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Faith can make your marriage stronger

Even in the best of times, there are lots of things that place stress on marriages: pressures related to work and careers, the challenges of raising children, responsibilities associated with caring for aging parents and other issues related to extended family are but a few that come to mind. With the current sluggish economy, that usual list of stressors is being compounded by nagging worries about financial and job stability, heightened concerns about financial security in retirement and the more general fears associated with a fiscal climate rife with downsizing and foreclosures. Some couples feel as though they have been caught in a whirlpool of conflicting currents that are slowly, inexorably pulling their marriages apart. Even couples who at one time felt they had relatively solid marriages are finding themselves subject to these forces. Even the stress associated with holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas takes its toll.

Faith-based programs like Retrouvaille (pronounced ret-roh-vie) can be a definite help to couples who are being torn apart by a strained marriage. Retrouvaille, which in French means “rediscovery,” provides couples who are experiencing marital difficulty the opportunity and the skills to re-establish communication with one another, thereby creating a pathway for healing to take place with the assistance of God’s grace. After experiencing marital difficulties of their own, Allan and Teresa Sanfilippo Wilcox sought and found help through Retrouvaille. Not only did Retrouvaille provide a means of helping them restore their marriage, but it now has become a focus for both of them to assist other couples in rebuilding their relationships. You can read more about Allan and Teresa in this issue, and you can go to www.retrouvaille.org for more information and to register for a weekend in our area.

Not every couple finds themselves experiencing difficulties. Some may have entered a period of “blahs,” when the excitement that was a part of the first years of marriage has been replaced by the repetitive patterns of work and family life. Other couples feel as though their marriages are basically on solid ground but hope for more. Programs like Marriage Encounter offer couples the opportunity to take time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and responsibilities to spend time focusing on the most important people in their lives: one another. The bishops of the United States also have a terrific pair of websites designed to offer daily encouragement and tips for happy, healthy marriages. Their English-language site can be found at www.foryourmarriage.org, while its Spanish-language counterpart is found at www.portumatrimonio.org. Both sites offer an up-to-date, rich and diverse variety of resources for both engaged and married couples.

As we enter into the beautiful weeks of Advent, I pray that all married couples might find and make use of resources like Retrouvaille, Marriage Encounter and many other faith-filled tools to bring about the healing, the deepened love and the joy that are all a part of these weeks leading us to Christmas. And so our journey in FAITH continues.