BreakThrough workshop offers hope for embattled marriages


Couples were inspired with strategies for a way forward at the recent BreakThrough Workshop held at Pennant Hills.

People in stressed or lack-lustre marriages have applauded new workshops which offer hope and a clear way forward to a fresh start.

The three-hour long SmartLoving BreakThrough workshop has been held by the Marriage Resource Centre in various locations across Sydney since its launch earlier this year.

Participants have unanimously praised the simple, practical tools offered to help couples and individuals to realise the full, loving potential of their marriages.

Said one, “We were definitely at gridlock in our marriage before coming here, but I do have some skills now and feel positive and peaceful”.

Another participant at a workshop held at St Agatha’s Catholic parish in Pennant Hills this month said she appreciated gaining skills “to help improve my relationship with my husband, especially during times of conflict”.

Conflict and hurt feelings are normal aspects of married life but what isn’t – or need not be normal – is remaining gridlocked in stale and unhelpful patterns of relating, say Francine and Byron Pirola, who run the workshops in Sydney.

“The workshop is not about resolving disputes. Rather, it helps participants understand the dynamic of their relationship and the emotional needs that are driving their arguments, so that they can resolve their internal distress. Then, they are in a better space to address the relationship conflicts with confidence and calm.”

The couple, who run the workshops with a popular mix of humour and insight, have been working with marriages for more than 20 years and base them on current research and Catholic theology.

They are the co-authors of the SmartLoving Engaged and Marriage courses for couples.

They launched the BreakThrough workshop after observing a need for an easily-accessible platform for people needing intervention to break through a cycle of negativity in their marriage, or people in stable marriages who nonetheless feel some disconnection with their spouse.

Participants may attend with their spouse or alone. They are invited to examine the argument patterns in their relationship, their own dominant emotions and needs, and are offered practical strategies to build their relational resilience.

There is no group or spouse sharing. Each workshop consists of a series of short inputs on topics such as argument patterns including how an argument escalates, emotions and needs, forgiveness and practical strategies for getting forward momentum in the relationship. Participants are given time to reflect on the material through the use of inventories and questionnaires on each topic.

The feedback has been extremely positive. One participant is grateful for the “structured approach to deal with conflict and move to a more positive relationship” with his wife.

Another praised the workshop, “I don’t have time to read self-help books. After 15 years of marriage, I could identify with everything said today. I feel great hope (going forwards).”

For more information or for upcoming BreakThrough workshops dates and locations, visit or 02 9319 6280.

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  1. jas on October 16, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    “Conflict and hurt feelings are normal aspects of married life but what isn’t – or need not be normal – is remaining gridlocked in stale and unhelpful patterns of relating” This is the lines from which I inspired most thanks that was great to know.

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