Is Retrouvaille damaging to marriages?


Hi everyone. Most of you know that I have a difficult marriage. My husband refuses to go to Retrouvaille and says that it is damaging to marriage and we could end up divorce. I told him this is not true, but because it was almost true for his aunt and uncle, he believes it. I will allow all of you who went to Retrouvaille, tell him what you think of the program and how it helped or not helped your marriage.

I will call him to the computer when we get enough response to read. For not, he believes we have a happy marriage and no problems and I totally disagree. He wants to go to Marriage Encounter, but I always thought that was for a good marriage to become even better. I may be wrong, correct me if so.


You are correct, and he seems to me to be clutching at straws, so he doesn’t have to attend Retrouvaille.


To say Retrouvaille is damaging to marriage because Auntie and Uncle went and almost got a divorce is like saying a hospital is dangerous because Auntie and Uncle went and almost ended up dead.

You don’t go to Retrouvaille unless your marriage is at a bad place. Marriage Encounter is for good marriages. Those who go to Ret. are in trouble. I went. I ended up divorced. He didn’t even go to the followup meetings. But it was my last ditch effort to save things. Hope this helps.


NO. Retrouvaille saved my marriage. I convinced my best friend to go to Retrouvaille a couple months ago and and both her and her husband are so glad they did. Retrouvaille has saved many, many marriages.

I have been through the program and I can’t think of what part of it could be damaging to a marriage. People who go to Retrouvaille often already have big marriage issues. It encourages people to face those issues. It’s true Retrouvaille can’t save all marriages -a lot depends on the commitment of both the husband and wife. I have never heard anything bad about Retrouvaille.


Can he actually articulate HOW Retrouvaille supposedly ruins marriages? If not, he’s just making excuses.

Marriage is hard work. Retrouvaille is hard work. He has to do the work to save his marriage. You can’t do it alone and you can’t do it for him.

Retrouvaille teaches you ways to communicate and help heal your marriage. It’s then up to the two people to make it happen. Or not.


Retrouvaille is not damaging to marriages. My DH refused to go to marriage counseling because everyone he knew who went ended up divorced. He agreed to go to Retrouvaille after comparing the Retrouvaille and the Marriage Encounter literature. He knew we did not meet the description of a good marriage trying to get better but a troubled marriage. That’s my experience. What happens after the Retrouvaille weekend is dependent on the two of you . You’ll get out of it what the two of you put into it.


A co-worker of mine is going through difficulties now. His wife “strayed”. He is trying his best to save his marriage, and they are working on it with 1/2 of the couple resistant.

I asked him about Retrouvaille, and if they’d considered it. His reply was “Yup, we’ve talked about it, and she doesn’t want to go… Frankly I’m also hesitant/afraid… from what I’ve heard the encounter will usually do one of two things - either fix the marriage, or end it.”


The encounter doesn’t do it. What it does is make the couple have to think about their relationship and they either realize they have something to work with or not. That issue won’t go away whether or not they go to Retrouvaille.


This cracks me up, but I also have to laugh because chances are Auntie and Uncle’s life would be more in danger of staph and bacterial infections at a hospital in reality (this has been big news lately, both here and in the UK, and now you know why I swear by home birth!) than their marriage was a Retrouvaille. As you said – it’s up to the couple if they want to make it work. This is a life-preserver for a drowning marriage, but it takes both people to hold on.

I am glad this post came up. Retrouvaille was advertised as a “marriage retreat” in my previous parish’s bulletin. We thought about doing it, not because our marriage is in trouble, but because it would only help. I am glad to know “marriage encounter” is available for those who are still doing “OK” but could use some reminders on how to love each other and not just go through the myriad of life with three small kids and one on the way. :thumbsup: It’s hard to give to each other when we give give give all day long to others.

To the OP: I wish you the best. I hope your Dh will do whatever it takes to make things better for you both and quit throwing out “excuses” to not help himself, you, or the marriage. Aunt or Uncles marriage was already burnt toast, period.


My wife and I have never been to Retrouvaille, so perhaps I should not address this. We did go to Marriage Encounter and, for a time, were a presenting team. I am not at all sure I would really agree with the assertion that Marriage Encounter is solely to make good marriages better. I saw lots of not-so-good ones there. I saw some things I thought were miraculous and some things that were not good at all. Like any kind of “encounter” thing, ME can pop the lid off some psych problems that might have been best left alone, though I would say the training and restraint on the part of the teams was pretty good.

I guess, of all the things I think my wife and I learned (and neither of us is too impressed with it now, but then, we’re older too) there were two that were the most important:

  1. One of the things couples are always asked to address (to each other) is “what is my spouse’s best attribute” or something like that. If both answer “his/her religious faith”, then chances are things are going to work out and improve.
  2. Our “cadre teams” were very good in that they emphasized the importance; the centrality, really, of seeing the Face of Christ in one’s spouse, rather than trying to control him/her in one way or another; something we all do. That has a lot of ramifications if taken seriously.

I hope the above is of some value.


