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The Power of Marriage Intensives


Distress couples at the end of their rope or on the brink of divorce become skeptical about seeing any hope for change. Typically, the loss of heart and even the capacity for meaningful change are at an all time low. Often counselors see couples who have needed help for years but were not proactive for the sake of their marriage. Sadly, even with a good therapist, the too little too late effect can result in a poor therapeutic outcome.

But there is a way to provide high impact therapy in a short amount of time. Couples who enter an Intensive Marriage Counseling program are often able to turn things around in just a few days. In fact, the majority of distressed couples who are willing to fight for their marriage in the Intensive context will indeed experience significant shifts in their attitude and feelings about their partner. Intensives create a catalytic environment where emotionally corrective experiences foster rapid change and with lasting results!

While not to be seen as a quick fix for marriage, there are breakthrough results when couples do a Marriage Intensives to turn around their relationship. Why?

In traditional counseling, a therapist meets a client weekly for one hour or less in the private office for several weeks, months or even years. Often, just when one gets into the depths of the problem areas he returns to the stress of the job, family, marital conflict or burn out and the problem continues until the next week when one might achieve another hour of relief. In contrast to the 50 minute hour, the Intensive Counseling program is structured to achieve both rapid as well as lasting results providing 3-5 hours of daily counseling over a 5 to 8 day period. A “Weekend Marriage Intensive Tune-up” can also accelerate needed changes for those that are not able to take advantage of the weekly format. The transformational effects of these programs are often comparable to 9 months of weekly traditional counseling.

Marriage Intensives provide a safe but powerful context for couples. They uncover core issues that are driving dysfunctionally repetitive patterns. As they develop new insights, find new courage and learn new relationship skills they begin to find hope and feel empowered again. As couples break out of old patterns they begin to rediscover passion, unity and a renewed vision for what their marriage could truly become as intimate partners.

Beyond counseling there are other activities available during Intensives which can augment the actual counseling experience. The remainder of the day is usually spent in a combination of reflection and recreation in a relaxed setting. While a couple may meet in a counselor's office, often Intensives are provided at a Retreat Center. Away from sources of stress and demands of work, clients can begin the healing process, find renewal and acquire tools for handling the stressors of life and work. There is ample opportunity to explore their relationship with each other and refocus on their mission as a couple. Videos and books are typically made available to nurture the new strategies for personal and marital health within an individualized treatment plan.

If you have tried traditional couple's therapy and believe you need a more rapid approach to change, an Intensive may be the right direction. This is especially true if the marriage is at an extremely vulnerable place due to the discovery of an affair, sexual addiction or another critical incident which has put the relationship at risk.

One couple said “The Marriage Intensive was a turn around experience. We were at the end of our rope and had already tried traditional couple's therapy without success. The Intensive was a powerful approach which enabled us to practice new communication skills, learn to work through conflict and rebuild trust.”

Another couple said, “Our marriage needed a complete overhaul. The Intensive approach pushed us to a deeper level than we had been before in terms of self awareness and what we each were doing to make our marriage a negative experience. More importantly, the Counseling intensive was a catalyst for us to take our relationship to higher level of intimacy and competency. Our story has changed and we are ready for the next chapter.”

Article By:
Dave Ragsdale