This is a collection of some of the letters that we have received from happy couples over the past 40 years.
I am thankful to you for opening my eyes to the "bigger picture". I feel we have gained more skills in our toolkit to plan for success. I learned a lot and as the days continue to unfold I am happy to be able to apply it to even more areas of my life. I am learning to say what I am feeling and not assume people know. I think some of the things you covered are basic in nature but complex in practicality. The sessions help to create awareness and get conversations started.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
After we left, Jim said we should have gone to see you the day after we got married in order to have the necessary tools to maintain a healthy relationship. I never would have believed that after just three short days I would be willing to make such a huge effort in my marriage again.
You provided a piece of our puzzle to help us be at peace with our divorce. It still sucks, but it makes a bit more sense. It is so wonderful that you open your home to share your knowledge and experience to help guide people.
I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks. Bethanne and I are doing amazing after our retreat. We look forward to another session in the future to help keep our marriage healthy and happy.
We really seem to have gotten our "groove" back, and we are having fun together in life like we always did before we got off-track. Every day and every moment isn't 100% sunshine, such is life; but we have both really grown in our ability to resolve conflict, tame our tone, and keep the love up-front. This really is a happy home. Thanks, again, to both of you for helping us get back on-track (in particular from me to Israel- for scaring the crap out of me with the horrible reality of what I was about to lose).
I never thought that it would be enough time... but now after doing it I realize that it was a lot of time.
Thank you so much for such a powerful and enlightening weekend. Ken and I gained so much insight on ourselves as individuals and how that transfers into our relationship. Your guidance through it all was comforting and we truly appreciated everything.
My head is still spinning from all I learned and continue to work on. I feel so much lighter and that a huge weight has been lifted. It isn't perfect but I now know that there is nothing that Beth and I can't talk about. Things have gotten so much better between us, I just can't tell you what your work has done for me and for US. Perhaps we are still in the "honeymoon period" but the tools are there for us to use when needed. We are talking together, sleeping together, and doing fun things together, and I look forward to the time rather than fearing it. When talking with friends or family now it is all I can do to keep from insisting that they seek you out.
Working with you at your place, there were virtually no distractions; just beauty all around us. We addressed deep issues, ones that we could not find on our own... or weren't willing to.
Thanks for introducing us to some techniques and thoughts, but way more importantly, for making us look clearly at what we would lose if we continued on the path that we were on.
Sarah and I sat down last night and we were able to work things out. We were using skills we learned many years ago from you, a pair of top notch marriage counselors. We'll be working on our relationship together, and some other stuff that needs to be thought through, but we are approaching it as a team now. You and Israel really made a big difference in our lives, and I'm sure countless other couples as well. Thank You!
I am extremely grateful for your help and guidance this past weekend. I do wish we had met you 15 years ago but nonetheless you have been incredibly caring, insightful and have played a crucial role in improving our lives.
Marriage Quest in Vermont was well worth the time and money spent to help determine if my marriage was worth saving and if it could be saved. The Helfand’s are very good about getting to the roots of the problems and about helping you put together an action plan post retreat. My marriage was worth saving and could have been saved, but my husband(ex) did not want to work beyond my deal breakers, although he committed to doing so at the retreat. When I put an end to our marriage (one year after the retreat), I felt resolved that I tried all I could do to avoid divorce but knew that to continue in my marriage was a betrayal to myself and a constant compromise to my values.
It’s now been 3 years since the last update and 6 years (Wow !!) since we visited you. Drumroll please…. We are doing great!! Our oldest is filtering through her college acceptances and will start in September. Our youngest will be going to Driver’s Ed in a few months.So many of our friends have unfortunately ended up with divorce, including one who is living with us temporarily to get on her feet. It is hard to believe we had gotten so far off track, but remain forever grateful for having found you and being pointed along the right way once again. We honestly couldn’t have and wouldn’t have made it without you. We are all a stronger family now. Hopefully we are far enough along now to be called a “success story” and wanted you to know how much we appreciate you both. Although I’m the email guy, rest assured Karen and I have discussed the pivotal point in our relationship where hope was found and it all begins with you folks. Forever grateful.
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...
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.
I always felt that you had our best interests in mind
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.
We will keep practicing, I promise. Things are good...better than EVER before!
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!!!
Something is working. I feel more loving towards Paula than I have in a long time.
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.
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.\n\nThank 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.'"
