Les and I have attended the Banff Couples Conference (now The Rocky Mountain Couples Retreat) over 27 times! It’s a wonderful weekend of tried and true relationship advice presented by experts intended to deepen and repair new and old coupleships.
You see, we have discovered that coupleships can be strengthened and made more resilient to future challenges. However, it takes time, commitment, care, and a willingness to openly communicate.
Judith Ansara and Robert Gass
The couples retreat committee contracts with world-renowned marriage and relationship experts. A significant year for Les and me was led by Robert Gass, EdD, and Judith Ansara, MSW. This wonderful American couple are co-founders of Hollyhock, the Canadian personal development retreat on Cortes Island.
Married for over 40 years, they integrate into these sessions their knowledge of spiritual practice, psychology, organizational change, social action, and the arts. The year Judith and Robert Gass opened the event, they began by stating their intention for the over one hundred couples in the room. The weekend intent was to have a time for relationship reflection, mending, intimacy, enhancement, and celebration.
It began with an invitation to hold hands and take turns, four minutes each, to express our appreciation. I began, “Les, thank you, for your loyalty. Thank you, for your gentle hands. Thank-you, for… ” When was the last time you expressed four minutes of appreciation to your partner?
Then the weekend of connection were deepened. With Judith’s and Robert’s guidance, modeling and suggestions, Les and I embarked on sharing, agreeing and disagreeing. Yes, we constructively disagreed and our love expanded.
Relationship Advice; Ten Tips
1. Get out of the blame game; accept responsibility by answering these questions: “What did I do to participate in the situation? How did I respond? Then end this sentence: “If I were to take 100% responsibly I would…”
2. Trying to improve your partner is a frustrating trap. No one can fix another person.
3. If you are winning a point you are losing in the relationship. Do not win at your partner’s expense. Avoid being a right-fighter. Seek to find a win-win solution.
4. Love stimulates growth.
5. Relationship enhancers include authenticity, respect, contact, deep listening and vulnerability.
6. Feel and accept life as it is.
7. Practice empathy for your partner. How? Really listen.
8. When you have a problem, sit together side by side, facing the problem so you can discuss it in a mutual and cooperative state.
9. Learn what motivates, hurts, disappoints, scares, and brings joy to your partner. Consider reading the book, The Five Love Languages,
10. Develop an understanding of what it is like to be him or her. Imagine being in his or her shoes.
Relationship advice needs to resonate with both partners. It takes two to make a pair, to dance, and make a relationship. I trust you to know what will fly and what will not. You know your sweetie better than anyone else, except perhaps for his or her parents.
If you have ever attended a couple enrichment program, please consider sharing your relationship advice with us. Ok?