Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Is a Marriage Retreat Worth It? Interview with a Pioneer in the Field

marriage retreat and recovery from infidelity

An engineer friend of mine once told me “You can only have two of the three.”  We were discussing three critical decisions which drive any process. They are speed, price, and quality. You can have quality and speed, but it’s probably going to cost you more. You could also choose quality and price, but you’ll end up sacrificing the speed of the desired need. Finally, speed and price could be what you want, but you’ll then probably end up compromising quality and being disappointed about the time and hard earned money you spent.

The options available to couples recovering from infidelity seem to be many yet choices have to be made regarding speed, quality and of course, price. It’s unfortunate that when recovering from one of life’s greatest tragedies, one has to talk about money but there’s just no way around it. Effective, long term healing from infidelity requires an investment of time, effort and hard earned finances.

Perhaps one of the least understood options of recovery are marital intensives or marriage retreats. Since they are one of the most costly options, one must eventually ask, do the speed and quality provided make it worth it in the long run?

I can’t stress enough the importance of choosing a weekend retreat that is specifically designed for infidelity, and not just for general marriage issues. Recovery from infidelity requires a very specialized process that directly addresses the many aspects of infidelity and it’s far reaching collateral damage.  At affairrecovery.com my staff and I firmly believe in intensives, yet also subscribe to the fact that participants also need a rigorous aftercare program to support them once they leave the intensive.  You’ll be happy to know our aftercare programs are exceptional. 

This week I’m posting an interview with Dr. Shawn Stoever, the Senior Director for the WinShape Foundation (a non-profit ministry of Chick-fil-a) who oversees their Marriage Retreats and Leadership programs. Dr. Stoever has spent the majority of his professional career helping develop marriage intensives and is one of the leading experts in the field. Listening to this interview will provide additional avenues for your recovery process. Shawn not only explains the benefits of an intensive and a marriage retreat, but he makes some recommendations on finding a specific program that could be helpful for you and your spouse. 

You can find our EMS Weekend here:   marriage retreat at Affair Recovery.

We’ve also found that many of our readers and subscribers have found great solace and encouragement through our survivors blog.  Both Lynn and Samuel have dedicated great time and effort to share their ongoing survival stories and we’ve included two of their newest vlogs for you:

In the vlog below, Lynn shares both her healthy and unhealthy reasons for staying and how they saw her through to the other side.


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In Samuel’s vlog below he discusses the seemingly never ending challenges to recovery for both spouses.


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Marriage intensives

I would say the marriage intensive was extremely valuable for us particularly In light of the fact that we went very early after disclosure. I don't know that my spouse EVER would have come to grips w what his infidelity had cost us, what the many faceted effects there would be to me personally, to our relationship. Nor did he realize until then that it would be a long healing process, not linear but roller coaster. He also learned to "man up" and take responsibility for all the many "costs" to me, to him, to us and how to assist me In a long recovery. He learned many things about himself and the things contributory to the infidelity within himself and the relationship. Quite frankly, we suffered a catastrophic event much like a bomb blast and we were adrift not knowing what to do next. Our marriage intensive weekend saved our marriage. It prevented us from making life altering decisions In the heat of the moment, in the pit of agony and despair. It gave us hope and direction.

Marriage Intensives


I read your post wrong the first time, and like an idiot I nearly spoke before listening :)...  I miss-read a few things that confused me, but now I see that your post is excellent.  People that find themselves in these messes are very lost and need to stop the denial and like you said "MAN UP" or "WOMAN UP":)....  My wife is one that has stayed in denial and has surrounded herself with people that she has grown to become just like (her mother).  Her Mothers programming has taught her to neglect and avoid responsibility, heck lie if you have to if it means avoiding conflict, and in the meantime don't let anyone know the real you, stay in denial.  Her mother is an addict so all these she is pro at all these things.  Anyway I just liked what you had to say and sure wish my wife would even consider going to an even like this.

Weekend Intensives.

