We’ve talked elsewhere about the nuts and bolts approach of the Gottman Method and the methods of marathon couples therapy format use, including two consecutive days of intensive therapy.

We’ve also discussed warnings about who may and may not qualify for this type of work. We want you to understand the risks involved. These include experiencing uncomfortable feelings.

  • you may cover material that involves recalling unpleasant aspects of your marriage
  • experiencing uncomfortable feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety, anger, loneliness, and helplessness
  • recalling painful history together or individually.

Partners may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness or guilt during these therapy sessions. While this may happen in weekly therapy, you have more time to process them in the deep work of intensives.

What makes weekend marathon therapy work?

Talk to a trained couples therapist on our team, and you are going to hear this:

  • Couples therapy researcher John Gottman, Ph.D., advises couples to get away 3-4 times a year to maintain a healthy marriage.
  • One part of Gottman’s Six Hours to a Better Relationship intervention is a 2-hr weekly date night. These marathon sessions can intensify this experience.
  • Another part of that intervention is a 1-hour-a-week State of the Union Meeting for the couple to discuss their relationship.
  • Many experts promote marathon couples therapy to be effective.

Deep work and marathon therapy for couples.

Couples often take weekend trips away from their home life to focus solely on their relationship, free from usual daily tasks like cleaning and taking care of children.

  • As a clinician, I engage in deep work by limiting electronic communication and not seeing anyone else for work purposes on weekends. I dedicate time to prepare for a weekend intensive by studying the couple’s BIG BIG Books and planning their experience.

I see intensives being effective with the couples that I work with because:

  • Treatment is front-loaded, offering a higher dose at the start
  • Couples start at least 2-3 weeks ahead of time completing a relationship assessment. This allows them to emotionally prepare.
  • We can get better traction and not become bogged down and stuck because it’s condensed into a weekend format.
  • People may be better prepared and ready to engage because they have invested an entire weekend and want to get the most out of it.
  • Evidence-based strategies require more time, and more of them can get done in a weekend.

Is a Marathon Weekend like “Deep Work”?

Author Cal Newton, in his acclaimed book Deep Work, is defined as “activities that are performed in a state of distraction-free concentration. To produce at your peak level, he argues, it’s essential that you work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction and optimizes performance. I think the parallels to working in a Marathon are clear.