt no pressure or rush to decide one way or the other. At first I felt that old doom – sure, we’d remarry, he’d move in, and the deadly cycle would start all over again. It took everything I had during that conversation not to knock him out cold and flee.

I had to tell him how I felt and what I thought. Things had been going eerily well, and I didn’t want that doom feeling to trash everything we’d accomplished up to that point. I thought for sure he’d hightail it out of there once I spoke my piece, but instead he agreed about the doom and expressed confidence in our effort to make sure it didn’t destroy what we’d done so far. I was floored. He said he wanted to take time, get to know each other again with the new knowledge we had about each other, and maybe discuss it later this year.

I can’t believe I’m saying this: I’m looking forward to that discussion. I’m also looking forward to the coming weeks with him – and with the kids, who were excited about how “different” we were when we came back from the initial retreat. Kids are funny that way, even teenagers. They really do take everything at face value and they don’t try to read into anything or look for hidden agendas. They saw how we looked and acted — as individuals and how we were with each other — and they felt excited about it. As an adult, I would see a couple like us (divorced, but loving toward each other) and wonder what drug they’d used.

I haven’t looked forward to anything with him in over 15 years. These feelings aren’t unfamiliar in that I do remember them vaguely from experiences over a decade ago, but they sure are nice and a welcome salve to the pain I have tried — by myself, with limited success — to heal. This is, I have to say, a much more effective, productive, and useful way of healing.

I can’t stress enough that there wasn’t change in either of us, per se. It wasn’t that; it was that we were able to share with each other things we’d never said before, things the presentations allowed us to see, mull over as individuals and then — eventually — share with each other. The first few presentations were not about the person we came with or the two of us as a couple. They were about “me.” Because of that, I was focused on myself and he was focused on himself. When we did share, we were sharing of ourselves. It wasn’t “Let me tell you what I think of you.” It was “Let me tell you what I think of myself.”

The thing about the retreat I liked most was that, even though there were 60 other people there — and the presenters — it felt like it was just me, and then it felt like it was just us. The rule about no socializing was crucial, and now I see why they do it that way. I definitely noticed changes in the people around us – even though we only talked with other couples at mealtimes. I say “changes” even though I just emphasized that isn’t what took place. I mean I saw changes in other people’s expressions. With each mealtime I saw less frowning and fewer wrinkled up eyes. By dinner Saturday I started to see smiles, heard laughing, and could see couples talking who just the night before were clearly wanting to be somewhere else.

They didn’t allow us to have separate rooms, although there were two beds in each room. The bizarre thing was that by the end of the weekend, I didn’t want separate beds, much less separate rooms. Other couples — who had arrived separately and who were clearly antagonistic toward each other — left the retreat holding hands.

It was the most bizarre transformation I’d ever seen, and here’s the kicker: the presenters were not mental health professionals. They were all couples who had themselves gone through the retreat and follow-up sessions about two years ago. We heard from one couple who, I swear to God, had had a worse marriage than ours. As they spoke I thought, “There is no way they’re together or that they were able to resolve, much less move on from those kinds of problems.” Then they talked about how they did it. To say it was inspirational is an understatement.

In this day and age, the word “inspiration” has a short-lived feel to it. In this, their story was not inspirational, and was instead very grounded, very solid. One could almost glean from them their strength to use as one’s own. I felt more than inspired; I felt stabilized and centered for the first time in many, many years.

The once-troubled presenting couple took us through their process. What they did was doable – even for someone as closed off as my ex-husband, and even for me, someone who thought she knew herself and didn’t need to do anything else.

I did do it, though – and so did he. We came together with what each of us had done and then shared that with each other. Please don’t misunderstand: what we did as individuals was monumentally important. More importantly, however, was that each of us had something to share at all – and then did.

At the end of the weekend, everyone once again came together, this time for the final presentation. We were invited to express our feelings and thoughts about what we’d experienced. It was the first and only formal group activity. I felt startled when my ex-husband raised his hand to speak. This is a man who had embarrassed me at parties by always retreating to the corner and kept only to himself. He rarely introduced me to people at his work functions, and he had no use for friends. That he had something to say, much less felt the need to say it, was surprising. What he said was shocking.

