Standing before our family and friends on our wedding day, professing our love to one another, and taking vows to love each other until death, most of us could not have fathomed the hard times that were to come. But those of us who have been married for any length of time know that the hard times do come. The fairy tale vibes of the wedding day wear off as life takes hold — some days will be wonderful while others are utterly difficult. In fact, for many of us, difficult days have stretched into difficult seasons in our marriage. Yet, we took vows to love and honor one another until death. How do we make it through? How do we get through it all together and emerge stronger than before?
That’s where the Retrouvaille Ministry comes in! Retrouvaille begins with a weekend retreat for couples experiencing trouble in their marriages, offering them time together away from life’s distractions. During the weekend, a team of three couples who have been through Retrouvaille themselves along with a priest give a series of presentations. The attending couples are then given tools and techniques to help them improve communication with one another. What’s more, the weekend offers couples time to delve deeper into their marriages. Each couple is allowed to look at the many different aspects of their marriage and rediscover the beauty of the life they have created together.
“Retrouvaille offers couples the tools to rediscover a loving marriage,” Janelle DeZeeuw says. “Many couples who are experiencing very hard times have successfully overcome their marriage problems by attending Retrouvaille.”
Janelle and her husband, Jim, attended their first Retrouvaille weekend in August 2020.
“We had hit rock bottom,” Janelle says. “Looking back now, I believe the Holy Spirit was working through Jim’s mom when she suggested we visit with Fr. Paul, and then through Fr. Paul when he suggested Retrouvaille. We didn’t want to throw in the towel. We wanted our marriage to work, and we knew God was walking with us through it all.”
What the DeZeeuws discovered through Retrouvaille transformed their marriage!
“Like most families, our lives were very busy and focused on the kids and their activities,” Janelle says. “We didn’t make time for us as a couple. We certainly didn’t put God at the center of our lives. We were cruising through life thinking everything was fine. It wasn’t. Retrouvaille helped us see that! It helped us see that we wanted more for our marriage than what we were giving it!”
Indeed, life is incredibly busy for all of us. It is far too easy to let everything else get in the way of our marriages. And when our marriages are put on the back burner, trouble begins to brew — left alone, it can boil over into seemingly hopeless problems! But as Janelle assures all of us, there is hope and there is help — we simply have to reach out and take it!
“There are four stages of a marriage,” Janelle says, quoting the Retrouvaille website. “They are romance, disillusionment, misery, and awakening. If both partners are committed to working on themselves and their marriage, they can get out of the misery stage! The recipe is simple — communication, forgiveness, and listening to each other. Retrouvaille helped us to realize that we had developed some bad habits over the years and to improve on these skills necessary to save our marriage.”
What’s more, Janelle says that Retrouvaille offers more than just the weekend retreat to struggling couples. There are follow-up sessions available and the chance to connect with other couples who can offer support along the way.
“Just knowing that we know other couples who have been where we’re at and truly know what we are going through is comforting,” Janelle says. “These couples aren’t going to judge us. They aren’t going to tell us to just give up and get divorced. They are going to love and support us through the trials. It is so reassuring knowing we now have a ‘family’ of Retrouvaille!”
If you and your spouse are experiencing marital trouble, don’t give up! There is help and hope and healing for you! Look into Retrouvaille.
Twin Cities Retrouvaille weekends are held in Eagan six times each year. There are also branches in St. Cloud, Fargo, and Sioux Falls, as well as around the U.S. and the world.