Ethics & Religion
January 10, 2018
To Save Marriages In Crisis
By Mike McManus
January is the worst divorce month of the year. All defer filing over
Half of America's marriages have ended in divorce since 1975. Children
of divorce are
three times more likely to be expelled from school or to have a baby out
of wedlock as are teens from intact homes, are five times more apt to
live in poverty, six times more likely to commit suicide, and 12 times
more apt to be incarcerated.
Those who marry a second time have a 70% chance of a second divorce.
Most pastors send couples in crisis to a Christian counselor. However.
most couples are not helped. Therefore, Michele Weiner Davis helped
create an alternative, a "two-day intensive" in which a therapist meets
with a couple from 9 am till 4 pm over two days allowing ample time to
explore issues in depth.
This enables couples to consider their goals for their relationship and
concrete steps to stop fighting and achieve more love and connection. "A
portion of the sessions is devoted to teaching couples relevant
relationship skills," says Ms. Davis.
Many of these couples are at a crossroads with one spouse considering
divorce. They are encouraged to shift from blame over what's going wrong
- such as arguments or sarcasm - to look for how to have argument-free
days, parenting differences handled collaboratively and positive actions
that are encouraging.
The cost of two-day intensive couple therapy varies from $1,200 to
$5,000 depending on the location and the therapist. For more
information, go to www.AAMFT.org.
Fortunately, there is an alternative two-day intervention that is much
less expensive called Retrouvaille, a French word for Rediscovery. It is
a weekend retreat led by three couples whose own marriages nearly
failed. They tell their stories of recovery and are walking parables of
hope. After a talk, they put the men in one room, women in another, and
ask them to write for ten minutes on an assigned topic, such as "What do
I have difficulty talking to you about?"
Husbands then meet with their wives, read what each other has written,
and respond to each other in private. Then then return to hear another
Lead Couple who tells their story, and write to each other on another
assigned topic. By Sunday afternoon, couples arms are all around each
Nearly 200,000 couples have attended Retrouvaille (800 470-2230). About
75% of couples save their marriage.
President George W. Bush described Retrouvaille in 2002: "There are
programs for couples with serious problems - alcoholism, infidelity or
gambling. Trained mentor couples who have experienced severe marital
problems themselves teach other couple how to repair their marriages.
Using this approach one national program reports being able to save up
to 70% of any troubled marriages."
Twenty years ago, Rita was so disgusted with Tony that she filed for
divorce. However, her daughters were devastated. About that time she
heard of Retrouvaille, which she attended with Tony. "We did not know
what to expect," she told some couples in Macomb County, outside of
"As the weekend unfolded, the presenting couples shared personal
experiences about problems they once had in their marriages, and how
they were overcome."
Tony recalled, "We found we were not alone in having a struggling
marriage. We began to see hope. The couples were so honest and caring.
It was good for all of us."
They not only saved their marriage, but were inspired to become a
presenting couple. "It was an opportunity to not only continue to heal
our marriage and to help save marriages of other couples. Our personal
struggle involved a great deal of perseverance and love. We learned that
love is a decision - not a feeling," Tony recalled.
He noted that in a recent year there were 34,500 divorces in Michigan,
and only 59,000 marriage, a divorce rate of 60 percent, making Michigan
the most divorce-prone state in the Midwest.
However, 4,200 couples on the edge of divorce, have attended
Retrouvaille in Detroit. "Result? Eighty percent are still together!"
proudly proclaimed Mark Squier, who organized Retrouvaille with his
wife, Betty, in 1981.
"How do you know that?" I asked.
In the last ten years, volunteers have called up couples and asked them
how they were doing? Eight out of 10 couple were still together.
Therefore, I urge couples in crisis to go to
retrouvaille.org and look
for weekend retreats that will be held in your area. The cost: Each
couple is asked to make a donation to help cover costs. This one
donation covers all weekend expenses, including hotel and meals, and
There is no better way to save a marriage in crisis.
Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and
a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to
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