Marriage Quest, Israel and Cathie Helfand, Cabot Vermont, 802-563-3063
We Get Letters
What Individuals and Couples Have Said in Their Letters from more than 30 years
"Our marriage was in the final days of divorce. We mutually decided to put the divorce on hold and to give one last attempt at intensive counseling. The weekend experience was phenomenal! Israel and Cathie were great to work with and very professional. They have an innate way of getting to the 'heart' of the matter; promptly and actively working through communication issues; and coaching us through role playing scenarios. We have learned many positive communication strategies and have been able to practice them since returning home in our daily lives.
"Whatever the future holds for our marriage, we have both learned important things about ourselves individually as well as about relationships. If our relationship endures, we will definitely consider an additional weekend in the future or at the very least have "tools" to take with us into future relationships. Thank you Israel and Cathie for all of our new communication techniques!"
"I believe you gave me a lot of the tools I need... and I am grateful to you. I find myself talking with my husband in very different ways now... sharing my fears and insecurities, rather than blaming and accusing him. I can remember one conversation I had with you when we role-played... this has been so helpful to me as I now can talk to him about me and my feelings, rather than blaming. I also find that my husband and I are doing things much differently with conflict. We are not perfect, but we are definitely so much better. Instead of ignoring/stuffing it, we deal with it. Yeah!"
"Thank you for your skill, your ability to see our true natures, and your insight into our relationship. I don't think I could have done this without that serious push from Israel."
"Three months after going there we can honestly say it's been a quantum leap in the right direction."
"Thank you so much for your amazing insights, training and caring. Heather and I came to your retreat at one of the most pivotal moments of our married life together. We were not sure what to expect, but I can honestly tell you that your talents, skills, and approach led to deep and profound realizations and learning. Marriage Quest far exceeded our expectations. I hope to meet you and work with you again in the future. Thank you for sharing your abilities and experiences with Heather and me. I think it was extremely educational and enlightening. And that makes me feel happy:-)"
"I can't believe that the whole world doesn't know about you guys!"
"Just checking to let you know Ted and I are doing okay! We registered to take a pottery class together once-a-week that starts mid-May - we're both pretty excited about it! We've also been able to commit to a once a week date night that is helpful. I feel we're listening better and being more patient with each other. Monday we'll be opening our joint account. So - things are moving along and feeling better than before the retreat! Thank you! We'll keep you updated periodically!"
"Thank you... Wow... I didn't believe it was possible."
"My husband and I really enjoyed our time with you both in Vermont and found it to be very beneficial. You were both so easy to confide in and wonderful listeners who truly heard what was being said (or not said). Your insight, patience, honestly, experience, knowledge, and spectacular team work approach and implementation were top notch. I believe we were able to cover more ground in the sessions with you than months of regular therapy. As we returned, my husband and I re-read your recommendations, worked on our communication skills exercises, ordered and read the books recommended (which were wonderful), incorporated some additional family/couple therapy and more. Discovery of one's self, reflection and change is a awakening experience that lends itself toward growth and balance. With these steps, more questions arose and my yearning for someone to just tell me what to do grew stronger. For years, I thought finding the right direction was listening to what others needed or told me to do. Through your sessions, recommendations and more, I have progressed beyond that thought to know the answers are deep within us all to find a way to get in touch at the various levels of who we are, what we need and not just live at a "surface level" providing self direction and happiness."
"It was scary! It was hard!! It was intense!!! It was great!!!! It was perfect!!!!!
"What a difference a year makes. I learned a lot about myself that weekend and my tendencies; I have become better at self regulating and have worked to moderate my reactions to some of Rich's actions and dialog. We don't always practice all the communication techniques we learned, but for us I think it was the will we both had as we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.
Rich is who he is, and I am who I am and that is not going to change too much, but how we accept and deal with each other seems more respectful. I am better able to see the good with the not so good, and I believe he better sees my strengths as an advantage for both of us, rather then a threat. Thanks for your contribution to where I am today, and to the fact that Rich and I are enjoying, supporting and loving each other."
