Songwriter and singer Francesca Battistelli croons, “Love cuts like a knife / Sometimes love will make you cry / Love’s not easy / But it’s worth it.”
The irony of love is this: the deeper the love, the deeper the cut.
And we wonder, “Is love worth it?” Or, “Is my relationship even fixable?”
Many couples find answers to these and other relationship questions by retreating to a marriage workshop. From the beaches to the mountains, marriage retreats in Hawaii and Colorado are growing in popularity over traditional private therapy. Some couples report that a good, high-quality marriage weekend retreat can get positive results similar to six months of therapy.
What do couples learn at marriage retreats? Here are some concepts taught at couples workshops and retreats:
Know How to Have an Open Talk.
Open communication is the key to repairing a damaged relationship. A couples workshop can help couples identify solvable vs perpetual issues, and teach couples how to collaborate more effectively.
By figuring out together the root cause of the conflict, couples develop greater trust. During difficult conversations, one way to keep an open communication is to focus on the love and respect you have for your partner.
Listen Carefully Without Getting Defensive.
Listening non-defensively is a hard skill to master especially when your partner is saying things to trigger you. These triggers could be prior trauma, past fights or past injustices.
A marriage or couples retreat can teach you how to self-soothe when you are triggered. Self-soothing also helps to prevent flooding emotionally, a state in which you are vigorously defending yourself and are unable to have calm, effective discussions.
Stop Bringing Your Past into Your Present.
Relationship experts are usually in agreement that repeating old fights means the “real” issue has not been identified or resolved. Often, there is an underlying issue or a conflict over a core value, such as respect, love, appreciation or loyalty.
Only when the real issue is discussed can understanding — and sorrow for the regrettable incident — be expressed. Bitterness and resentment can be put aside, and old wounds can heal.
Respond to Your Partner with Kindness.
According to one of the leading couples therapy methods, The Gottman Method, friendshipping is the most important factor to achieving stability and happiness in marriage. A friendship is strengthened through little acts of kindness and compassion. A couple with a strong friendship has the ability to handle difficult emotions and stressful situations with greater ease.
A couple who attended a marriage retreat in Hawaii a year ago, recently reported that the tools they learned at the retreat had rebuilt their friendship and the friendship transformed their difficult relationship into a healthy one.
Trust is a pillar of a sound, stable relationship, experts say. Building trust never stops. The opposite of trust is betrayal, which includes small incidences of unmet expectations, poor choices and misunderstanding.
Successful couples are those who have mastered the skill of talking through inevitable betrayals and making repairs. They have also learned to have intimate conversations that build trust.
For couples who are dealing with the tragic betrayal of infidelity, a marriage retreat is a good first step. Private counseling may also be necessary to repair the breach of trust.
Remember the Moments that Make You Both Smile.
Building a memory bank by practicing traditions, going on date nights, and journaling — they contribute to the love map of your lives together.
Know and celebrate your history as a couple. Research shows that couples who build a detailed inner world of each other and their relationships, make cognitive room in their minds for these memories, and update their information on each other regularly (continue to get to know each other) are better able to cope with stresses and conflicts.
Recall the good memories that make you laugh. This inside connection will make your relationship more profound.
So, is your relationship worth fighting for? Well, that depends.
While love songs may tell you, “It is!” that is not always the case. Many couples go to marriage therapy wanting to know if they should or can stay together. A good therapist will help you explore your relationship, give you the foundational skills for a better relationship, and give you a safe landing place for whatever you decide.
Also, the effectiveness of couples counseling depends on the motivation of the couples — and timing. Couples who wait years before getting professional help or attending a marriage retreat have a harder road to travel.
The best bet is to start today to repair and refresh your relationship. Signing up for reputable couples retreat is a good place to start.