North Star’s first couple’s retreat took place aboard Carnival Cruiseline as it sailed to Cabo San Lucas.
The retreat include sessions devoted to improving connection, understanding, and communication with our spouses, understanding ourselves and how we affect our marriages, and ways to improve our emotional and physical intimacy with our spouses.
When it came to learning about our spouses, many were amazed to learn that they were in stereotypical relationships. As one husband said to his wife, “Wow, all women are like this? I thought this was just you.” He went on to say, “I discovered that in many ways, I’m just a stereotypical guy. That was a cool insight and one I think will help me relate to my wife better – especially knowing some of the ways she fits the stereotypes of her gender.” Pret said it best when he said that he was happy to see just how normal his relationship is with his wife.
Throughout the retreat, participants were encouraged to create a list of action items they wanted to remember personally. At dinner on the last night, one participant commented that he and his wife have “already set aside some time this weekend to implement some of the action items. I also have a separate list of items I want to develop.”
In addition to, or included in, retreat sessions, participants were given homework. One participant said, “I especially appreciated that the homework asignments were fun and easy to do and didn’t take away from the energy of being alone together, and didn’t add stress to that time either. Likewise, I appreciated that the harder assignments were saved for ‘class’ time, where I felt supported and not threatened in the difficulty of the work.”
This romantic get-away encompassed so much more than people were expecting. Doug B. wrote, “The cruise was a brilliant idea. We were away from all distractions – internet, cell phones, kids, etc. This provided some great quality time for us to be alone and really start to practice the things we were being taught.” Maggie said, “We were our authentic selves and made great connections with others,” and one husband, who asked to be referred to as Super Awesome Husband #1, said, “[the retreat] was conducted in a fun atmosphere and in a relaxed manner without sacrificing the seriousness of the topic.”
I believe the highlight of the retreat was the connection participants felt with their spouses and their fellow participants. Super Awesome Husband #1, said, “My wife and I had several talks that were deep and raw and…respectful. This is a rare thing for us. I think we made in-roads to better communication.” One of the wives said, “The encouragement from the guys helped my husband to begin his journey of authenticity with me.” Yet another participant said, “I liked so much the time spent getting to know other couples in the community. I appreciated the new friendships and the safety and confidence of the group.”
Memorable moments during the week also included scuba diving with sharks, flying high above the forest on a zipline, and riding mopeds through narrow, steep, windy streets without breaks.
The overall consensus was that the retreat was a huge success. Comments on the evaluation form included:
- “[The retreat] was everything I expected and more.”
- “I loved it. I want to do it again!”
- “We are already planning to save for next year. This was so helpful.”
- “I would go again – I always need reminders of things I can do to strengthen my relationship with my husband.
- “I don’t think this is an SSA only issue. Everyone needs a marriage checkup.”
- “This retreat could not have happened at any better time than it did. Our relationship has been really struggling and this retreat has given us so much good information on how to strengthen our marriage.”
With a comment like Doug’s, “It was truly one of the best experiences of my life. I have never been able to be in a situation for an extended period of time where I could be totally authentic. It was truly uplifting!” how could we not do this again!
On that note, the second North Star Couple’s Retreat will take place in the Spring of 2013. Stay tuned for further details.