"Something major occurred. Some shift in the universe. A huge weight is gone. The sun seems to have come out on both our souls... The new lighter existence kicked into place before we left Deeper Ruts Road. You are both incredible to work with... The transformation seems dazzling and joyous."
"I guess we're in a little honeymoon period right now, which is a wonderful little break - and we're going to keep working. No matter what happens I wanted you to know that your collective skill has had a tremendous positive influence on me, and for that I am most grateful"
"I learned more about my wife in the last 2 hours than in all of our past therapy sessions together."
"We are doing great! We are enjoying each other and our wonderful family. We take the time to talk and share with each other. We really enjoyed our weekend with you both and learned alot about ourselves and each other. It was hard work and worth every bit of the effort. We immediately felt closer and it put us on the right path for success. Thank you again for everything!!"
"I am so thankful that my husband is starting to realize that he has been lost in the dark desert. I have not had my husband in 1-1/2 years because he detached from the family. So much is clear now, even for the children. Thanks again."
"Thanks. It was a powerful weekend for us-vastly exceeded my expectations."
"Thanks to both of you for a very productive and transformative weekend. We just came back from a date and had a good talk and each shared that things are feeling better. Michael and I worked on some issues together and it felt good to team up."
"We were both impressed by the weekend and the good it has done. You both are real 'pros'".
"I am really happy to let you know that Rick and I are doing very well. Our marriage is finally back on track. Communication was definitely our problem as it is in most marriages that are in trouble. I have never had much difficulty communicating but Rick has for a multitude of reasons. I know the sessions he had with you, as well as those we had together, helped get some of these things out. We both learned some things and have very few disagreements or misunderstandings. Those we do have are solved very quickly and with less anger. We have always had the best marriage coming and going because it is based on mutual respect as well as love. I am happy to say we are back there again - Thanks!"
"Thank you from my heart, I feel such gratitude for your caring and compassionate help."
"I just want you and Cathie to know your guidance during a pivotal point in our marriage was instrumental to our growth. As painful as the experience was for everyone involved, I do agree that a crisis does bring change that can spark positive growth. Our marriage is better than it has been in years. If things go downhill again, hopefully the experience will help us cry out for help a little sooner. I am more than happy to recommend your help to anyone in need. You and Cathie are wonderful people and Diane and I will never forget your help."
"The decision to divorce was hard for Mark and me, but it was the right one. He sounds more contented now when I speak with him. I think that I will be grateful to him for the rest of my life for agreeing to go for counseling. The things that you and Cathie helped us to see about ourselves made the parting much easier than it would otherwise have been."
"It was great to meet both of you as well. I appreciated your style, enthusiasm and the warmth of your presentation. It has already made a difference. Thanks so much."
"Thank you very much. We are still using the process, for the most part. It seems to have leveled out, with the process coming into play when one of our buttons gets pushed. We have been reading a couple of the books that y'all recommended for us, and they seem to help with insights (for me, can't speak for my wife.)"
"I have learned more about my husband in 3 days than I have in 7 years."
"It's hard for me to believe there are people such as yourself in the world. You showed me such hope. I want you to know how deeply your caring, sharing, and understanding have touched my heart... my life. Because of you and your support, my life will never again be the same. I will never again be the unknowing victim accepting pain and shame as a fact of life. I have a long path to walk, but you have shown me that life will allow for peace."
"I have been learning to trust my own feelings and judgements during this very confusing time. We are slowly working things out and building up the trust again."
"I came to you when my life seemed to be at its darkest. I felt as if I was losing everything and there was no hope for me. I saw my life as the half-empty glass. You allowed me to see the glass as half full. At a time when I had no faith in anything, you gave me faith in the future. It's a small step on a very long journey but at least I found the path to take. I still need help, but at least now I can admit that I do, and I can seek out those people who can provide that help and not be afraid to show my weaknesses to them."
"Your aftercare plan is very comprehensive and personalized... and I really know because I am an attorney and write contracts all of the time."