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.
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.
The great thing is that Tim and I are parting as friends, and we weren't headed in that direction before.
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.
There aren't enough people like the two of you in the world... let alone great couples.
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!
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.
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.
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.
It opened doors, [I can] start building bridges.
It's been over two and half years since we started [counselling] 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 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...
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!
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!
My husband is talking to me!
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!
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 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.
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 learned more about my husband in 3 days than I have in 7 years.
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.)
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.
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.
Thank you from my heart, I feel such gratitude for your caring and compassionate help.
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!
We were both impressed by the weekend and the good it has done. You both are real 'pros'.
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.
Thanks. It was a powerful weekend for us-vastly exceeded my expectations.
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.
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 learned more about my wife in the last 2 hours than in all of our past therapy sessions together.
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
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.
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.
It was scary! It was hard!! It was intense!!! It was great!!!! It was perfect!!!!! revitalized !!!!!
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.
Thank you... Wow... I didn't believe it was possible.
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!
I can't believe that the whole world doesn't know about you guys!
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:-)
Three months after going there we can honestly say it's been a quantum leap in the right direction.
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.
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!
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!
Thank you, thank you, thank you. - You have saved our marriage. Intimacy was a real mystery to us and you gave us the roadmap to our souls in a gentle and caring way. We feel a real miracle has occurred and we will treasure and nurture it. Your warmth and kindness was very comforting throughout the re-programming sessions we were privileged to attend. We wish that any couple in need of marriage repair could find their way to your doorstep!
Things have settled down since our first real 'conflict resolution' test. We didn't follow what you and Israel taught us, and we fell off the wagon. However, we went back to the basics using the communication techniques we learned and have been able to get past several incidents. Nina and I both believe we'll be successful graduates. I believe you have helped us save our marriage. Thank you. It was worth every penny.
I have had more fun in the bedroom than I have had in years.
The fear and anxiety of being at fault or manipulated evaporated in the first 15 minutes. Firmly and with sensitivity, Israel and Cathie enriched our understanding of underlying behavior issues in our 15 year marriage without judging or blaming. We arrived as strained husband and wife and left as best friends knowing that our personal development was to be best served by going forward apart, yet with the desire to enjoy each other as friends.
Thanks for a very productive weekend - really broke the logjam we had built - we'll see how we go over the next few weeks but at this stage of post workshop enthusiasm, it's been great!
When I objectively observe Paul and myself individually going through this time, it amazes me how much we must have learned about ourselves during our times spent with you and Israel. As a consequence we have never been more understanding and gentle with each other as a couple. Thanks again for all the strength you brought into our lives.
Thank you for giving Nathan and me this life changing experience. I hear Nathan telling people this, he said he wants to share this with so many people. I do believe there will be a few more couples calling you (our friends). You two have a gift, I am sure you know that. I learned more in 9 hours than I did in 20 years! And I am pretty sure Nathan feels the same! (He said so) I hope to see you again someday.
Your insight and compassion have opened our eyes to feelings locked away for years. We have a found a new connection and understanding of each others feelings, wants, and needs that seemed out of reach until now.
Things have been much better between us since our retreat session with you. We both know it will only be a matter of time before our new lifestyle and communication skills will be even more fulfilling and get more comfortable. Thank you for all your help with getting us to jump start our lives back on the road to recovery; you were exactly what we needed and had searched for. Joey loved it so much he was wishing we had one more day to spend with you!!!
My (our) weekend with you was so life-affirming and joyous-really! Doug and I came home with more and better communication methods (as well as sexual methods!) and we both truly thank you for being in our lives to guide us.
I think we both needed this retreat to motivate ourselves to connect and move on together in a positive direction. Your directives and coaching are very valuable and we will definitely practice the skills you have discussed with us.
I want to thank you both for the wonderful sessions we shared with you. I feel strengthened by the tools provided and hopeful for our future.
I am in a better place, and that is because of our weekend with you. Thank you again for opening my eyes and my mind, and guiding me down a path to find 'my truth'.
I am thankful to you for opening my eyes to the bigger picture. I feel we have gained more skills in our toolkit to plan for success. I learned a lot and as the days continue to unfold I am happy to be able to apply it to even more areas of my life. I am learning to say what I am feeling and not assume people know. I think some of the things you covered are basic in nature but complex in practicality. The sessions help to create awareness and get conversations started.