This self-guided, non-religious marriage retreat is fun, productive, and based on science. We are two engineers after all.
What’s more, is our free couples retreat activities can be completed at home.
Couples therapy and marriage counseling experts recommend starting marriage retreats when things are good, not bad. The average couple waits six years after the going gets tough before seeing a therapist. And then, it’s often too late.
The best time for a couples marriage retreat is, in fact, now.
Use this DIY marriage retreat to browse our marriage workshops and set aside one full, distraction-free day to follow our non-religious marriage retreat.
diy non-religious marriage retreat
When we got married, we heard the same advice over and over again: Always prioritize your marriage! The best gift you can give your kids is your love for each other!
Well, it’s a wonder these days that we have any couple time together, what with kids, a full schedule, and a never-ending to do list. Yet, it’s clear how important it is to work and grow your relationship as life changes.
So, to make it easy for all couples out there, we wanted to gift a free, DIY marriage retreat at home that you can do this week.
After researching couples happiness and relationship psychology for the better part of a decade for this blog, my husband and I bring together the many of the same aspects that you’ll find at any paid retreat. There’s a bit of relaxation, education, communication exercises, and a whole lot of quality-time to reconnect.
While these couples retreat ideas are only one day of 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.”
This non-religious marriage retreat is geared for all couples. Enjoy!
What is a Marriage Retreat?
First off, what is the purpose of a marriage therapy retreat?
Aren’t couples retreats only for people who have serious problems? Or older folks? Not a chance! It’s time to dispel the rumors because a couples retreat doesn’t mean you need couples therapy.
A marriage retreat, sometimes referred to as a “couples intensive,” is a time to focus on each other and on your relationship.
You might not need to “reconnect,” but why not spend a mindful day together, relaxing and learning about opportunities to improve your relationship’s health and happiness?
And for those of you who are working through issues, this is a good starting place. But note that this retreat shouldn’t be done to replace proper couples therapy if needed (which, by the way, there’s a great app for that).
Too often, the media portrays couples retreats only for the affluent and overly comedic. This retreat is more on the educational and relaxing side, but know that there are more intense retreats out there with relationship counselors if you’re working through real issues.
So use this non-religious, online marriage workshop as a way to slow down for a day and focus on what really matters: your marriage.
How Much Does a Couple’s Retreat Cost?
Marriage retreats can cost upwards of $12,000 depending on if you’re spending a week on a tropical island in a 5-star resort.
Even a more affordable couple’s therapy retreat at your local conference center or church could put you back close to $1,000.
Well, we have good news for you: ours is a much more affordable marriage retreat. (As in, it’s free.) You don’t have to spend a ton of money to reap the benefits of a marriage retreat.
Through our work, we’ve found the best videos on YouTube, book recommendations, and marriage retreat activities that you can do on your own. We’ve curated the best out there so all you have to do is show up.
Just note that if you and your partner need to work out heavier issues, it will take hard work and perhaps guidance from a professional, in-person relationship counselor. For this, we recommend considering Hey Ritual.
Why Do Our Non-Religious Couples Retreat?
Now that you don’t have to type “affordable marriage retreats near me” into Google and still fork over thousands, why choose our DIY marriage retreat?
Over 4,000 couples have followed our non-religious marriage retreat. Each activity in this online relationship retreat is thoughtful and backed by science.
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.
However, not all movies are created equal, so we share what are the most effective and therapeutic films for married couples. Yes, watching one of these date night movies is part of the couples retreat itinerary.
Now before we get started, take some time looking over the preparation checklist and the marriage retreat activities. Enjoy it!
Our Proven Tools for Healthy Couples
Based on our research and experience, these are our proven tools to optimize your relationship.
Download our guide for the best books, movies, apps, date night ideas, quizzes, and games for healthy couples.
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 (if you can… we have a toddler so this one is a bit tough but do your best!)
4. Divide Labor
There are likely unavoidable responsibilities that you need to tend to during a 1-day marriage retreat at home, such as caring for your kids, walking the dog, meal prep, and cleaning dishes.
Have a discussion and 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, which is a source of dissatisfaction in many marriages.
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 the couple’s retreat itinerary to your needs.
If you need to spread the marriage retreat ideas out over a weekend because you have kids (like us), then do it! No stress, the point is to complete the activities at your own pace.
Keep it easy, and keep it flexible. You’re doing great!
At-Home Marriage Retreat Agenda
Download and print our DIY couple’s retreat itinerary and preparation checklist.
Our couple’s therapy ideas bring in practical science along with mental health, nutrition, fitness, and reconnecting relationship activities.
Plus, we’re just an email away for questions.
Non-religious couples retreat Morning agenda
What makes a memorable marriage retreat that you’ll want to repeat again and again?
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, the couples retreat activities are well-rounded, and it’s not boring!
Alongside that, we’ll bring in a few mind, body, soul topics, focusing on your personal health and relationship’s health. Don’t worry, there’s nothing woo-woo or religious with this, just some science-backed exercises.
