Valentine’s Couples Retreat 2020

This small group Valentine’s Retreat is perfect for couples who want to strengthen their marriage. It is also for engaged, co-habitating and dating couples who want to prevent unnecessary problems from arising in the first place.

Annual one-day event on the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day 9:30am – 5:30pm

Young Harris, Georgia in the Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

As couples move beyond the “honeymoon” phase, they inevitably encounter conflicts. If not handled skillfully by both people, emotional wounds mount up, adding one more brick to an invisible wall. Don’t wait until the wall is too high to climb. Invest in the training you need to create the flourishing relationship you know is possible. Couples express the following concerns. Rest assured, these issues can be eliminated.

  • I don’t want to make waves so I keep quiet, then pressure builds and I say things I wish I hadn’t.
  • I hate conflict. Why can’t we just be happy?
  • I don’t feel safe fully opening up to my partner.
  • It hurts when my partner judges me and criticizes me.
  • I know I shouldn’t be critical, but it’s hard to stop myself sometimes.
  • My partner gets quiet and distances.
  • We get too emotionally reactive.
  • I want to feel more deeply bonded like we did at the beginning of our relationship.
  • I hate feeling lonely and far apart.
  • Serious Conversation CoupleWe used to have so much fun together.
  • Our lovemaking lacks emotional connection and passion.
  • My partner doesn’t follow through on agreements.
  • To avoid conflict, I do the chores myself and then feel resentful.
  • There’s been an affair, but we want to repair our marriage.
  • By the time we get home from work and the kids’ events, we have to prepare dinner, do homework and get the kids to bed. We’re exhausted. We don’t have enough time for each other.

This Valentine’s Couples Retreat is based on 40 years of psychological research by Dr. John Gottman which features the question: What makes masters or disasters of marriage?


What kind of activities will we do?

  • You will learn communication skills, the backbone of a healthy relationship.
  • You’ll have a safe place to practice under the guidance of an expert to keep you on track.
  • Deepen your intimacy on all levels, opening your heart, body, mind and spirit.
  • Develop a true friendship.
  • Set aside defensiveness, criticism, contempt and stonewalling.
  • Listen and empathize so you both feel understood and respected.
  • Maneuver through anger, fear, and conflict avoidance.
  • Cooperate with your partner while being true to your Authentic Self.
  • Understand your personalities, your unique needs, and your gifts.
  • Heal resentments and hurts.
  • Ask for what you need and respond to your partner in a supportive way.
  • Develop the courage to be vulnerable and transparent.
  • Apologize and forgive.
  • Apply the energy that was tied up in conflicts to create what is truly meaningful. When you support each other in creating your fondest dreams, your love grows exponentially.

“We get through conflicts much quicker so they don’t damage our relationship.  As a result, we are more comfortable and confident in our relationship, and our future looks brighter than ever. Thank you, Benita!” – J.C., Writer/Editor/Trainer


Why I Lead Couples Retreats and Marriage Retreats

I believe that healthy marriages are the backbone of a healthy society. As I see it, dysfunctional marriages pose one of the biggest challenges in this society. Divorce causes pain for the couple, their children and extended families. Emotional anguish makes it difficult to work. Stress increases illness. That’s why I am passionate about Couples Counseling. When a couple learns how to love well, the positive impact reaches into their children’s lives, their siblings, parents, friends, and their workplaces. Healthy couples spawn healthy children. Healthy adults become healthy leaders who generate a ripple effect for hundreds of people.

Our marriage has shifted from one filled with constant struggles, tension, and unhappiness to one with clear communication, compatibility, and fun. We will be grateful to you forever!” – J.H., Artist


Click here to contact me to apply for this retreat.  Space is limited to four couples in this semi-private retreat. Register today to save your seat.

Dr. Gottman has won numerous awards including four National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Awards. He was recognized as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Therapists of the past quarter-century by the Psychotherapy Networker.

Watch this TV interview where I talk about the four behaviors that Dr. Gottman says predict divorce with 94% accuracy.

Many couples devote 90% of their time and energy to children, jobs and the extended family. No wonder they drift apart.

Some couples choose to tolerate the distance in their marriage until the children graduate. Then they turn toward each other, only to face the daunting challenge of leaping over the Grand Canyon to try to reach each other again.

Unwittingly, some couples leave their marriage vulnerable for someone else to come between them. I am not saying that affairs are right. I’m just saying it happens sometimes. You can prevent affairs. Wouldn’t it be better to talk about what has led to the distance and repair the relationship injuries so your marriage is safe and secure?

Couple LoungingSome couples take vacations, but they don’t feel happy a month afterward because they have not learned how to create a real connection. They have not learned how to restore deep emotional intimacy during conflicts.

As a result, even little things can set them off. You know … the straw that broke the camel’s back. All this struggling is exasperating.

The good news is: You can repair relationship injuries and open your hearts again. You can prevent regrettable situations. You can learn relationship skills, just like you learn anything else.

It breaks my heart to see couples suffer from the slowness of private counseling sessions. There’s only so much we can cover in 50 minutes, and then the session ends. You can progress so much more swiftly in this Valentine’s Retreat.

Click here to contact me to apply for this retreat. Space is limited to 4 couples.

Benita has an uncanny ability to understand each of our unique personalities, and to help us build a bridge.”  N.A., Speech Pathologist

This is an educational format, not marriage counseling.

