Can you save your marriage in a weekend?

Friday: Marriage in crisis. Saturday: Attend couples workshops. Sunday: Back in love.

Bill and Marlene Palmer were miserable in their marriage. Years of resentment and bitterness had built to the point where the couple could barely stand one another. Marlene was frustrated by Bill’s inability to share his feelings and his lack of effort in making her feel special. Bill, in turn, was sick of Marlene’s nagging and criticism. Sex had dwindled to once every few months.

“I had gone for years without any sort of emotional connection with him, and we just lived on the surface,” says Marlene. “Everything he said grated on my nerves. As a result, there was always judgment - I felt he neglected me, and in return I demeaned him.” The only thing holding them together was their three sons. But even that parenting bond risked being ripped apart when Marlene discovered Bill was having an affair. Divorce seemed inevitable.

As a last-ditch effort to salvage their marriage, the Palmers (whose names have been changed) signed up for a marriage retreat with Grace Cirocco, a relationship coach based in St. Catharines, Ont., who has led more than 1,000 couples through her Relationship Renewal Retreat. She says her retreat is the equivalent of 12 months of traditional marriage counselling, and claims an 80 percent success rate at keeping couples together.

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