We were new preemie parents: exhausted and over-stacked. Something had to change.
Something had to change.
Since Little Man was spending the night with his grandparents, we decided to try something new: our first DIY marriage retreat.
Our simple, messy, deep dive discussion time helped us start making our big and little dreams into possibilities.
Our marriage retreats have become an opportunity to dream and strategize about where we’re headed! It’s been such a good investment!
Curious about doing your own marriage retreat? Some of these ideas may also be helpful for having your own family retreat, too!
Here’s some ideas to get you started. Let’s dive in!
(Not sure you’ll remember all this? Grab your Google doc marriage retreat freebie! It’s got this information – and a bit more – to help you plan your romantic getaway/staycation!)
- What is a marriage retreat?
- Planning tips for marriage retreat success
- Make sure you have equal buy-in
- Decide when, where and how long you’ll have your retreat
- Set the ambiance
- Plan your food and beverages in advance
- Determine what topics you’ll discuss beforehand
- Collect your tools and supplies
- Build in fun, too!
- Potential marriage retreat topics
- Marriage retreat questions to ask
- Outcomes from our marriage retreats
- Wrap-up and let’s chat!
What is a marriage retreat?
For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on self-hosted marriage retreats alone. Feel free to modify the suggestions as appropriate for a self-led retreat or a family retreat.
As Little Man gets older, I look forward to including him in our retreats. I love the idea of hearing his ideas and getting his buy-in on family pursuits!
I first heard about the idea of marriage or family retreats from podcasts and bloggers. Thanks to the Unfiltered Motherhood podcast, I used her handy tools to get going. Here’s her latest podcast about this idea:
Basically, a self-hosted marriage retreat is when you and your spouse intentionally take time to have deeper, more focused discussions about topics that matter to you. Ideally, you have a few uninterrupted hours for this time.
This retreat time should be life-giving, not soul-sucking. Ideally, you can dream together and decide what realistic steps you can take to achieve those dreams.
For my husband and I, we try to have an annual bigger discussion retreat and a six-month status check date.
Planning tips for marriage retreat success
Make sure you have equal buy-in
If you’re gung ho about having a marriage retreat, but your spouse isn’t also on-board, you’ll have challenges.
Talk about having a marriage retreat with your spouse. Share why you’re interested in doing this.
Ask them for their thoughts – would they be interested, too? What could that look like?
The more you’re on the same page about this, the more satisfying it’ll be.
Decide when, where and how long you’ll have your retreat
Are you going away to a hotel? Make those reservations. Get that babysitting coverage (if applicable).
Staying at home? Choose where you’ll have the talks. If you know parts of your space will distract you, deal with it beforehand. Your marriage retreat time isn’t for doing housework – it’s about enjoying quality time and dreaming with your spouse!
Set the ambiance
What could help you two shift gears from day-to-day work to focused discussion? Soft music? Candles? A special scent?
Take a few minutes to set the ambiance for your discussion.
Perhaps it means packing in some battery-operated candles and music. Or just wearing cozy slippers so your feet don’t get too cold.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed setting up a coffee shop style vibe in our dining room to feel like I’m “getting away” and shifting mental gears.
Plan your food and beverages in advance
It’s hard to focus when you’re hungry! I encourage choosing low-effort foods and beverages so you can maximize your time (and not work too much!).
Determine what topics you’ll discuss beforehand
Set yourselves up for success by deciding your discussion topics before your retreat.
Ideally, this way your spouse isn’t surprised when you’re like, “I want to talk about sex” – or whatever hot topic that might be.
You can totally go off script, too! Use this as a launching point for your retreat.
Collect your tools and supplies
What best works for you when you’re brainstorming? Pen and paper? A big sketchpad? Markers? Post-its? Laptop?
Will you be setting dates and deadlines? You might want to tuck in your paper or electronic calendar.
Gather up your tools and supplies so you can dive in to the fun.
Build in fun, too!
Talking and dreaming together is so good! Keep the good vibes going by building in time for fun. Get those happy hormones moving!
- Going on a walk
- Giving each other massages
- Playing a game
- Sexual intimacy
- … and so forth
Potential marriage retreat topics
Really, you can talk about whatever you want during your marriage retreat.
If you’re unsure what to start with, here’s topics that we’ve discussed during our marriage retreats:
- Our marriage, including sexual intimacy
- Spiritual growth
- Personal development
- Relationships (family, friends, church, etc.)
- Future dreams
Marriage retreat questions to ask
With each topic we ask:
- What are we doing well? What’s working?
- How would we like to grow in this area?
- Can we take steps to help us grow? When will we start?
Not sure what this might look like? Here’s an example from one of our own retreats.
During one of our retreats, we both expressed that we wanted and needed to take more time to connect with God.
Rather than waiting for this to magically happen, we decided to start taking a spiritual pause each day.
- Reading Scripture
- Digging into a Bible study book
- Listening to music
Taking a spiritual pause has helped us:
- Intentionally set aside a sacred, consistent time to connect with our Creator, which is also peace giving!
- Leverage this as Scripture study time
- Grow toward God and each other
Most likely, we never would have started taking a spiritual pause if we hadn’t taken the time to talk about it during our marriage retreat. Heck, we’d gone six years without even thinking of trying this!
This is just one example of the many that could be a positive outcome for your marriage retreat!
Outcomes from our marriage retreats
We’ve been doing this for almost two years, so we’re still figuring out what works for us.
Along the way, we’ve had several game-changing outcomes from our retreats. Who knows – maybe this could be an outcome for your marriage retreat, too!
- Creating a daily spiritual pause (see above)
- Memorizing more Scripture
- Prioritizing sexual intimacy and growth, including classes, date nights, and books
- Making family outings more regular-ish (work in progress!)
- Monthly meetings to touchbase about upcoming priorities and fun
- Taking monthly couple’s photos and family photos
- Developing a financial gameplan for debt, spending and giving
- Connecting with our extended family more
- Creating space for continuing education and personal development
- Reduced last-minute gift-giving tendencies
- … and much more!
Wrap-up and let’s chat!
Since we’ve started having marriage retreats, my husband and I have made greater steps toward reaching big goals and lifestyle shifts.
Intentionally discussing areas of our lives has not only created more whitespace, but also helped us grow closer.
I hope that these tips and ideas can help you pursue a marriage retreat that makes your life sweeter, too!
It’s your turn.
Don’t forget to grab the marriage retreat planning template! It’s here to help make this experience easy and fun for the both of you!
Do you currently have marriage retreats? If so, do you have tips to share?
Are you curious about doing your own marriage retreat? What questions or concerns do you have? Let me know in the comments!