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What Is a Marriage Retreat?

What Is a Marriage Retreat?

What is a marriage retreat? Should my spouse and I attend one? Do you only attend a marriage retreat if your marriage is struggling? How much do they cost? These are all very good questions that we will explore in this article.

Marriage retreats have been steadily growing in popularity and availability. They are most likely sprouting up in response to our ever-increasing divorce rate. They are one tool a married couple can use to grow closer to each other and get back on track in their relationship.

What Is a Marriage Retreat?

A marriage retreat is an opportunity for a couple to get away and focus on their relationship. Life gets hectic, especially when you have kids. Most of the time, you are tag-teaming on who will drive which child where. Conversations can narrow to bills and schedules. Going away together allows you to put aside daily responsibilities and focus on your spouse. A marriage retreat is about spending time together, having deep conversations, breaking away from the routine, and gaining advice from knowledgeable sources.

Marriage retreats will not all look the same. Some have a religious component; some do not. Typically, they are a two-night getaway focused on strengthening your marriage. This is done through conducting multiple sessions where you are taught skills and equipped with tools you can use back at home, such as communication techniques. The weekend will have an agenda complete with teaching sessions, meals, and free time. The sessions are led by a counselor, therapist, or an experienced individual. They cover topics meant to equip the couple to learn and grow together. Some retreats offer a marriage intensive for those in an extremely challenging season. These can range from three to five days.

Some couples are better than others at doing "maintenance" on their marriage (date nights, constant conversation, etc.). Relationships require effort. Marriage retreats are for those struggling in their relationship and those who are not. It's for both groups and everyone in-between who wants to improve their marriage and strive towards oneness.

What Topics Are Covered at a Marriage Retreat and How Much Do They Cost?

Each marriage retreat will be slightly different depending on who is leading them and their focus. Topics may include communication skills, how to better connect, intimacy, conflict resolution, how to seek God in your marriage, connecting emotionally, understanding each other's fears, and rekindling romance.

The cost will vary. Christian organizations attempt to keep costs down so finances are not a barrier from coming. However, that will depend on where you are located compared to the retreat. You can always search in your area and find one locally, so travel expenses are minimal.

It also depends on what you are looking for. Some are three to four days and become part vacation located in a beautiful setting. This would cost more but provide a different experience. A general range for a two-night retreat seems to be approximately $600 to $800, which includes lodging, food, and programming. This does not include travel costs.

A Christian retreat will have a Christ-centered approach to its teachings. Focus on the Family and WinShape Marriage are two Christian organizations with their own retreat centers. They offer a handful of weekends and a variety of topics to choose from.

If cost is an issue, treat it like a vacation, start putting aside monthly money, and save up for the event. Consider it an investment in your marriage. Your marriage is worth it! When mom and dad's relationship is strong and healthy, the house naturally runs smoother and is a more loving environment to raise kids.

Different Reasons, Different Seasons for Marriage Retreats

There are many reasons for you to attend a marriage retreat. Life can throw all sorts of challenges your way, impacting your relationship. You might be struggling through a hard season with your spouse where you can't seem to communicate effectively. Maybe you have experienced a trauma or a death in the family. Financial challenges, a new job, a prodigal child, or a move all impact a marriage.

Getting away together and having focused time with each other to discuss the change and challenges you are facing can be helpful. If things are going smooth in your marriage, you can always learn something new which might help you continue to deepen your relationship.

Raising small can be taxing on a marriage. Mom hardly has energy left after a day of chasing children, changing diapers, and rocking screaming children. Her physical and emotional energy is being poured into the children, which can sometimes create tension in the marriage. Or maybe you are at the other end, and your kids have left for college, and you find yourself in a quiet home, not sure what to do.

There are many reasons and seasons to justify attending a marriage retreat. The great thing is there are many options out there. If you feel disconnected from your spouse, this might be the perfect time to explore a retreat. Couples tend to wait to get help, whereas if you focus on the relationship sooner, it might save you a lot of heartache.

The reality is every couple will have rough spots in their marriage. I haven't met a couple yet who said their entire relationship has been peachy keen. We are sinners married to sinners. Making our marriage a priority could be the difference between a healthy marriage and a struggling marriage.

One Flesh

The Bible says in Genesis 2:24, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." Jesus reiterates these words in Mark 10:0 and then goes on to say, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." Let no one separate! Those are strong words, and we must take them seriously. In 1914 the divorce rate in the United States was 1%. Nowadays, it hovers around 50%. We need to take Jesus's words seriously.

A marriage retreat is one tool you can utilize to focus on your marriage and continue to grow closer. Business, jobs, kids, and house responsibilities are demanding sources of your time. We must intentionally carve out touchpoints to come back together and focus on our marriage. We are fortunate to have many resources available if we need assistance in our marriage. There are retreats, counselors, pastors, mentoring couples in our churches, books, seminars, and online resources.

The health of your marriage is critical. What better way to set up the next generation than to model a healthy marriage? A healthy marriage is good for your household, but it's also good for the community. In her book Ten Words to Live By, Jen Wilkin states, "Functional marriages tend to build functional homes that require less intervention from the community."

I'm not saying a marriage retreat will solve all your problems. I am saying that for our marriages to be healthy and stay that way, it takes effort and deliberateness.

Your marriage is important. It's the most important relationship you have, under God. Getting away is not easy, but it can be helpful. Whether you are thriving in your marriage and want to continue that way or are struggling and need support, investing in your marriage is always worth the effort.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Kasto80

Katie Kennedy headshotKatie T. Kennedy lives in Richmond, VA. She is married to a wonderful husband Jonathan and they have three girls. She is a writer, blogger, and employee of the family business. After a mid-life spiritual transformation, she discovered her love of writing. She loves to travel, read, be in nature, cook, and dream.  She would love to connect with you online at www.katietkennedy.com, Instagram or Facebook.



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