Intensive Marriage Retreat: Reconnect With Your Loved One!

Whether your marriage is on the rocks and falling apart, or in need of a tune up, our intensive marriage retreat can help give you new tools and insights for dealing with the issues that seem unbearable and unsolvable.

Is Your Marriage In Crisis?

Having a happy marriage is hard work, and most people are never taught the skills to navigate the many challenges that happen during a long term romantic relationship. We always start with the hypothesis that every couple can have a fulfilling and satisfying marriage, and we just need to give you right tools. 

After we teach you the necessary skills, we will coach you during the session on how to effectively apply them with each other. Once your marriage has been given a chance at success, we can then have a honest conversation about compatibility if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

We get results for couples. You might not want to bring your luxury car to a local mechanic for a repair. Most therapists are generalists who work with a variety of people and issues. At Marriage Quest, we specialize in couples retreats. 

Our founders, Dr Israel and Cathie Helfand, have over 40 years of experience helping couples. Whether you are looking for a tune up or a major overhaul, we’ve been there. We’ve helped other couples achieve similar goals. We triage, identify problems, and teach solutions. It’s transformation through warp speed therapy.

Dr Israel and Cathie Helfand work out of their home office in Cabot, Vermont.

Dr David Helfand has an office in St Johnsbury, Vermont.

Couples therapy will generally cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 over the course of 365 days. A couples retreat is the same fee, but you will get even better results in only 3 days.

Please note that the exact fee will vary by therapist and for a weekend or weekday program. Contact us directly for specific pricing. Additionally, a non-refundable deposit is required in order to book your marriage retreat. In some cases, this deposit can be transferred one time.

No. Insurance only pays for traditional models of care such as weekly therapy. Many couples come to see us because the slow pace of traditional therapy has not worked for them or even hurt their relationship more.

No. We only work with one couple at a time so we can focus on your specific issues and goals. This allows us to achieve better results for you in a short period of time.

Why Are Intensive Marriage Retreats Important?

The short answer is that intensive couples retreats get results in a few days while many couples struggle in therapy for years without achieving their goals.

We have heard from many couples that three days with us during their couples workshop brought more progress than they ever experienced in a year or more of weekly sessions. Couples are commonly surprised with how we are able to provide long-term results with such short-term therapy.

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Weekly therapy sessions require that you set time aside for an indefinite amount of months to meet with your therapist. These sessions are also often wedged between other events in your day, which means an especially emotional conversation leaves you vulnerable for the next agenda item after therapy. In contrast, setting aside a few consecutive days for a marriage retreat is more time efficient.

Have you ever tried to read a book or a finish a project while people keep interrupting you? Having a stretch of time to work on anything is usually more efficient and satisfying. A couples retreat is a time for you and your partner to prioritize the relationship by taking a break from the demand of every day life.

Did you ever feel like you were just getting warmed up when the therapist had to end the session? We have experienced the choppy nature of stop and start therapy separated by a week or two. That is why the Marriage Quest ® process was developed. Having the luxury of a few hours allows us to create momentum and go deeper into any marital issue.

What Is The Success Rate Of Marriage Counseling Retreats?

Research has shown that the overall success of any marriage counseling is about 70 to 90%. This is usually based on couples that have been in therapy for many months or years. We see the same results in about 3 days.

A Marriage Quest couples retreat is like warp speed therapy. Imagine a really good counseling session and all of the benefits that come from it. Now imagine a dozen of back-to-back sessions that are able to build momentum and go deeper because of the luxury of time each day.

Most couples are looking to save their marriage, yet others are looking for relief from their painful situation. They are satisfied if they can separate with grace and dignity knowing that they’ve tried everything and knowing that they will be kind co-parents for their children.

Why A Couples Retreat Is Better Than Traditional Couples Therapy

Traditional marriage counseling often separates the couple so that either the same therapist sees each partner one at a time or the spouses both see two different counselors to deal with marital issues. If your marriage is in crisis, then the marriage must be in therapy.

During your retreat, our focus is on holding both of you accountable to improving the relationship and achieving your goals. We also start meeting with you as a couple from the very beginning of the retreat including the intake process. 

Another benefit of a retreat is the momentum we can create during the multiple hours we meet with you. Many couples have told us how frustrating it is to just start getting to the root of an issue when the therapist tells them their time is up for today.

How Do You Define Success During A Couples Counseling Retreat?

While the gold standard of success during a marriage intensive is that the couple is able to reconcile and improve their marriage, there are other useful outcomes.

Some couples are no longer compatible with each other, and it’s in the best interest of their health and happiness as well as their children’s longterm wellbeing for them to separate amicably.

They’ve come to realize that while they may love and care about each other very much, they might not lust each other or even like each other very much. When this is the case, it is bittersweet to decide to lovingly let go and move on, but this is often the best way to find peace and happiness for both individuals.