Thanks for all your replies and I do agree that my dh is making excuses. In fact, the day I posted this thread we argued over the two groups and he called his aunt, who again told him that their marriage almost ended. I reminded my dh that their marriage was and is very dysfunctional with a lot of yelling and one is a Catholic, his aunt, and the other is not. That alone was a major problem in their marriage, according to his aunt, who still prays that her husband will join the Church some day. I told dh that he can’t go by one couple either.

As I said, we almost fought over this and I just clamed up again, as I usually do, and he said his usual, “You will never be happy with me.” He doesn’t even want to read all of your responses now.

From what I read from the last post, Marriage Encounter can be for the “not so good” marriages too. What do you think if I just agree to go to that, since dh will not go to Retrouvaille?

By the way, he does have control issues and some other emotional problems. We have been to marriage counseling and in fact, I went to his usual psychologist for a group counseling with her and she noticed that he is stubborn and set in his way. She was annoyed with him for he likes to drive and hardly ever allows me and if I ask, we argue and it is not worth it so the counselor asked him why it was a problem and he said his dad always did the driving when they went out as a family. She reminded him that times have changed and we don’t need to do everything our parents did. He still said, that he is the man and should be the driver, but to be fair about three days later he shocked me and asked if I wanted to drive when we were all going out as a family. That was nice, but he is back to being the only one to drive again. He has parkinsons and eventually he will have to give up driving some day and he knows this. One word describes my dh and that is “stubborn.”


Idea: Call and ask the team couple you call for ME to make the reservation what they think, staying as anonymous as possible. If they have no trouble with your attendance, go to ME; if not, it’s Retrouvaille.

As I thought about this, I think it’s not just the aunt and uncle but some sort of perceived prejudice on your husband’s part about Retrouvaille. “ME is OK, lots of people go, but to have to go to Retrouvaille- oh no, I am bad guy” kind of thing. Just a thought…


Hi Nana

Everybodies marriage is different and people are different also. I went for Retrouvaille also and things were going great on the weekend away and the follow up sessions but on the last session things went wrong. The reason been is that the problems that I had with my husband was his abusiveness and the porn. But he was not prepared to give it up. And we tried on and off to make things right but my ex just did not prepared to change.

But when I look back now I realise that I could not change him or force him to change. He had decided a long time ago in his mind that he was not going to be in this marriage that is why he kept on looking in his mind for better out there. But better does not mean younger that you can control and dictate to. We were just not meant to be together.

Your husband has alot of issues in his life. Don’t force him to go to Retrouvaille becoz in the end he will end up resenting you. Your marriage and his Aunt & Uncles marriage is not the same. He cannot compare by saying that Retrouvaille almost broke up his Aunts marriage. Who is to say that it cannot work for the two of you.

Also Nana you must take into consideration that your husband is set in his ways. He must want to change on his own. Also you must take into consideration that he is also sick and eventually he will not be able to do the things he used to. Right now you are going to have to be strong. Are your problems so bad that you need to go on Retrouvaille. Are you guys heading towards getting divorced. Or are there problems that have always been there.

The reason I ask is becoz sometimes we need to just let go and let God guide us in the right direction. You know this man better than anybody. Lately I have been reading alot and watching the religious channel and Joyce Meyer came to SA and I went to see her.

Sorry so long but hear me out please. Joyce Meyer has not had a easy life she was abused by her father and abandoned by her mother and she had alot of issues in her life. But she talks about when she got married to the man she is still married to 40 years later. She was so angry about everything that was happening in her life and her husband was target and she prayed about it. And she was a bully and tried to get him to do the things that she wanted him to do and so and so on. She would be so full of anger and at night when it was time to go to bed she would not want him to touch her or come near her or even talk to her. And there he was taking up almost all the space in the bed snoring like nothing was wrong. Then there was a day when she went into the pray room and prayed and read the bible and lay flat on the floor saying God I need a answer and I am not going to bed until I get that answer how must a deal with my husband. He is like this and like that. And the answer she got was “Go to bed”. Sometimes we just need to let go and let God guide us in the right direction.

Pray about this ask God to give you the answers that you need. But most of all forgive your husband for the things that he has done and forgive yourself. That is the one thing that was holding me back from every moving forward was this hatred, resentment that I had for my ex and his little girlfriend. But all it was doing was holding me back from moving forward. You love your husband very much sometimes just overlooking certain things and just letting them go makes such a difference.

Good luck Nana you know that you are always in my prayers. Things will get better hang in there and leave things in God’s hands and let him deal with your husband. You will see the difference once you do that.


Um… I know this is changing the subject just a bit, so I am sorry. My husband really prefers to do the driving to. I know ALOT of marriages where this is the case. I don’t see this as controlling, just my husband’s little personal quirk. He is wonderful in every way and respectful of me. SO, if my hubby wants to drive I just let him. He lets me control a lot of other things that are important to me, like how the house is set up and run.

By the way, was your therapist a Christian? This is important because men are called to be the head of the house hold. The biblical model is very balanced because although women are told to submit to their husbands, men have to honor their wives(according to Peter) If your therapist isn’t a Christian then she might not understand this wonderful balance.


Here’s a good GUY analogy for him.

