1-Day DIY Marriage Retreat At Home

With travel bans and social isolation in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, now is the best time to strengthen your relationship with our marriage retreat at home. 

This self-guided marriage retreat is fun, it’s based on data, and it’s not religious. We are two engineers after all. 

Use our DIY retreat for couple’s retreat ideas or set aside one full, distraction free day to follow our marriage retreat itinerary. 

marriage retreat at home

Have these past weeks been stressful, or what? With the anxiety surrounding the world’s health, job insecurity, social plans canceled, troubling leadership, especially for those of you in healthcare, couples around the world have been trying to hold it together during unprecedented times.

Personally, on Day 48 of our quarantine, we realized that we needed some serious self-care to ground us and remind us what to prioritize.

Our article, At-Home Self-Care Retreat (with schedule), was more popular than ever, and we felt that many were looking for an outlet for a self-guided, relaxing day focused on wellness.

In addition to working with couples in health and wellness for years, our program Just Duo It had us taking these past two years researching the science of couples and relationships.

So, we merged these couple’s topics to create DIY marriage retreat ideas that bring in practical science along with mental health, nutrition, fitness, and reconnecting relationship activities.

While the couple’s retreat agenda is only one-day marriage enhancing activities, read through it a day or two in advance to prepare. You’ll want fresh groceries in the fridge, freedom to unplug your phone for the day, and to talk about your expectations and desires for the “day off.”

Why Do a Couple’s Retreat At Home?

First off, why even go on a couple’s retreat?

Aren’t couple’s retreats only for people who have serious problems? Or older folks? Not a chance! It’s time to dispel the rumors because a couple’s retreat doesn’t mean you need couple’s therapy.

It’s a time to focus on each other, on your relationship, and let loose. You might not need to “reconnect,” but why not spend a mindful day together and relax during this stressful time of quarantine?

Marriage retreats can cost upwards of $8,000 depending on if you’re spending it on a tropical island in a 5-star resort. Even a modest retreat at your local conference center or church could put you back close to $1000.

Well, we have good news for you: ours is a much more affordable marriage retreat.

By following our virtual marriage retreat at home, you can garner many of the same benefits for free. For example, did you know that certain date night movies can cut your chance of divorce in half?

Research from the University of Rochester found that movies that spark meaningful conversations can be as effective as marriage counseling.

Not all movies are created equal, and we share what are the most effective and therapeutic films for married couples. Yes, watching one of these date night movies is one of the couple’s retreat activities.

Now before we get started, take some time looking over the preparation check-list and the marriage retreat agenda. Enjoy it!

DIY Marriage Retreat Preparation Checklist

1. Be Ready to Disconnect

Tie up loose ends at work so that you can spend the retreat day with your phone turned off. You will be disconnected for 24 hours during the marriage retreat at home.

2. Prep to Eat Clean

Decide what healthy recipes you want to cook and make sure the groceries are on hand. Not sure? We include suggestions in the marriage retreat outline below.

3. Sleep Well

Enjoying a cocktail or wine the night before the retreat is fine, but don’t overdo it. We want you both to get a restful and high-quality night’s sleep to feel fresh for the day. On that note, turn off your alarm and wake up naturally.

4. Divide Labor

There are likely unavoidable responsibilities that you need to tend to during 1-day marriage retreat at home, such as walking the dog, meal prep, and cleaning dishes. Decide in advance who will take care of them on the day, or choose to do them all together.

We bring this up because typically women take on more of the domestic housework than men. The Atlantic, in their 2019 article ‘Even Breadwinning Wives Don’t Get Equality At Home,’ married American mothers spend twice as much time as their husbands on household tasks and childrearing (over 20 hours a week for the average women!)

This is something that should be brought to light during the couple’s retreat if there is a disproportionate division of labor.

5. Be Flexible

Finally, tailor our DIY marriage retreat to your needs. As we mention above, we want you to wake up without an alarm clock. This, we realize, can throw your tightly scheduled calendar for a loop, but that’s the point. Keep it easy, and keep it flexible.

At-Home Couple's Retreat Agenda

What makes an excellent retreat? First of all, we want you both to enjoy and have fun. That’s the benefit of this do-it-yourself marriage retreat – there’s no stress, it’s not boring, and it’s free!