What Issues Can A Marriage Or Couples Retreat Help To Solve?

We can work with any issue that a couple is struggling with, and the concerns listed below are some of the most common that have appeared during a retreat. Some couples have one specific goal in mind while others are struggling in many areas of their relationship. 

We will help you work through as many concerns as possible during our time together, but more importantly we will teach you how to resolve these issues on your own so that you can be self-sufficient as a couple. As the story goes, we want you to learn how to fish instead of just giving you one meal.

ring image referring to couples considering divorce and private marriage retreat

Considering Divorce

About 40% of people who get divorced report they regret it later on, and that number jumps to 80% if the divorce is due to an affair. We have helped many couples explore the possibility of divorce, and it is amazing how when this conversation is approached correctly it can actually rekindle the marriage.

intensive couples retreat for mid life crisis in a struggling marriage

Midlife Crisis

People between the ages of 35 and 65 often wrestle with big questions regarding their meaning, purpose, and direction in life. It’s normal to question how to deal with a midlife crisis, and we have found that helping a couple address these issues together provides the most profound benefits and increases intimacy.

marriage retreat for sexless marriages that resolve emotional disconnection

Sexless Marriage

Many people think that it’s normal for sex to decrease with age and other stressors in life. The fact is that happy couples in their 60’s and 70’s often report higher sexual satisfaction than when they were younger, and sex can also be a powerful stress reliever when used the right way. Having a healthy sex life is very important for many couples.

intensive couples counseling retreat for marital infidelity

Infidelity

Infidelity can feel like the end of your relationship, but the research shows that in fact at least 70% of couples who work on their marriage after an affair feel closer than the preceding years in their marriage. Infidelity is a symptom of other dis-ease in your marriage, so our job is to address the root cause to help you heal, and prevent any future affairs.

marriage retreat with therapy to resolve resentment issues in a struggling marital relationship

Resentment

Resentment in marriage usually builds up over time from unresolved conflicts and a lack of quality time as a couple. Failure to develop closure around disagreements, traumatic experiences, and other tense moments in your relationship tend to fester and become worse with time.

marriage retreat featuring communication therapy to improve understanding and respect

Couples Communication

Feeling unheard, misunderstood, or dismissed leads many couples to consider the fate of their relationship. There are many barriers to effective communication, and the most common is when one spouse becomes triggered and then lashes out or avoids further conversation. This also creates defensiveness for both partners.

Israel & Cathie Helfand - renowned intensive marriage counseling retreat therapists
Dr David Helfand PsyD - couples marriage retreat therapist

Your Marriage Therapy Experts

Dr. Israel Helfand and his wife, Cathie Helfand, have worked together as a couple with couples for 40 years. Today they facilitate Marriage Quest and Sexploration retreats at their homestead in rural northern Vermont. Together, they developed the Marriage Quest process with Dr Barry Ginsberg of the Center of Relationship Enhancement and have been running their marriage retreats since 1995. Their son, Dr David Helfand, has recently joined the practice after successfully running couples therapy retreats for nearly a decade. Other therapists will join the Marriage Quest team in the future.

Marriage Retreat Details & Schedule

We work with one couple at a time to address your specific needs and tailor the process for optimal growth and learning. Most couples in crisis choose a 3-day program, however Dr David Helfand at Marriage Quest offers 1-4 day programs depending on the needs of the couple. Every couples intensive is a custom designed retreat experience to help teach you a better approach to relationship issues, and hopefully create a deeper relationship between you and your spouse. Please review a general curriculum below for a three day program.

Upon confirmation of your sign-up, we will send you a Questionnaire to begin your preparation process. Many couples read Cathie and Israel’s book “The YUMMY Marriage” as part of their preparation. Dr David Helfand also offers an online course for all couples prior to a retreat with him. We will review your Questionnaire and other related information before your retreat to make sure we are prepared for our time together.

Please arrive the day before your retreat to settle into your hotel or Air BnB so that you are ready to start fresh the next morning. Some couples come in two days prior so they can explore the area or account for travel delays and jet lag. Most retreats start at 10am on day 1 and end 3 or 4 hours later depending on the therapist.

We begin by talking about marriage: what are the components of a happy marriage, what are the common challenges, how does sex fit into a healthy marriage, etc. Then we take a detailed history on each of you: about your family of origin, your cultural and religious influences, your current family situation, as well the roots of your romantic and sexual involvement with each other. We then switch gears and begin various tutorials and behavioral exercises focused on your specific needs. While you practice with each other and we coach you through your new skills. Many couples often feel exhausted at the end of the day and take a nap to recharge for the evening.

