Marriage retreats give couples the chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Removed from the stresses of children, careers, and housework, couples get the opportunity to work on themselves. At some marriage counseling retreats, couples get to spend time in individualized couples therapy as well as group therapy. At other marriage retreats, however, therapy may not be such a prominent part of the program, and instead, couples will get to engage in exercises and activities that help them strengthen their marital bonds. These retreats can be useful for couples in all stages of marriage. While some couples wait until they are on the brink of divorce to attend a retreat, others sign up for a retreat to prepare for marriage. Still, others start to look for retreats when they first feel that their relationships are getting a little rocky. You should consider for your children that if they and their future spouse experience parental divorce, their own odds of divorce nearly triple.
1) Marriage Quest
Phone: 802-563-3063 Location: Cabot, Vermont
Marriage Quest has been offering private marriage retreats in Vermont for over twenty five years. One of the best programs available today, Marriage Quest is run by Dr. Israel Helfand and his wife Cathie Helfand. Before offering retreats, this couple ran a family therapy office working as a couple with one couple at a time since 1983. Their marriage retreats are located on their picturesque Vermont farmstead. At the retreat, they address a range of issues from crisis intervention which may include the question of divorce to marital enhancement which may include emotional intimacy and sexual fulfillment goals. The Helfands try to ensure neither partner ever feels ganged up on during a session while maintaining a focus on healing and growth instead of what’s wrong with their relationship. This unique approach is further solidified by Israel’s many years of experience as a sex therapist. While some retreats might shy away from the subject, Marriage Quest considers sex to be “the biggest prognostic tool in marriage.” Israel and Cathie believe that if there was an attraction in the beginning, it can always be rekindled, even after years of disconnect. Their retreats are with just the two of them and one couple at a time (not a group program). Pictured below: Cathie and Israel Helfand.
Related Article: How Much Does Marriage Counseling Cost?
2) Marriage Retreats with John Grey
Phone: 707-536-5781 Locations: Sonoma County, California
Marriage Retreats with John Grey offer more than just talking. John focuses on giving couples the tools they need to thrive and prosper. His evidence-based approach is founded on current neuroscience and attachment research. Dr. John Grey has a name similar to Dr. John Gray, the author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” However, a name is not the only thing that these two men share. They also have a mutual admiration for each other. In fact, John Grey was included on Dr. John Gray’s preferred list of marriage couples counselors. John has been giving marriage retreats for over 25 years. In a retreat, a couple acquires powerful new tools and strategies that are tailored to their particular situation, needs and personalities. John helps couples repair ruptures, heal from infidelity, defuse conflict and reactive cycles, communicate effectively, dissolve emotional walls, overcome sexual blocks, reconnect and renew intimacy. Retreats take place in beautiful Sonoma County, California (pictured below).
Cost: Three-day retreat is $2350 per couple. ($2950 for an extra small group) Private retreats are available.
3) Sedona Soul Adventures
Location: Sedona, Arizona
4) Marriage Rescue Associates
Phone: 704-464-1912 Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Marriage Rescue Associates offers Christian-based intensive retreats for couples in crisis. Many couples who visit their retreat are separated, already filed for divorce, or are already divorced. Founders John and Wendy Godfrey (pictured below) “help couples where there seems to be no hope”. They claim to have a better than 90% success rate, so there is every reason to have hope! The Godfreys’ tell interested couples to “expect a miracle because we see them many many times!”
Cost: Their intensive retreats are for either 3 days in a row ($2795), 4 days in a row ($3695) or 5 days in a row ($4595) Food and lodging are not included. The intensive retreat is completely private; they don’t do groups. They also see non-Christian couples frequently.
You can learn more about how to avoid divorce in our Marriage Counseling Guide.
5) LIFE Marriage Retreats
Phone: 877-376-7127 Locations: Utah, Texas, California, Florida
When couples sign up for an all-inclusive experience at LIFE Marriage Retreats, they get the chance to focus on their specific marital goals and explore long-term solutions rather than focusing on short-term solutions that can quickly disintegrate. For the duration of the retreat, and one price, each couple receives their own private bedroom and bathroom suite, gourmet meals, first-class training, private counseling, and exciting activities. Working with the counselors at this retreat, couples learn about how to deal with issues of trust, resentment, and communication.
LIFE’s three-member team of professionals facilitate all small group retreats together and have been successfully saving marriages for over a decade. They are committed to providing each couple with a truly transformative experience and sending them home with everything they need to create their ideal relationship and maintain it for the rest of their life. Apart from their small group retreats with 4-6 couples, LIFE also offers Exclusive Private Retreats.
Cost: Small group Marriage Retreats are priced according to location and generally range from $3895 to $4395 per couple. One-on-one Retreats are quoted individually and start at $9495.
Pictured below: Gerry and Margo Dye, founders of LIFE Marriage Retreats.
6) The Gottman Institute: Marriage Counseling Retreats
Phone: 206-313-0471 Location: Orcas Island, Washington
Sadly, many vacations are ruined by tension or squabbling. The Gottmans understand why this occurs, and they have built a set of marriage retreats that are designed to combat this problem. Couples who attend marriage retreats at the Gottman Institute get to enjoy a relaxing vacation in the stunning Orcas Island, Washington. There, they can enjoy activities ranging from golf to hiking to fine dining, but this relaxing vacation also offers therapy. Working with Dr. John Gottman and his Julie Schwartz Gottman, couples will learn to be more intimate, find their true goals, and strengthen their bonds of friendship.
