Marriage Retreat

For 30 years Dr. John Grey has been helping couples build healthy, happy relationships. He offers a uniquely powerful couples retreat in beautiful Sonoma County, California.

A marriage retreat with John offers a fast track to positive change — an intensive, supportive place to achieve profound results. In a concentrated program, your relationship will be transformed. And you will take home new tools to keep your love growing.

An Intensive Marriage Retreat to Transform Your Relationship

John’s marriage retreat program (or couples retreat, as you don’t have to be married to attend) is unique in how it offers you deep and personally meaningful change. It isn’t one of those one-size-fits-all marriage therapy seminars or marriage counseling retreats. It isn’t based on religious beliefs. John tailors your marriage intensive program to meet your specific goals, needs and circumstances as the unique couple you are.

The relationship tools you gain, and the work you accomplish, is personalized for you. John supports you to achieve the practical goals you have. Couples frequently come to John on the brink of divorce. Most rebuild trust and save their marriage. In fact, many go home feeling far more connected and in love than they dreamed possible.

John Grey, PhDYour marital retreat is led by Dr. John Grey. John received his Doctorate in Psychology from Stanford University, one of the top psychology departments in the nation. He went on to co-found and direct an internationally-prestigious and highly successful research center at Stanford.

A pioneer in the field of marriage retreats, he has been conducting couples intensives for three decades. John masterfully draws from a broad range of state-of-the-art strategies and tools. He has a time-proven skill of helping couples achieve the positive changes they want.

After attending their retreats with John, couples report that they return home with renewed spirits. They have vital new tools and strategies to keep building on positive changes they make while working with John. Their relationships grow in visible ways: marriages are saved, trust gets built, commitments for moving forward are made.

Virtual Retreats in the Time of COVID-19

We are located in California, the San Francisco Bay Area, in Sonoma County, in the town of Sebastopol. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are conducting virtual retreats online using Zoom rather than meeting in person.

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’s what a few recent couples said about our online work:

“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.” 

“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 we thank you for the security we have found with each other through working with you.”  

“This has been awesome to do during the Coronavirus time. We’re really grateful for you. We really weren’t doing very well. This all has been really effective. It finally feels like we are really a team and we own our relationship as real partners.”

Read more about our virtual retreats and see feedback from other couples →

The Marriage Intensive Format + Coaching by Dr. John Grey = A Powerful Combination for Change

Retreats are usually three days long, with a four day length available for couples who can afford the time or who are highly distressed. People say they get more in a few days in a marriage intensive with John than from months or years of traditional marriage therapy! What makes his couples retreats so unique and powerful?

The Dedicated Timespan to Get the Job Done — Time spent away from daily stress, to focus on just you and your relationship. The committed timespan allows clarity and change to emerge more strongly and deeply than in week-to-week counseling sessions. This intensive approach supports you to get rapid and profound results. Having worked with over a thousand people, John has found that a three or four day long program is ideal for experiencing a deep transformation.

You Get Relationship Tools, Not Just Talk — Couples often report how traditional talk therapy and marriage counseling did not help. Working with John they realize they didn’t need that type of talk at all. What they needed was new tools. Weekly sessions and the conventional model of couples therapy typically cannot provide these tools. But at a marital retreat with John, the emphasis is to learn a powerful set of tools to make positive changes. You will get results-oriented, versatile and highly effective coaching. And you will take home new tools that will keep you growing on a positive track.

John Has a Uniquely Different Approach — Having trained hundreds of therapists in postgraduate programs, John knows how traditional marriage counseling is often lacking in its ability to help couples. His retreat program offers you a qualitative difference in learning how to resolve your issues. The range and effectiveness of the tools you will get is vastly broader than the standard couples therapy repertoire. Because of this, John regularly trains couples therapists and marriage counselors in the the paradigm of couples therapy based in scientific research on couples satisfaction.

Aimed at Practical Results, Not Just Theory — Before he started coaching married couples, John was a research psychologist at Stanford University. He was trained to know the difference between practical results vs. someone’s personal theory. What you get in working with John is based on current findings in neuroscience and attachment research. What you learn has been informed by studies on the factors underlying lasting happiness vs. relationship deterioration. This goes far beyond what traditional couples therapy and marriage counseling approaches have to offer.

John’s Seasoned Approach Provides the Right Tools for You

John works in a highly supportive way, respecting and responding to your individual needs. He tailors his coaching to match your specific personalities, circumstances and backgrounds. This enables you to make rapid progress toward achieving your goals.

Standardized programs and typical one-size-fits-all group workshops are not able respond to the different personality styles of each individual participant. But in reality, each of us is different, so each couple is different. John’s marriage retreats are customized to match your needs and your particular styles. So you can get deep, personally meaningful help.

