Marriage Retreat: Find the Right One

Finding the Right Marriage Retreat for your troubled relationship might seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be.

Here's a quick guide with useful questions to ask to find one that fits both of your needs.

(1) Take Your Own "Relationship Inventory:

  • Are you a basically happy couple looking for marital enrichment?
  • Do you fight a lot and need to learn better ways to manage your differences?
  • Has coldness and distance crept in, so that you seldom have serious conversations that come from the heart?
  • Are you still affectionate?
  • Has your sexual intimacy evaporated? Have sexual problems crept in when you attempt to become intimate?
  • Have you tried marriage counseling in the past? Was it with a skilled couples therapist who used evidence-based treatment, or just someone on your "health insurance panel"?

The types of answers you'll give to these types of questions will determine whether you look for an "enrichment"-based group setting, skills-based training, someone with board-certification in sex therapy, or a professional who focuses on divorce prevention.

(2) Leave Time and Plan Ahead

Marriage Retreats shouldn't be the treatment of "last resort," but that's how many couples approach them. They often call up, desperate for the "soonest possible date." They are surprised to find that a senior marriage counselor running a Marriage Retreat are in high demand, and booked several months in advance.

Be realistic and determine to find the right marriage retreat, and wait for it. Call a "moratorium" on fighting or decisions about whether to stay together or get divorced, if you need to. Focus on getting the right help. A few more months will pale in comparison to getting the help you need.

(3) Be a Wise Consumer: Interview and Ask Questions.

You'll be putting your marriage in the hands of the professional running the marriage retreat. Ask to speak to them in person, and get answers to your most pressing questions. If you don't find these answers on their website, ask directly:

  • What professional license to you have? Clinical Psychologist? Marriage and Family Therapist? Licensed Clinical Social Worker? Licensed Mental Health Professional?
  • Are you licensed to practice your profession at an independent level? (This means they are no longer required to receive supervision under another professional's license.)
  • What training do you have as a marriage counselor?
  • Where did you get that training?
  • Is the approach you practice one of the several "evidence-based" models of couples therapy?

(4) Find Out How Many Days the Marriage Retreat Will Be.

  • How many days will we be spending at the retreat? How many doing psychotherapy? How many hours during each day will be spent actual doing couples psychotherapy?

Be a Team

(5) What Type of Preparations Are You Expected to Do Before You Arrive?

  • Do you interview each of us separately over the telephone? (This is important to be sure there is no ongoing physical violence that makes a marriage retreat unwise.)
  • Will we be completing an assessment of our relationship online or on paper?
  • Will you be speaking to our marriage counselor(s) past or present?

(6) Do You Provide Accommodations or Do We Locate Our Own?

  • If included, what percentage of our fee goes to food or lodging?
  • Can we secure our own accommodations if we choose to?
  • Do you have a list of places we can stay, if lodging isn't provided?

(7) Are you "Marriage Friendly"?

This is a term coined because so many therapists, because of their professional training, hold a “neutral” value orientation towards whether a marriage survives or whether the couple divorces. In one study, over 60% were "neutral" about whether couples stayed married or divorced. 2.4% actually said they frequently suggest divorce.

A large percentage of couples regret divorce when it's finalized. Scientific research finds that even couples well-suited to be married, go through periods when their marriages seem "hopeless." For this reason, the marriage counselor should be the last person in the room "suggesting" divorce. There is a registry of "marriage friendly therapists" that directly support the viability of troubled marriages. Find out if the person running your marriage retreat is one of them.

(8) Do You Hold Follow-ups after the Marriage Retreat is Over?

Your professional holding the marriage retreat will get to know you both very, very well. However, any marriage retreat held over 2, 3, or 4 days requires taking in and processing a lot of information. Not everything gets digested at the marriage retreat itself. Couples can sometimes struggle when they attempt to apply that information when they arrive home. Many professionals who hold marriage retreats offer online or in-person follow-ups, to solidify your learning and get you over the rough spots when you return home. Find out if the one you've investigating does so.

Invest Wisely in the Best Marriage Retreat You Can Find.

The costs of a private, one-to-one marriage retreat can run between $3,000 to $12,000+ per couple.
Group sessions can cost between $650-$5500.

But divorce is far more costly, not only financially, but emotionally as well. Take the time to find the best marriage retreat you can locate within your budget, and commit yourself to participating in it fully.

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