Alongside that, we do address a few mind, body, soul topics, focusing on your personal health and relationship’s health. Some helpful and fun couple’s tools are included that we’ve learned a lot from and hope that you do as well to bring your connection closer.

These retreat activities were selected based on science. It’s best to follow the itinerary to a “T,” however, feel free to use our couple’s retreat ideas to craft your own agenda

Get ready for a restful and rejuvenating day focused on your relationship and health. Let’s duo this!

7:30 – 9:00 AM: Wake and Read

Wake up without an alarm and lounge in bed (turn off your phone the night before and continue to keep it off all day). Have a book by the bedside table in case you wake up before 9:00 AM. Also, do your best not to wake up your partner early! They might need more sleep than you.

Make sure, for the day, that your phone remains turned off. Nothing takes away more from romance than one person on their phone.

9:00 – 9:45 AM: Rise and Exercise

Drink a big glass of water and get dressed for your workout. We have two free workout options for the at-home marriage retreat, streamed through our website and YouTube:

Option 1:
Couple’s Workout Routine: A 23-Minute Total-Body Intense Partner Workout

Option 2:
Couple’s Yoga Flow Routine: 24-Minutes At-Home Partner Yoga Session

Couples Yoga Flow Routine At Home Ryan and Alex Duo Life

9:45 – 10:15 AM: Clean and Cozy

Take a shower together and put on your bathrobes (for him, for her). Start your day with a cup of fresh coffee (our ritual involves the French press) or a digestive pre-breakfast infusion with hot water, a capful of apple cider vinegar, a lemon slice, and a dash of cinnamon.

10:15 – 10:30 AM: Meditation

Sitting meditation and setting your intention for the day’s couple’s retreat.

We have enjoyed following along with the guided meditations in the Balance app. The first ten days are always free, but now they are offering a year free during the COVID-19 pandemic (usually $29).

On Day 1 of using the Balance app, you can choose from a 3, 5, or 10-minute meditation. We recommend the 10-minute meditation for this marriage retreat activity.

10:30 – 11:15 AM: Breakfast

Cook a healthy breakfast (try oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon, and a banana or a veggie breakfast burrito with black beans.)

Relax, chat, and enjoy.

11:15 – 12:00 PM: Love Languages

Okay, we’re busted. This is probably the most common marriage retreat exercise out there. But, it’s a truly powerful one.

It’s time to discover your love language. If you haven’t heard of Gary Chapman’s best-seller, The 5 Love Languages, it’s our favorite marriage book because it’s actionable and not sappy.

The basic concept is that everyone likes to receive love in some ways more than others. Would you rather your partner buy you a gift or do the dishes without you asking?

Step 1:
We found this YouTube video description of the book pretty accurate, so watch this first.

Step 2:
Next, take a few minutes taking The 5 Love Languages free quiz. Make sure to have the email results mailed to you for future reference.

We like to take the quiz every few months because you’d be surprised how much things change. Especially now, with many people self-isolating and in quarantine, you may be getting ample “quality time,” but it’s something that you may have missed earlier. So, get the results emailed!

After the quiz, make sure to discuss all of your results and what things you might do to better show your love for each other.

One time Ryan and I did this together, and he told me that he would make the bed (something he hated) to show his love for me. He’s now been making the bed every day for over a year, and it makes me so happy!

12:00 – 1:00 PM: Move Together

Head out on a walk or hike outside together (yes, rain or shine!)

A recent study published in the journal, The Obesity Society, concluded that adult dieters who lost 30 pounds and maintained or continued to lose weight tracked 12,000 steps per day.

Overweight adults only tracked 6,500 steps. Steps are, in fact, one of the five numbers we track in our 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge. That’s how important it is!

During the walk, talk about a bucket list for all of the things you want to do once quarantine is over. Keep a list on your phone. If you need ideas, we share our adventurous couple’s bucket list ideas.

So, okay, you may need your phone for this one, but avoid social media. This is your “unplugged” day.

1:00 – 2:00 PM: Lunch

Lunch (try a simple tofu stir fry with green beans, carrots, and broccoli over brown rice).

