Marital separation and dating
“Some are even divorced,” report Roger and Pat Bate, the international coordinating couple.
Retrouvaille consists of a weekend and six follow-up sessions led by peer couples whose own marriages have recovered from serious trauma.
Left alone, the marriage will probably not make it. “If you only have one friend who says, ‘I think you guys are going to make it,’ even one friend giving you that hope, it is light in a dark place,” says Dwight Bain, a licensed mental health counselor and certified family law mediator.
A couple who is left alone through a separation “is the saddest thing ever,” says Williams, who with husband Joe founded “Reconciling God’s Way,” a phenomenally successful program for those who are separated.
Churches can work with one or both members of the couple individually, or hold classes where men and women sit on different sides of the room so that those without a willing spouse are comfortable attending. “It is hopelessness that things will ever be different, that we will ever find what we’re looking for in this relationship.
How then do we help couples through the mire of marital breakdown? Then what feeds the hopelessness [in a separation] is you become more and more isolated, more and more alone.
People get separated out of frustration; the divorce becomes final out of hopelessness.” And that’s where friends, pastors and counselors fit in.
With proper treatment, there is a good chance of recovery.
“At least 50 percent of the time,” they report, “when a couple separates, only one person is interested in working on it.” Consequently, one advantage of Reconciling God’s Way is one member of the couple can do it alone, and they can begin immediately. Harley and a specialist in infidelity counseling, sums up the reason for divorce in one word.
The program stresses having an accountability partner of the same gender while working through a workbook. “When it’s all boiled down,” he says, “the fact is that divorce is caused by hopelessness.” Roger Shepherd, a licensed mental health counselor specializing in marriage and family counseling, agrees.
What bothers me,” Shepherd continues, “is that when people don’t know what to do, they don’t get involved.
It’s just like, even when people are grieving the loss of a loved one, people don’t know what to do, so they tend to stay distant.
You find fewer and fewer places where you feel comfortable.” “And if the only place you can find hope is in a singles class,” adds Michelle Williams, “where you’re meeting people who tell you, ‘Look, you’re going to be OK.