How to bring FCE to your community

Increasingly, Quaker Meetings and other communities are seeking ways of being supportive to couples and families under their care. Couple retreats are a means of providing “continuing education” for couples in strengthening and deepening their relationships. The Quaker context of our workshops provides a spiritual foundation and a link to our other experiences as Friends.

There is a particular richness when a retreat is held for couples within a single meeting or community. It not only enriches the individual couple relationships, but it also deepens the bonds of caring among the couples in the group, and thus enriches the meeting or community as well.

Planning a Couple Retreat

  1. Contact to begin a discussion about which leader couple might be available to lead a retreat in your area.

  2. Identify potentially interested couples and talk with them about workable dates. Six to eight couples is ideal for a retreat, although as few as four and as many as ten can be accommodated. Larger groups can also be accommodated by using two leader couples. If the traditional weekend format is not suitable, a program can be designed to take place on two consecutive Saturdays, several weekday evenings, etc. Be sure to tell prospective participants that a commitment to the whole program is expected.

  3. Identify a suitable site. A good program site offers a comfortable, private meeting room, an extra room for dividing into two groups, and spaces for couples to go off on their own for brief exercises. For a residential program, you should have a place with private accommodations for each couple. Couples retreats have been held in large homes or vacation homes, as well as in retreat centers and camps. If an overnight format is not feasible, couples can commute and sessions can be held in a meetinghouse or a home. Remember to find an alternate space for Sunday morning if the program is taking place in a meetinghouse.

  4. Meals can be cooperatively prepared by participants, ordered in, or brought in by other meeting members. At retreat and conference centers the meals are usually provided by the host center.

  5. Arrange support from the meeting or community. Many communities have supported couple retreats by providing space, offering child care, bringing in meals, and by helping to cover the costs.

  6. Publicize the retreat to complete a full group of participants. If there are not enough interested couples in your meeting, consider inviting participants from other meetings or churches in your area.

  7. Fees: Friends Couple Enrichment expects groups to cover their direct expenses in providing a program. Some leader couples, but not all, will request an honorarium. In addition, there is a $10 to $40 dollar per couple administrative fee (depending on the length of the program) payable to Friends Couple Enrichment.