A couple’s vacation at Texas Marriage Retreat might not only save your marriage, but it might also save your life. In order for it to work, you have to change your mind-set. Your mind-set or mindfulness will reflect how you react to your health, relationship, children and your job. All of these things will pay a stiff price due to the lack of quality downtime. A nine-year study by Brooks Gump, an associate professor of psychology at the State University of New York, Oswego, found that men who skipped vacation for five consecutive years were 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week’s annual leave. Even skipping one year’s vacation was associated with elevated risk of heart disease. Women who take vacations frequently are less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriage. According to a study by the Arizona Department of Health Services, these personal psychological benefits led to an increased quality of life and may also lead to improved work performance. At Texas Marriage Retreat, we set up an environment that helps you deal with the stress of marriage counseling in an atmosphere that doesn’t feel like a clinic or stuffy office but instead gives you the feeling of sitting in an up-scale living room talking with close friends who are trained marriage counselors whose only concern is helping you to get your marriage back on track. What you have to do on your part is to prepare yourself for a stressful vacation. Yes, intense marriage counseling is stressful; I’m not going to lie to you. Even though we are going to do everything that we can in order to help you control stress levels including a nice atmosphere, massage and aromatherapy, and a place to stay on the grounds. There will still be stress, after all, it’s marriage counseling. Help yourself get in the right mind-set by dealing with the little things before you leave for Texas Marriage Retreat.
The Mind Set
When it comes to intensive marriage counseling, the mindfulness of the couple in counseling is very important. It helps you stay focused on the purpose of the retreat and stay in tune with what is being said by your partner as well as by your marriage counselors. At Texas Marriage Retreat, the counselors are trained to help the couple stay more centered and calm, so that you can talk things out instead of spiraling into a screaming match. A marriage counselor helps you realize the potential harmful statements that are being made that you might not even realize are harmful. This helps prevent you from going into defensive mode because when you are on the defensive with your partner, overreacting to every word he/she says, you fail to really hear what’s going on with him/her. What is being experienced? What has triggered the upset? What is really being said or asked? The key is to be mindful of what helps lead to a successful marriage which is awareness: awareness of our feelings, awareness of our partner’s feelings, and awareness of the effect of our words and actions on the relationship. This is not magic; this is not “rabbit in the hat.” The work required is both effort and commitment to the marriage counseling retreat. Successful couples interrupt this process by curtailing their hostility. In the beginning this might be simply biting your lip or shifting your body. The whole practice is a bit of a juggling act, but if practiced regularly, and carefully enough, mindfulness can allow the world-weary, long-married, and the more recently wed couples, to experience a marriage where they feel loved, supported, and accepted. Imagine, for example, being triggered by your partner. Picture yourself in that heated moment when everything just feels overwhelmingly wrong. Something is said and you feel as if you don’t make your point and that you’re going to explode with the anger that is bubbling over inside you, combined with intense distress. Now imagine being able to feel your emotions without reacting in the moment. Imagine observing the emotions and thoughts that are arising without getting caught up in them, noticing your heart rate, practice breathing out your anger, your negative emotions and keep your emotions balanced. This allows you to think about how you would like to respond in the situation versus how you would instinctively react. It allows to find solutions to the problem instead adding to them by blurting out a statement that would hurt instead of help. When mindfulness is incorporated into marriage counseling with skilled couples counselors like we have at Texas Marriage Retreat, it creates a means by which you can get to know your thoughts and stay connected to your feelings without falling victim to inappropriate, intense reactions based on unresolved issues from our past.