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

What Happens in a Retreat?

Bottom line, a retreat with John is structured to give you new tools and guide you to make positive changes. People who have had bad experiences with traditional marriage therapy may worry that working with John will be the same, only more intense!

Not so. If you read our testimonials, you will see the variety of couples who report how valuable their time was with John. And how many say his his work is very different compared to traditional counseling — in that John gives them useful information and 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.

Other prep work, depending on how much time you can put in, includes reading John’s latest book on relationship repair and doing self-assessment exercises. All this prep work is voluntary, of course, and is designed to get your retreat started long before you arrive!

A retreat can a series of sessions, each one 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 around 6:00 PM.

Clarifying Goals & Getting to Know Your Personalities

We usually start by clarifying your goals and learning about your personalities. We may explore your history as a couple and your present challenges and situation in more detail, in order to clarify what you want to accomplish in the retreat.

We will also explore your personalities. Each couple is different, based on their particular combination of personality styles. There is no “ideal” pairing of personalities. Every combination has its unique challenges.

Knowing your particular pairing will help us more rapidly understand the underlying factors for what causes stress in your relationship. It will also suggest more precisely how to remedy these factors. Personality patterns are generated unconsciously. They are a bit like a box. To get out of the box, you first have to see the box.

So our goal is to help you better understand each other’s personalities on a deeper and more useful level. You will learn things you didn’t know about each other. You will see how how this impacts you as a couple and get a new perspective.

This also will point to what would constitute positive change for you as a couple. It will help us determine the tools you will need to move back onto a positive track, and how best to apply these tools to achieve the goals you have.

Learning New Tools & Rules of Secure Attachment

This phase of the retreat is about giving you new tools, information and strategies, and coaching you to apply these tools to make positive changes. Y

ou 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.

Working with John is an educational process. You will get scientific evidence-based information about the keys that foster lasting happiness and secure functioning as a couple.

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 see and work through the underlying reactive cycles and distress patterns that have overtaken your relationship.

In this process you will learn to master new tools and strategies that help you to resolve your particular issues, to get your true needs met, and to function securely as a couple.

We focus on what is relevant to you — be it getting more clarity, improving your communication, healing past wounds and ruptures, building a stronger, secure emotional attachment, and/or negotiating new agreements that will keep you growing together on a positive track.

Coaching for Positive Change & New Agreements

You will receive intensive coaching to apply the tools, information and strategies to make positive changes. You will engage in resolving your issues and overcoming the unconscious reactive patterns and vicious cycles you suffer

The style of coaching is unlike traditional therapy, which too often only stirs up more unhappiness in a couple. The goal of coaching is to guide you to discover positive ways to interact and resolve stuck places. It’s about making positive changes you can feel.

As a result of making tangible progress that meets your goals and resolves your issues, your retreat concludes with future planning. You will make agreements for using the tools you have learned, to continue your progress once you return home.

And, by the way, if you need help, follow up coaching is available.

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 traditional therapy failed to produce good results. It is a couple’s enthusiasm that keeps the work going, and time seems to speed by in a state of flow.