My husband and I forked up the cash to do three weekend intensives focused on affair recovery and sexual addiction. We did the couple's weekend with Rick and his Affair Recovery team and then we each did an individual retreat focused on sexual addiction. They were all worth every penny (and yes, it's a lot of pennies). But we learned whatever you put before recovery you have a high risk of losing...so we invested everything we had to make sure in the end we kept what mattered most -- our marriage, our sanity, our family, the healing of all three. I will never regret all the money we spent to get the best help available. Every day when I look at our happy little son it reinforces that it was the right decision to make.

Emergency Marriage Seminar Online

We could not afford the weekend program so we opted instead for the online course. It was a marriage saver for us. We both learned things about marriage, communication and each other that we wish we had learned in our pre-marital counseling. My husband was able to understand the depths of my pain. He even stated that he knew his actions would hurt me but he didn't realize just how much emotional and personal agony his betrayal would cause. I highly recommend the online course if your finances won't allow the weekend. In a way, I'm glad we did the online course instead. It took several months instead of a few days and gave us time to learn, understand, discuss and apply each lesson to our marriage.


My h and I did the recovery program over the phone six years ago. I will say it was something worthwhile. I don't think it was as strong as it is now. Since Rick started these blogs I felt we missed that crucial window of time to seriously address what to expect in the process of healing. The information just was not part of the program at the time. I have since learned just how utterly complicated my marriage was and how we had so many factors stacked against us. In the past six years I have had to commit to healing myself from the effects of not only my h's affair but the fact that it was 10 years of a duplicitous life of lying, cheating, his sex addiction and porn, his emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, and spiritual abuse towards me in those 10 years prior to discovery, and while the affair stopped, the rest of the problems persisted. I clung onto the misguided theological teaching and preaching of "God hated divorce" and "Sacrificial forgiveness" and "extending grace" to the point of serious depression, trauma, loss of self esteem and my ability to mother my children and protect them from divorce. Unfortunately it exposed them to a terrible toxicity. It wasn't until I went to a domestic violence support group that I heard what I needed to hear. Even my pastors were not trained well enough to understand and know how to effectively counsel us - individually or together.
My h used to say that at the time he was not capable of hearing anyone - he was that deep into himself as his own god.
I've since learned a tremendous amount about narcissism.
I've known all along that a lot of my husband's character make up is deeply rooted in his childhood - his own sexual molestation by his older brother, the rages and abuse and eggshells he walked on from his dad's abuse (which perpetuated from his own childhood abuse)...
I had hope that he could heal from it - really - I still think he could if he could let go of the armor around his heart...
But here I am - 2 months after filing for divorce - I finally saved enough money, sacrificed time with my children while taking courses to establish a new career in my mid 50's so I could support myself and hope for a peaceful retirement.
My husband still lies to me about finances. He still screams at me and our children if he had a bad day or if I tell him something he doesn't want to hear about our finances. He still blames me for the ramifications of his own decisions that put us in this financial and emotional chaos.
I haven't had any intimacy in 15 years because of how he had been treating me...
It all hurt so much - the betrayal and the lies and the loss of hope. My grieving was very lonely.
The costs are still adding up - not as much from the affair but the inner turmoil my h still refuses to address.
If there's any advice I could impart if you would receive it:
Do not stay in an abusive relationship - it affects the kids horribly - my kids have no idea what affection looks like between parents.
Learn to deal with anger, shame, guilt, insecurities, reasons you lose trust in each other and the reality of how long it takes to gain that trust back.
Don't ever quit trying - but only if the other person is actively trying too.
You cannot fix a broken marriage alone. It takes 2 healthy people.
And by all means don't stay if the other refuses to address all issues. (Especially why they continue us to lie).

If only these werent all in the US!

These really sound like the answer for us...But there seems to be a lack of similar in the UK, only generalised marriage improvement ones which just isn't the same. We need intensive help, fast and no UK content we've found hits the spot like that from Ricky and his team...

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I would highly recommend giving this a try.
-D, Texas