“I feel angry about all the time and money we’ve spent on marriage counselors when this program has been here all along. The phone number to someone with this program should have been the only thing handed to us at our first marriage counseling session years ago. I can’t believe it’s this easy, and I don’t really mean easy because this was a lot of work. I’m not a ‘feeling’ guy. Until this weekend I didn’t even think I had feelings. I sure had no way of knowing how to say them, much less to her. I have hope and encouragement I’ve never felt, ever. I now realize I love this woman, and I feel loved by her.”

I cried tears of release and relief – the kind of tears you cry and know you’ll never have to cry again because they are tears acknowledging that something has finally, finally been resolved. He held me – something he would never have done before the retreat, and something he had not done in over ten years.

I wasn’t going to speak, especially in light of my tears, but many has been the time when I didn’t say anything nice to him — or about him – even when I wanted to, and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity get away again.

“As it turns out, it wasn’t all his fault. In this respect, the weekend was a profound disappointment.” The room filled with laughter, but I knew it was time to get down to business. “The fortunate thing is that I no longer care about fault. I thought I knew the person I came here with, but now I realize I brought only my own delusions. I will leave here with a very different and much healthier perspective of myself, and I am leaving with a real man – not an illusion.”

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.

We owe all of this to the wonderful couples who volunteered their time to share their stories and the tools they’ve used to heal their marriages through Retrouvaille, meaning rediscovery.

(*Olencia is not her real name. It has been changed to protect her privacy and the privacy of her children.)

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • Tyler

    I’m happy for all the couples Retrovauille has helped. My wife and I went. To sum it up I knew the weekend was a failure when she said after the second presentation “I’m ready to leave” and closed her note book. She wrote not one letter to me. She read mine with detachment. Her comment “You should’t feel this way”. I gave up and we left mid afternoon of day 2. Something in me died that day.

  • Berry Logan

    My name is Logan Berry from Canada my boyfriend and I were in love for 3 and half years and we lived together almost 2 and half year. He used to care me more than his own life. He used to love me and take care of me like a baby. Then suddenly he started to act wired since February and broke up with me in two week back saying he has a new girl friend. But again he started to come back to me 6 days but But finally on the 5 day I figured out he was sleeping with that girl and me at the same time. That girl is known as a very bad girl and my boy friend knows that but still he is with her. That’s little unusual for him. It almost feels like someone did something to him. Then I met prophetharryprayerhome@yahoo.com on internet and I told him everything. PROPHET HARRY asked me for my boyfriend photograph then he advised me some remedies and with in a day my boyfriend come back to me and first time he said sorry to me. I am very happy now:His email is: prophetharryprayerhome@yahoo.com

  • hurting

    What a powerful story. My husband and I are on the road to divorce. His priest has recommended we attend Retrouvaille. I can only hope that he will agree to go, and that we can have as profound an experience as this woman and her husband. Thank you so much for sharing her letter.

  • michael

    I want to share my testimony to you all which i believe you can still try your best to give a testimony like this so i was married to halen sergey at first will both love each other but short time he started a new behavior which i cannot even explain to any one then i keep it to my self hopping one day he will change for good no way he did not change so i was in pain every day don’t no what to do on till one day when a friend of mine visited me in my office she met me crying then she was asking me what is going on i try to be cam but i could not then i open up to her telling me there is a way out which i will do before he left me with my kids i look up and not knowing what to do then i ask her to tell me. shortly she open up to me and say there is a man called lord kalifat he is a spirit man he can do it with in 2days then i look an said okay i will try my best to contact him four days later, my husband did not come home i called his phone switch off then i try my possible best i did not hear from him so i began to look for one way for a help so i remember my friend told me about one man call lord kalifat i quickly run to my friend asking her if she still have lord kalifat contact then she gave it to me that was how i contacted this great man of spirit he did it for me so quick so now i can now control my husband in any thing even i can tell him that i don’t want him outside today he will not. Now i have a happy family so via email: lordkalifat@gmail.com

  • Arsene

    At this point my wife doesn’t even want to be married anymore. We’ve been separated for 4 months and she is seeing another man (married with kids). She doesn’t consider it an affair as she says that she doesn’t see us a married anymore.
    We’ve had a beautiful marriage and we have a great kid but after I went through a depression a few years ago, she got into an emotional affair with her present “boyfriend”. Much of what she has been doing since then looks to me like a Mid Life Crisis.
    We managed to stay together for two years, the first one being rocky but the second one showing lots of progress but then I had to leave the country for a bit and while I was away, she left me to reconnect with the other guy.