We will start by checking in on yesterday’s experience as well as your afternoon and evening together. Day 2 is usually the heavy lifting day, and we have 3 hours together to accomplish what we need to. We are going to address the topics that must be covered during your retreat in order to either work on your relationship goals or help you make a decision about the future of your marriage. We will guide you safely through those sensitive conversations by making sure you follow the guidelines for effective communication. This often means we interrupt a lot in the beginning, but as you become more comfortable and experienced, we will let you lead the discussion while guiding as needed.

Some spouses benefit from a brief individual meeting to discuss personal topics or work privately on some of the skills. When appropriate, we plan some time to address these topics with each spouse individually before integrating that work back into the relationship.

The third day is when we help you put together all of the information you have learned during the prior two days. We will discuss aftercare recommendations, topics regarding parenting, and wrap up any topics from the previous days. For couples that are considering separation or divorce, Day 3 is a pivotal moment. We will help you determine future compatibility and make a decision about the marriage. Day two is 2-3 hours depending on the therapist.

Between each day of the retreat, you will be practicing the communications skills you are learning, talking to each other on a new deeper level about how your relationship began and grew (or did not grow), about your hopes and dreams for your self and for your relationship together, your regrets and sorrows, and where you see things going. In addition we will suggest other activities to do together, and hope that you can have some fun and relaxation after the day’s intensive session. Self reflection assignment are also often part of this process.

When you return home, we are available for brief questions regarding communication skills, aftercare recommendations that we suggested at the end of your retreat, or other helpful resources. Longer discussions will incur a fee, and some couples will come back for a tune up if needed. If the focus of the retreat was to help you through a crisis period in your marriage, you might want to return for more relationship support such as sex therapy or dealing with new phases of life.

Our Marriage Counseling Philosophy

Your marriage deserves to be a priority, and we understand you are putting a lot of trust in us once your marriage is in our hands. The point of a couples therapy retreat is to help you learn a process that you can replicate once you return home. Marriage Quest Retreats have been refined over four decades to provide significant results in a very short period of time.

The reason we have such good success is we focus on teaching you effective couples communication and hold you accountable during sessions. We will also help you discuss issues around sex and intimacy, and learn how to self regulate and manage your emotional triggers. If a childhood wound or life trauma seems to be sabotaging your marriage, we will do some experiential therapy to encourage healing. We get a great deal of work done in a relatively short period of time because we learn just how much to push each of you for your optimal growth. The process is deep, meaningful, and intense.

More Frequently Asked Questions

Couples are often blown away by how much work we can accomplish in such a short time. Have you ever had a really transformative therapy session? Imagine a dozen of them back-to-back over three days. The difference is we know what we are looking for, and therefore, where to go, and we do not waste time getting there. That is why we have always claimed that it is “short term therapy with long term results”. Oh, and did I mention warp speed therapy.

Note: we combine cognitive behavioral with experiential therapy, a powerful combination of treatment modalities that not only teach skills but can heal past trauma.

When you agree to a date, we send you the Sign-up paperwork to complete with payment information. Upon payment in full or the deposit portion, we give you the Questionnaire for each of you to complete. This helps you to prepare for the retreat and relax from dealing with your current issues (?)

During your retreat, our focus is on teaching you healthy communication skills and holding both of you accountable to improving your relationship and achieving your goals, whatever that might be. After teaching you the foundational skills, we explore each of your relationship strengths and challenges and offer support and guidance as needed. We have the option of meeting with one of you alone if it’s determined that it will serve your marriage and your personal goals. Since we work with one couple at a time, we have a lot of flexibility.

During your retreat, our focus is on teaching you healthy communication skills and holding both of you accountable to improving your relationship and achieving your goals, whatever that might be. After teaching you the foundational skills, we explore each of your relationship strengths and challenges and offer support and guidance as needed. We have the option of meeting with one of you alone if it’s determined that it will serve your marriage and your personal goals. Since we work with one couple at a time, we have a lot of flexibility.

In a loving and peaceful way. Tell them that you love them and are feeling ____, perhaps lonely, depressed, anxious, unhappy, etc. Don’t ask any questions; just share that you are ready to do something about it and would like nothing more than to heal with them.

If you need to cancel your retreat, please inform your therapist as soon as possible. Deposits for a retreat are non-refundable but in some situations can be transferred. Most therapists have a policy that the entire retreat fee is non refundable within 2 weeks of your start date. If you paid in full, half of the fee can be refunded with at least two weeks notice.

A deposit is required in order to schedule your private couples retreat. The deposit is equal to half of the total fee.

Follow The Steps Below To Sign Up For Your Marriage Retreat

When you are ready to get help, you are welcome to contact us about available dates for a couples retreat. Some couples prefer to schedule a phone consultation or ask questions via email, and any of our well trained therapists are happy to offer a free consultation before signing up for a marriage program.

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If no one is available, please leave a message with your contact info and any questions about a retreat.

Someone will return your call within 1 business day.

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