Wellness is more than what we eat and how often we move our bodies; strong relationships are a key component for overall well-being and happiness. Research shows that strong, positive relationships affect our mental and physical health, and even our healing rate and mortality risk.
But relationships take energy, and like fitness, you have to put in the work to keep them strong. While the idea of a couples retreat might conjure up images of an over-sexed yoga instructor and unorthodox therapy from the 2009 film of the same name, they are in fact a wonderful way to take advantage of vacation time to renew a relationship.
Whether you are experiencing issues and want to find solutions, or are simply yearning for more intimacy and wish to take your relationship to a deeper level, a couples retreat allows the time and space to truly connect, away from busy lives, work, and children in a beautiful, often exotic, setting.
Sandra Reich, M.Ed., is the Clinical Director of The Montreal Center for Anxiety & Depression, Co-Director of Empowered Women Workshops, bestselling author of a #1 book on relationships as well as the host of Straight Talk with Sandra Reich, a top weekly radio show on Internet’s Voice America. She runs couples retreats each year to sunny locations such as Mexico and the beautiful Mont Tremblant, Quebec, covering techniques and strategies to help relationships thrive, such as respectful boundaries, communication, and building trust.
She notes, “We don’t get a manual on how to have a healthy relationship. All too often couples either wait until their relationship is in rough waters to seek help, or they don’t get any at all and throw in the towel. You need to learn the tips and strategies it takes to keep your relationship flourishing…and that’s really hard to do when you’re busy with life.”
Unlike the film, couples retreats do not typically require that anyone share anything in a large group setting, as the “work” is done by each couple with privacy. Participants are welcome to share insights in the larger group during presentations and talks, but it’s not usually required – a relief for many.
When you are not in the space of learning from the facilitators, you have time to relax, get pampered, enjoy romantic meals or get active together, everything a ‘regular’ holiday would afford for body and soul. This time is about rejuvenation and learning to focus on each other, without distraction, technology, dinners to make, kids to put to bed.
Sandra finds that couples return from these experiences having learned much about their partners, and ready to begin a new stage of their relationship. The emotional housecleaning can be hard work, but goes deep on purpose; to get at the things that keep coming up to clear them once and for all.
Where to Go
For couples in search of a getaway combined with relationship coaching, there are weekend and longer retreats offered at resorts, spas, and health and wellness institutes worldwide; they run the gamut in price, level of luxury, and focus, from improving intimacy to embracing healthy living and spirituality, together. Here are some we recommend exploring.
Sandra Reich Intensive Couples Retreat, Mexico
Canyon Ranch Life Enhancement for Couples, Arizona
The Gottman Institute Private Couples Retreats, Orcas Island, Washington
Marriage Boot Camp Couples Retreat, Various Locations