You can wait for your marriage to be on the outs before working on it. Or you can be proactive and work to keep it growing and evolving. Luckily, there is no shortage of help available from traditional weekly therapy to a marriage retreat intensive weekend.
How you go about working on your marriage might depend on the reason why you want or need to work on it.
If couples only realized the effect and power of timing, they probably wouldn’t wait so long to seek professional help with their marriages.
Sadly, most couples wait for an average of six years from the onset of marital problems before seeking help. And often, at that point, timing isn’t just influential; it’s critical.
Traditional marriage or couples counseling certainly has its place and benefits. But many couples seeking help don’t realize they have other options — options that could accelerate their results and save their marriage from the damage of destructive emotions and patterns.
Enter the marriage retreat intensive weekend — a format that packs a lot of therapy and results into a few days.
Whether you are motivated by prevention, growth, or repair, the marriage retreat intensive can provide a powerful resurgence to your relationship. And if your marriage is in crisis, the concentrated learning curve of the intensive weekend can be relationship-saving.
If you and your spouse are considering a marriage retreat intensive weekend, there are some things you should know first.
Why do you want to go?
Knowing why you want to attend a marriage retreat intensive is critical to making your plans and getting the most out of your time.
Is your marriage in crisis?
Have you waited a long time to deal with issues that have taken their toll on your relationship?
Has there been infidelity?
Is one of you committed to the marriage while the other is on the fence? Have you tried traditional therapy but feel the results are slow in showing up?
Or do you want to nurture your relationship and learn practical communication skills to make your marriage all it can be?
This question may easily answer itself, but it is essential for both you and your therapy team to know the answer.
Escaping from your routine.
One distinguishing difference between traditional couples counseling and a marriage retreat intensive weekend is the escape from your normal routine.
Traditional therapy is usually done for an hour every week or so. You get a small dose of treatment to deal with a big dose of reality. One hour out of 168 doesn’t provide high odds. Usually, you will leave the therapist’s office and go right back into the chaos of daily life.
At a marriage retreat intensive, you leave behind the daily chaos so you can focus solely on your relationship. You will have time to discuss your issues, learn effective ways of resolving or managing them without racing the clock.
You will also have the time to practice what you learn under the mentorship of professionals, which cements in the learning right away.
Is there immediate availability?
If your marriage is in crisis mode, you may need a marriage retreat intensive immediately.
Some retreats host several couples at the same time, and their therapy is structured so that participants benefit from the group dynamic. These retreats will usually require advance registration.
If you need immediate intervention, you may do better with a private intensive weekend. You will have the full, undivided attention of your therapist team, and you will have complete privacy and confidentiality. Just as importantly, you will have a better chance of getting in on short notice.
Group or private?
Depending on your reason for going on a marriage retreat, the group format can be extremely beneficial. Everyone benefits from knowing “I’m not alone.”
By sharing in a group setting, you have the chance to receive insight and experience from others traveling the same path as you. Marriage is hard work, and knowing that many of its struggles are familiar to everyone can be a big relief.
Of course, by nature, some people are private and would feel uncomfortable talking about their relationship in the presence of a small group. If this is you, or if your relationship issues are extremely sensitive, you would find a private marriage retreat intensive more comfortable.
One therapist or two?
If you have been going to traditional therapy, even marriage therapy, you are probably used to sitting with one therapist. In the marriage retreat intensive format, you may have the benefit of a couple serving as your therapist team.
Think of the comfort that comes from not worrying that one of you will be ganged up on by a “gender majority.” And think about the balance in insight that comes from having a husband-wife team helping you navigate the toughest marital issues.
If you have a therapist team, you will also benefit from watching and hearing how those partners communicate and resolve differences. You essentially have the opportunity to learn exponentially…and by osmosis.
Your marriage, not either of you, will be the focus.
Excellent couples therapists know there is a third entity that trumps the two people who show up for therapy: the marriage itself.
You and your spouse will have a safe place to bare your souls and grapple with painful issues. Your therapist(s) will be listening and responding with the greater good of your marriage in mind. Remember that this is why you are attending a marriage intensive weekend in the first place — to focus on your marriage, and how to satisfy your individual desires and needs within the context of your marriage.
7. Your marriage needs focus and attention more than you realize.
A marriage retreat is life-changing. You will rediscover why you fell in love in the first place. You will have the chance to jump into the issues that may have challenged that love. And you will learn and practice skills to effectively work your way out of them.
Beautiful locations are often an added bonus of the marriage retreat intensive weekend. Consider it a vacation for your marriage.
There is no more significant commitment than marriage and family. Marriage shapes your life. It defines purpose and choices. It challenges. And it offers a path of becoming the best person you can be. Smart couples recognize the value of protecting and maximizing the success of their most valuable asset.
Something as significant and crucial to happiness as marriage deserves the focus and devotion that will protect and help it thrive over the long haul.
A marriage retreat intensive weekend is a unique opportunity to take a giant leap for your marriage.