As a pioneer of the marriage intensive approach, I have been conducting couples retreats for more than three decades.
Over this time I believed the efficacy of my retreats was in part due to people getting away from home and working with me in person in beautiful Sonoma County.
But I also knew that was only part of what gave my retreats their power.
The other part was the highly effective tools I developed that enabled couples to communicate better, repair wounds, get needs met, collaborate as a team, reconnect emotionally and move forward on a positive track.
Then covid hit and we started working virtually. And I assumed virtual work would not be as effective. I was surprised to find that was not at all the case. In fact, it was mostly the opposite! Virtual retreats were more effective.
This surprising result was the case for our private retreats. Group retreats were less effective virtually, so we stopped offering them. Instead we took that program and started giving it to individual couples.
Since they are more effective, more convenient, and more comfortable, we are continuing to exclusively specialize in offering virtual private retreats.
I completely understand why people have the idea that working in person at a retreat location is optimal. I’m a major cause of people thinking this, as I’ve been publicizing that form of couples retreats for more than 30 years.
But during the past two years I actually found my virtual work produced better results, more quickly, and integrated more deeply into couples lives. And it was more relaxing for me as well as the couples, which added to make it work even better.
There was nothing the prevented travel either. Couples chose where they wanted to do their retreats, whether staying at home or traveling somewhere.
The reason our virtual work has proven to be more productive in getting results has to do with our specific approach and unique model as well as the tools we developed to strengthen a couple and enable them to heal and grow.
In that virtual work is more effective and more enjoyable, and couples can still travel if they want to, we have no plans to return in-person work.
What Couples Say About Our Virtual Retreats
Having used online video for years, we effectively deliver best-in-class relationship help. Couples find our online intensive program to be equal in effectiveness to our in-person work. Here are excerpts from what couples said about working virtually:
“We didn’t want to do our retreat remotely, but decided to go ahead with it. We’re surprised by how well we improved our communication. Our barriers let down and we’re no longer defensive. We can repair upsets like we never could before. And now we sit down together every day and express our appreciation for each other.”
“During this stay-at-home period the online intensive we did with you has literally saved our marriage. We are so glad we found you, and thank you for the security we have found with each other through working with you.”
“I really liked doing the retreat from home. In our own house, in our surroundings, we felt more comfortable, we felt we could be more intimate, and it’s not unnatural in any way. And it felt like it was us doing the work, with you just making sure it kept moving along, so we didn’t get stuck.”
“When you go somewhere else, it almost makes it seem like this other place is the important thing. And people say, when they go on retreats, that they ‘come back to reality’ at home again to the same old thing. But with our virtual retreat, the transformation happened in our reality. There was no ‘back to reality.’ This is our reality. So it gives our changes a solid foundation.”
“This has been awesome to do during the Coronavirus time. We’re really grateful for you. We really weren’t doing very well. The emotional repair process you gave us has been huge. This all has been really effective. It finally feels like we are really a team and we own our relationship as real partners.”
“I first thought ‘I don’t want to do it virtually. I need the person right in front of me.’ I thought I wouldn’t get as much out of it doing it online. But now I can say that it was life-changing. Just the couple of days have really opened our eyes and our hearts. Doing it online was actually much better for us.”
“We were initially quite apprehensive about doing an intensive retreat online vs. in person. But John coached us the same as if we were together. In hindsight, there are no negatives to doing this online, and there are some real positives.”
“We’ve done an in-person retreat in the past, and now this virtual retreat. Being in our own home was much better than being in a strange place. It was easier. No stress from travel. Being here at home and scheduling the sessions to suit us helped us apply the tools and make the changes we wanted in our daily lives.”
“We’re definitely glad we did the retreat virtually. The comfort and safety of being in our own home made such a big difference. We wouldn’t have been as comfortable doing it somewhere else. Although getting away from home is the common idea about a retreat, that would not have at all been as good as how secure we felt at our place.”
“In the end, I thought the virtual retreat was preferable. If we had gone away it might seem the location made all the magic happen there. But here, it was in our own home we were making it happen. I really do think that doing the retreat virtually works quite well. I would never have thought it would be as productive this way. But now, I can say I prefer it.”