Things to Look for in a Couple’s Getaway or Couples Retreat
Things to Look for in a Couple’s Getaway or Couples Retreat
As promised, this week we are talking about different couples retreats out there and what are some of the important things to pay attention to when you are choosing one for you and your partner. Because couples retreats are NOT created equal and there are lots of different ones out there with very different approaches.
But first, I wanted to share with you about what we did this week, which was absolutely beautiful and so much fun. And I can finally write about it in my blog too which is double exciting for me:)
Are you ready for my news?
I am pregnant! And we are beyond thrilled. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for what felt like forever, and it’s finally happening. I am officially out of my first trimester and can share this news with my family, friends, and this wonderful community.
So, we have decided to visit sunflower fields last week and take pregnancy announcement pictures. And let me tell you, it was absolutely stunning. Actually, let me show you, so that you can see for yourself:)
If you have never been to the sunflower fields in Raleigh, you are definitely missing out. It’s a gorgeous pop-up tourist destination and they are in bloom now! The fields are located in Dorothea Dix Park off Hunt Drive and the NCFC soccer fields. It’s right across the state prison (I know, very romantic). You can park by the soccer fields and walk to the fields-it’s very close. You can also bring your furry friends with you for a gorgeous evening stroll. We went there during the golden hour between 6-8pm and the photos turned out to be absolutely breathtaking.
Of course, we had an amazing photographer who happened to be our good friend. Oh, and be ready to experience lots of bees, who are intimidating, but harmless.
Okay, back to business. Last week we talked about what is couples retreat and why you need to know and maybe consider participating in it. This week we are going deeper and start discussing what are some of the most important things to look for when you are choosing a couples retreat. Because while t’s easy to find one, it’s hard to find the right one.
The truth is-there are tons of them out there, all promising heaven on earth and the perfect solution to your particular problem. I am a bit of a realist (even though my husband may call it “pessimist) when it comes to expecting amazing results without putting any work towards it. I believe that there are a lot of great approaches (evidence based ones and not) that can work beautifully for some couples and not at all for others. I also believe that no matter what modality/approach/school of thought is used, the couple needs to invest into the process and be fully committed to the results. And I am speaking both from professional experience as a licensed relationship therapist in North Carolina (Wake Forest and Raleigh) and Virginia as well from personal experience as a participant of a two-day (16 hour) workshop with my husband back in May 2018 (which was an amazing experience and I wrote a blog post about it here)
So, let’s break it down to different parts to make it easier for us to digest.
Some retreats are huge and have between 30- 50 couples attending. So, if you are like me and are not a big fan of crowds, this might not be the couples retreat for you. It takes time to use bathroom, get served lunch in a nearby restaurant when you only probably going to have an hour allowed for lunch, and just overall sense of business and chaos during the whole weekend.
The couples retreats are smaller and much more intimate. For example, the one my husband and I attended in Durham this past May had about 9 couples in it. It provided an opportunity for a more engaging and less stressful environment and I was able to actually meet and get to know most of those couples during the break. You don’t have to do that, of course, if you don’t want to, but I like meeting new people and getting to know them.
Yet other couples retreats are completely private and you and your partner are the only ones attending. This is my favorite type of a couples retreat and what I offer to my couples, on top of regular weekly couples counseling and virtual therapy. As a therapist, I’ve gotten the best results from this format because the structure and exercises (and everything else we do) are uniquely customized based on each couple’s special needs. I have a general agenda and format in my mind, but I remain flexible with the couple and stay as relevant as possible. We wear comfortable clothes, take a break when we need to, stretch and walk around when we feel like we need it, and cry right then and there without hiding it from other couples. No other couples. No other distractions. Just you, your most important person, and an exert who helps you navigate towards feeling loved, heard, and fulfilled.
In addition, I offer couples retreats in 1 or 2 day format, depending on your needs. If you are looking for a relationship tune up and want to take your marriage to the nest level, 1 day (6 hour) retreat might be what you need to.
If you are feeling good about your relationship, but want to feel great about it and combine the therapy work with some fun and relaxing staycation, then you might really like the 2 day format. During Day 1, we will do a 6 hour deep dive into your relationship and during day 2 you will enjoy some fun activities that you and your partner like. I will take some serious notes during out first 50 min intake and really get to know you both, so that I can arrange some awesome activities for you two. Hint: such activities might include couples massage, golf, couples acro yoga, and lunch/dinner at the pre-arranged romantic restaurant.
Some couples retreats are more general while others are more specific to the problem. For example, they focus on repairing the relationship after the affair, preparing the relationship for a new baby, helping one partner to overcome substance abuse and so on. A lot of couples retreats out there focus on education and show lots of videos with the heavy focus on theory. Which is great, but kinda pointless.
You could have watched the videos and read the books by yourselves at home without paying several grands for it. No, thanks.
What you really need is to look for VERY hands on couples retreats where you actually going to do stuff. You don’t want to sit in your chair and listen to Dr. AllKnowing all weekend just to go home and get stuck in the same old pattern with your partner. No bueno.
Finally, you want to do your homework and read very carefully through the timeline to make sure the format and the exercises and everything else sounds like something you AND your partner may benefit from. You don’t have to love or enjoy it, but you must find them potentially beneficial for your kind of situation. In fact, you probably are not going to enjoy the therapy part of the couples retreat because it’s hard work. It will make you feel vulnerable, you will be pushed (gently hopefully), and you will cry. If you are taking my couples retreat in Raleigh, you will cry a lot:) And crying is good, by the way, it means that it works. Remember that great things happen out of out comfort zone!
There you have it. Some of the most important things to look for and do your homework about when choosing a couples retreat. Because if you don’t, it will make or break your experience.
If you interested to learn about some interesting ideas for couples retreats in Raleigh and the Triangle Area, stay tuned and make sure to check out my next week’s blog post.
I hope this information helps you understand more about couples retreats and what kind of couples can benefit from it. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to give me a call at (703)-347- 3200 and schedule an appointment in my Wake Forest office.
If you are looking for help with your relationships or marriage, you can read more about how I can help here. Please do not wait several years before you seek couples counseling.
You deserve to be happy today!