It is critical to keep the momentum going after a couples therapy intensive. Now is a valuable time to lay down new interactional patterns learned during the experience. No doubt it was an intensive experience during your relationship retreat.

You will be invited to complete our online course that you will get in your email!

It has many of the exercises you have done over the weekend. They will come at whatever frequency you choose. Take the time to devote to your marriage, and set aside time each week. You will be happy you did.

For the intensive to be effective, couples must commit to implementing the behavioral changes that were discussed. To make the most of their work together, each partner must be willing to actively engage in the new techniques they learned and be open to tolerating some discomfort.

When couples come to us for therapy, their biggest challenge is the natural inclination to resist change. This can lead to a stalemate.

For other couples, slowing down and starting from a different place can be tough at first.

We advise couples that when they get home from the weekend retreat, it is likely they will fall back into old patterns. However, if one of them points out that they are repeating the same behavior, they have just disrupted the pattern and are making progress toward change.

Your Private Retreat Center

Make your home a ‘retreat center’ by making space and time for your relationship. You will need private “couples time” to make the most out of the time you spent in the couples retreat.

Pick a room, whether it is your bedroom, a den, or your basement. Pick someplace away from family activities if you have children. If you have no space like that, carve out a section of the living room or special comfortable chairs. Make this “our space.”

Now set aside time to hang out there together several times a week or once a day if possible. Perhaps have your daily Stress-Reducing Conversation there with a special tea.

Pick a book you can get two copies of, and read together there. Read religious texts or pray together. Even have your arguments or fights in that location.

But try to have at least five times the number of positive experiences to one unpleasant disagreement. Come to look forward to talking and sharing your day, your values, your hopes and dreams in that spot.

Set Up Intensive Experiences

It is easy to allow even vacations to become “ho-hum” when you do not prioritize your emotional connection. Take a weekend and devote your time to communicating your love and appreciation to your partner in big and small ways.

Give a massage or book a couples massage. Schedule facials together. Enjoy a hot tub and decide to spend time in bed just looking into each other’s eyes and kissing.

Own Up to Your Own History of Trauma

You may have been told that you have PTSD or developmental trauma, an anxiety disorder, or depression. These things dramatically impact the marriage. Don’t expect that a better marriage will “cure” you.

Couples in a good marriage expect their partners to stretch to be their best selves. It’s fine to encourage a reluctant spouse to get the mental health services that they need. Don’t settle for excuses like:

  • I can’t find anyone.
  • I don’t know where to look.
  • I’ve lived with it this long; why change? or
  • I’m too anxious (…depressed, traumatized) to get any help from that.

See these things for what they are: excuses.

Make Deposits into Each Other’s Emotional Bank Account

Keep in mind not what you enjoy or would consider a “deposit” but what your partner enjoys and would consider one. The two of you are different people with different interests. Take time to get to know your partner’s interests enough to carry on an intelligent conversation about it.

Recognize that your marriage has on “on-off” switch, not a dimmer switch. You are either working to keep that light shining, or you will both fall into darkness.

Value Your Personal Integrity Above All Else

Integrity includes not only candor and honesty but also what might appear to be harmless white lies, misdirection, or avoiding a painful discussion.

To keep the “poop out of the pipes,” discuss resentments, complaints, or withholdings in your “private home retreat.” Do a “state of the union” assessment for an hour each week, and have a frank conversation. If the issue is worth thinking about or ruminating about, it’s worth talking about.

Keep a clean heart by removing any deceitful or manipulative behavior. Demonstrate your loyalty to your partner no matter who you are having a conversation with.

Concrete Steps to Sustain your Couples Therapy Momentum

  • Avoid Criticism. During couples therapy, you learned ways to communicate your feelings without criticism or blame and to ask your partner for feedback. Talk to them as you would someone you care about.
  • Triggers don’t control you. Learn to control triggers. Set goals for yourself that focus on understanding triggers and vulnerabilities that influence the progress of your relationship. Be curious when an issue arises rather than getting angry.
  • Focus on growth. In couples therapy, we focused on developing as a couple. It is important to focus on your own growth, as well. Be resilient and flexible when being asked to make changes.
  • Find the Positive. Offer your partner sincere praise. Acknowledge their efforts and tell them about moments when you feel hopeful and positive. Gratitude is incredibly powerful in making changes. Make that vocal by saying: “Thanks for making this a great day!” Make sure to pay attention to the small things with thoughtfulness and kindness.
  • Set clear, specific objectives. Discuss what you need from each other in the future, such as more time together or more time alone. Think about what kind of partner you want to be. Constantly work towards your goals in couples therapy, one step and one interaction at a time.