Cou­ples ther­apy 2.0.

Stephanie Gil­man gives her hus­band the silent treat­ment.

ELLE (Canada) - - Elle - By Stephanie Gil­man

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

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