Beyond the crisis

The "Paths of Light" programme for couples who want to rebuild their relationship. From 15 to 22 August 2021 at Loppiano (FI).

It can happen in the life of a couple, that little by little the light goes out, they lose interest in each other, they feel lonely and anxious in a dark spiral of conflict and suffering that leads them to think separation is the only choice.

The programme “Pathways of Light” was created more than ten years ago to meet the needs of couples stuck in the difficulties of their relationship and is an answer to their suffering for many and a switch to turn the light back on. The course, organised by New Families, will be held at the Loreto International School for Families of the Focolare Movement at Loppiano (FI),and  is scheduled from 15 to 22 August 2021. It is aimed at married or cohabiting couples who want to rebuild and grow in their relationship.

The methodology of intervention is based on the integration of psychology, spirituality and experience, and is carried out by a qualified team of experienced professionals who are experts in couple therapy and in guiding couples; the participants openly share their life, have alternating moments of recreation, with personal and in depth talks that make the proposition valid and suitable for people of all creeds, married or cohabiting.

Beatrice and Paolo (fictitious names) tell how this light has been rekindled in their story, which was marked by incommunicability, infidelity and separation; of finding new ways of relating to each other and finally restarting their initial dream of life together.

“I dreamed of a perfect family, an open and sincere relationship. – says Beatrice. – When we got married, I was very much in love and so sure; then our two children arrived immediately and absorbed all my energy. Paolo, my husband, devoted the whole day to work and was no longer interested in what I was doing. I became more and more closed in on myself, and little by little everything fell apart.

“I thought she was no longer interested in our relationship,’ Paolo continues, ‘and this increased my negative judgement of her. I took my distance from this situation and began to think of our relationship as a Company where only practical things count. We couldn’t even tell each other we were angry anymore. We kept quiet, sulking, keeping negative thoughts and emotions inside. Then Beatrice left and everything that I felt I had built up over 25 years of marriage – a happy, fulfilled family, living peacefully – was gone. My pride led me to think that I had done nothing wrong and that it was all her fault.

“I needed someone to stand by me, but Paolo couldn’t do this. I met an old friend of mine, with whom I could talk about what I was going through. And our friendship became something more…”.

The experience of “Paths of Light” for Paolo and Beatrice came a bit by chance. A final attempt to understand if they could still be together. “Knowing couples like us, with our difficulties, who had been able to get back on the road, gave us the freedom to admit that things were not going well, but that there might be a chance to start again.

During the course, the couple resumed talking, saying things to each other that had not been said for some time, not without outbursts of anger, stifled inside for years. “One morning I found Beatrice in the kitchen, sitting on the floor, crying. Something shifted in me: I could not leave her there, suffering alone: I felt I was the injured party, but I also had my responsibilities towards her and had made mistakes. I simply went near to her, bent down and hugged her, helping her up, I said: ‘Come on…let’s join the others at the Pathways of Light.

“That gesture, at that moment, that bending down to ‘pick me up’, changed something,” says Beatrice. – The situation, the difficulties, were the same, but I saw a glimmer of light. That gesture, which couldn’t erase all the evil we had done to each other, was the first step together on a new path. Starting over is never easy, and we often fall and stumble, Beatrice admits. “I still find it hard to share with Paolo what I have inside, because we are so different in many ways, and this scares me. But I’m learning that we can build something beautiful from our differences.

“Each of us carries unhealed wounds from the past into our adult lives that can ruin even the most beautiful relationships, – explains Paolo. – The only way to heal the wounds and what they can produce in a couple is not to pretend nothing is wrong and move on at any cost, even if it seems the easiest thing to do, but be ready to share what is happening.: forgiving is not about burying what has happened, but it`s about reciprocally giving and starting again on a new path, day by day.

Giovanna Pieroni

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