15 benefits couples can expect from a marriage retreat

Couples who invest a weekend or more in a leading evidence-based marriage and relationship skills training program can expect to leave the experiential class with a lifetime of benefits, including a better ability to:

  1. Identify needs and feelings and learn how to communicate them so that they get met without others feeling resentful, smothered, burdened, manipulated or inadequate.
  2. Recognize when the style of communication style is more of a problem than the problem.
  3. Communicate painful, upsetting feelings without destroying love and know how to accept and express anger comfortably and nondestructively.
  4. Recognize and deal with covert, indirect expressions of anger.
  5. Cope with either a fight-phobic or aggressive, hostile partner.
  6. Clear the air of strong feelings of fear, pain, or anger before starting sessions of problem-solving and conflict resolution.
  7. Negotiate in a way that you actually resolve the issue at hand — including problems related to sex, money, children, time (work and leisure), in-laws, ex-spouses, housework, fidelity and jealousy. Learn to fight for the relationship using a win/win approach, instead of the win/lose approach that makes losers want to withdraw emotionally or get even.
  8. Satisfy the biological need for bonding — that combination of physical closeness and emotional openness that humans nee.
  9. Clarify the need for bonding as distinct from needs for sensuality and sex; and add avenues of closeness beyond sex.
  10. Know and nurture self and others in ways that include recognizing, acknowledging, and enjoying differences rather than seeing them as a threat or attack.
  11. Recognize the different roles you and your partner play — the masks you don, the behaviors you assume in different moods and circumstances — and find out how they work, or don’t work together.
  12. Avoid the mind reading that so often leads to misunderstandings between couples; learn to make no assumptions and not to expect that “if you loved me, you would know …”
  13. Uncover the hidden expectations and defensive communication styles (learned through parental messages and family models) that may be sabotaging your relationship.
  14. Get your own needs met, so you are free to feel real empathy for your partner, instead of secretly resenting the role of caretaker or provider.
  15. Create a road map to a relationship in which you can both live joyfully.

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