Upcoming Retrouvaille weekend to allow couples to work on marriage

Friday, Mar. 04, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY — A Retrouvaille weekend will be offered in Utah April 1-3 for those whose marriages are experiencing difficult times.
Retrouvaille is an international offshoot of Marriage Encounter for couples who are dealing with marriage-threatening issues such as gambling, alcoholism, adultery and pornography. Retrouvaille helps couples learn to deal with issues that are more serious than those handled through Marriage Encounter, said Sally Pavlish, who with her husband, Robin, will host the weekend. 
The Pavlishes have experienced first-hand how a Retrouvaille weekend can improve a marriage and communication skills, they said.
The Pavlishes were married in 1980 in the Catholic Church in Seattle. They had been married for 10 years when they became Engaged Encounter facilitators, but it came to a point in their marriage where they were unhappy.
“We had been to counseling and it wasn’t helping,” Robin said.
Sally found Retrouvaille through a friend, she said. “We were experiencing a lot of breakdown in our communication,” said Sally. “We had been married 26 years when we decided to go on a Retrouvaille weekend.”
The weekends are attended by a priest and three couples who have been through the program, as well as those who sign up.
Before attending, Sally researched the Retrouvaille’s website, which she recommends couples do, and found what they describe as the four stages of marriage: romance, disillusionment, misery and awakening. 
“I could see that we were definitely in the middle of misery,” Sally said. “We were either fighting or not speaking; if Retrouvaille didn’t work, our next step was going to be divorce.”
“A lot of times when couples get to the misery stage, they will either get divorced or experience rediscovery or reawakening,” said Robin.
Retrouvaille gave the Pavlishes the tools they needed to communicate “in a way that we could hear what the other person was saying,” said Sally. “It wasn’t counseling; it was peer ministry. It took us a long time to learn the tools.”
A Retrouvaille weekend is only 70 percent of what repairing a marriage is about, said Sally. “We learned a lot in the CORE (Continuing Our Retrouvaille Experience) sessions that follow the six weeks after a weekend.”
A Retrouvaille weekend includes fellowshipping with other couples who have gone through the program, a short presentation and other couples who offer support. In the CORE sessions, the couples learn about themselves and their spouse, the things they brought to the marriage from their families of origin and their communication styles.  
“The magic in the communication formula called the dialog process is learning how to talk about feelings,” said Robin. “The trick is learning to associate feelings with an event, an image in the world, nature or a memory that made the person feel something rather than the event itself so the other person doesn’t feel threatened or guilty by talking about the actual event that caused them discourse. The conversation is limited to 10 minutes so each person has a turn talking; that is when the breakthroughs in the relationship begin to happen.”
“We gained a lot of information and hope from the couples leading the sessions; we were able to put our marriage back together,” said Sally. “Now it is our privilege to tell our story to other couples.” 
The Pavlishes moved to Utah last year and would like to establish a Retrouvaille community here. The weekends require a priest and three couples. The Pavlishes are seeking couples to sign up for the weekend, who in turn will be able to become presenters and get the community going. 
WHAT: Retrouvaille Weekend
WHEN: April 1-3 
WHERE: Diocese of Salt Lake City
With six weeks of follow-up sessions.
For confidential information about Retrouvaille or to register for the program, call 801-450-4965, email 4007@retrouvaille.org, or visit www.HelpOurMarriage.com.

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