By Emily Keller, PhD, LPC, RPT

Couples Weekend: A Couples Retreat to Help You Connect Authentically

People tend to think marriage therapy, especially a couples retreat, is for couples with real problems. In reality, they are for couples with real potential. The Couples Weekend offered at Southeast Institute for Group and Family Therapy in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was designed for people wanting to increase warm connections in their relationship. It is an intensive marriage retreat designed to help you reach your goals in a short amount of time.

The couples who attend the marriage retreat may or may not be looking for ways to deal with marital problems such as affairs; chronic arguing; loving, but not feeling “in love”; lack of passion; lack of connection; parenting etc. Despite the realm of problems couples face, marriage and long-term relationships have the potential to be more. In fact, relationships can become incubators for our truest self. They can nurture in us the qualities and capacities of our authenticity that were neglected growing up.

Perfect parenting doesn’t exist. To some extent, as children, we adapted our true self — grounded in authenticity and spontaneity — to the family environment we grew up in. We take those adaptations into adulthood and into our relationships. Over time, we start bumping up against them as we see our partners in ways we saw our parents or siblings and protect ourselves in the ways we learned to as a child. Patterns emerge. Fights become cyclical. Eventually, we feel like we can’t find a way out and tend to succumb to the way things are, find distractions, or seek separation.

Not only is there a way out that doesn’t destroy the relationship, there is a way up.

The Couples Weekend is an intensive three-day immersion into your relationship. We help you and the other couples understand the patterns that have emerged for you and your partner and give you the tools to change and grow — your relationship and you.   When we tap into the courage and resources to live authentically with the nurturing and support of our partner, we blossom and grow. Through this growth, we discover each other all over again … and again, and again. This fuels long-time love and passion.   Relationships and families go through natural developmental cycles. The Couples Weekend offers something for each stage.

Learn how to turn toward rather than away from each other whether you and your partner are:

  • Deciding to commit to each other
  • Newly wedded and discovering an array of differences
  • Grasping for moments of connection while raising young children
  • Balancing competing schedules of older children
  • Navigating divergent career paths
  • Struggling to reconnect after launching children
  • Caring for older parents and your children
  • Seeking to reconnect after an affair
  • Learning to trust for the first time
  • Seeking to understand each other

The couples retreat also offers insight into how you ended up where you are; where you want to go together; how to support yourself and your relationship; and how to step out of negative cycles and into warm connection.   Warm connection helps people move from feeling apart from one another, to a part of something bigger. You will find that when you feel connected to yourself and your partner, you can grow together despite the challenges.

The Benefits of Group Couples Therapy

The thought of experiencing couples therapy among other couples is often intimidating. In the end, we hear it’s inspiring! In addition to offering insight into your relationship, having other couples present offers hope and gratitude. It also allows the therapists to use effective therapy techniques that can only be accomplished in a small group.

In the Couples Weekend you can look forward to:

  • Increased insight about your relational dynamics
  • Tools to change — even when it feels like holding your stance means life or death
  • Tools to move out of “fight, flight or freeze” and into warm connection
  • Insight into how today’s pain is related to your families of origin
  • Understanding your role in the co-creation of your relationship
  • Increased sense of connection and a sense of belonging to one another
  • Awareness that it isn’t just you and your partner, rather, all couples have challenges
  • Hope that you can become the person you want to be, in a relationship you want to have
  • Two therapists who are not on your side, but on the side of your relationship

The co-therapists  integrate the best of Gottman’s research, Sue Johnson’s emotionally focused therapy, Harville Hendrix’s imago theory, redecision therapy, the developmental model of relationships, group therapy, and experiential techniques. The co-therapist team consists of Vann Joines, PhD, and Emily Keller, PhD. Dr. Joines has conducted this evolving retreat for more than 30 years in many places around the world. The Couples Weekend is limited to eight couples.

Couples have traveled from across the US and other countries to attend the retreat and focus on enhancing their relationship. The main regret we hear from couples in the marriage retreat is they wish they had done it sooner! Too many people put it off, due to time, money, and the hope that something will change on its own. This is an investment in you, your partner, your relationship, and your family. The sooner you make it, the sooner you reap the rewards.

The benefits of couples therapy ripple out through the family, and are especially felt by children.

Emily Keller, PhD, LPC, RPT

Couples Weekend

Most couples wish they had joined us sooner. Don’t put it off any longer. Sign up for a three-day Couples Weekend.