    If I could convince her to do the Retrouvaille program, can this program work even if only one of us is serious about saving the marriage?


    I just wanted to thank [Personal contact info deleted] once again for the time and effort you’ve put into helping me get my happiness back. To say that it helped me would be an understatement…At one point, there was a time when I just didn’t think I could go on much longer… It seemed like no matter what I tried, I kept running into a brick wall… I just didn’t see how I could convince him to give us another shot…And then I had a spell at [Personal contact info deleted] – and everything changed! In retrospect, I can’t believe how many mistakes I made trying to win him over. Thank you very much for saving my marriage! Jessica

  • Betsy

    My husband and I are signed up for Retrouvaille this fall, after hearing about it from a neighbor who is a police chaplain. I pray it works, because it is the last chance.

  • Louise

    My husband and I attended Retrouvaille, October 1995, after he had a major romantic affair—where both he and his affair partner planned to leave their respective spouses and children. At the time, we had been married almost eighteen years; his affair partner ten years. Her husband and I worked hard to keep our marriages intact—it was truly a nightmare! However, after they broke up for the final time, a friend from a class I was taking suggested we attend Retrouvaille. We had been to counselors who were nearly useless—especially while my husband was still involved in the affair. Since my husband’s affair, I work (volunteer) with couples going through similar conditions and stress the importance of attending Retrouvaille—insist they attend (if they let me). There are not enough words to say how amazing and transforming the Retrouvaille program is, for couples that have issues that need to be addressed—but especially have survived an infidelity or a drug/alcohol addiction (which is what an affair really is—the affair partner is the drug of choice).
    Seven years later, we renewed our vows on our 25th Anniversary and in a few months will be celebrating our 35th Anniversary!

  • Liz

    There is so much I want to say, I could write another 9 pages. The simple fact is that I’ve been in an unhappy, stressful chaotic and distructful marriage for 26 years. We have been through individual and couples therapy/counseling numerous times. I am unsuccessfully attempting to live through an affair my husband had (yes, this is not a type) nine years ago. We are still married and living together, but it it getting increasingly difficult. The animosity is becoming contemptuous, and there is little dignity in living this way. A couple of weeks ago my husband handed me a magazine article about Retrouvaille. While in the process of researching and registering in an upcoming session, I found this site. It was an extremely emotional read. I could feel her every experience and emotion, as I am living them. This article erased any doubt I had about attending. The most important message I received was that this enabled them to see within themselves as individuals and finally be able to communicate that to each other. After many years of self doubt, emotional turmoil, anger, resentment and depression, this is out final option. If we both come out of it with inner peace, it will be enough.

  • V12

    We will attend the retrouvaille this weekend. I am praying that we will be better after. It is so hard to move on when you know you have given your all in your marriage. But at the end, you were still betrayed. I had so much hope after reading your posts here. I am excited to attend and experience the “renewal” that you guys had after the weekend.

  • pw

    I have recently signed up for Retrovaille for a retreat in January, so it’s still about a month and a half away. I feel my husband and I do communicate all of our feelings and have no problem doing so. Maybe our problem is understanding where to go from what we already know and what we can do to fix the problems. I have complete faith that this will work for us, because I just can’t imagine life without him, even though we have both hurt each other tremendously over the past years. I am inspired by all of your life stories and that it has worked for so many. It is going to be hard to have to wait for it at this point, but I know God is on my side and will give me strength to pull through this.

  • 3C

    Just attended a Retrouvaille weekend and it is indeed a Godsend. When comparing the change in both my husband and I as individuals and as a couple, it is profound. And that is just from the weekend. We are looking forward to the post-sessions and the good it will bring to our relationship. You can see it in other couples as well; their interaction towards each other and the change in their body language and facial expressions. Hope replaces despair, courage replaces defeat, love resurges back. Of course, it does not come without hard work and perseverance but the fact that someone can show you that the possibilities are endless and it was such a simple solution was priceless. They should have this sort of retreat for every stage of marriage, honeymoon stage, after the honeymoon stage, when children come along, when children start school and there is an emptiness, etc… They should be teaching this at school so people know how to treat other people. I urge anyone who is at any stage of the breakdown of a marriage to try it…it will not hurt but only help.

