The Marriage Quest Philosophy
We Get Results For You
It’s our job to get you results during your retreat. That is why couples invest in a Marriage Quest® program. Our goal is to help you become happier and healthier individuals with a more fulfilling relationship, which hopefully creates a peaceful marriage and family. Unfortunately, sometimes the marriage cannot survive in order for everyone else to live their best life, and we will provide a reality check regarding the likelihood that you can have your ideal marriage or relationship.
Tailored For Each Couple
Every retreat is tailored to meet the goals and unique needs of each couple. Many couples come to us wanting help making a decision about their marriage, and they sometimes have specific relationship qualities they are looking to improve in order to be happy again.
We have identified 4 relationship pillars that help most couples improve their connection and overall marital satisfaction. However, we also customize the process for every couple based on the goals, personalities, and skill sets of each spouse. In some cases, couples are no longer compatible, and separation must be considered as a possibility for future happiness. Ironically, sometimes having this discussion can create profound healing in your marriage.
The 4 Pillars Of Our Couples Therapy Retreats
The effectiveness of Marriage Quest Therapy comes from combining communication training and self-regulation skills. In addition to teaching you these powerful tools, we also hold you and your partner accountable during the sessions as you apply them. The intensive format has proven valuable to helping couples go deeply into their issues and goals, healing wounds and making solid plans for a happier future.
Effective communication helps you feel more connected, and breaks the negative cycles of triggering each other. For spouses with complicated trauma in their history, these skills can stop them from getting triggered and becoming reactive.
The goal of therapy should be to not need therapy in the future. In order for you and your partner to either have a successful relationship or make a decision about your marriage, you will have to learn communication skills. In our experience, many other therapists teach some of these skills, but they do not either provide the full picture or hold the couple accountable to the process during session.
During our sessions, we are going to hold you accountable and guide you through a conversation that is kind, authentic, and effective to help you move your relationship in a positive direction. Many couples question their compatibility, but the truth is they are just stuck in negative patterns.
Connecting with your partner in a healthy way will require the ability to identify and manage your triggers so you can stay present and loving with your partner. During the retreat, we will assess your personal challenges, and teach you ways to deal with them within the context of your relationship.
A trigger is essentially an event that hijacks your nervous system. When you enter into a fight-or-flight response, your ability to think rationally is almost entirely removed. However, shutting down your emotions is also not healthy. It takes practice to balance between states of high and low emotion where the optimal chance for connection is. Our job is to help identify your emotions, regulate your behaviors, and express yourself in a way that builds a stronger connection between you and your spouse. Additionally, learning these skills has a profound benefit to your own emotional and physical wellbeing.
Couples with higher marital satisfaction almost always have a good sex life, and improving your sex life often leads to improvements in almost every other area of your relationship.
There is a wide range of what is normal in a healthy sex life. Sexual satisfaction is one of the best predictors of long term marital satisfaction, and the path to get there can be bi-directional: some partners need to like each other before jumping in bed, and others feel closer to their partner after a great sexual encounter. In other words, emotional intimacy can lead to sexual intimacy and sexual intimacy can lead to a deeper emotional connection.
We can help you and your partner co-create your ideal sex life or adapt based on life stressors such as careers, kids, aging bodies, and even disabilities. It’s starts by identifying what you want your sex life to look like, having an open conversation with your partner, and then making sure both of you prioritize yourself and each other.
We have often heard from past couples that a marriage intensive is worth more than 6-12 months of weekly therapy because of the continued momentum and efficiency of the process.
Most couples that attend an intensive couples retreat have either been discouraged by the slow process of traditional therapy or they just want to quickly stop the suffering in their marriage. A three day marriage retreat is equivalent to about 6-12 months of high quality weekly couples therapy.
If you want to make faster progress, get an answer about staying together, or limit the impact of your stress on your kids and other family members, a marriage retreat is the best option. Marriage Quest Therapy was specifically designed to address the needs of a couple in a very short period of time while providing lasting results. We like to use a phrase given to us by a past couple we helped: “This is warp speed therapy!”
