By Lara Pickford-Gordon
The issues facing married couples today may be the same as in the past but social media “has brought about other avenues that may encourage infidelity”, said Mary Jardine, of Retrouvaille Trinidad and Tobago.
“Sexting, pornography, less couple time, ‘married singles’ lifestyle, lack of affirmation and/or appreciation by spouses for each other all challenge a couple’s relationship,” Jardine said in an email response to questions from the Catholic News about the challenges facing married couples today.
She said the institution and concept of marriage has been seriously impacted by the evolution of technology and changing philosophies about life.
According to Jardine, “The internet has been a driver for globalization but has also engendered the rise of fringe cultures and behaviours which are being assimilated and transmitted more readily than at any time before in the history of mankind.”
As a result, she said, many issues were being discussed out of context or “skewed” to support the views of a particular niche in society.
She noted too the US-based website Ashley Madison was geared towards married persons seeking extra-marital relationships. The website was recently hacked and the hackers threatened to reveal information about the users.
“We are looking at 37 million users being impacted – imagine the number of marriages and families that can be hurt by this new form of socialisation,” Jardine said.
Responding to the question of whether there was a “stigma” attached to persons who signed up for Retrouvaille, she said: “Some people may view attending a Retrouvaille programme as a stigma, but if a couple is committed to the belief that the Sacrament of Marriage deserves an opportunity in a society that does little to support marriages, they put their marriage first before their fears.”
The word Retrouvaille (pronounced re-tro-vi with a long i.) is a French word meaning “rediscovery”. The programme targets couples who are facing marriage difficulties, but Jardine said all couples can benefit “as many who have no serious problems have discovered after having done the programme”.
Retrouvaille began as a French language programme in Quebec, Canada, in 1977 by a group of concerned and caring couples, priests and psychologists. A year later it was translated into English and spread to other provinces of Canada and the United States.
Retrouvaille is now presented in French, English, Spanish and Italian in more than 100 communities in Australia, Ireland, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Phillipines, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, the US and Zimbabwe.
Providing a history of the programme in Trinidad & Tobago, Jardine said it started with a training weekend held in June 1985 at Emmaus Centre, Arima. The first full programme was conducted the following year, and more than 630 couples have attended to between 1986 and 2014.
Up to the end of 2004, approximately 80% of the couples who had attended a Retrouvaille programme were still together, Jardine said. “We are currently conducting a survey to update this information for the 2005 to 2014 period,” she added.
Retrouvaille focuses on communication in marriage between husband and wife. It gives couples the opportunity to rediscover each other and examine their lives together in a new and positive way.
Structure of the three-month programme in this Archdiocese is the same as set out by Retrouvaille International, starting with a weekend and followed by six sessions every other Sunday, between 9.30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Jardine said “the post-sessions are equally important in the rebuilding of the marriage relationship and the full benefit of the programme cannot be realised if a couple does not commit to doing the full programme.”
She explained that the concepts learned in Retrouvaille “centred around communicating our feelings to our spouse in a nonconfrontational manner; respect for our spouse’s feelings on an issue; taking ownership for our own feelings and not blaming our spouse for our feelings or issues; learning to forgive ourselves and our spouses; learning to trust again and conflict resolution”.
Retrouvaille accepts any couple in a legally recognised marriage and has had some success with separated and divorced couples.
Jardine said, “There have been several cases of couples who have been separated before doing the programme who have been able to find healing for their relationships and be reunited. There have also been instances where couples who have been divorced and have done the programme have been legally remarried.”
Retrouvaille is not a counselling programme but some couples will need to seek counselling.
“Many of us who are involved in Retrouvaille, and who have gone through the process, now feel proud of the fact that we have faced our fears and feel a responsibility to other hurting couples to encourage them to ‘not be afraid’, that we were once in their shoes, to encourage them to attend a programme and give their marriage relationship a chance to survive,” she said.
The next Retrouvaille weekend is scheduled for September 4 to 6 at the St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs Seminary at Mt St Benedict.
To register visit the website www.helpourmarriage.com or contact the registration couple at 651-1988.
Taken from Catholic News August 2, 2015
Prayer for couples
The Patron Saint of Retrouvaille is St Joseph. The following prayer is based on Matthew 1:18-25:
We ask your prayers, St Joseph, an upright man, a spouse who planned to divorce Mary in secret and who by God’s grace was able to see his role in God’s plan.
We ask you on our behalf to pray to God that our marriage be healed. We are enveloped in pain and despair as you must have been when you learned of Mary’s pregnancy. Be for and with us, Joseph, in our hour of doubt. Let us listen to and heed the voice of God as you did.
Be our intercessor to your Jesus, to give us the blessings to change, to listen, to forgive and most of all to hope that our marriage will heal and our family remain whole and holy.
We give you honour, quiet St Joseph, for you are a spouse like us, who while knowing pain, did not divorce. By God’s grace you nourished the Holy Family and the Saviour of all families throughout the ages.