A marriage intensive is a type of couples therapy that’s designed to help couples work on their relationship in a focused and intense way. It’s like a turbo-charged version of traditional couples counseling because it’s done over a shorter period of time, usually over the course of a few days, rather than spread out over weeks or months.
The idea behind a marriage intensive is to keep the momentum going and help couples really dig deep into their relationship issues without the interruptions of daily life. During a marriage intensive, you’ll work closely with a therapist who’s trained to help couples communicate more effectively, manage conflict in a healthy way, and build a stronger, more satisfying bond.
The therapist will work with you to identify the specific issues that are causing tension in your relationship and help you develop strategies to overcome them. You’ll learn new communication skills, explore your attachment styles, and work on ways to build emotional intimacy and trust with your partner.
One of the great things about a marriage intensive is that it’s a focused and immersive experience. You’ll spend several days really digging into your relationship, working on your issues, and building new skills. And because you’re not worrying about fitting sessions into your schedule over several weeks or months, you can really stay focused and motivated to make real progress.
But What Actually Happens in a Marriage Intensive?
THE FIRST HOUR
The first hour of a marriage intensive is often a critical time for the therapist to gather information and assess the couple’s situation. During this time, the therapist will typically conduct what is called a “relationship deep dive,” which involves exploring the couple’s history, conflict patterns, and attachment styles.
Here’s how each of these elements is typically explored in the first hour of a marriage intensive:
Exploring the couple’s history involves looking at their individual and collective experiences, both past and present. The therapist may ask questions about each partner’s upbringing, family history, cultural background, and previous relationships. This information can help the therapist gain a deeper understanding of the couple’s values, beliefs, and expectations. By understanding the couple’s history, the therapist can also identify any potential triggers or sensitivities that may need to be addressed in the therapy process.
Exploring conflict patterns involves looking at how the couple interacts when they experience tension or disagreement. The therapist may ask the couple to describe a recent conflict, and then observe how they communicate and interact with one another. The therapist may also ask questions to identify patterns of behavior or communication that may be contributing to their conflicts. By understanding the couple’s conflict patterns, the therapist can help them develop more effective strategies for resolving disagreements and communicating more effectively.
Exploring attachment styles involves looking at how each partner relates to the other emotionally. The therapist may ask questions to determine each partner’s attachment style, which is the way they relate to others in close relationships. Attachment styles can be secure, anxious, or avoidant, and they can influence how couples interact and respond to one another. By understanding the couple’s attachment styles, the therapist can help them develop a deeper emotional connection and address any potential barriers to intimacy.
By exploring their history, conflict patterns, and attachment styles, the therapist can identify the underlying issues that are causing distress in the relationship. This information is then used to develop a treatment plan that addresses the couple’s specific needs and goals.
THE SECOND HOUR
During the second session of a marriage intensive, each individual typically meets with the therapist for a “solo session”. During this session, the therapist works to explore personal history and experiences, and how they may be influencing your behaviors, thoughts, and emotions in the relationship. This can include exploring family background, childhood experiences, past relationships, and any significant life events or traumas.
The goal of the individual session is to help you gain a deeper understanding of each individual and how their past experiences may be impacting their relationship. This can be particularly helpful in identifying patterns of behavior or ways of thinking that may be contributing to conflict or disconnection in your relationship.
THE THIRD HOUR
During the third hour of a marriage intensive, the therapist will typically provide feedback to the couple based on their assessment of the couple’s relationship and the information gathered in the previous sessions. The therapist may discuss the couple’s strengths and areas of improvement, as well as any patterns of behavior or communication styles that may be contributing to their relationship issues.
During this feedback session, the therapist and the couple may work together to establish specific goals for the remainder of the marriage intensive. These goals may include developing new communication skills, identifying and changing negative behavior patterns, building emotional intimacy, or improving conflict resolution skills.
The therapist may also provide guidance on how the remaining hours of the marriage intensive can best be used to achieve these goals. This may involve discussing specific exercises or activities the couple can do during their time together, or providing additional tools or resources to support their work.
THE FOURTH HOUR AND BEYOND
Yes, after the initial assessments and feedback session, the remainder of the marriage intensive typically focuses on skill building and communication skills. The couple may work with the therapist to learn and practice new skills and techniques for communicating effectively, managing conflict, and building emotional intimacy.
During this phase of the intensive, the couple will choose specific issues or challenges they want to work on, such as trust issues, financial problems, or intimacy concerns. The therapist will guide the couple through these issues using the skills and techniques they have learned, and provide support and guidance as they work through any conflicts or challenges.
Some common skill-building exercises that may be used in a marriage intensive include active listening, expressing feelings and needs, setting boundaries, and practicing empathy and understanding. The therapist may also provide tools and resources for improving emotional intimacy and building a stronger, more connected relationship.
Overall, the remainder of the marriage intensive is focused on practical, hands-on work to help the couple develop the skills and tools they need to overcome their relationship challenges and build a stronger, healthier relationship. By practicing these skills and working through specific issues with the support of the therapist, the couple can create lasting change and build a more fulfilling future together.
A marriage intensive is a great option for couples who want to work on their relationship in a focused and intense way, without having to worry about scheduling conflicts or keeping up the momentum over a long period of time. It’s a turbo-charged way to work on your relationship and build a stronger bond with your partner!