Marriage Retreat: Reconnect With Your Loved One!

Whether your marriage is on the rocks and falling apart, or in need of a tune up, our intensive marriage retreat can help give you new tools and insights for dealing with the issues that seem unbearable and unsolvable. During your private couples intensive retreat, we are going to teach you a new set of communication skills specifically designed to enhance your relationship, tools for emotional self regulation to improve overall connection and intimacy, and strategies for improving your sex life.

Your marriage is our client, and we always start with the hypothesis that every couple can have a fulfilling and satisfying marriage, but they have never been taught how to make that possible. After we teach you the necessary skills, we will coach you during the session on how to effectively apply them with each other. Once your marriage has been given a chance at success, we can then have a honest conversation about compatibility if needed.

Why Are Marriage Retreats Important?

Did you ever feel like you were just getting warmed up when the therapist said, “That’s all the time we have for today.” Many people who have come to us for an intensive marriage retreat have expressed similar frustration. We have heard from many couples that three days with us brought more progress than they ever experienced in a year or more of weekly sessions. Couples are commonly surprised with how we are able to provide long-term results with such short-term therapy.

“I never would have believed that after three short days I would be willing to make such a huge effort in my marriage again. We both think you are miracle workers!!” — Tricia

What Is The Success Rate Of Marriage Retreats?

Research has shown that the overall success of any marriage counseling is about 70 to 90%. This is usually based on couples that have been therapy for many months or years. We see the same results in about 3 days. A marriage quest retreat is warp speed therapy. Imagine a really good counseling session and all of the benefits that come from it. Now imagine a dozen of back-to-back sessions that are able to build momentum and go deeper because of the luxury of time each day.

Why A Couples Retreat Is Better Than Traditional Couples Therapy

Traditional marriage counseling often separates the couple so that either the same therapist sees each partner one at a time or the spouses both see two different counselors to deal with marital issues. If your marriage is in crisis, then the marriage must be in therapy. During your retreat, our focus is on holding both of you accountable to improving the relationship and achieving your goals. We also start meeting with you as a couple from the very beginning of the retreat including the intake process. The other benefit of a retreat is the momentum we can create during the multiple hours we meet with you. Many couples have told us how frustrating it is to just start getting to the root of an issue when the therapist tells them their time is up for today.

How Do You Define Success During A Couples Counseling Retreat?

While the gold standard of success during a marriage intensive is that the couple is able to reconcile and improve their marriage, there are other useful outcomes. Some couples really are no longer compatible with each other, and it’s in the best interest of their health and happiness as well as their children for them to separate amicably. A friendly divorce is always better than an unhappy marriage.

What Issues Can A Marriage Retreat Help To Solve?

We can work with any issue that a couple is struggling with, and the concerns listed below are some of the most common that have appeared during a retreat. Some couples have one specific goal in mind while others are struggling in many areas of their relationship. We will help you work through as many concerns as possible during our time together, but more importantly teach you how to resolve these issues on your own so that you can be self-sufficient as a couple. As the story goes, we want you to learn to fish instead of just giving you one meal. 


Infidelity can feel like the end of your relationship, but the research shows that in fact at least 70% of couples who work on their marriage after an affair feel closer than the preceding years in their marriage. Infidelity is a symptom of other dis-ease in your marriage, so our job is to address the root cause to help you heal and prevent any future affairs. 

Considering Divorce

About 40% of people who get divorced report they regret it later on, and that number jumps to 80% if the divorce is due to an affair. Second and third marriage often have a higher divorce rate, so it’s important to fully consider all options before making a final decision. Patterns tend to repeat themselves, and Marriage Quest can help you substitute old patterns for healthier behaviors.

Sexless Marriage

Many people think that it’s normal for sex to decrease with age and other stressors in life. The fact is that couples in their 60’s and 70’s often report higher sexual satisfaction, and sex can also be a powerful stress relief when approached in the right way.

Mid Life Crisis

People between the ages of 35 and 65 often wrestle with big questions regarding their meaning, purpose, and direction in life. It’s normal to question how to deal with a midlife crisis, and we have found that helping a couple address these issues together provides the most profound benefits.

