Anybody else have a negative experience with Retrouvaiile?

My husband and I went to a retrouvaille weekend recently and let me just say that it did not go too well for us. I heard wonderful, glowing success stories from married couples whose marriages were on the brink of divorce–so I’m quite sure it helps a lot of people. Nonetheless, here were my gripes:

-We had NO BREAKS whatsoever between talks and meals which was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting and made me feel like I was on the verge of some psychological break(down)!
-I felt that they purposely kept everyone in the dark about the schedules which felt disrespectful–I mean, we’re all adults. Why so much secrecy?
-The scripts we were given to follow (in order to facilitate communication) were so rigid that it was easy to go off course and cause a complete communication break down (which did happen for us)
-There was barely any time to dialogue with one’s spouse after writing exercises. If we touched on something deep that required more discussion, it was already time to go to the next talk which was very frustrating
-When communication did break down between my spouse and I, we felt “on our own”. We could have used a little bit of time and help to get back on track but that wasn’t offered as there was a strict schedule to be kept.

Don’t get me wrong–the people there are caring and very sincere people. In the end, we just felt that maybe it’s not for everyone. Did anyone else have a similar experience?

So, our experience was exactly the same as you described but we had a very different attitude toward it. We really enjoyed surrendering to the experience and found it was enormously helpful in giving us the tools to continue to work on our marriage.

I recommend you continue with the home exercises and follow-up sessions before having such a negative review.

The couples that you talked to that experienced a healing in their marriage from Retrouvaille, more than likely did so from the entire experience. That means the follow-up weekend sessions not just the weekend. The weekend is a beginning, a renewal to get you going. The follow-up weekends are just as important if not even more so.

As far as timing when you say there was “barely any time” to talk with your spouse between exercises and the strict schedule etc. I will give you my opinion on that and I believe it is deliberate. I believe the idea in the beginning is just to get two people talking. Not problem solving or managing anger or digging deeper but simply pleasantly talking. Remember these weekends are being attended by couples that haven’t had a pleasant conversation in ages. That is a great place to start! They don’t want couples going off and go “into more discussion” which it sounds like you wanted. “More discussion” is what got a lot of couples into bad situations in the first place, they want things to stay short and sweet, not forever but just in the beginning to build a foundation.

Not to worry, problem solving WILL come! You will dig deeper and go into more discussion and talk about things with each other. However I want to encourage you to take time, your marriage didn’t break down overnight and it will take time to rebuild. Take the time to slowly build on short and pleasant dialogues with your spouse it is a good foundation for things to come.

Lastly, no one likes everything about every program. However I hope and pray that there are things from this program that you can use to save your marriage, even if the weekend wasn’t especially for you. Please be assured of my prayers.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit