Packard 2.0 Marriage Retreat

Sami Packard
2 min readAug 10, 2023


Facilitating my own marriage retreat after 7 years of marriage

In 2023, my husband and I reached a rough patch in our marriage. Likely the worst period in our relationship to date. Bad cultural norms were creeping in and our life visions were no longer aligning. We were seeing a couple’s counselor but it could only get us so far. We needed a different approach.

I’ve been facilitating business strategy sessions for corporate America for the last 15 years. I’ve helped these companies navigate restructuring, technology advancement and culture change. If I could do this for companies, I wondered if I could do it for my marriage?

I decided to host a corporate retreat for my love life.

I lined up childcare and arranged for two nights at an Airbnb near our home, just the two of us. I made an agenda, packed my post-it notes and we were off to the races.

Our Marriage Retreat objective was to: Evolve our household in a way that aligns with our current needs. This includes Vision, Values, Roles, and Norms and explores how these factors show up in spaces such as our marriage, community, our house and parenting.

The retreat was no walk in the park. To diffuse a lot of heavy topics, I built in fun activities like getting ice cream and going on hikes. The beginning of our vision activity started out rough. I wanted to stay put in one location for at least 12 years. Benjamin wanted to move somewhere new every two years.

I felt like a tree wanting to root and Benjamin felt like a monkey wanting hop from one tree to the next and taste all the fruit. We even made this drawing to represent the feeling:

I’m the tree. Benjamin is the monkey.

Through brainstorming and iteration, we found a solid compromise that fulfilled Benjamin’s desire for adventure and my need to be grounded to my community. We decided we’d find a permanent home in San Francisco while living in a new place every summer.

If you use the agenda, I encourage you to have a print-out and read it together, so the facilitation burden is not on one person.

I’m always excited to see how other humans navigate romantic relationships. Let me know if there is a different approach you’ve tried.