Couples Communication

Feeling unheard, misunderstood, or dismissed leads many couples to consider the fate of their relationship. There are many barriers to effective communication, and the most common is when one spouse becomes triggered and then lashes out or avoids further conversation. This also creates defensiveness for both partners.


Resentment in marriage usually builds up over time from unresolved conflicts. Failure to develop closure around disagreements, traumatic experiences, and other tense moments in your relationship tend to fester and become worse with time.

Marriage Retreat Details & Schedule

We work with one couple at a time to address your specific needs and tailor the process for optimal growth and learning. Most couples in crisis choose a 3-day program, however Dr David Helfand at Marriage Quest offer a 1-4 day program depending on the needs of the couple. Please review a standard curriculum below for a three day program.


Upon confirmation of your sign-up, we will send you a Questionnaire to begin your preparation process. Many couples read Cathie and Israel’s book “The YUMMY Marriage” as part of their preparation. Dr David Helfand also offers an online course for all couples prior to the retreat.

We will review your questionnaire and other related information before the retreat to make sure we best prepared for our time together.

Day 1

Please arrive the day before your retreat to settle into your hotel or Air BnB so that you are ready to start fresh the next morning. Some couples come in two days prior so they can explore the area or account for travel delays and jet lag. Most retreats start at 10am on day 1 and end 3 or 4 hours later depending on the therapist. 

We begin by talking about marriage: what are the components of a happy marriage, what are the common challenges, how does sex fit into a healthy marriage, etc. Then we take a detailed history on each of you: about your family of origin, your cultural and religious influences, your current family situation, as well the roots of your romantic and sexual involvement with each other. We then switch gears and begin various tutorials and behavioral exercises focused on your specific needs. While you practice with each other and we coach you through your new skills. Many couples often feel exhausted at the end of the day and take a nap to recharge for the evening.

Between Sessions

Between each day of the retreat, you will be practicing the communications skills you are learning, talking to each other on a new deeper level about how your relationship began and grew (or did not grow), about your hopes and dreams for your self and for your relationship together, your regrets and sorrows, and where you see things going. In addition we will suggest other activities to do together, and hope that you can have some fun and relaxation after the day’s intensive session. Self reflection assignment are also often part of this process.

Day 2

We will start by checking in on yesterday’s experience as well as your afternoon and evening together. Day 2 is usually the heavy lifting day, and we have 3 hours together to accomplish what we need to. We are going to address the topics that must be covered during your retreat in order to either work on your relationship goals and help you make a decision about the future of your marriage. We will guide you safely through those sensitive conversations by making sure you follow the guidelines for effective communication. This often means we interrupt a lot in the beginning, but as you become more comfortable and experienced, we will let you lead the discussion while guiding as needed.

Some spouses benefit from a brief individual meeting to discuss personal topics or work privately on some of the skills. When appropriate, we plan some time to address these topics with each spouse individually before integrating that work back into the relationship.

Many couples sign up for a Marriage Quest Retreat because want help deciding if they should get divorced. If that is part of your agenda, we are going to spend these first two days focused on improving your relationship and learning the necessary skills. Only after you have made that attempt, can we help you discuss the fate of your marriage.

Day 3

Day three is 2 or 3 hours long depending on the therapist, and we will review the overall process so that you are prepared to continue applying it when you return home. We will create a plan with you that includes recommendations for each of you as individuals, as well as for your relationship. That may include some book suggestions, other kinds of therapy, as well as exercises to keep your connection alive. If you have decided to separate, we will use this time to negotiate the trial separation plan.


When you return home, we are available for brief questions regarding communication skills, aftercare recommendations that we suggested at the end of your retreat, or other helpful resources. Longer discussions will incur a fee, and some couples will come back for a tune up if needed. If the focus of the retreat was to help you through a crisis period in your marriage, you might want to return for ongoing relationship enhancement work such as sex therapy or phases of life counseling.

