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  • Writer's pictureShannon Johnson

Why Attend a Relationship Retreat?

Updated: May 22, 2019

We get it. A relationship retreat probably doesn't make most couples' top ten list. Even close family and friends of mine can't seem to fathom why a couple would sign up for such a thing. And if they do, they certainly aren't going to tell anyone about it!

Of course I am a relationship nerd, and this impacts my overall view of the world; but most people agree that relationship happiness directly impacts individual happiness. If you’re going home to tension daily, that certainly impacts your mind, body and spirit. Also, if approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce, and if many of the relationships that stay together aren't "healthy/happy," how is it that we think we should just know how to relationship? For me, this is enough motivation to get people to engage in relationship-care.

Brandi and I just got home from an incredible weekend in Sun Valley. We had six couples join us from all different walks of life. When we asked them why they signed up, the answer varied greatly:

"We need to get back to the basics."

"We need to decide if we want to stay together."

"We need to sort out some of the patterns that are not working."

"We need to learn how to connect again."

These are all excellent reasons to attend a retreat together. If couples are truly honest, they can always find an area -- or several areas -- where they need a little support.

In Thriving Relationship Retreats, we focus on 12 topics broken into two sections: What Brings Us Together and What Keeps Us Together. Therefore, through the process, regardless of individual/couple circumstances, they will find an area they need to focus on. Some of the topics will be a breeze because those are the strength areas, and some of the topics provide rich conversation and growth opportunities.

In retreat settings, a couple carves out time to focus solely on their relationship. They escape from the daily grind; this helps them uncover areas that are hard to identify while immersed in a normal schedule. I meet with many couples weekly, and I love therapy, but the clock tends to get in our way. At a retreat, couples are given the time to really dig into their relationship -- without hopping out to pick up a kid, or to do the laundry. With intentional time, you will experience growth. It's just like anything else. If I take a weekend to learn how to paddle board or snorkel (apparently I need some water time), I will learn new skills and gain insights.

Obviously, just like with anything else, there are moments of success and moments of struggle. On day two, we always witness couples starting to become pretty uncomfortable as they explore triggers and conflict patterns. But then, they have breakthroughs that are incredible to witness. When both partners truly feel seen and heard on a given topic, there is a shift that happens that makes all of the uncomfortable moments worthwhile. Brandi and I always leave the retreats feeling honored to have been able to support couples in making those shifts. We were so excited for the couples who joined us, that neither of us slept terribly well last night!

So, why should you attend a relationship retreat? I guess the short response is: relationships are key to our health and happiness, so why not devote a weekend to strengthening yours? Attending a retreat does not mean your relationship is broken. It means that you understand that relationship-care is worth prioritizing. It doesn't mean that you are weak because you seek assistance. It doesn't mean that you are going to create new problems (this topic could be its own post). The issues that surface at a retreat are already present and often coming out sideways. It makes such a difference when issues can be addressed directly with new skills and support.

Our next retreat will be in Park City in July. Here is a link to check out more information:

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