  • paola

    A pamphlet about retrouville fell in my hands while attending mya cathgolic church in vegas. 5 years later, after I had just asked God during mass, to help me save my marriage, the retouville representative at a church in south america where we both live at the moment, invited anyone in a troubled marriage to attend their introductory meeting this coming wednesday. Coincidense or God’s work, I will not let the opportunity pass once again. I’m excited to c what this program can do for my marriage. Would be nice to hear from Olencia again…

  • Kathy

    There’s been no posts in a long time, but this story has given me hope. 25 years of marriage and now 4 month of separation. Nothing in common – don’t talk – no trust – lot’s of hurt – I’m a Christian – he’s a who knows what. We are doing the program in 4 weeks. God help us.

  • Ang.

    To Diana Hartman:
    As a personal friend of “Olencia”, would you consider contacting her in the hope that an update to her 2005 Retrouvaille experience might be shared with you and in turn with us?

  • An

    I’m hoping that Retrouvaille can help my marriage. It’s the last resort! 25 years of a wonderful happy marriage and then he made contact with his ex on Face book and things have not been the same since then. I can feel he does not love me anymore! This past year has been a nightmare.

  • Jane

    It is true that Retrouvaille can repair bad communication. We did a Retrouvaille weekend and it helped. Honestly the problems in our marraige did not change until we truly sought the Lord and brought him into the marriage. We did a weekend back in 03 and it was a great step. But if Jesus Christ is not your foundation then you need to revisit that part of your life, individually and as a couple. We left Catholicism and joined a non-demonination Bible based church and both of us experienced the miracle of God changing us from the inside out! Our marriage has never been better. The change we experienced was nothing but the divine work of God. I learned how to live as a godly wife. And my husband who had actually left me for another woman…who was liar….a cheater…just about everything you could imagine….was quickened by God… He is a different person and he lives for God…We both do.. no longer for ourselves. We put God first and then our marriage. I had to deal with me and my relationship with God so He could deal with me and my husband. I wish I could spend all day giving you the details but believe me when I say it was only the miracle of God that brought us back together. Seek God first…truly seek him, join a bible study…Once you do that God does the rest… But yes Retrouvaille is a blessing…don’t expect it to save your marriage…expect GOD to!

  • jj,

    I’m so glad to hear your weekend went well. I wish you all the best, and strength and love in the coming weeks.


  • jj

    My Retrouville weekend just ended yesterday. I can tell you. What this lady expressed on her letter its VERY true. Now I have a hope that none counselor could give it to me. I was tired the always message well it could work, but it may not work.. It just of matter of time. You are always on the 50/50 chance. I wanted to get hope that we could save our marriage. Like She said I do not know what the destiny is saving for us, but at this moment I am working for my marriage and my family with very strong and good tools this retreat provided to me. There is nothing more important that your family. Give it a try , it worked on us and most of the 20 couples that were there. Believe me I did not fail to my marriage. We are human and human makes mistakes. Actually, it could be nice if the got a picture of the group on Friday night and another last Sunday evening heheh. It was a TOTALLY different environment. I believe there is not bad marriage o couple ..just BAD communication…

  • Lisa C.

    No one has to believe me but this question is really for a friend…What if her husband of 40 years absolutely refuses to attend? Any suggestions?

  • Janet K.

    My husband and I are getting ready to attend Retrouvaille October 8th. We have been living apart for 2 months now. I only hope this works half as well for us as it did for the couple written about. We still love each other and say so everyday but things have gotten in the way. divorce is a hard road to even consider traveling. I wish everyone the best in whatever road you choose. My thought on Retrouvaille is why not give it one last chance?

  • Sam, if Olencia sends me an update to be posted, it will be posted here on Blogcritics with links to this and the first article.

  • Sam

    My Wife & I attended the Retrouvaille Program and for years since we volunteered to help keep it running and available… so we very much would like to hear something about how things worked out for this divorced couple… the rest of Olencia’s story which began late in 2005. Is it likely this will happen on this “blog”?

  • Mary

    What an amazing story. I hope that my husband and I will be able to attend a seminar soon, because we definitely need to. I just pray it works for us.

  • Happy Again

    Shawn and Kim Doyle are the Retrouvaille International Expansion Team. Perhaps a representative of your Catholic Diocese might make the initial contact with them; they can be reached by email at sdoyle32@comcast.net. Retrouvaille saved our marriage in 1991…we now operate under God’s definition of love (patient, kind, etc.) and have been ministering to each other and other couples ever since!

