The Couples Retreat: How to Save a Marriage


Couple holding hands

I just finished another marriage retreat with a couple. I can’t tell you how satisfying it feels to work with a couple regarding their relationship problems and finish the weekend with everyone feeling like it made a significant difference.

No distractions

I know I’m biased but it’s really great to have to opportunity, and the privilege, to work with a couple for some concentrated time. I have heard again and again that it really helps to be able to get away from everyday stresses and concentrate on the relationship without distractions or other commitments. It helps people really focus on what’s important to them about their partners, helps them improve communication skills, helps them learn some new tools, and ultimately, can help them resolve their marriage problems.


Another benefit of couples retreats is that going away together gives the couple time to focus on their friendship–something which can be forgotten–whether that’s due to the busy-ness of life or the problems in the relationship. For many couples, being able to focus on building that connection during the day and in the evening reminds them why they like each other in the first place!


I don’t under-estimate the power of being able to really spend some uninterrupted time talking–both during the retreat–and in the evening. In some ways it seems strange to say that but I know practically speaking that life is busy, that we often don’t have the time or the energy to talk with our partners as much as we’d like to, or we don’t feel like the other person really wants to talk.

Opposites attract

I know that sometimes what most attracts people to one another can end up driving one another crazy! Those personality quirks and differences that we all have can be hard to live with, to accept, or even to understand. Does anything of this sound familiar?:

How can he drop his dirty clothes on the floor right near the clothes hamper?

Why does she have to make sure the chores are done before we can go out and have some fun?

How can he be so selfish and insist we stay out at a party ’til late when he knows I wanna go home?

Why does everything have to be decided? Can’t we just see how things go or do what we feel like?

It’s incredibly gratifying for me when couples walk away feeling like their differences are okay, that they can support the preferences or ways they each do things, and they really get their partner’s quirks.

Love languages

There is no right or wrong to the way we express our love to our partners. But the way we try to express our love can really resonate with our partner—or fall flat—depending on whether we’re speaking to them in a way that really fits for her or him. In my couple’s retreats, we may spend some time figuring out what specifically helps each person feel loved and talk about ways each could start–or continue–to do this. Lots of people report it’s really helpful to think about love languages so they can express their love in more meaningful ways to one another.

I’m starting this week with a smile on my face. How about you?

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