We also include helpful and non-corny relationship tools 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 couples 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 that your phone remains turned off all day. Nothing takes away more from romance than one person on their phone. If you want, we recommend reading one of these non-religious marriage books.
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 online marriage retreat, streamed through our website and YouTube:
Couple’s Workout Routine: A 23-Minute Total-Body Intense Partner Workout (included with the At-Home Marriage Retreat Agenda PDF)
Couple’s Yoga Flow Routine: 24-Minutes At-Home Partner Yoga Session (included with the At-Home Marriage Retreat Agenda PDF)
9:45 – 10:15 AM: Clean and Cozy
Take a shower together, suit up in matching bathrobes or whatever comfy home outfit you love, and brew yourselves a cup of coffee or tea.
Or, try 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.
Settle in for this free,12-minute meditation. Think about connecting with your relationship’s health, and being open to where the marriage retreat at home leads you.
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
Familiar with The 5 Love Languages? It’s a technique to optimize how to show love to your partner, and frankly, in any relationship you have (friends, colleagues, kids, etc.)
This is probably the most common non-religious 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, not sappy, and not religious.
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?
Begin this marriage retreat activity by watching this entertaining video recap of the book.
Next, spend a few minutes taking the 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 year because you’d be surprised how much things change.
After the quiz, discuss 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 been making the bed every day since 2018, and every time I see him do this, I know it’s because he loves me. It’s a good feeling.
Couples Marriage retreat Afternoon agenda
12:00 – 1:00 PM: Move Together
Head out on a walk or hike outside together (yes, rain or shine!) and enjoy the amazing benefits of exercising with your spouse.
It’s a simple activity, but one that has numerous health benefits. Studies have shown that it can lower anxiety and relieve symptoms of depression and loneliness. For a married couple, it means quality time together.
During the walk, it’s you choice to talk or not, but we recommend talking about a bucket list for all of the things you want to do together. If you need ideas, we recommend checking our adventurous couple’s bucket list ideas.
1:00 – 2:00 PM: Lunch
Cook your lunch together (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. It’s a recommended activity in any successful couples therapy retreat.
Of course, we are all unique, but data shows that happy couples have sex at least once a week.
If you’re not in the mood now, we highly recommend taking this online couples massage class! For couples massage basics, our article titled, ‘How to Give Your Partner a Good Massage‘ will help you avoid mistakes get started with simple techniques.
Regardless, this is a great time to get physical touch in.
3:30 – 4:30 PM: Drink and Learn
Before you begin this marriage retreat activity, head to the kitchen to brew a cup of tea or grab a drink to watch this next lesson by acclaimed couple’s therapist, Dr. John Gottman.
A pen and paper doesn’t hurt either!
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 this marriage workshop sounds worth your time?
Non-Religious Marriage retreat Evening agenda
4:30 – 6:00 PM: Couple’s Choice
During this marriage retreat exercise, you can choose your own adventure.
Draw a hot bath, work on your couple’s yoga poses, or if you’re up for more relationship coaching, check out the Ritual app.
The Hey Ritual app is our favorite relationship app for couples, packed with quizzes, activities, and access to a live therapist and relationship coach.
This is our #1 relationship therapy app because you get video call access to an extremely qualified relationship therapist. After two sessions, our therapist solved our 12-year recurring argument.
You never know what to expect with these services, but you can read about our experience and relationship growth story in our full review of Ritual.
For some fun, meaningful conversation, these “would you rather” questions for couples will deliver!
6:00 – 7:30 PM: Dinner
For dinner ideas, try a nice spinach salad with goat cheese and walnuts, followed up by fresh sourdough bread.
While cooking and eating, discuss questions every couple should ask before marriage.
7:30 – 9:30 PM: Movie Night
To prepare for the last marriage retreat activity, 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.’ Why limit yourself to our list?
University of Rochester psychology professor, Dr. Ronald Rogge, found that watching and discussing certain movies with relatable relationship issues was just as effective as a session of couple’s therapy.
Three years later, divorce rates were cut in half!
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:
- What primary problems did the couple face?
- Do you see similar issues within your relationship?
- What did you like and dislike about how the couple resolved their problem?
- What did you like and dislike about how the couple communicated their feelings?
- How did the characters handle their hurt feelings or disappointment
- How strong was the couple’s friendship?
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, non-religious 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 relaxing DIY couples retreat at home, appreciate the day you could spend together, and on your health and wellness.
Non-Religious Marriage Retreat Agenda
Download and print our DIY couples retreat itinerary and preparation checklist.
Our couples therapy ideas bring in practical science along with mental health, nutrition, fitness, and reconnecting relationship activities.
Plus, we’re just an email away for questions.
Beyond This Married Couples Retreat
Whether it’s you and your partner’s first couples 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.
Finally, if you enjoyed this retreat, consider signing up for our newsletters covering more couples-based topics every Friday. We also have an ‘At-Home Self-Care Retreat‘ that you can do at home for free too.
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A decade of experience, hundreds of hours of research and testing, and over 50,000 words of wisdom condensed into one PDF.
Our proven tools and strategies to optimize your relationship.
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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