Couples therapy 2.0.
Stephanie Gilman gives her husband the silent treatment.
Some people say that the first couple of years of marriage are the most difficult. While I’m not sure that this statement rings true for all couples, my marriage was certainly put to the test very early on. It was two months before our first wedding anniversary that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And although many newlyweds face all sorts of challenges, I’d say that our circumstance was a bit extraordinary. If you really want to see what your relationship is made of, throw a little cancer into the mix and you’ll figure it out fairly quickly.
Luckily for me, my husband stuck by me through it all: He slept on the floor next to my bed in the hospital, brought me Popsicles during chemo treatments, emptied fluid from my surgical drains and attempted to soothe me when I was in agonizing pain or panicking that I wouldn’t live to see my next birthday. Although this unique experience bonded us in a way that most young couples will never know, it also saddled us with a lot of extra stress and unease about the future. We had truly been through a war together, and now we were searching to bring a bit of clarity and calm to our relationship.
It was with this goal in mind that we decided to sign up for a retreat at the Dharma Centre, a facility nestled in the woods of Kinmount, Ont., that offers various spiritual retreats. Our program was entitled “Mindfulness, Change and Living With Purpose,” which seemed incredibly fitting. Mindfulness, the act of being in the present moment, is something neither one of us has ever been particularly good at. Let’s just say that when you hear descriptors like “peaceful,” “meditative” and “Buddha-like,” you do not think of us. But we decided to dive right into it, with open minds and hearts, hoping that maybe we would find some solace and guidance.
Admittedly, we had preconceived notions about what kind of people typically embark on a mindfulness retreat