Relationships play an important role in people’s life. However, one should mention that every person has his/her meaning and understanding of this notion. Relationships presuppose the variety of feelings and emotions, talks, and different patterns of behavior. In most cases, marriage is the result of love, harmony, happiness, and wonderful relations between partners. Moreover, men and women express their feelings differently.

However, the current popularity of services of psychologists proves that not everything is smooth and calm in spouses’ relationships. Consequently, every couple needs marriage retreat plan to deal with the challenges and problems in a proper way and save feelings and respect to each other. This measure is necessary to build and sustain a secure and friendly bond between loving people. This coursework presents a marriage retreat plan that consists of three phases and nine steps. Moreover, this paper uses the experience of four couples (Robbie and Cassandra, John and Sharie, James and Carrie, Shannon and Rudy) as the objects for the exploration.

Phase 1. Assessment and De-Escalation

Step 1. Identification of the Conflict

The tense relationships between Robbie and Cassandra prove that they are emotionally exhausted from each other. Communication problems, feelings of loneliness, trust issues, and fear are the symptoms of crisis in their marriage that is caused with the inability to conceive (Johnson, 2004). It is evident that this can lead not only to the clash but to the total separation. Consequently, it is crucial to identify the conflict at the early stage. Not without a reason Johnson (2008) insists on the necessity of conversation between a husband and a wife and tuning into each other. The conflict is easy for identification. However, the problem is that the couples omit or ignore it. Irritation, angriness, negligence, quarrels and constant state of dissatisfaction prove that it is a high time to act and consult the specialists. Moreover, there is no emotional reconnection between couples, and it leads to disharmony and imbalance. Identification of the conflict presupposes studying the present context as it will reveal the real motives of the disagreement. The reasons of arguments between Robbie and Cassandra are the communication problems, trust issues, fear, and loneliness caused with their inability to conceive. Moreover, the problem of these spouses is that they cannot hide their negative feelings and emotions. However, this case shows that their friends face similar challenges. It means that the problem is not in each individual couple but in partners’ emotional and psychological fulfillment.

The necessary activities for couples:

· Communication between each other;

· Discussion of their problems;

· Exchanging their experience;

· Talk with the specialist;

· Understanding of the importance and necessity of therapy.

Therapeutic experience includes:

· Doing household chores together;

· Resting and relaxing together.

Step 2. Identification of the Cycle where the Conflict is Expressed

One can name the cycle where the conflict is expressed a destructive one as it leads to breaking the relationships of the couples. It demands to study the process patterns that provoke the argument. One can identify the cycle where the conflict is expressed only analyzing some special situations. Consequently, the couples should be in the interaction and action to observe them. First of all, one should involve them in the conversation on the sharp problems related to family life, children, household duties, and work (Johnson, 2004). It is evident that the couples will not have the common opinion on these issues. Secondly, the spouses should do something together to understand the strengths of the bond between them.

The necessary activities for couples:

· Communication with each other;

· Discussion of their problems;

· Exchanging their experience;

· Talk with the specialist;

· Understanding of the importance and necessity of the conflict period.

Therapeutic experience includes:

· Deepening romantic connection with the help of the weekend package;

· Deepening physical connection with the help of spending time together on the shores of Bahamas;

· Cooking the breakfast and having it together with other couples.

Step 3. Assessment of Unacknowledged Emotions

Another step of marriage retreat plan is to assess the unacknowledged emotions that are hidden and can be revealed with the help of certain situations. One recommends the application of emotionally focused therapy (EFT) that consists of the following phases: de-escalation of negative interaction, restructuring the bond, and consolidation (Johnson, 2004). For the assessment of unacknowledged emotions, one should use de-escalation of negative interaction. First of all, one should place all couples in one room and encourage them to interaction. Secondly, one should ask them some provocative questions related to their attitudes to each other and their observations. The questions will help to reveal such unacknowledged emotions as fear, jealousy, envy, panic, moral dissatisfaction, psychological oppression, and lack of self-confidence. Moreover, the observation will help to determine who is dominating and subordinate among partners and which couples treat each other equally. It is also obligatory to reveal emotional wounds experienced by each husband and wife as they destroy feelings of safety and trust. The primary effects of the unacknowledged emotions will be dissatisfaction with each other. As a result, partners will need the conversation as a way of achieving the positive outcome.

The necessary activities for couples:

· Finding common interests and hobbies;

· Revealing the best ways of entertainment:

· snorkeling;

· boat excursions;

· moonlight cruise;

· bicycling;

· kayaking;

· golfing;

· shelter island.

Therapeutic experience includes:

· Putting the couples on the island where they can undergo the stressful experience;

· Provoking fear, panic, and stress;

· Revealing the unacknowledged feelings and emotions.