American Assn Marriage & Family Therapy - American Assn of Sex Educators, Counselors, & Therapists at stream - Marriage Quest

Your Marriage Therapy Experts

Marriage Quest was founded by Dr Israel and Cathie Helfand in 2003 to fulfill the need of couples wanting fast results for their marriage struggles. The origins of the Marriage Quest process dates back to the early 80’s with Dr Barry Ginsberg and The Relationship Therapy Institute. Israel developed the process with Barry over several years. Israel and Cathie began leading their form of couples marathon intensive weekends in the early 90s, well before other retreat leaders and trainers, like John and Julie Gottman. Their son, Dr David Helfand, has recently joined the practice after successfully running couples therapy retreats for nearly a full decade.

Our Marriage Counseling Philosophy

Your marriage deserves to be a priority, and we understand you are putting a lot of trust in us once your marriage is in our hands. The point of a couples therapy retreat is to help you learn a process that you can replicate once you return home. Marriage Quest Retreats have been refined over decades to provide significant results in a very short period of time. The reason we have such good success is we focus on teaching you effective couples communication and hold you accountable during sessions. We will also help you discuss issues around sex and intimacy, self regulate, and managing your emotional triggers. If a childhood wound or life trauma seems to be sabotaging your marriage, we do some experiential therapy to encourage healing. We get a great deal of work done in a relatively short period of time because we learn just how much to push each of you for your optimal growth. The process is deep, meaningful, and intense.

Frequently Asked Questions

You might not want to bring your new Audi to a Ford dealership for a repair. Most therapists are generalists who work with a variety of people and issues. At MQ we specialize in couples retreats. Our founders, Dr Israel and Cathie Helfand, have over 40 years in practice and development of the MQ process. Whether you are looking for a tune up or a major overhaul, we’ve been there. We’ve helped other couples achieve similar goals. We triage, identify problems, and teach solutions. It’s transformation through warp speed therapy.

Couples are often blown away by how much work we can accomplish in such a short time. Have you ever had a really transformative therapy session? Imagine a dozen of them back-to-back over three days. The difference is we know what we are looking for, and therefore, where to go, and we do not waste time getting there. That is why we have always claimed that it is “short term therapy with long term results”. Oh, and did I mention warp speed therapy.


Note: we combine cognitive behavioral with experiential therapy, a powerful combination of treatment modalities that not only teach skills but can heal past trauma.

When you agree to a date, we send you the Sign-up paperwork to complete with payment information. Upon payment in full or the deposit portion, we give you the Questionnaire for each of you to complete. This helps you to prepare for the retreat and relax from dealing with your current issues (?)

During your retreat, our focus is on teaching you healthy communication skills and holding both of you accountable to improving your relationship and achieving your goals, whatever that might be. After teaching you the foundational skills, we explore each of your relationship strengths and challenges and offer support and guidance as needed. We have the option of meeting with one of you alone if it’s determined that it will serve your marriage and your personal goals. Since we work with one couple at a time, we have a lot of flexibility.

The main benefit of a marriage retreat is the momentum we can create during the multiple hours together focusing on you alone and your goals. Many couples have told us how frustrating it is to just start getting to the root of an issue when the therapist tells them their time is up for today. In order to get to the heart of the matter and really dig into an individual or couple’s truths, there must be enough time to explore and fully process each experience and emotion. We meet with you as a couple from the very beginning of the retreat including the intake process so you can witness each other’s life story and learn the skills as a team together.

The fees for a marriage counseling retreat vary by therapist and range from about $5,000 to $15,000 for a 3-day program. Please contact us directly for specific pricing.

No. Insurance only pays for traditional models of care such as weekly therapy.

In a loving and peaceful way. Tell them that you love them and are feeling ____, perhaps lonely, depressed, anxious, unhappy, etc. Don’t ask any questions; just share that you are ready to do something about it and would like nothing more than to heal with them.

Follow The Steps Below To Sign Up For The Marriage Retreat

When you are ready to get help, you are welcome to contact us about available dates for a couples retreat. Some couples prefer to schedule a phone consultation or ask questions via email, and any of our well trained therapists are happy to offer a free consultation before signing up for a marriage program.