What Is A Couples Retreat And What Can I Expect There?

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated April 15, 2023by 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. Couples retreats 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. These effective couples retreat programs assist in dedicating the effort to connecting, growing, and healing with the person they're in a relationship with. In addition to private couples therapy sessions, you can also meet other couples and learn unique insights you might not have found in individual therapy.

Building And Maintaining Strong Relationships Isn’t Easy

What Is A Couples Therapy Retreat?

A couples therapy retreat is a getaway that provides couples with the resources and space they seek to bond, form new memories, and have fun in a therapeutic setting. Retreats with a therapeutic focus might involve navigating common relationship-related challenges, like building communication skills or learning to work through conflict.

What Happens During Couples Retreat?

Couples therapy retreats offer a 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 retreat you've decided to attend, you may engage in marriage therapy sessions and planned activities, as well as enjoy self-directed leisure time. Some retreats may prioritize finding a deeper love and improving your sex life, while others might emphasize relaxation and creating a soul adventure together. A few benefits of couples retreats could include the following. 


Couples retreats may include fun and relaxing activities to promote connection, like getting a massage, practicing yoga, or going on a hike. Many couples retreats feature amenities 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 retreat.

Bonding Activities 

Counselors involved in couples retreats may plan exercises and activities focused on bonding and connecting. 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. Each retreat may have its own focus and unique goals. 

Group Sessions 

You can often partake in group sessions or discussions at a couples retreat. 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 learn what has and hasn't worked for other couples to implement change into your relationship through talking with others. 

When Would A Couple Benefit From A Retreat? 

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

Consider any challenges you currently face and reflect on how a retreat might impact them. During times of high stress and conflict, attempting to plan a retreat may cause stress. In addition, if you feel your relationship is close to ending, planning 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 retreat, staying home, or trying another form of therapy. 

What To Consider Before A Couples Retreat

Before you decide to commit to a couples retreat, 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 speaking to a couples therapist before the retreat to create a plan for conflict, bonding, and potential roadblocks. 

Couples Therapy Vs. Couples Retreats 

There is a difference between a couples retreat and couples therapy. While a couples retreat is an overnight trip that may last a few days to 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 retreat may offer you a chance to isolate yourselves 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. Combining the two may benefit couples looking for an intensive vacation counseling experience. 

Alternative Forms Of Couples Counseling 

Although couples retreats 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 may keep 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 miles to an in-person office or squeeze appointments into a busy schedule, online professional insight and support can be reachable. Couples retreats 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 $60 to $90 a session. 

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

Building And Maintaining Strong Relationships Isn’t Easy


Couples retreats often provide opportunities for partners to communicate openly, spend quality time together, and have fun. 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, retreats can provide a meaningful 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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