"I have reached a point where I can recognize 'the problem' and best of all, I can now talk about it. I no longer feel the frustration of being 'trapped' and know I can make it on my own. You are not only professional, but just plain super! Thanks!"
"My husband is talking to me!"
"I really learned a lot from our sessions and do see things differently now. Mostly I am less combative with myself and the world. Well, I mean I still come on very agressive but am learning to give others a chance. The kids helped me with that attitude real quick. Ha Ha!"
"I shall always be grateful for your patience and for understanding me. You have helped me to open up my life in so many ways. May the best be yours always."
"Sara and I are still trying to work on our relationship and currently living together. It has not been easy, but we really love each other and have found it extremely difficult to let go! I do feel that we have a much better understanding of each other and have been communicating better. I often think back to a lot of the things we discussed and that has truly helped me. Thank you again for all your help. I know that our relationship was a professional relationship, however, often times it seemed like I was talking to a good friend. I guess that is a sign of a good doctor!"
"It brought up so much emotion in my husband that we had to pull over to the side of the road on our way home so we could talk..."
"It's been over two and half years since we started counseling with you and it's been over a year and a half since we've seen you for our second retreat. I really love you guys my heart always goes warm when I think of you. Things are really good. So just wanted you know that you two are wonderful people and you know exactly what you are doing. So keep up the good work."
"It opened doors, [I can] start building bridges."
"To have helped me pass on to new avenues in my life, cleansing some of the demons, awakening the spirit inside of me that I had stopped listening to - being a father to my children and a partner to my wife and reinforcing the path I am on is sacred - for those who have led me as well as to whomever I may have the opportunity to lead - this and more are borne by work we have shared."
"Thanks again. I've navigated some pretty tricky waters over the past decade, and I have to say that the work I did with you and Israel was important and formative in terms of being ready for it all."
"You both gave us a tremendous gift of being able to look honestly at our needs and the dynamics of our relationship and at the same time affirming and solidifying our friendship with each other. I am convinced that this could not have happened otherwise."
"Our weekend with you was so powerful for us. We have certainly had our ups and downs since, but have managed to hang on. I know we'll be back up some day."
"I have worked through so much emotional garbage. I am happy in a way I never have been, I am making choices, feeling free! I am able to love my kids like never before. I like being a single parent, I enjoy my work, I have some good friendships, my relationship with my parents and siblings is changing, I just met a young man with whom I can communicate like I have never ever been able to. Real intimacy!"
"There aren't enough people like the two of you in the world... let alone great couples."
"We have decided to stay together as best friends... cohabitating and sharing our lives together. The relationship is constantly changing as we rediscover each other and what we value in our relationship. Each day is better as we talk, share and grow, seperately and together. Thank you for starting us off in the right direction and giving us the tools to make us better."
"The great thing is that Tim and I are parting as friends, and we weren't headed in that direction before."
"Thanks you all for your home, your woods, your energy, and the chance to learn more about each other. I have decided to head out and take my new self into the world. It has been a great experience, one that will change my outlook forever."
"We are doing great and I have to say, a lot of things through the years have come up and we have dealt with them from what the two of you have said and taught, all positive outcome, so again...thank you both!!!"
"I wanted to let you know that Chris and I finalized a decision to divorce. As you know, it is not what I wanted, but given Chris' mindset, dragging it out seemed too painful for both of us. He actually did me a kindness in being definitive, which relieved for me the pain of uncertainty and frustration.
I am still glad we made the trip to Vermont. I think we both gained sympathy and empathy for the other and got past the worst of our anger. We did a lot of talking between the sessions and after returning home, and although I thought it was bringing us together, at least I think we softened considerably. Since finalizing our decision, I feel like my head is clearer to see what happened and why. I can even begin to see how, given who we are and where we came from, there was some inevitability to it and maybe, at this point, it's even for the best. This whole thing has been incredibly painful and screwed up, though, which I still don't fully understand. But, thank you for making a terrible situation more bearable and understandable, and for shortening it. I appreciate all your efforts."
"Gary and I are very loving toward each other now. Once my anger went away and I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I realized that though I loved this man, love really isn't "all you need" to make a marriage work. We should never have married.