A LOT of people out there think changing the transmission fluid is harmful to a car. This logic came about from people neglecting the transmission until it slips or hesitates to shift. They take it into a shop, the shop finds the old fluid is sludge and changes it and then BAM the trans dies next month! Naturally, they conclude that changing the transmission fluid caused to transmission to die. That’s much easier than admitting that their own long neglect created the problem that was already starting to show up BEFORE changing the fluid.


Retrouvaille saved my marriage. Over a year later it is still a work in progress, but we are still married.

Without going into details, it also saved my wifes sanity and quite possibly, her life.

Feel free to PM me if I can help.


First I have to say that I’ve never been to Retrouvaille. But the most any kind of communication weekend can do is to help two people see the truth about what they ought to be doing, what they are doing, and what they are willing to do.

Sometimes that clarity will spur a couple to make the changes necessary to save a marriage. The power to make any changes must come from the individuals through the power of God. But sometimes that clarity reveals that one or both parties don’t care enough about the marriage to change.

Retrouvaille can help people who are willing to work to save the marriage understand what they need to do and/or accept. It can’t make them do it or accept it.


One poster above advised to give it all to God. That is great advice, we need to keep our eyes open as we do this.

A man was told there was a flood coming, he should evacuate. The man said “God will take care of me”.

The man sat on the roof of his house, a relief truck drove by - the worker said “Mister, get in the truck, the flood is coming”.

The man said “God will take care of me”.

The water covered the road, the man sat on his roof praying. Soon, a boat came past - the boat captain said “here, get in the boat, the flood is still rising”. The man replied “you go on, I prayed and God will take care of me.”

The water kept rising, soon the man had to stand on the roof just to keep his head abouve water. He kept praying.

Then, a Red Cross helicopter flies over, drops him a ladder and says “come on up” - the man says “I prayed and God will take care of me”.

The man drowns and dies.

He finds himself standing in front of God. The man says “God, I prayed and gave it all to you, yet - I drowned in the flood - why? why?”.

God said “I sent a truck, a boat and a helicopter”.


I would prefer him to do the driving, but his parkinsons affects his driving now. He is stubborn and won’t take his medications as he is suppose it. I wake him up in the morning and give him his morning does otherwise, he won’t take it. I ask him to take the afternoon and evening and he misses those and I have to remind him all the time. If it did not affect me and my dd, I would let it go and let him take his meds when he wanted, but if he misses doses, his is slower in his reaction time. He also takes pain meds and when he takes those, his reaction time is slower and should not drive, but does he listen to me, no and he drives. I pray that he doesn’t get into an accident. Things like this is what we need Retrouvaille for. He is also getting heavier and heavier and is not obese. I ask him to please watch what he eats for he doesn’t exercise and he ignores it and over eats. He is past 300 pounds and this affects me too. When we make love he is too heavy for me and I have a bad back with three past back surgeries. I try to talk to him about all these things that bother me and affect me and he says that I will never be happy with him. I married a non smoker for I have asthma, well he picked up smoking about two years ago and won’t quit.

I have been living with all these things and letting it go, but when they start to affect me and my dd lives in some way, it bothers me and I talk to him and it is like talking to the wall. I told him that if he is so depressed and over eats to go to weight watchers and talk to me and his counselor, but to be honest his depression stems from his childhood and many years of abuse. I do everything for this man. I cook, clean and care for him and our dd. I do the laundry the shopping, the making of beds and ironing. I do the dishes and much more. He is disabled and so am I. I can do more for I go and see a pain management doctor and am on a pain patch, but it doesn’t take all my pains away. I have begged dh to go see a pain management doctor, but he doesn’t want to go. He doesn’t help me around the house and forgets to do whatever I do ask of him. I don’t know why he forgets so much. When he tells me that he is happy in our marriage and I try to express how I feel, I am the one with the problem in looking for problems in him. Like I said, I have let a lot go and I can tell that the anger and resentment is growing in me. I get so frustrated that we don’t communicate well and we end of arguing if we do and nothing gets settled. That is why I do keep quiet about things for it doesn’t do any good to talk for all he will say over and over again is that I am not nor I will ever be happy with him. This is so untrue if we could work on what is wrong in our marriage and that is why I felt that Retrouvaille would have helped.

We have been to so many counselors and one was a priest, no two of them were, and both said that he is very stubborn and set in his ways and until he decides to change, I can’t do anything to improve our marriage. I even had two other counselors tell me that I should get a divorce. I had one confessor tell me that I needed to go to a counselor myself and if that counselor tells me to get a divorce that I should. I disagree with the priest and came to him at a time when I was so depressed with how our lives were, but it is not like that always. This priest even made me promise to get a divorce if that is what the counselor said. The following year, I spoke to another priest, these were priest that came to our parish for the parish missions, and this priest said to pray for my dh a lot and that he needed spiritual healing. He told me to tell dh to see a spiritual director and I did tell dh, but now a year later he still has not done so. He loves to procrastinate.:rolleyes:


I am so sorry that I missed that the had Parkinsons! :o My previous advice does not apply in this situation.

It sounds as if your hubby has more serious problems then I at first thought from reading your post. :frowning: You will be in my prayers.

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