7) Retrouvaille Marriage Retreats
Phone: 800-470-2230 Location: Nationwide
Retrouvaille means rediscovery in French, and couples who come to one of the Retrouvaille marriage retreats get the chance to rediscover each other. They get a reminder of why they fell in love in the first place. While many marriage retreats only last for a few days, Retrouvaille offers a series of marriage retreats over a three-month period. These programs are offered in areas all around the country as well as some international locations. At these retreats, couples are encouraged to focus primarily on communication. Once they learn to communicate positively and effectively, couples will have the tools that they need to move forward in a healthy way.
Cost: Vary by location
Related Article: 7 Tips to Finding a Great Marriage Counselor
8) Marriage Boot Camp
Location: Allen and Plano, TX
Marriage Boot Camp is one of the most intensive four-day marriage retreats in the US, and it allows couples to gain the tools that they need to survive. Rather than focusing on counseling, couples play mental games, complete drills, and do experimental competitions that have been designed to bring them closer together. Typically, these activities run from ten in the morning until eleven at night during the first three days of the boot camp and from ten in the morning to nine at night during the last day of the camp. The guide-to-attendee ratio is very low at these camps, and usually, at least one facilitator is available for every four participants. Located in Plano, Texas, Marriage Boot Camp costs about $1,200 per couple. It is important to note that prices are subject to change, and the camp does offer scholarships to couples who need financial assistance.
Cost: $900 – $1200
Related Article: 6 Best Types of Marriage Counseling
9) Imago Relationships
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
Imago Relationships is based on the teachings of Dr. Harville Hendrix. The core of the program is founded on the concept of imago, a Latin word for “image” that refers to the unconscious image of familiar love.” This program explores the images and impressions of what we learn about love as a child. These are the core issues that form us as adults, but very few of us will confront even some of them. During the Image Relationships retreats, the participants will explore deeply into themselves to find the core issues that drive them into the relationships that they have. Everyone learns the “Imago Dialogue” process that can help them to move from blame to understanding. Imago sponsors workshops all over the country, including ones directed specifically at same-sex couples.
Cost: Varies by location
10) Enchant Relationship Rediscovery
Location: Various – California
Enchant is based on the concept of adventure and fun. Their two-day program is based on taking time out to be together and enjoy sunny California. The weekend is broken up by activities between coaching sessions. A hybrid between a California vacation and a weekend, intensive marriage retreat, Enchant allows visitors to unwind, relax, and fall back in love. Each weekend involves at least 10 hours of coaching, a romantic dinner, and lots and lots of luxury. The goal is for each couple to make major breakthroughs that can allow them to grow together and become stronger. Importantly, not all of the work is on the couple. Each individual is given a chance to learn and grow so that they can ready to re-enter the relationship with a renewed sense of self.
Cost: Varies by location
11) Couples Therapy, Inc.
Couples Therapy, Inc. offers two specific tracks, an intensive weekend retreat or online therapy. Either way, the program begins with a “State of the Union” assessment. Designed to save time and money, this part of the program lets you and a therapist know where you’re both at and what needs to be worked on. The Intensive Couples Retreat takes you away from everything so that you can focus on each other and your relationship. Based on 40 years of research, it’s a program that’s designed to deliver results. The Online Marriage Counseling is designed for couples who travel for work or are separated by countries due to their employment. Everything is conducted online and is available in 12 languages. Help with relationship and sexual problems is available by simply logging in.
Cost: Varies based on the service chosen, the location, and the experience level of the therapist
Choosing the Right Couples Retreat
Finding the right retreat is often a matter of simply looking at how each provider presents themselves and finding the one that best fits your needs. For example, Enchant is designed for couples that enjoy meditation, adventure, and exploration. Marriage Rescue Associates is a Christian-based service. That’s not to say that it’s a bad idea to crossover into a new world to learn about yourselves, but being in your comfort zone can be more relaxing.
Many of these companies have developed online marriage counseling to reduce costs and make it easy to work on things while still living your life.
Cost can often be a concern as well. The retreats and counseling can range in price from $700 to $12,000. Some include accommodations and food, others are just for the counseling portion.
While there might be some arbitrary list of criteria that you might be able to find, the best answer is: Go with your gut. Find that one that speaks to both of you. Trust your instincts and believe that with the right help, you and your partner can not only save your marriage, but make it better than ever before.
An alternative: The Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp
The interesting thing about this “retreat” is that you don’t have to go anywhere; it’s a home-based program that utilizes an audio learning system, teleconferences, and a workbook. As such, it’s more economical than the other retreat options that have higher costs and require travel too. The program was created and is hosted by relationship expert Mort Fertel. Marriage Fitness is a step-by-step relationship-changing system that’s been used by over 2,000,000 people, most of whom are on the brink of divorce suffering from infidelity, separation, or broken trust. There’s a Duo Track for couples, and a Lone Ranger track for people doing the program alone dealing with an adamant spouse. The program claims a 90% success rate.