Hope For a Troubled Marriage: Dear Abby

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Dear Abbey

"DEAR ABBY: What do you think of marriages where the husband and wife merely tolerate each other and have little emotional connection? In our situation, my wife seems to accept that our marriage "just is," but I feel that marriage should offer more.

I would press for a divorce except for the fear of making matters worse. In this case, no children are involved. It's doubtful that counseling would change a thing. Do we just stick it out after 25 years of marriage? -- LOVELESS IN GEORGIA

DEAR LOVELESS: Marriages in which the spouses "merely tolerate each other with little emotional connection" are called marriages of convenience. I'm sad to say they are not uncommon. Some couples who have drifted apart have been able to reconnect through a program called Retrouvaille, which began in 1977 in Canada. Although it is Catholic in origin and orientation, it is open to all married couples regardless of their religion.

I have mentioned Retrouvaille in my column before. It consists of a weekend, plus a series of 12 presentations that take place over the following three months. The program is run by three married couples and a priest. The "team couples," all of whom have experienced disillusionment, pain and anger in their own marriages, share their personal struggles, reconciliation and healing.

Before you decide whether to continue living in an emotional desert or chuck the marriage entirely, ask your wife to attend a Retrouvaille weekend with you. It might be the spark you need to get your relationship going again, and it has worked for many other couples. For information on programs in your area, call toll-free 1-800-470-2230 or visitwww.retrouvaille.org or www.helpourmarriage.com 

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069."