The last relationship I was in lasted ten years, and produced a glorious child, who slipped in past the gates of birth control and blessed my life in ways I could only stumble to put words to.
In the early years of our relationship, my partner and I went on couples retreats once a year, with my dear friends and mentors, Joyce and Barry Vissell. We got all kinds of support from those retreats, and always came home with a sense of renewal about our connection.
My partner started nursing school. I scrambled to play Mr. Mom and get gigs for the bills.
For a million ‘good’ reasons, we were no longer going on retreats.
Too busy. Too stressed. Can’t leave the baby. Financial pressures. You know the drill.
On these weekends, Barry and Joyce taught couples important practices to integrate into relating, for preventive medicine, conflict resolution, and to nurture intimacy. During the retreat we practice, practice, and practice these new skills. There is deep vulnerability. And there is lots of healing.
The idea is to take the practices home and make them a part of your daily life.
But after our daughter’s birth we stopped doing those practices. We stopped going to couples therapy. it seemed we did not need it anymore. Our little girl was the center of our attention. And it was heavenly, those first few years, to make her the center. It felt right, natural, and very satisfying.
But this, too, did pass.
How many of us were taught healthy relationship skills and practices while growing up? Or in college?
Instead, we are taught that if you find the right person it should just work and be effortless.
We take lessons to get a license to drive a vehicle, but when it comes to our relationships, or a marriage license, no education is needed.
Most of us do in relationships what was role modeled by our parents. Or, in rebellion, we do the exact opposite. Neither work. Add stress, and we revert to our childhood survival scripts.
We started drifting apart. At one point, I asked her what she thought was going on with us?
“Nothing that a Joyce and Barry weekend couldn’t fix,” she replied.
We never got to another retreat. A year later we broke up.
The first December without our family together I asked my five year old daughter what she most wanted for Christmas. She said for Mommy and Daddy to get back together. I tried holding and comforting her, but with tears streaming down my face, she ended up comforting me.
Would a retreat have turned things around? I am not sure.
We were growing and going in different directions, and our paths were probably just not compatible anymore. But a retreat might have helped us complete our relationship more consciously, more amicably.
Maintaining loving relationships requires work. And skills. Maybe not in the honeymoon phase, when you are lifted together above your egos and get to taste the nectar of your soul connection.
But when you come down to earth, and get down to the business of weaving your lives together in a grounded way, regular maintenance is required.
Like with our automobiles. Nobody would dream of owning a car without taking it in for regular oil changes and tune-ups.
Barry and Joyce Vissell retreats are like taking your relationship in for a tune up. Whether your relationship is running great and you want to brush up on your skills, or you have some work you know needs to be done under the hood, couples retreats are invaluable.
Couples counseling, which I am honored to offer, can also make the difference between a smooth running vehicle or a car idling, not getting anywhere.
Life is magical for me. I’m single, and quite happy.
My daughter just turned 14. Her Mom is happily married and her husband is a perfect step-Dad for Aysia.
She is blossoming. There is nothing wrong with how things turned out
Here’s a current pic of my teenager…