7 Questions To Ask Yourselves Before Going On A Couples' Marriage Retreat

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What You Need To Know Before Attending A Couples' Retreat Or Marriage Retreat To Help You Build Your Relationship & Get Closer As A Couple

If you and your spouse are considering marriage counseling or need relationship advice, you may want to consider a couples' retreat.

But what do you need to know about a marriage retreat before signing up for one — and then how do you know which one is right for you?

RELATED: 5 Things That Really Happen During A Couples Retreat

If you're suffering from relationship issues, 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. And you can choose from a number of ways to get help, from traditional therapy to a marriage retreat intensive weekend.

How you go about working on your marriage might just start with why you want or need to work on it.

If couples only realized the effect and power of timing, I’m convinced they wouldn’t wait so long to seek professional help with their marriages.

Sadly, most couples wait 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.

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 thinking about going on a marriage retreat, here's what you should know first:

1. Why are you going on the retreat?

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 simply want to nurture your relationship and learn effective 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.

2. Will this help you escape from your routine?

The most distinguishing difference between traditional couples counseling and the marriage retreat intensive format is the escape from your normal routine.

Traditional therapy is usually done for an hour every week or so. You therefore get a small dose of therapy to deal with a big dose of reality. One hour out of 168 doesn’t provide great odds. And chances are you will walk out of the therapist’s office right back into the chaos of daily life.

At a marriage retreat intensive, you are removed from that chaos so you can focus only on your relationship. You won’t be rushed through your issues. You will have time to discuss them and learn effective ways of dealing with them.

You will also have the time to practice what you learn under the mentorship of professionals — an important difference between the two formats.

3. Is there immediate availability at the couples' retreat?

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.

RELATED: Why Going On A 'Relationship Retreat' With Your Partner Might Be The Secret To Lasting Love

4. Should you do a group or private retreat?

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 common to everyone can be a big relief.

On the other hand, there are times when privacy is warranted. If someone is a celebrity or prominent social figure, a group setting could divert attention from the work at hand. It could also be uncomfortable for the person who is already so exposed to the public.

Likewise, if the nature of your issues is extremely sensitive, you may do better in a private marriage retreat intensive.

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5. Should you involve more than one therapist?

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.

6. How can you make your marriage 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. But 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, not your individual desires and needs.

7. How committed are you and your spouse to your relationship?

Attending a marriage retreat, whether as an intensive or in a longer format, 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.

And the added bonus is that marriage retreats are often held in beautiful locations. Consider it a vacation for your marriage.

There is no greater commitment than that of marriage and family. Jobs come and go and rarely have your best interest at heart. Houses, cars, and assets are, in the big picture, “just stuff.”

But marriage shapes life. It defines purpose and choices. It challenges. And it offers a path to healing.

Something that big, that life-changing and important, deserves attention that will protect it and help it thrive.

A marriage retreat intensive weekend is a unique opportunity to take one small step for you and your spouse ... and one giant leap for your marriage.

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Dr. Jerry Duberstein is a couples' therapist and his partner, Mary Ellen Goggin, is a relationship guide. They offer private couples' retreats, couples' counseling and coaching (telephone, Skype, or in-person) in the quaint seaport, Portsmouth, NH. To learn more schedule a half-hour complimentary consultation.

This article was originally published at Free and Connected. Reprinted with permission from the author.