The Empirical Foundations Of Marriage Quest Therapy
Our Philosophical Orientation is based on the work of many teachers, trainers, and mentors over the years, and is enhanced by our own marriage and life experiences. Predominantly we draw from Family Systems Therapy of Virginia Satir, Differentiation concepts from Murray Bowen, Rational Emotive (Behavioral)Therapy from Albert Ellis, Relationship Enhancement from Bernard Gurney and Barry Ginsberg, Psychodrama from J. L. Moreno, Gestalt Techniques from Fritz Perls, Strategic and Structural Family Therapy of Salvador Minuchin, Jay Haley, Peggy Papp, and Paul Watzlawick, the co-dependency work of Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse and spiritual perspectives of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Jack Schwartz.
More recently we have incorporated the wisdom and clinical approaches of: Terry Real with Relational Life Therapy, Richard Schwartz with Internal Family Therapy, Sue Johnson with Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, Hendrick and Hunt with Imago Therapy, Barry McCarthy and Jack Morin on various aspects of sexuality, Esther Perel with her international perspectives on intimacy and eroticism, Robert Sapolsky’s work with the human stress response, Jon Kabat Zinn’s teachings on mindfulness, Rick Hanson’s work in positive psychology, and de Shazer and Berg’s teachings on solution focused brief couples therapy interventions.
Relationship Enhancement’s emphasis on couples communication is the basis for the Marriage Quest Therapy Process. The paradox is when couples let their guard down and go deeper into their thoughts and feelings. They often become closer even if their thoughts and feelings are filled with hurt and disappointment. This can be the beginning of the rekindling of the marriage, or the realization of an impending separation. Either way it is a success in the integrity of both individuals and of the family system.
There are three potential outcomes from your retreat: you can keep the status quo, decide to make positive changes to better your marriage, or you can plan for a separation. Most couples are frustrated with the status quo, but their style of communication keeps them suspended in this state. We will focus on repairing your marriage as step one. If marital repair seems unlikely, we will help you discuss a trial separation so that no matter what you and your partner will leave the retreat on a better path for your long term relationship. This is especially important if you both have kids.
Psychodrama is an experiential process that helps you heal from past traumas and get unstuck from old patterns in your life. We often use psychodramatic tools such as doubling or role playing, the empty chair, inner child work, role reversal, integrated parts work, continuums, sociometry, and re-parenting. Great therapy should combine skill based cognitive education with experiential exercises in session to maximize your success. For example, watching your spouse move through a trauma often creates a deeper sense of connection, empathy, and understanding. Using these exercises during a marriage retreat will help you identify and resolve past traumas and improve your current communication all while being guided along the way.
You will get better at what you practice. This is how your brain learns, and unfortunately many couples become experts at arguing, avoiding, or triggering each other. Every time you activate a pathway in your brain, it becomes stronger. This is why the focus during a marriage quest retreat is to have the couple talk to each other in a more positive way while the therapist coaches and guides them. Having successful communication in the office will lead to better outcomes at home.
As marriage therapists, one of our primary goals is to maintain the health of the entire household. Many therapy approaches attempt to address relationship issues (i.e. marriage, parent/child dynamics, etc) by only bringing one person into therapy. This is often counter productive to achieving your relationship goals. If your marriage needs help, your marriage needs to be in therapy, which requires all partners be present. Our job is to empower you to define your relationship. Unlike other programs, we advocate for the marriage but not at any price. We believe that people have the right to be happy and that the most important issue developmentally for children is to have happy parents whether they remain married, or decide to separate.
You are not your thoughts, and thoughts are not facts, but thoughts can influence your feelings and behaviors. In general, you will get more of whatever you focus on, so if you focus on negative things that you do not want you will actually get more of it. We train couples to focus on the positive goal, on what they want and need. Many spouses also make inaccurate assumptions about their partner’s state of mind or intention. Miscommunication often happens when people just simply have different interpretations of a situation or a word that was used. Learning how to clearly express your thoughts is necessary for a healthy relationship. Similarly, backing up your ideas with thoughtful action will create a deeper connection and a feeling that you and your partner are on the same team.
Your Marriage Is Our Client
Turning Philosophy Into Action
Our process is two fold: teach you the process of effective couples communication, while we analyze your process and nudge the conversation to be more meaningful and connective. The marriage retreat is where we turn our philosophy into action to help your relationship.
Let's Plan Your Couples Retreat
Contact one of our well trained therapists today to make sure we are a good fit for your relationship and marriage goals. You can send us an email or schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation to answer your questions and provide information on available dates and pricing.