Couples Retreat

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated January 5, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

With the business of daily life, some couples struggle to find time to focus on intimacy or know how to reconnect after being together long term. A couples retreat can be a fun and effective way to combat this reality and find a space to prioritize working on your bond with your partner. 

An intensive couples retreat may offer a designated time for you and your partner to strengthen bonds and resolve conflicts in your relationship. An effective couples retreat program can assist in dedicating the effort to connecting, growing, and healing with the person they're in a relationship with. In addition to individual couples therapy sessions, you can also meet other couples and learn unique insights you might not have found in individual therapy.

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Building And Maintaining Strong Relationships Isn’t Easy
What Is A Retreat For Couples?

Couples therapy programs are often a getaway that provides partners with the resources and space they seek to bond, form new memories, and have fun in a therapeutic setting. Programs with a therapeutic focus might involve navigating common relationship-related challenges in couples, like building communication skills, becoming a team to support a new baby, or learning to work through conflict. Though it was a box office hit with audiences around the world, the movie “Couples Retreat,” the comedy directed by Peter Billingsley and starring Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Faizon Love, and Kristen Davis does not accurately represent all experiences of attending a couples therapy program. You are not likely to attend a yoga class with a charismatic Frenchman like Jean Reno with four couples, and are more likely to participate in activities and educational modules with a licensed professional who is there to help you deepen your bond with your partner.

What To Expect

A couples retreat can offer an unique opportunity for you and your partner to experience a romantic getaway while focusing on your relationship's well-being. Depending on the type of couples retreat you decide to attend, you may engage in marriage therapy sessions and planned activities, as well as enjoy self-directed leisure time. A couples retreat may prioritize finding a deeper love and improving romance and your sex life, while others might emphasize relaxation and creating a soul adventure together. A few benefits of couples retreats could include the following.

Amenities 
These programs may include fun and relaxing activities to promote connection, like getting a massage, practicing yoga, or going on a hike with your husband, wife, or partner. Many of these programs feature amenities for men, women, and all people to ensure your experience feels like a vacation. You might also partake in group games or activities with other couples, depending on the structure of the program.
Bonding Activities 

Counselors involved in these programs may plan exercises and activities focused on bonding and connecting as you explore your relationship. The exercises can help you identify misconceptions and change self-defeating behaviors to improve communication, learn to forgive each other, and build a loving relationship if these are areas you are looking to work on. Different couples therapy programs may have their own focus and unique goals for married couples.

Group Sessions 

You can often partake in group sessions or discussions at a couples therapy program. While this format may feel awkward at first, it could provide a level of connection for couples looking to learn from each other and discuss similarities in their relationships. You can watch and learn about what has and hasn't worked for other couples to implement change into your relationship through talking with others and it is possible that you may make new friends.

What Are The Benefits?

Couples can attend a couples retreat whenever they feel it would benefit their relationship, help them grow closer, or learn new skills. Not all of these programs are focused on conflict resolution or challenges. Choose and join a type of program that fits your goals.

Consider any challenges you currently face and reflect on how a program might help you to deal with them. During times of high stress and conflict, attempting to plan a couples therapy getaway may cause stress. In addition, if you feel your relationship is close to ending, planning or participation in a future retreat may not benefit you at the current moment. Instead, couples therapy might be the most effective choice.

If you're unsure whether you would benefit, do a pros and cons chart with your partner on the pros and cons of going to the program, staying home, or trying another form of therapy. By making a list, you may realize that a couples therapy program would be beneficial, it also may help you to get on the same page with your partner.

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Things To Consider

Before you decide to commit to couples therapy programs, it can be beneficial to take a moment to consider what you hope to gain from the experience and why. You can ask yourself the following questions to get started: 

  • What relationship and life challenges do we hope to address? 
  • What are our needs for the experience? 
  • What is our budget?
  • What would an ideal version of the retreat look like? 
  • What are some of our priorities?
  • What steps will we take afterward to ensure the benefits of the trip long term? 
  • Do we have any worries about the retreat? 
  • How will we respond if we experience conflict during the retreat? 

You might also consider scheduling a visit with a therapist before the program to create a plan for conflict, bonding, and potential roadblocks.

Therapy Vs. In-Person Programs 

There is a difference between couples retreat and couples therapy. While these programs may last a day, a weekend, or a week, couples therapy is a long-term outpatient treatment option to help couples maintain a healthy relationship, grow, and learn new skills.  

Each option can offer advantages and may provide solutions to conflict, communication challenges, or worries. However, while a couples therapy program may offer you a chance to isolate yourselves, away from daily life, including children, and focus on specific parts of your relationship. Therapy can involve looking at the general nature of your bond with your partner. The option you choose can depend on your goals and what you are expecting to improve. Combining the two may benefit couples looking for an intensive vacation counseling experience.

Alternative Forms Of Relationship Therapy 

Although couples programs and in-person therapy can be interactive and enjoyable ways to discuss relationship challenges or goals, not every couple can afford them. Barriers to resources like finances, reachability, or scheduling plays a role in keeping couples from seeking the guidance they hope to receive. In these cases, online therapy serves as an alternative form of support.

Because you don't have to drive to an in-person office or squeeze appointments into a busy schedule, online professional insight and support can be reachable. These programs can cost thousands of dollars, like the Gottman Institute retreat, which costs over $8,000. Conversely, online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples costs $65 to $90 a session. 

One study on internet-based therapy found that many couples felt the online platform allowed them to show more honesty with each other and connect with their therapist more than with in-person couples therapy treatment. The ability to control the environment therapy takes place can help couples feel comfortable and prepared to navigate challenging discussions.

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Building And Maintaining Strong Relationships Isn’t Easy

Takeaway

Couples therapy programs often provide opportunities for partners to communicate openly, spend quality time together, and have fun to regain the spirit of romance that you once had. They can teach couples unique coping skills and allow for a social form of treatment. When combined with long-term relationship support options like therapy, a couples retreat can provide an opportunity to get closer to your partner and make lasting memories. 

However, if you're looking for immediate and affordable support, you can also reach out to a counselor through an online platform or within your city for further guidance and personalized support. 

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