Graduating 4If you were taking a college course, you would meet in class 2-3 times a week for 3-4 months in addition to doing several hours of homework every week. If you want a bachelor’s degree to prepare you for a successful career, you would naturally attend four years of college or more.  You would think nothing of it.

The skills needed to create a healthy marriage require at least one “college” course. But, if you want a really good relationship, you’ll want a four-year degree.

We as a society need to get realistic about the education required for healthy flourishing relationships. We need to stop beating ourselves up because we don’t already know how to do it. School didn’t teach these skills.

Don’t keep waiting, hoping time will heal. Time does nothing. Small unresolved conflicts snowball into mountains if they are not repaired.

Be smart. Get educated. Remove the stigma of getting help. You and your relationship will reap the benefits.

My husband and I did therapy with you 18 years ago when he lost a job and our marriage was floundering. After 51 years our marriage is more solid than ever. You helped us see the right road to travel. We will always be grateful to you for your insight and wisdom.”  – JCS, classical guitarist


FAQsGroup of Copules 35

Q: Do we have to be married to attend the Valentine’s Retreat?

A: You can be married, engaged, living together, or dating. There must be a commitment to make the relationship succeed

Q: What if I’m uncomfortable sharing in a group?

A: That’s understandable. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to with the group. There will be plenty of activities where you and your partner share privately. However, if you choose to share with the group, you’ll receive expert coaching. You will discover that other couples have similar issues and that you’re not alone. I will teach you how to communicate from your heart without blaming your partner. That helps you both feel safe.

If you want to improve your relationship but you would rather not be in a group, contact me to schedule a Private Couples Retreat tailored to your needs.

Q: We’ve been in therapy before, but we still have conflicts.

A: That’s normal. All of our fears and insecurities arise within our intimate relationships. There’s no getting around it. When you learn how to explore the depths of an issue, you experience the deepest healing. It’s time for the next leg of the journey.

Q: What theory and techniques will you be using?

A: We’ll use Dr. John Gottman’s 40 years of research on this question: What makes masters and disasters of marriage?

I’m a certified Gottman Leader for educational workshops.

Click here to read this article: Gottman research FAQs. Read about how Dr. Gottman predicts divorce with a 93.6% accuracy rate.

Click here to read the key findings of Gottman’s research.


Black couple close grt Q: Is childcare provided?

A: No, childcare is not provided.

Q: How many people will attend the retreat?

A: A maximum of 4 couples. Register early to ensure your seats.

Q: Are there couples who should not attend?

A:  If there is physical, emotional or verbal abuse, or if there is drug or alcohol abuse, or if there is an active affair … this retreat is not appropriate.

Schedule a private counseling appointment to get help. If any of these are discovered during the retreat, an appropriate referral will be made.

Q: Are there prerequisites?Success Starts Here FlashBuddy Morguefile Free

(1) Please watch my YouTube video. “Four Horsemen, Don’t Let Them Ruin Your Marriage”

(2) You will each complete an application before your registration is accepted, so apply early.

(3) Suggested Reading:

  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” revised edition 2015 by John Gottman
  • “Biblical Reference Guide for the Gottman Method” by David Penner and Laura Heck (It’s like the short cliff notes version.)
  • Look for John and Julie Gottman on YouTube.

(4) A 30-minute phone or videoconference interview with both of you.

With Benita’s loving, non-judgmental guidance we learned what she meant by “going straight up the mountain” toward transforming not just our relationship with each other, but our relationship with ourselves. We are sure that Benita’s influence on our lives will be forever.” – P&J G. RN, Employment Recruiters


Photo by Benita Esposito

Valentine’s Couples Retreat Venue

We’ll meet in the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking Lake Chatuge in Young Harris, Georgia.

Two hours from Atlanta, Chattanooga and Asheville.




Arrive 9:00-9:15 a.m.

Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. We’ll take a 1.5-hour lunch break. Lunch is on your own.

Q: Can you recommend hotels?

A: Click here for lodging and restaurants.

Make your hotel reservations early. Valentine’s weekend gets crowded in our mountain resort town.


BenitaEsposito 2013Facilitator: Benita A. Esposito is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and four decades of experience.

Benita has completed level 3 of three advanced training programs offered by the Gottman Institute.  She is a certified Gottman Leader. She also completed advanced training in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy by Dr. Sue Johnson. Benita specializes in working with adult individuals and couples to create flourishing relationships. She facilitates deep emotional healing to reduce depression, anxiety, stress and trauma. She teaches success skills to help people thrive as their Authentic Self. Click here for bio.


Tuition: $525 per couple for the whole day.

To apply for this Valentine’s Retreat: Click here to complete the Contact page.

Tell me that you want to apply for the Valentine’s Retreat. I’ll contact you within two business days (Monday-Friday) to schedule a 30-minute complimentary phone interview. Both of you must be present on the call.

Preparation before the call: Both of you must read this entire web page and watch the TV interview “Four Horsemen: Don’t Let Them Ruin Your Marriage” (click here). I’ll answer all your questions and make sure you are a good fit for this retreat.

Note: If you are allergic to cats, let me know. I have one cat that will be kept away from our meeting space if needed.

Cancellations: Your cancellation notice must be made in writing. A $50 administration fee is non-refundable.  The balance of your tuition can be refunded up until 21 days before the retreat. If you cancel within 20 days, there is no refund. If you paid via PayPal, and PayPal charged a service fee, that fee is non-refundable.

In the unlikely event that I cancel the workshop, you will receive a full refund.