Listen to a fun playlist, relax, chat, and enjoy.

2:00 – 3:30 PM: Memory Lane

Dig up your wedding video, your wedding album, or videos from some of your favorite trips. Even better if you still have your wedding playlist on your Spotify! When was the last time you watched these videos?

Also, get busy. Of course, you don’t have to do it just because we said so, but make time for it sometime today. Of course we are all unique, but data shows that happy couples have sex at least once a week. 

3:30 – 4:30 PM: Drink and Learn

Before you begin this marriage retreat activity, head to the kitchen to brew some tea or crack open a beer. Then, sit back to watch this video “Making Marriage Work” by Dr. John Gottman, the famous couple’s psychologist.

There’s a lot of information in this one, all about the science behind happy relationships. To give you an idea, the Gottman Institute can predict with 85% accuracy if a couple will divorce within 15 minutes of meeting them.

Don’t you agree that sounds worth your time?

4:30 – 6:00 PM: Couple’s Choice

During this marriage retreat at home exercise, you can choose your own adventure. You can do some stretching together, a couple’s massage, a hot bath, a yoga workout, or practice these 23 couple’s yoga positions.

We recommend taking the time to declutter your home as a couple. Tackle a hidden section of your closet or that office desk in your spare room. Whether you adhere to Marie Kondo’s Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up or not, we find the whole process of decluttering cleansing.

Plus, you’d be surprised how much money you could make by listing your stuff on places like Facebook Marketplace. It’s productive and helps you feel more aligned. Plus, any money you make, you can put towards a future trip together.

6:00 – 7:30 PM: Dinner

Dinner (try a spinach salad with strawberries, goat cheese, walnuts, and balsamic/olive oil dressing with fresh sourdough bread).

Listen to a fun playlist, relax, chat, and enjoy. If you’re not tapped out from relationship development, tackle the six questions in our article, ‘Questions Every Couple Should Ask Before Marriage.’

7:30 – 9:30 PM: Movie Night

Pour yourselves a glass of wine and settle onto the couch for movie night. But not just any movie night. Choose from our list, ‘The Best Movies for Married Couples.’

As we mentioned in the introduction, studies have shown that watching certain movies can double as couple’s therapy. The key is not to watch random movies — many divorcing couples watch movies.

The essential part is to find films that focus on relatable problems within a marriage. Once the movie is over, discuss a few questions like these ones:

  1. What primary problems did the couple face?
  2. Do you see similar issues within your relationship?
  3. What did you like and dislike about how the couple resolved their problem?
  4. What did you like and dislike about how the couple communicated their feelings?
  5. How did the characters handle their hurt feelings or disappointment
  6. How strong was the couple’s friendship?

So, what movies made our list? While we list 25 movies for couples on our site, we recommend watching Couple’s Retreat. Fitting, right?

10:00 PM: Bed

If you are night owls, feel free to stay up later. Try playing one of these award-winning board games perfect for date night

Then, wrap up your self-guided marriage retreat, unwind together and head to bed. Talk about the day or record your thoughts together in a journal (this is the only one we’d recommend for couples).

While not every day can be a DIY couple’s retreat at home, appreciate the day you could spend together, and on your health and wellness.

Closing Thoughts

Whether it’s you and your partner’s first couple’s retreat or not, we hope that you were able to reset, rejuvenate, and replenish your energy and love. Let us know what movie you watched and how you felt together during your wellness and spa day at home.

Now that you have completed the at-home marriage retreat together, you can reconnect to your phones. But, be thoughtful about how much you use your phones. 

Ryan and I researched and studied the best apps out there for married couples to improve their relationship. We tell you which apps for married couples are worth it, and which ones you should skip.

We decided that everyone should download and use the Love Nudge app. But don’t stop there. Read our full article, ‘The 12 Best Apps for Married Couples.’

Self-care for couples is just as important as it is for individuals. For more do-it-yourself, at-home retreat ideas, check out our article, ‘At-home Self-care Retreat.’

I have questions. What do I do?

Ask away in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible and better address your question in this article accordingly.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for your comment!

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Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”

After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.

The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.

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