WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Marriage course helps couples stay off the rocks


Robyn O’Neil
3 May 2011

Seasons 4 Couples is a weekend course for married couples who have been through a major change in their lives. This change may have been life-changing, or it may be slowly bubbling away invading all parts of a couple’s life. The course offers time out to reflect on the change that has happened and to look for ways to survive it and to move forward in a positive direction.  Robyn and Stephen O’Neil attended the Seasons4Couples course three years ago and share their story here.

We were directed to this course by my mother-in-law. At first, I was sceptical because it was offered by the Catholic Church and I’m not Catholic although my husband is. Also I was nervous about discussing our problems with strangers.

I had suffered severe endometriosis for 25 years. Six miscarriages and two operations later we realised that we could not have the children we had so dearly longed for.

As a result we were fighting a lot and were both angry and resentful with ourselves and each other because life and our marriage were turning out so differently from what we’d planned.

altAs we shared with other couples how we came to be here, we realised the most important gift offered by this course was the chance to be with people who truly understood, despite our stories being different, what it felt like to be isolated, angry and frustrated by an inability to adapt to massive changes outside our control.

I soon realised that this was going to be a practical, hands-on course. Our facilitators were walking and dealing with their own issues alongside us, rather than telling us how it should be and what we should be doing.

The basic premise of this course is not new or something that you don’t inherently know. However, the format and exercises encourage sharing between you as a couple and, if you choose, with the entire group. We found that listening to others’ stories often gave us clues and suggestions for how we might be able to change the way we related to each other and dealt with issues.

We are so glad we decided to do this course because it gave us the tools to save and rebuild our marriage. Yes, we did separate for three months after the course – but this was a positive move to rebuild my independence and renegotiate the terms of our marriage. And, yes, we are still married very happily now with our own home and my health restored after a full hysterectomy two years ago.

The other amazing gift of the course … we made friends with all the other couples meeting every season to reconnect. Life still throws up changes that are sometimes devastating, but we know that we have friends who truly understand and support us unconditionally.