Relationships are not made easy with the distractions of work, children, extended families and money pressures getting in the way of focusing on the most important people in the relationship, the two of you.
With all that noise, finding the time to be there for each other, to listen and understand why our once loving connection seems to have been replaced by frustration and arguments over petty concerns, is critical.
It is why as part of my therapy sessions I encourage couples to take time away from the noise and find a safe space to focus on each other and one of the best ways you can do this is by attending a weekend couple’s retreat which presents an opportunity to reconnect the bond of love that still exists.
It is why I wanted to share with you a story of the time I spent working with a lovely couple who came to see me for an initial couple therapy session.
To protect their privacy, let’s call them Sophie and Harry, who in many ways are reflective of the many couples I work with, being in their early 30’s with two beautiful children under the age of ten.
Struggling with arguments around money, in-laws and how much time they got to spend together, they took the step to schedule a 3-hour appointment, the required length of my first session.
After cautiously entering my therapy room it quickly became clear that they were confused and upset by the troubles their relationship had found.
In exploring what drew them to my therapy room, it was the common placed belief that they were both “right” when they argued, with the end result being they had stopped listening to each other.
By the end of the first session they had learnt a lot about what they were fighting about and how their childhood had shaped their behaviour within the relationship, discovering how they could learn to soothe each other and regulate each other’s emotions and still be heard.
How they could make a difference to how an argument ends, through not only the words they used, but how they responded with gestures, facial expressions and voice tone
During the session it was clear they needed further support, so I asked Sophie and Harry if they would like to attend my next Couple Retreat that I was holding in the gorgeous Blue Mountains.
After some thought they agreed it would be beneficial for them and where able to put the plans in place so they could get away for the weekend.
Upon arriving on the Friday night they met with myself and the three couples who would be joining them on the retreat for canapes and drinks and I was pleased to see how quickly they relaxed and to hear how much they were looking forward to the weekend.
They expressed to me later that night how the other couples were lovely and how comfortable it made them feel to see that there were couples in a similar place to them in their relationship.
Over the next two days, in between spending time with each other enjoying all the resort had to offer, they learnt what happens in the brain when we fight, and how we end up in such desperate and upsetting places when we argue. They also learnt that their style of attachment played a huge role in why they would feel so upset and hopeless about the direction their relationship was taking.
A key exploration was around understanding love and why it is not as easy as our relationships evolve to get over an argument as it was the beginning, the importance of “fighting fair” and to ensure that even in an argument how we need to take care our connection with each other.
Through this session Sophie and Harry began to put into place daily rituals that created a “buffer” for the next time they have an argument and also gained an understanding of how important it is to wave the “white flag” next time things turn badly for them.
One of the most enlightening experience over the weekend was where they learnt what we call in PACT therapy – “managing thirds,” which is the understanding that their relationship is primary and how they manage “in-laws” needed to be a joint effort where they were “in the know” about how to approach their next outing with extended family again.
Sophie and Harry attended three more sessions back in my office after the retreat to consolidate the work they had done on the retreat and just to work through a few more issues.
The good news is that I recently spoke with them both and their relationship is back on track and the love has been rekindled and they thanked me again for all they had learnt about how to stay connected and take care of each other again.
Sophie expressed that the time out together to just concentrate on their relationship was the best thing they had done in a very long time and that the money they spent was the best investment they had ever made.
Finding time for each other outside of our busy lives is so important and attending a couples retreat is a great way to reconnect and find that love that we still hold for our partner.
Melissa’s next couple’s retreat is to be held on October 28 and if you feel that your relationship would benefit from a weekend focused on the both of you under the guidance of one of Australia’s leading couples therapist, then make sure that you book today.