Lifelong Formation

Strengthening Your Marriage

In the apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of Love”, Pope Francis writes, “Marital joy can be experienced even amid sorrow; it involves accepting that marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship, which inspires married couples to care for one another: ‘they help and serve each other.’”

Just as Pope Francis encourages married couples to cultivate the joy of love, the Office of Lifelong Formation supports married couples on their path to holiness through resources and programs. A marriage needs constant renewal and support. This can be done in simple and spontaneous ways, or it can involve more structured and long-term planning. Marriage education and enrichment is key to a healthy marriage. Catholic Marriage programs and resources strengthen relationships and communication. Please see below for suggested resources:

  • World Wide Marriage Encounter is a weekend retreat for married Christian couples who value their relationship and desire a richer and fuller life together. For information on experiences in the Chicagoland, NE Illinois and NW Indiana areas, click here.
  • Retrouvaille is a structured program designed to help married couples learn communication skills in order to restore their marriage and rebuild a loving relationship. A team consisting of three married couples and a priest or pastor couple guides participants by sharing their own stories of struggle, reconciliation and healing, and the tools they used to rediscover their love. Retrouvaille is not marriage counseling and does not include couples' mediation. The facilitators are volunteers who have experienced disillusionment, pain, anger, and conflict in their own marriages.
  • For Your Marriage offers practical help and advice for couples who are seriously dating, engaged or at any stage of married life. Information on Catholic ceremonies (including music, readings and marrying a non-Catholic) are available on this site. Please visit the home page for daily tips, book reviews and blogs written by married couples.
  • Marriage and Family Life Ministries has information on the Church's teaching regarding marriage and family; resources for engaged couples and marriage at every stage; encouragement for living family life as a domestic church; and news of ongoing initiatives of the USCCB that support and promote marriage and family life.

Help for Troubled Marriages
It is normal for the “honeymoon phase” of a marriage to fade as time goes on. Many couples will work through an adjustment period during the first few months of marriage and knowing when conditions are more serious than traditional issues is crucial. Issues can arise at any point of marriage, regardless of the length of time, and it’s important that they are addressed and recognized as soon as possible.

The following methods and resources can help identify and resolve marriage problems:

  • Meet with a mentor couple or receive support from others who have gone through similar situations and worked through issues/conflict.
  • Schedule an appointment with a marriage counselor.
  • Enroll and participate in marriage education classes.

Marriage Counseling
You can schedule an appointment with a marriage counselor by talking to your parish priest or deacon, or by calling The Holbrook Center at Catholic Charities at 312.655.7725. In addition, marriage counseling resources are available via:

  • Catholic Therapists, whichmaintains a list of counselors who understand Catholic teaching on the permanence of marriage and can help couples work toward saving their marriage.
  • Dr. Bill Doherty, a leader in the marriage field who maintains a national registry of marriage counselors who believe marriage is an important personal, professional, and social value.

If you are seeing a lay counselor, be upfront with them and tell them you are looking for someone who also supports Catholic values. If you live outside of Chicago, your local parish, Catholic charities and many Family Life Offices maintain a list of counselors who are Catholic and understand the importance of living a faithful life.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline at 800.799.7233 or 800.787.3224 TTY. Visit for more information.