Habits + Disciplines

How and Why to Plan a Yearly Marriage Retreat

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Today we have a fun topic for married folks- we’re talking about how to have a yearly marriage retreat! We recently took one in March and we can look back and see so much fruit and growth came from our time.

In this episode we talk about:

  • why you and your spouse should have a marriage retreat
  • what to do on a marriage retreat
  • how to budget and plan for one
  • and we even talk about what we did on our most recent marriage retreat!

Why Have a Yearly Marriage Retreat?

Oftentimes, we say that our marriage is the most important relationship we have. But when we look at where we actually invest our time, it demonstrates that we don’t truly value our marriages in the way we say we want to.

Our stated belief + our actual practice = our actual belief

If our actual practice isn’t investing in our marriage and our spouse, maybe we don’t value them like we say we do.

A lot of people might say that they’re too busy and don’t have time. But if your work asked you to take one work trip a year, you would probably make sure that it could happen, even if it was over the weekend and an inconvenience. How much more important is your marriage relationship than your job? If you can make a work trip happen, why can’t you make a marriage retreat happen to help your marriage thrive and grow?

A marriage retreat is incredibly valuable as it can help you deeply connect with your spouse, look back on the prior year, and look forward to the future.

Ideally, if you don’t have kids, a marriage retreat lasts around three days/a long weekend. You can still do one if you have kids with you, you can still do a retreat! Try and extend the time out to a full week instead. It’s definitely helpful to not have kids there, but if you can’t get away without kids plan on spending every morning and evening doing the “retreat” before the kids wake up and after the kids go to sleep.

A marriage retreat can sound kind of intense, but we really took a mini-vacation and rested and used our time very intentionally (but not rigidly). Let’s dive into some activities we do on a marriage retreat…

Half Day of Prayer

What is a half day of prayer? To be honest, the name is a little misleading, because it’s more like 3-4 hours of prayer instead of half of a day. Essentially, it’s an intentionally extended time of reading scripture, crying out in prayer, sitting in silence and solitude, listening to worship music, praying through the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) prayer model, journal, etc. 

What we do is take two hours on our own and individually pray and then we spend an hour together praying back and forth through different prayer points. We pray for things including: each of us individually, our immediate and extended family, friends, unbelievers we know, missionaries, our church and elders, the Church, persecuted churches, current issues, etc… We also build in times of silence and being still.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

We also have a designated time to reflect on and celebrate the previous year, and look ahead to the next year and beyond. We have a list of questions (our Marriage Meeting questions), but make them for the entire previous year!

For example, we ask each other what our Highs, Lows, and Buffaloes (iykyk) for the whole year are. Looking through your camera roll definitely helps! How did I serve you well this past year, how would you like to see me grow in the upcoming year, how has my relationship with the Lord been, etc… These are the kinds of questions we ask each other.

We also talk through our individual and family goals for 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years for you personally, work-wise, spiritually, physically, mentally, etc… You should also spend some time in evaluation. Have we intentionally lived out our family’s mission? Does our mission still apply or do we need to alter it? (Our mission statement: pursue faithfulness, play the long game, and travel as a pack). We also talk about what our dreams are for ourselves and our family.


We also love to have some scheduled fun! Go out to dinners, go for hikes, try out coffee shops, get a couples massage, etc… Put aside some time for intimacy and sex!

Again, if you can’t get away without the kids, plan to do some of this stuff after they are asleep or before they wake up. Order takeout dinners after they go to bed, watch a movie together, etc… You can still have fun, just be intentional about it- make the investment!

Make a budget

Make a budget for your retreat! Too often, either one of two things can happen: you either don’t make a budget and go all out and spend way more money than you wanted to OR, you go super stingy and it’s not enjoyable because you spend all your time cooking, cleaning, etc.

Figure out where you do and don’t want to spend your money. We value not having to cook and clean on vacation so we splurged on eating out while doing free “activities” (we hiked, walked around, etc…) But you may value experiences and would rather get massages or go to an amusement park and use the time cooking your own meals to connect. 

For us, we were able to pay for our Airbnb entirely with credit card rewards, which allowed us to eat out more. Also, Xan’s sister watched our kids so we didn’t have to pay for child care which was a huge blessing. Shoutout to Christy!

The point is to figure out what works for you!

Example Schedule

Here’s what we did on our recent marriage retreat in March! We went to Helen, Georgia.


  • We left in the afternoon and drove 6 hours to our Airbnb
  • We were actually within an hour of Nathaniel’s cousin and her husband so we got dinner with them 
  • Got to the Airbnb and explored- just a chill night 


  • Woke up
  • Quiet time
  • Went out to breakfast
  • Came back and did our half day of prayer (we like doing this towards the beginning of our retreat)
  • Went to lunch
  • Walked around and explored Helen GA
  • Took a nap
  • Went to dinner
  • Came back and did our reflection and look forward time


  • Quiet time
  • Went to breakfast
  • Took a five-mile hike to the top of a mountain
  • Went to lunch and walked around the city again
  • Took another nap
  • Walked around a small lake close to our Airbnb
  • Went to a nice dinner
  • Had another deep convo about hopes and dreams
  • Watched a movie 


  • Quiet time
  • Checked out of Airbnb
  • Went to breakfast
  • Walked around the small lake
  • Drove back! We also had intentional convos during the car ride back.

Notice that all the stuff we did could still be done with kids! Go for walks and do experiences with kids. Wake up early for a quiet time and have deep convos and intimacy when they go to bed. Spread it out over a week to allow for the necessary time.

One Degree Shift

Pick a time during the year to do a marriage retreat. Put it on the calendar and book the hotel or Airbnb!

Side note: you should also sign up for our Marriage Level Up Course if you want to hear more about marriage retreats and more!

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