Heart to Heart Couple Retreats
The purpose of the Heart-to-Heart weekend is to offer all committed couples the opportunity to examine and explore their relationship together -- their strengths and weaknesses, their attitudes, their hurts, desires, ambitions, disappointments, joys and frustrations -- and to do so openly and honestly in a private/safe face-to-face, heart-to-heart encounter.
While there are other religiously affiliated marriage and couples weekend experiences, Heart To Heart is firmly rooted in a liberal religious perspective; non-denominational, respectful and inclusive of all faith traditions.
Our Heart to Heart weekend retreat experience is based on the Marriage Encounter model of personal reflection/ writing and couple dialogue. Our Mission is to create a safe and supportive environment in which to nurture committed relationships. We focus on modeling the behaviors, attitudes and actions that keep relationships strong. We also identify habits and patterns that tend to weaken and sabotage relationships.
The option of joining an ongoing couples group is one of the unique characteristics of Heart To Heart. Of the more than 400 couples who have participated in our weekends, between 40%-60% of those couples have joined ongoing groups. Some of these groups have been meeting monthly for a year, others have been together for three to fifteen years, and at least one group has been meeting since 1990! We believe this testifies to the powerful structure and impact of creating community to support and nurture couples and their commitment to each other. Participant’s lives and families are strengthened through Heart To Heart.
The leaders of Heart to Heart are committed to having one lesbian or gay couple on each leadership team. About 20%-25% of our participants are gay or lesbian, in both the weekend and on-going groups. Our organization is committed to gender, ethnic and spiritual diversity in our program, practice and perspective.
What Happens at a Heart to Heart Couple's Weekend Retreat?
The Heart to Heart weekend begins Friday evening and ends Sunday afternoon. There are three components to the weekend:
1) Group time, consisting of presentations by the team lead couples describing real life struggles and joys they have experienced in their relationships;
2) Individual reflection and writing time, and
3) Private couple sharing and dialogue time.
The group time is devoted to the three lead couples sharing in depth from their own experience in their relationship. We hope that our reflections and learning from our own couple journey will open a door for you to look openly and honestly at yourselves and your own relationship. Except for brief introductions Friday evening and an optional Sunday afternoon closing, participants are not asked to share with the group. All of the sharing is done privately between each couple in the privacy of their own room or chosen space. Group time is dispersed throughout the weekend. It consists of the lead team couples sharing their personal stories on a series of topics, including:
• Strengths, Masks and Fears
• Perpetual issues and subjects for better understanding
• "Spiritual Divorce"
• Intimacy and Sexuality
• Gifts our partners give to us
After each presentation by the team leaders, you will each individually be asked to write two or three questions in a notebook for reflection. You’ll have time to write about the questions and topic as they relate to your relationship. Writing allows individuals the opportunity to explore a topic without the need to explain or defend their thinking.
At the end of the writing time, each couple meets together in a private space to read their partner’s written reflections and share thoughts and feelings about those reflections in conversation. Sharing provides the chance to listen and be heard. Repetition of this process throughout the weekend creates a rhythm of experiences where two people cultivate listening, understanding and being understood.
One of the unique offerings of Heart To Heart is the opportunity to create and participate in an ongoing couples support group. About a month after the weekend the leadership team facilitates a reunion. All participants are invited to attend. There, if you choose, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your experiences with others, and also have the option of signing up to be a part of a monthly ongoing group. Most weekends have at least one on-going group. The continuing group isn’t for everyone, and there is no pressure to participate. You’ll be encouraged to try it if you are interested or think that it might be good support for your relationship.
"Talk to be known, seek to understand, and then be understood.
Hear the other personís reality, donít be judgmental.
Repeat what they said to see if you understand.
Intimacy = In-to-me-you-see."
"I think any couple, regardless of where they are in their relationship could benefit from reflecting upon these topics and from hearing from couples how they made things work and what they struggled with or still struggle with. As we struggle in our marriage, it’s just nice to know we’re not the only ones."
Register for a Heart to Heart Weekend
Check out upcoming dates and register here >
Since the early 1990's, there have been secular and religious retreats offered for couples, but few that included same-sex partners, and none in the Upper Midwest. In 1994, a team of four couples that had attended a Marriage Encounter weekend, decided to go out on their own and adapt that retreat model to include same-sex and unmarried, committed couples. The result formed the basis for "Heart-to-Heart", which has reached over 400 couples since its inception.
More about queer experiences >
Couples Find Enrichment and Support for Their Partnerships
Star Tribune, Minneapolis - St. Paul, MN
Sunday, February 20, 2011