Step 4. Reframing – Victims of the Cycle and Now Allies against It

The main problem is that all couples feel themselves like victims of their marriage. Consequently, one should reframe their attitudes and make partners allies in the desire to save their families. It is obligatory to make the process of retreatment as much alike to the everyday life as possible. From the diagnostics, it is clear that men feel themselves victims because they earn money, therefore they are leaders of the families. As to women, they are dissatisfied because of the responsibility for all household work. Consequently, wives and husbands should exchange their roles to understand the importance of their second half in their life. As a result, marriage retreat plan will include the experience of the role exchange. Men will clean, wash, and cook. Women will try to earn some money doing male works.

Agenda of the usual day:

1. Therapeutic session.

2. Spending time with the loving person.

3. Spending time with other coupes.

4. Resting and relaxing.

5. Doing household chores.

Phase 2. Change Events

Step 5. Promotion of the Identification of Disowned Needs

After the role exchange, the couples will feel closer to each other as they get to know their disowned needs. Moreover, one recommends them to express their opinions about new experience. The correction of the emotional condition will be done through other couples observation and spending time together (Johnson, 2004). Consequently, one should involve the spouses in the game therapy that should teach them how to help and support each other. One can also conduct competition between couples here and even the contest to determine which spouses are the most caring, loving, or brave. At first, it will be only the game. However, they can turn this game into reality. Moreover, one should create the conditions related to risky and dangerous situations. Every husband and wife should feel responsibility for the health and safety of the second half. Johnson (2008) writes that the couple should be responsible for the bond of security between man and woman to achieve the harmony and emotional balance.

To promote the identification of disowned needs one should:

· Speak patiently, calmly, and slowly to create the trustful atmosphere;

· Tolerate the intimacy;

· Provoke the couples into communication, expression of their feelings and emotions.

Step 6. Promotion of the Partner’s Acceptance

Promotion of the partner’s acceptance is another step of the retreat plan. It is obligatory to use such technique as tracking that will help couples to feel like at home. They should do household chores and other work that should be done in real life However, their temporary place of residence should not have everything that is in their real home. The couples should miss their home atmosphere and desire to come back there. This technique will help to understand that home comfort is provided by both partners. Moreover, one should provoke the conflict situation between the spouses to give them the opportunity to handle it. The couples should not hide their emotions but learn how to control them to save the peaceful relationships.

To promote the partner’s acceptance one should use the reflective statements to reveal the attitudes of the spouses to each other. Moreover, they should reveal the situations of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with each other. Reflective statements help the partners to listen and understand the key points in their relationships.

Step 7. Facilitating Expression of Needs and Wants

Some couples are afraid to express their needs and wants. However, hiding them they bring the harm to their relationships. Consequently, it is a must to teach them how to facilitate the expression of needs and wants. One recommends the application of reframing and restructuring to clarify these notions. This session should be on listening and understanding of partners. They should at last know about their wants and needs and only then implement them in practice. As a result, the couples will move into deeper connection. Learning how to effectively communicate is also the way to facilitate the expression of needs and wants. One recommends using validation to establish the link between the present and past moments of couples’ life.

Phase 3. Consolidation of Change

Step 8. New Solutions

This marriage retreat plan presupposes new solutions to handle the conflicts between the couples. The first option includes regular visits to psychologists who should teach the spouses how to understand and express their emotions. The second solution presupposes the emotional therapy that involves isolation from the everyday routine and engaging in the personal affairs and resting. Moreover, the couples should know such technique as softening as it will help to avoid insults and offences. Furthermore, the spouses should learn how to react on criticisms. As well, during the process of revitalization of marriage the couples will learn how not to be vulnerable to criticism and negative emotions.

It is also necessary to conduct the separate session for males and females as their gender misunderstanding prevents from the smooth relationships as well. Both husbands and wives should assert their needs clearly and strongly to be understood. Moreover, the exchange of roles between man and woman is a must as females are angry when males consider them housewives. Men are dissatisfied when women ask them to do household chores. The equal treatment of genders is the solution to the family conflicts. One also needs to teach the couples to navigate successfully through difficult topics. All sharp and alarming questions should be discussed as the most usual subjects like weather or politics.

Step 9. Consolidation

Solution focused and emotion focused therapies are the basement for marriage retreat plan. It is evident that the couples should be suggested the options to solve their problems. Moreover, they should come to these solutions themselves. The spouses should be taught how to control their feelings and emotions as they lead to conflicts, quarrels, and separation. If couples know how to balance between positive and negative emotions then they will be able to manage their problems themselves. Both kinds of therapy can be applied to help the spouses to be together despite the differences in character and temperament.

Healthy marriage presupposes a greater sense of well-being, and spending more time with family and partner to share life with can bring the positive outcomes. Moreover, the couples should be learnt to avoid stereotypical thinking and create their own family policy.


Maintaining smooth relations in marriage is a difficult task. Many couples cannot get over their family challenges themselves; in such cases, they need help from the outside from the specialists and consultants. The marriage retreat plan discussed above is an example of short group therapy aimed at saving marriages through a number of different exercises, tasks, contests and conversations.

Married couples should always remember what motivated them to unite their lives and create families. There are many challenges in real life and spouses have to always hold together to overcome all the obstacles and continue to love, respect and trust each other.

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