Sometimes it happens that with time, the beauty of being a couple disappears and the joy of love no longer shines. Perhaps the family has turned into a ‘company, in which the things to do are more important than the relationship between the spouses? Did he and she end up taking parallel paths, perhaps close together, but which never meet? Perhaps each of them is too focused on their own needs, rather than listening to those of the other? The causes that can send a couple into crisis can be different, some so insidious as to break the conjugal bond built up over many years. However, the way out of the tunnel exists and, if you want, you can rediscover the freshness of the past.
Ten years on, the experience “Paths of Light”, born from the willingness of some experienced couples to put themselves at the service of others, collects the first results. Rino Ventriglia -neurologist and psychotherapist – taking stock of the project, says that it all came from the dream of Annamaria and Danilo Zanzucchi, one of the first families to follow Chiara Lubich, and Renzo and Maria Rosa Bardi, to open a house in Loppiano for couples in need. A dream yet to be realized, but in the meantime “in 2009 with my wife Rita we made ourselves available together with another family of the Central Secretariat of New Families, Marina and Gianni Vegliach, to start a training program. Since then we have held two moments during the year that included a summer week in Loppiano, followed by a winter weekend. Already on that first occasion we witnessed “miracles” in the participating couples and this led us to assume that the road taken could be interesting. We experienced how important it is to start with us, first proposing our experience of darkness, to meet in the wounds.
Then the course was called “Pathways of light”. Already the following year some couples who had participated in 2009 came to offer their help. As time went by, the program was enriched with evenings of dancing, structured questions were thought of, real exercises that took their cue from the topic, role-playing games, reformulation techniques. “Now we try to give a lot of importance to these modalities to make the single couple work through dialogue”. – Continues Rita Della Valle, sexologist doctor. The proposed methodology contains some peculiarities and is able to give useful ideas to the formation of any couple, even if not deliberately “in crisis” and not only, but also to engaged and young couples. So, in collaboration with the secretariat of New Families and a specific commission, we are working on a “macro plan” with the intention of giving tools to the trainers and developing a format, nourished by empathy, active listening that rests on two pillars for training, the spiritual part and a psychological-relational part. For couples in difficulty, the technique consists in helping the participants to name the wounds that are found within the couple and support them by standing next to them when, painfully, these wounds are reopened for medication.
The increasing number of separations and divorces spurs those who accompany couples to acquire the necessary skills. Three key words “listen, recognize, walk together” were inspired in February 2017 at Benevento, an appointment for about fifty animators moved by the desire to deepen the art of helping couples in need.
This summer there were several “Paths of Light” including one in Pazin, Istria (Croatia); on that occasion a couple, who had participated in the course of 2017, after five years of separation told their own experience. Priests and workers were also present at the meeting to learn how to work. Other meetings were held in Dakovo (Slavonia – Croatia) on August 4-5, and in Totovo Selo (Serbia), on August 16-19, where couples, from Romania, Macedonia, Croatia, and Italy, also participated.
The experience of these years has led, in some cases, to real “miracles” of reconciliation and resolution in seemingly almost impossible situations. As the story of a couple who overcame the crisis, celebrating their twenty-five years of marriage during the meeting, shows: “With the coming into the world of the three children, life had become hectic: we had to follow them and there was little time left for us. We re-learned to take care of our relationship first of all, which is our first child. Participating was a gift, like a second honeymoon after that of twenty-five years ago in Turkey, it meant stopping and starting again.
Although life proposes new obstacles every day to overcome with fantasy and variety that sometimes surprise, you should never be discouraged. The experience of “Pathways of Light” shows that problems as a couple diminish when each of the spouses stops asking for love and decides to give it.