The Marital Weekend Retreat

Dr. Paulette Sherman
3 min readJun 29, 2023

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There is a new hybrid of couples therapy on the block and it’s called the Marital Weekend Intensive. Instead of doing couples therapy weekly for an hour, some couples prefer to do 12–14 hours of couples therapy as a weekend marathon. This is equivalent to three months of therapy, plus it’s a mini getaway.

Different therapists run these weekends differently; some offer it in small groups and others have two therapists per couple. The Marital Weekend Intensives that I offer are available through Couples Therapy Inc. and they are based upon Gottman Couples therapy.

First, the couple completes a large assessment packet. So, I am well briefed on their attachment styles, familial history, sex life, children, challenges and strengths and much more, even before they arrive. Then, the couple arrives on Friday night for two hours and we review their three major goals and do individual interviews with them both. Saturday and Sunday are 9:30–4:30 sessions, with a break for lunch. Saturday starts with feedback regarding the assessment. The couple learns where they stand in relation to Gottman’s Sound Relationship house and other factors. Then, based on their goals, we examine relevant issues and use science based tools to address them. When they leave, they have worksheets of those tools so they can continue to practice them at home. Often issues addressed fall under affairs, communication, sexual and intimacy issues, questioning divorce, a lack of connection and admiration, a lack of a shared vision and more.

There are some pros and cons to this treatment format. Some include:

PROS:

1- They can do it in one weekend

2- They have less interruption when away

3- They go away as a couple and make their relationship the priority

4- They can go deeper into issues with longer sessions

5- They can arrange childcare over just one weekend

6- They may be able to travel to a master couples therapist who is not in their town

CONS:

1- It costs more upfront. It is currently $4500–5k for a weekend with me and others charge 10k or more. Over time, weekly therapy would be the same or more for the same number of hours, though.

2- There may be a lot of expectations around one weekend.

3- Both partners need to still want to work on the relationship, on-goingly.

4- They may arrive hoping to change their partner and be unwilling to work on themselves. This can be the case in any couples therapy.

Some couples just do the Marital Intensive Weekend. They use the skills on-goingly afterwards and do really well. Others, do some sessions of weekly therapy as a follow-up. Some couples do weekly therapy monthly afterwards, or as needed.

If you are interested in doing a Weekend Marital Intensive weekend, it’s important to know that there are a variety of modalities and that clinician backgrounds and credentials vary. I love Gottman-inspired couples weekends because they are science-based and very helpful but others focus on EFT or Imago or other orientations. While I see a couple alone, other clinicians see couples in a group format. So, do your research.

My own background is that I am a psychologist, a dating coach and couples therapist, and I do marital weekend retreats. I have Advanced Gottman Training (Level 1, 2, 3), I am a Certified Discernment Counselor and a Clinical Hypnotherapist. For more information about my couples therapy and dating coaching, visit my website: www.DrPauletteSherman.com

It’s important you understand how the therapist you choose works, since you are investing time and money in a short period. Do not be afraid to ask questions. At Couples Therapy Inc they offer a 15 minute free Meet and greet with a prospective therapist, to see if you are a good match.

Bio: Dr. Paulette Sherman is a psychologist, couples therapist, author of, ‘Dating from the Inside Out,’ and ‘Marriage and The Law of Attraction,’ and she is the host of, ‘The Love Psychologist,’ podcast.

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Dr. Paulette Sherman

Psychologist, Relationship coach, podcast host of, ‘The Love Psychologist’ and author of ‘‘Dating from the Inside Out.’ www.DrPauletteSherman.com @kpaulet