What happens during the program
One of the most common questions we receive is that of what will exactly happen during the program. We very much understand this question, but also ask you consider that if we were to get into too much detail, we would rob you of come of the personal and relationship discovery that takes place during the program. Still, here is a basic rundown that will give you a general idea, and should put aside any concerns of the unknown:
- The Registration Process
- The Weekend
- The Post-Follow-up Sessions
When you have made the decision to attend the weekend, you complete your registration on the website, with the registration payment. This puts a temporary hold on your space in the program, since space does often fill up. You will be contacted by a volunteer couple at some point after you have placed your registration. This couple does not need to know what your problems are, but if you would like to make sure the program is right for you, they will be happy to help to whatever extent you are comfortable. It is important that the couple speaks with both husband and wife, to make sure make both are willing to give it a chance. It is perfectly normal that one spouse is more committed to attending than the other, but both must be willing. Once you have had the contact with the couple, your space will be confirmed, and you will receive detailed instructions about when and where to be, what to bring, etc.
When you arrive at the weekend location, you will find that everything has been organized for you. Your room will be ready, the hotel or retreat center will have your information, and we will be expecting you. Someone will likely be there to even help you get your luggage to your room and familiarize you with everything. You will be given name tags with your first name only, as everything is anonymous during the program. At the start time, you will find yourself in a conference room atmosphere, with snacks available, and some program books. The number of other couples varies greatly from location to location and weekend to weekend. You may find yourself with 5 or 6 other couples, or with 30 or 40. The number of couples does not matter, as there is no group interaction. Everything is between you and your spouse. At the front of the room, you will find a table with three chairs occupied by the presenting team. The presenting teams are volunteers that have suffered marriage troubles in their own relationship, have gone through the program, and have chosen to give back by volunteering.
The team will start the evening with a presentation welcoming everyone and letting everyone know what to expect, where things are, various procedure on how the weekend works, etc. After the presentation, there will be a short break, followed by another presentation by a different volunteer couple. In all, there are three volunteer couples that take turn with presentations throughout the weekend. Each couple, like the first, are volunteers that have suffered marriage troubles in their own relationship, have gone through the program, and have chosen to give back by volunteering. Each presentation lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to around an hour. After each presentation, you and your spouse are given some time to reflect on the topic of the presentation, then join one another in your room to discuss the topic.
Saturday morning begins with a mass for those that wish to attend, followed by breakfast, then a series of presentations, reflection time, private discussion time between the two of you, and so on. We also provide lunch and dinner on Saturday, as well as breakfast and lunch on Sunday.
Throughout the weekend, the topics will become deeper, and are designed to help the two of you truly open up to one another and embrace the feelings, desires, and goals of the other. You will also find that although there are other attending couples, the weekend is all about you. The only time you will interact with the other couples is during meals, should you desire. There is no group discussion, and you will never talk about your troubles with others, nor will they with you. Similarly, the presenting teams are only presenting on these topics. While they share their stories with you during their presentations, they will never ask you or put you on the spot. Their stories are meant to inspire you and your spouse to share privately with one another.
On Sunday the weekend builds up to a very powerful time, in which we watch couples that could hardly stand to look at one another on Friday, now holding hands, hugging, and in sync with one another. At one point on Sunday, the couples will be asked to consider a donation. This is because your reservation fee is kept extremely low in order to make the program affordable for as many people as possible. Our costs are actually significantly higher, and ours is an all-volunteer, non-profit, self-sustaining program that receives no grants or outside donations. These Sunday donations help us reach a break-even point and cover many of the real world costs we must deal with.
The end of the weekend ends with a closing mass for those that wish to attend.
Generally one week after the weekend, we begin the second phase of the program, the POST Followup Sessions. These generally happen once per week, and last for four hours. They run for six or seven weeks, depending on the community where you attend. The purpose of the POST sessions is twofold. First, It takes us much deeper into weekend concepts, and beyond, while reinforcing all that happened on the weekend. Secondly, the reality is that it took years for your marriage to get to the point of struggle, and a weekend by itself is not enough. Over the course of the Post sessions, we will help reinforce your relationship and help you turn bad habits into good habits. Taken seriously, over the course of six or seven weeks, permanent life changes often occur.
The Post Sessions are similar to the weekend, in that many of the couples attending the weekend will be there, and a volunteer couple will present each session. Sometimes it is one of the couples from your weekend, and sometimes you will be introduced to other volunteer couples that present their stories. There is a little more interactivity during the Post sessions than there was on the weekend, but just like the weekend, you are never put on the spot.
By the end of the Post sessions, you will have had more than 50 hours of presentation and reflection time, and will have made an incredible investment into your marriage. You will have new tools and techniques that you can apply to having a healthy and loving marriage, putting past resentments behind you and achieving true forgiveness of one another. You will have had many weeks of reinforcement, as well as a group of caring couples that you can always turn to in any time of need. A true loving and caring support system for your marriage and family.
Once you have attended the Retrouvaille program, you are welcome to repeat any of the Post sessions anytime you like, forever. You will also find that most Retrouvaille communities also have a program called "C.O.R.E." (Continuing Our Retrouvaille Experience). These are monthly small-group gatherings in which couples that have completed the program get together, break bread, and participate in marriage enrichment activities.