Marriage Retreat » Retreat FAQs » What Happens in a Retreat?

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.

Before you arrive, you will do a few hours of preparatory work at home. This includes clarifying your positive goals for coming to work with John — what it is you really want to accomplish, what your highest hopes would be for the results you get. You will also take an online personality test, to see and better understand things about yourselves and each other. This will help John more quickly get to know you as the unique couple you are, based on your personality styles and the specific ways these styles interact.

Once you arrive, here is an overall picture of how a retreat progresses. A marriage intensive can be thought of as a series of sessions, each one being about 3 hours in length. There are two sessions per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, separated by a lunch break. Generally, we start around 10:30 AM and end between 5:30 and 6:00 PM.

We usually start by clarifying your goals and learning about your personalities, your particular style as a couple. It then moves on to giving you new tools, information and strategies, and coaching you to apply these tools to make positive changes. You will learn about the underlying dynamics are causing the real distress in your relationship and blocking your communication. And you will be given powerful tools to overcome these negative patterns. This process will give you new means to transform how you interact, opening you up for positive connection, understanding and the start of rebuilding trust.

  • Clarifying Goals and Getting to Know Your Personalities — We start by getting comfortable together, as we explore your situation and clarify what you want to accomplish. You learn things you didn’t know about your personalities. Each couple is different, based on personality styles. We see how this impacts you as a couple. There is no ideal pairing of personalities. But knowing which pairing you are helps us better understand the keys to what causes stress in your relationship, and how to remedy it. You have to see the box — to get out of the box. So our goal is to start to better see the way forward to new positive growth together for you as a couple.
  • Learning New Tools — Working with John is an educational process. You will very important learn new information, tools and strategies. You will gain tools to help you achieve your goals and resolve issues. You will get specific strategies that are relevant to your personalities, your particular situation and how you want to change it. You will learn to better see and work with the underlying dynamics or distress cycles that may have overtaken your relationship. We address what will improve your communication, heal difficult feelings, build a stronger, secure bond, and negotiate new agreements that will help you maintain progress on a positive new road.
  • Coaching for Positive Change — You will receive intensive coaching to apply the tools, information and strategies to make positive changes. You will learn to resolve your issues, get out of the unconscious distress cycle or vicious circles that you suffer, and make positive changes you can feel. The style of coaching is unlike traditional therapy, which often only stirs up more unhappiness in a couple. John is committed to coach you to discover positive ways to interact and resolve stuck places. Then, as a result of making tangible progress in your goals and solving issues, a marriage intensive concludes with future planning. You will make agreements for using the tools you have learned, to continue your progress once you return home.

A retreat is intensive but not overwhelming. The work we do together is highly meaningful, and will go toward resolving real issues that have blocked your sense of connection and happiness in the past. Many couples arrive wondering how they will spend so much time together, focused on their relationship — especially if previous efforts to do this in regular therapy have not yielded good results. It is a couple’s enthusiasm that keeps the work going. Time seems to pass in a state of flow.