Over a 30-year span of helping couples, John has mastered a broad repertoire of couples coaching and marriage counseling techniques, which allows him to flexibly address your specific wants and needs. He has learned how to understand and effectively work with different personality types. And to appreciate how each couple is a unique combination of two personality styles.

John has trained counselors and medical professionals in effective communication and change techniques that address the needs of each individual, including NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP). As a workshop leader, he has presented relationship skills programs at the University of California, Stanford University, Scripps Medical Center and the Esalen Institute in Big Sur.

Having spent over a decade as a Stanford research psychologist, John closely follows scientific research on relationship satisfaction and integrates this knowledge into his marriage retreat program.

John also applies the latest research in neuroscience and attachment theory in his approach. These scientific fields are clarifying what the underlying factors are in relationship dynamics that promote long term happiness vs. distress in an intimate partnership.

John is a Founding Core Faculty member of the PACT Institute (Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy), where he also helped develop the training program for couples therapists and marriage counselors in the most current methodology based in neuroscience and attachment research, teaching how to effectively work with all different types of couples having the widest range of presenting issues.

Relationship expert Dr. Stan Tatkin — founder of PACT and author of Wired for Love — says: “With decades of experience behind him, John Grey is a highly intelligent, creative force in the arena of science and relationships. His work is inventive and inspiring.”

John has authored four relationship books that give couples tools to diffuse conflict, repair upsets, communicate effectively, build a positive connection, and maximize happiness together. He also developed a popular online interactive self-help system used by hundreds of thousands.

Praising John’s latest book, Jack Canfield — bestselling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series — says: “John presents a step-by-step process for using any relationship conflict as a doorway to deeper intimacy and expanded awareness…. everything you need to create a secure, lasting bond with your partner.”

In working with John, know that you are getting highly effective coaching. He has a reputation for his versatility, skill and effectiveness. His retreats are frequently attended by therapists, marriage counselors, and doctors, who come for help in their personal relationships. John’s intensive format, combined with his broad experience and background, offers you a uniquely powerful opportunity to make a fundamental breakthrough in your relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions about Our Retreats

Are virtual retreats as effective?

river near retreat locationDue to COVID-19, we are conducting retreats online using Zoom rather than meeting in person. All of these virtual retreats have been highly successful, as reported in the couple’s own words as you’ll read here. We’ve been helping couples save marriages for decades and have been using online video for years. Our approach is top-rated. The online virtual retreat we can offer you will be every bit as effective as our in-person work! Continue reading →


Is our retreat right for you?

What kinds of couples will benefit from this approach? John works with a wide range of presenting situations, and his intensive format is an excellent fit and will meet the needs of most couples. Whether you’ve been together for years unable to overcome certain issues — or you’re a new couple wanting tools that ensure lasting happiness — working intensively with John can well serve your needs and goals. Here are types of couples who work with John. Continue reading →


What results can you get?

Your retreat will be aligned to your personal goals and circumstances. Working with John offers you new clarity, and increased effectiveness in communication. It helps you move beyond stuck places, make new agreements, renew positive appreciation and connection, and develop a deeper sense of shared vision. John will help you acquire the key tools and strategies you need to get your relationship moving in a positive direction. Continue reading →


How can you improve so fast?

couple boating near retreatCouples who come to a retreat frequently have felt stuck, stagnant, or unhappy for years. Some are on the brink of divorce. Often one partner has little if any hope left. Most of the time, in a matter of a few days of working with John, these couples find renewed positive feelings, hope, and trust. That’s astonishing. How is that degree of change possible? And so quickly? Brain scientists call it neuroplasticity. The brain will change depending on its input. Continue reading →


How is John’s approach different?

What you get working with John is markedly different than what traditional marriage counseling offers. This is not merely due to his retreat format. It is also due to his unique approach. John’s work is deeply informed by ground-breaking scientific research on what couples need to build and maintain a secure, happy connection. Because of this expertise, he is on the core faculty of a nationwide educational institute that trains marriage therapists. Continue reading →


What happens in a retreat?

Bottom line, it’s about getting new tools and making positive changes. Many couples have bad experiences in traditional counseling or therapy, and worry that working with John is going to be like that, only more intense. Not so…. Couples often say how pleasant and valuable their time with John was. Even unexpectedly fun. And how different a John’s work is compared to therapy in giving them useful results instead of stirring up more upset. Continue reading →


Are religious or other beliefs involved?

John’s work is not based on religious beliefs. What you get is strictly based in practicality. It comes from a synthesis of two and a half decades of working with couples, seeing what works and what does not work. And it also comes from a wealth of scientific research over the last 20 years that reveals the behavioral patterns that lead couples to succeed or fail. It is about learning practical tools that enable you to stay happy and secure together. Continue reading →