Were you a rambunctious kid growing up? I know at times I certainly was. I can clearly remember those moments when my parents would send me to my room for a time-out to calm down and reflect on my behavior. I wasn’t allowed to see any of my friends or go out to play. I can still remember the feeling of boredom and loneliness that would overtake me. And even more clearly, I remember the time-in when I was “set free” to re-engage with my favorite friends, toys, and activities! I never appreciated those things precious to me quite so much as I did after they had been briefly taken away.

Fast forward to the past year and a half. The Pandemic, in a sense, sent us all to our rooms. Just like the time-outs of our childhoods, we weren’t able to see our friends or go out to play. For some of us, we felt that familiar boredom and loneliness, separated from our favorite people and activities! And now, we see the light at the end of the Covid tunnel, and we’re finally getting our eagerly anticipated time-in! Will you make the most of it?

In my work with couples, I’ve seen the impact of being locked down—sometimes together, sometimes apart, sometimes with children, sometimes with full-time zoom jobs, sometimes with both. Many couples have struggled to maintain emotional connection despite a lot of physical time together or because of forced separation. Libidos are down; divorce is up.

Now is the perfect time to break out and take a time-in on your relationship. A Couples Retreat offers a powerful, transformational weekend for you and your partner. Here are some tips on what to consider in choosing the right Couples Retreat for your relationship.

First and foremost, choose a competent, experienced Retreat leader.
Look for a therapist who has advanced training in working exclusively with couples. Most Marriage and Family Therapists will see a couple together, but that doesn’t mean that they are trained to do so. Look for certifications beyond the degree and license of the professional.

Remember to ask about the Facilitator’s years of experience. While beginners have enthusiasm, it takes years of experience to become a therapist skilled at expertly handling a crowd and holding a safe space for multiple couples simultaneously.

Ask yourself what you’re dreaming of achieving at a Couples Retreat.
If you have noticed that you’re arguing more than before or have lost that loving feeling, you should consider a Retreat. In a good Couples Retreat, you will have the opportunity to deepen your connection and grow your relationship while relaxing and having fun.

Look for a Couples Retreat that offers support in the form of individual and group learning experiences.
A good Couples Therapist will manage the Retreat so that you have a combination of individualized attention and learning from the group. Look to her to create a safe and intimate setting where everyone has the chance to do their own work and to witness the work of other couples. There should be a lot of support and guidance, usually in the form of trained assistants.

Consider a smaller Couples Retreat to nurture maximum growth and healing.
Retreats are powerful because you have a dedicated period of two days to focus on learning and practicing effective communication tools to resolve conflict and increase empathy for one another. If the Retreat is small and intimate, you will feel safe enough to be vulnerable for maximum growth and healing.

In summary, at a good marriage retreat, you can expect to:
• Learn effective communication skills that will take you deeper into your love and commitment as a couple.
• Resolve conflict that has been getting in your way with one another.
• Remember why you got together in the first place.
• Get positive energy and support from the other couples in the group.
• Receive expert coaching by the Retreat Leader.
• Relax and have fun together in a beautiful and calm setting away from home.

Couples who have taken a time-in on their relationship and participated in a Couples Retreat often say that the experience transformed their relationship. If you choose a well-trained and experienced Therapist, you can expect to learn about yourselves and each other, pick up new communication tools, practice new relationship skills, meet some new people, and feel completely pampered in a beautiful setting. What’s not to love? A good weekend retreat can be worth months of week-to-week counseling and is a nice get-away, as well.

Author's Bio: 

Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT has been working with couples and families for over 30 years in her private practice in West Los Angeles. She is deeply passionate about helping couples improve their communication skills, deepen their connection resolve conflict and rediscover the joy of being together. She offers weekly sessions, Private and Group Intensives and Workshops for Couples. She is active in preparing engaged couples for marriage through several different formats, including The FOCCUS Premarital Inventory and Start Right, Stay Connected Workshops. Her Ebook entitled, 8 Essential Topics to Discuss Before Saying I Do, is available on her website.

Mary Kay has two Advanced Certifications, in Couples Therapy: Imago Relationship Therapy and Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy. She also has training in the Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.

Mary Kay is happily married in an intimate relationship and is the mother of three grown children. She also plays an ongoing role in being a teacher and mentor to new couples therapists, students and interns as they learn and practice their art of connection.

Mary Kay is an active member of the California Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, Los Angeles Chapter of California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, IMAGO Relationship Institute, and the Southern California Imago Therapy Association, and founder of The Conversation Group in Los Angeles.