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Six Reasons Why Marriage Retreats & Intensive Couples Therapy Succeed

(When Regular Couples Therapy Fails)

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

Our award-winning Connections™ program of marriage retreats and couples therapy intensives has national recognition and is ranked the #1 marriage intensive retreat in the State of Florida. We have conducted over 70 weekend retreats over the past 2½ years. With experience, we continue to learn more effective ways to help couples in distress. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to all of the courageous couples who have taught us so much about trust, vulnerability, taking risks, and the power of love.

In this article we will discuss:

  • The six reasons why marriage retreats and couples therapy intensives achieve positive outcomes when other types of couples therapy fail;
  • The types of relationship distress addressed in marriage retreats and intensives; and
  • The six goals of couples therapy intensives and marriage retreats.

Six Reasons Why Marriage Retreats & Intensive Couples Therapy Succeed

Traditionally, marriage counseling sessions are scheduled only once a week, or every other week. Sessions generally run for about an hour or two in length. Marriage retreats and couples therapy intensives are more effective because so much more can be accomplished over 2-3 days. It normally takes about 4-6 months of regular weekly couples therapy sessions to accomplish the same goals. The unique program components in marriage retreats and intensives result in a deeper understanding of relationship distress and toxic patterns – and a deeper understanding and appreciation of your partner and yourself.

Most couples tell us that they learn much more, and feel more hopeful after one couples retreat than after months or years of traditional therapy. Here are the six reasons why retreats and intensives are so successful:

1. Full achievement of couples therapy goals – Couples complete an entire program of intensive couples therapy in 2-3 days (or in our Brief Intensive Couples Therapy package for local couples, the program is one full day and includes six 90-minute follow-up sessions). Research shows that most couples in traditional therapy do not complete a full course of couples or marriage counseling. The drop-out rate is high – often after only 2 or 3 sessions. Their goals for therapy remain unmet. The most important goals of couples counseling can be met during a weekend retreat.

2. More benefits in a comprehensive program – During couples retreats, a comprehensive program is completed – one that provides a deeper understanding of distressing relationship patterns. Couples learn to use tools to create a successful and loving partnership, and they feel more closely connected and intimate after just one weekend intensive.

3. Emotionally corrective experiences (re-connection) – Research studies prove that human beings are capable of meaningful change only when there is significant emotional investment and connection. During retreats and intensives, couples are guided through a series of emotionally corrective conversations – leading to loving and empathic re-connection.

4. A New Depth of understanding – The intensive aspect of couples retreats provides a depth of understanding rarely achieved in traditional couples therapy. Specific exercises during couples retreats deepen understanding and compassion for one’s self, one’s partner, and for the relationship itself.

5. Relationship commitment – The very act of signing up for a couples retreat is a type of commitment to the relationship and the process of healing and repair. In our experience, couples who enroll in this type of intensive couples therapy demonstrate more commitment to follow through and apply new skills than they do after traditional couples therapy.

6. Answers, tools, and a new start – Couples usually come to us with momentous questions and concerns about their relationship and how to create change. Marriage retreats and intensives are designed to provide specific answers to these matters. And our program provides the necessary tools for dealing with communication problems, handling conflict, and creating intimacy. Most couples who complete intensive couples therapy say this is a fresh new start that brings them hope and positive direction.

Types of Relationship Distress Addressed in Marriage Retreats and Intensives

  • The most common problems addressed in couples retreats and intensives include:
  • Conflict, fighting, anger, blame, and power struggles
  • Lack of intimacy, disconnection, shutting down and distance
  • Complaints, criticism, defensiveness, and “stonewalling”
  • Communication problems
  • Infidelity and affairs (including porn addiction)
  • Parenting problems with children and step-children
  • Trust issues and insecurity

Six Goals of Couples Retreats and Intensives

The primary goal of couples retreats and intensives is a relationship based in trust, secure loving connection, and partnership. Both partners feel their basic relationship needs are being met. Specific goals include:

  • Intimacy – Improved closeness, connection and affection, physically and emotionally.
  • Security and trust – The foundation of trust and safety in any relationship is built on the deep emotional connection that results in partners who feel they can truly count on each other. They can depend on each other to be there, to be responsive to their needs, and to feel valued, appreciated and accepted.
  • Communication – Ability to communicate feelings, concerns, and needs productively and with empathy and compassion. This includes listening skills with the ability to hear not only the words, but the underlying feelings and needs. Listening and hearing without judgment or reactivity.
  • Partnership & conflict resolution – Learning to work together as a team, with negotiation and compromise – along with genuine interest in the each-other’s welfare, the relationship, and the family.
  • Compassion and empathy – Non-judgmental acceptance, emotional support and positive regard. This is the basis for learning how to create or resume a deep and abiding friendship. * Family harmony – Improved cooperation and partnership in co-parenting children and step-children. Creating a more loving and harmonious family environment.

For more information about our Connections program of marriage retreats and couples therapy intensives please contact us today. All couples who enroll in our Connections program receive 2 copies of our popular Workbook for Couples, which is also available for purchase separately through our web site. The following links provide additional information: