Revitalize Your Marriage
We believe an equal marriage is a lifelong commitment. Strengthening that partnership should be your number one priority. We’ve included a good deal of information about communication, but you may find that your relationship is need of professional help, or maybe just a boost. Marriage retreats, classes and counseling can help you before and during your marriage with lasting communication skills.
According to Rosemarie Hoffman, PhD., the long-term expectation that the relationship will continue plays a critical role in the day-to-day quality of that relationship. When people are more dedicated to their partners and relationships, they live and behave in ways that show it.
Whether you are going through a difficult time, or feel “bored” in your marriage, a marriage retreat weekend may be just the thing you need to refresh yourselves. While many of the organizations that offer marriage retreats are religious institutions, they welcome those couples who are non-denominational as well. Much of what is discussed and put into practice during these retreats is non secular. Here are two of the more well known:
Retrouvaille (Catholic based) is a live-in weekend and post weekend program for married couples who are looking to “rediscover” their mate. The retreat is a series of presentations given by one of three married couples and a priest that focus on specific areas of a marriage relationship. After each presentation there is private reflection time given for each couple. The weekend is not a spiritual retreat, a sensitivity group, a seminar, nor is it a social gathering. Retrouvaille recognizes it can’t cure a troubled marriage in a weekend so it has a series of post-weekend follow-up sessions to support couples in their “rediscovery”.
The National Marriage Encounter, (Judeo/Christian) is a support organization for married couples, begun in 1952 by a Spanish priest who wanted to help couples grow. The weekend sessions focus on enhancing communication. Participation is open to couples regardless of religious beliefs, including couples with inter-faith marriages or previous divorces. Retreats are available nationwide.
If you are looking for more than a weekend or two, there are also marriage classes. Whether you’ve been married for 30 years or for only a few months, your marriage may benefit from a carefully designed relationship program. We’ve listed two of the more well regarded classes below. All of the programs have varying techniques to improve communication, be sure to read all of their material to see which one applies best to your partnership.
PREP (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program)“a research-based, skills building curriculum designed to help partners say what they need to say, get to the heart of problems, avoid standoffs and connect with each other instead of pushing each other away.” The program begun by Drs. Markman and Stanley, both psychologists, focuses on reducing “risk factors” and increasing “protective factors” to help marriages succeed. This program states it is not therapy, but education. You don’t even have to leave your house; they offer videotapes, audiotapes, and books. Workshops range from weekend workshops, to six weekly sessions two hours in length, to One-Day workshops taught by independent PREP Instructors.
PAIRS (Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills)has seven programs for singles and couples in any stage of their relationship. The programs vary in length from one day to 8 weeks to a semester. All of the programs developed by Dr. Lori Gordon focus on romance and intimacy, communication, “The Self” and clarifying expectations. There are also programs where the whole family can participate to work on topics such as disagreeing productively, with respect and with love and a sense of humor (about yourself). PAIRS programs are offered throughout the U.S.
If sharing your personal time with other couples who are having a difficult time is not agreeable with your spouse then you may want to consider marriage counseling. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy treats individuals, couples and families. Their Website includes a printable “Consumer Guide to Marriage and Family Therapy” which lists questions to ask when interviewing a therapist, as well as a list of “distress signals” to see if you are in need of counseling. Of the 23,000 professionals, (U.S., Canada, Overseas) 15,000 are listed on their site.
Some other places to look for marriage support are:
- Local Yellow Pages under the heading, “Counselors – Marriage & Family”.
- Community Counseling Centers may also have listings of local retreats, organizations, programs, courses or therapists.
- Religious institutions often have faith- based marriage support either through individual counseling or a retreat.
- The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has compiled a guide to preventing divorce, including tips on improving communication skills, money management, assessing changing priorities and dealing with infidelity. The organization also suggests that couples consider professional therapy and marriage programs sponsored by religious organizations.