  • ivan

    Hi, I have read so much about retrouvaille. i am told it has helped many a hurting couple. A program like this is what is needed in our area in india

  • Again

    The program works!!..if, you do the work and want it to. My husband and I just completed the program for the second time. The first time left us with such a feeling of euphoria that I suppose we thought we were cured. Although we had attended the follow up sessions, it wasn’t long before we let “life” interfere. Always excuses. Kids, work, his family, my family. Then I found out he was having affair. I felt devastated, stupid and used. We had already shared and been through a lot together. Out of respect for our past and our kids, we decided to give our marriage and the retreat another try knowing it would be more difficult than the first time because we had already been given the tools and failed each other and ourselves. I decided I needed to shove my pride and pain away to see if anything was there to be saved. We went to the retreat a second time. We just finished. It stresses the need to leave the past in the past but acknowledges that one does not always forget the past. It stresses that healing is an ongoing journey that can be taken together. Our problems always begin when we stop sharing. The program has helped us to both understand our roles in the success or failure of our marriage. I want to heal and he does, too. This time we vow to do the work. Wish us luck!!!

  • dmp

    Hi, we just finished our Retroveille weekend this past weekend. I don’t know where it will lead us, we learned a tool (dialogue). I am honestly still skeptical if it will help us, we might be a different sort of case, I don’t know. We have 7 follow up sessions to go to now. We live together with our two very young children at this time as we did before the weekend. I have hope, I did learn more about my husband. Retroveille helped us, as we are not religious either, but I think it helped.

  • aa

    After over a year of extreme marital stress, due in large part to my husband’s mid-life crises, I have finally resigned myself to the idea that divorce may be my only respite. This is incredible to me, as we have been married for more than 20 years and I could be considered very Catholic. However, we did sign up for Retrouvaille before I lost hope. Reading this I am afraid to believe it will save our marriage, but I do hope if will lead to forgiveness. Thanks for this interesting story.

  • jjc

    What a great story! I’ve heard the Retroveille is good but did think it could help us. Maybe it can. I know my wife wants to go so the next time it is in the area, it will be time to go.

  • victor

    thanks for the post it is very nice read this because we are going this weekend to this progam (october 24 2008)I was very confident before but now I have no words to explain how my felings are after read your story it just give me the energy and hope that I am looking for ,since your case is similar to my from the point of view that my wife is also the one who does not feel love for me and again after this I have no excuse to stop fighting for my marriage even if she does not feel it
    Thank you very much

  • Larry

    This program is wonderful! During my first marriage, there was turmoil generated by me having an affair. Although we finally reconciled to stay together and rebuild the marriage, it was a tough road over 2 years. Sadly, my wife passed away a short time after our decision to recommit to the marriage and each other. I wish we had known about Retrouvaille, because I know it would have saved us much anguish and time.

    When I remarried, my new wife came without kids and I had 3 girls. After about 2 years together, the turmoil caused by my kids and their inability to make peace with their mother’s death and my remarriage had us thinking we had made a mistake despite the numerous signs that we were meant to be together. We heard about Retrouvaille and decided to give it a try. It saved our marriage!

    Now, 8 years later, the kids are on their own and new turmoils have invaded our marriage. We decided that we needed a refresher and signed up to attend Retrouvaille again. We are now in the follow up sessions, and have found that our skills from our first Retrouvaille were not dead, just dormant. We are now on the road to recovery again, and this time we have decided that if it worked so well for us, why not get involved and bring it to our area where it currently does not exist. We are working with the Retrouvaille folks, our pastor, deacon, and others in the Parish to make Retrouvaille happen here. (Just before leaving for our latest Retrouvaille weekend, We were at the Parish office speaking with the pastoral assistant who handles Engaged Encounter (and also speaks with couples in trouble), that she had 5 couples she could send along with us! This cemented the idea of bringing this wonderful program here in our hearts and minds so we could share the helping hand that Retrouvaille with our friends and neighbors.

  • Nothing anyone posts after this should or could change what has happened for this couple.

    Here’s wishing them

    Much love


    Many happy years

  • wow, “skeptic”…try “cynic” instead…you may find it fits a little less tightly around the sore spots…

  • skeptic

    (*Olencia is not her real name. It has been changed to protect her privacy and the privacy of the PR man who invented her.)

  • Wow.