Thank you for your skill, your ability to see our true natures, and your insight into our relationship. I don't think I could have done this without that serious push from Israel. My family, friends, and coworkers have been incredibly supportive, saying things like "No one can say you didn't try", 'I never thought you'd do it', and 'I'm so proud of you.'"
"It has been a while. I suppose it is time to give you an update on the status of Gloria and I. The counseling and insights received from that weekend together still resound in my heart and mind -- and has immensely clarified my relationships and outlook on life. No more victim mentality -- and a much closer examination of what I tell myself about what others speak."
"Something is working. I feel more loving towards Paula than I have in a long time."
"I have often thought of writing you, mainly to thank you. I don't know how I would have gotten through these difficult times without the retreat. It was such an amazing experience! I wish we could do it every month. Since the retreat we have done very well, but have not been working hard enough as far as reflective listening and our other work. We just recently discussed that, after our first big argument and agreed to spend more time on this. I hope you have a wonderful summer. We miss those awsome sandwiches!!!"
"We will keep practicing, I promise. Things are good...better than EVER before!"
"Heather and I think of you and our days in Vermont often and with much joy. Times are tough some days, better on others. Adjusting to life in the City is a big feat for all of us. We remain committed to making our marriage and our family whole and enduring, to overcoming the challenges we face and the memories we carry within us. My warmest regards to both of you. I always think of Israel as an amazing father-figure/male mentor, in many ways the kind of Dad I wish mine was or had been. Please send him a big hug from me and tell him I miss his homemade salsa."
“I always felt that you had our best interests in mind”
“One thing Karen and I have talked about and agree on is that our experience with you was the catalyst behind the long road to recovery for our relationship. Obviously one weekend could not instantly repair what had been missing and the damage that had been done. It did though serve as the wake-up call for me that I was just so unable to find before. Although you might scold us for not always using the tools you taught us, I can assure you that we pull out that tool box whenever we find ourselves having trouble communicating. Obviously we are always looking to improve our communication skills, but having that skill set there when we are struggling has been invaluable. The mirroring has been especially helpful because we had a hard time hearing each other in the past. Bottom line is that we will never regret the money spent for our visit to you. I am confident that we would not be together today had we not visited you. Thank you so much for helping us.”
“How do we thank you? ...words fall far short… ...Israel and Cathie helped us make more progress in 9 hours than we were able to accomplish in 11 years of therapy… the sessions were non-confrontational, rational, and focused. As long as you are able to be honest with yourself and your spouse; are committed to doing whatever it takes to save your marriage; have an open mind and heart; and practice the techniques you are introduced to, you have an excellent chance of a positive outcome…”
(Cathie and I thought this recent letter was impossible to excerpt or compress.)
"What a powerful experience! We arrived uncertain and pessimistic about our future together. Through the work in the intensive sessions with the two of you, we were able to leave with a sense of hope in our future based in large measure on the effective communication methodology you taught us. Also profound was the way in which you zeroed in so quickly on each of our individual core issues which in the past had left us equally unable to connect in a way that truly promotes intimacy and understanding. So, not only did you help us as a couple, but you helped ME understand myself better.
"We both especially appreciated the weekend format, which allowed us to process so much more than we would have in a great many more weekly sessions. We left with a real sense of progress and a new deeper understanding of each other, now empowered to continue the work, either on our own, or with our counselor here at home. But frankly, the two of you have almost spoiled us now for regular counseling - your customized approach, the focus on just us, and the sheer amount of 'stuff' we covered in a weekend (!)- that level of effectiveness just can't be duplicated in a long series of weekly sessions. Also, the way the two of you work together, jumping in and taking a variety of roles as we worked through tough issues, made me feel as though we had our own personal coaches or trainers.
"We're applying what we learned with you, and are still somewhat amazed at how effectively and deeply we can now communicate when we use the Relationship Enhancement approach. We still have much work to do, but now we have a path and the tools. Now we have hope that we stand a chance. Thanks to you both."
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