Below is a summary of the key learnings in the workshop:
1. Understanding attachment & connection
Through the lens of attachment couples understand the most basic needs and desires that they bring to their relationship. We emphasize learning about attachment in an experiential rather than just intellectual way. We use a mindfulness-based exercise and journaling exercise in which couples learn about their personal instincts and needs in terms of approaching connection in their relationship or taking space and withdrawing. They reflect on how each person tends to reach out for connection, how they respond when their partner is not available, etc.
We also teach couples key tools like love languages, attachment styles and understanding their body language to help them connect in more effective ways. They leave the workshop knowing that their connection is more important than being right or fighting with each other.
2. Emotional regulation & play
Couples will learn to recognize when they get triggered emotionally, and how to use their breath and body to calm themselves down. We also teach a specific exercise in dyadic soothing that helps them relax with each other.
We emphasize throughout the workshop ways to be playful with each other and how to lower distress and activation. We also end the workshop with a playful sensual exercise that is the highlight of the workshop for most couples.
3. Understanding emotions, needs and reactions
Many partners don’t know how to recognize their emotions or how to respond to each other emotionally. We give couples a framework for understanding the role of emotions in our lives and how differences in understanding emotions can cause challenges in the relationship. We tie emotions to underlying core beliefs to help people take responsibility for their own emotional triggers.
4. The negative cycle and communication skills
We teach couples to see their conflict as a result of an underlying negative cycle. Through the exercises each couple identifies their own negative cycle and discovers their specific vulnerabilities and needs. We help them analyze and understand certain situations in which they were in conflict and they learn how to communicate in a way that will create connection rather than defensiveness.
5. Aligning around vision & values
In addition to the above topics, couples in the premarital track (see more below about the logistical details) talk about their vision in key life areas. They get worksheets that help them discuss their values and expectations around topics like money, having kids, roles, spirituality etc. They get to choose which of the topics is most important to them so they can focus on them first.
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The workshop lasts two days, Saturday – Sunday from 10am to 6pm and is held at The Lodge at Tiburon. There is an option to stay overnight at the lodge for those traveling.
The workshop has two tracks – for long term couples (couples who have been together for a while, married or not) and for premarital (couples who are engaged or recently married). Both tracks are together for the first day and a half of the workshop, learning about connection and communication. In the last half day the two groups are separated–the premarital group focuses on talking about vision and values, while the long term group continues to focus on communication.
Clients get a 30 page workbook that includes the material presented during the workshop, workshop exercises, plus some bonus exercises they can continue to do on their own.