A US psychologist has launched a series of marriage counselling retreats on a riverboat in North Carolina.
Couples are ferried along the rivers and sounds of the southeastern state on a boat called Dragon Lady, receiving one-to-one counselling from Dr Bryce Kaye and his wife Helen, who call their firm Love Odyssey Charters. The events run between two and seven days.
The intensive retreats are attended by one couple at a time and focus not only on conventional communication skills and relationship analysis, but on Dr Kaye’s theory that couples accumulate “emotional damage” as their relationships progress. Once couples begin to share responsibilities and make decisions regarding money, childcare and similar issues, they start to inhibit their true thoughts and feelings he claims. Eventually this inhibition can begin to affect the couple’s feelings for each other and ability to communicate, the psychologist believes.
“Toward the end of this process is someone who feels like he or she is “suffocating”, “drowning” or “doesn’t know who they are anymore.”
This so-called ‘relationship depersonalisation’ fuels affairs, separation and divorce.
The exotic riverboat helps visiting couples break out of stale patterns and encourages a new state of mind, Dr Kaye explains.
“We keep [each couple] moving and out of their stuck roles. We sail them from port to port where they stay in quaint B&B’s, explore the historic towns and enjoy the down-east restaurants. They are surrounded by beautiful natural scenery on the rivers and sounds of North Carolina.The marriage counseling retreats take place in a cozy teak-lined pilot house of a Finnish-made sailboat. All of this puts them into an exploratory state in which their minds are more receptive to new ideas.”
Week long retreats end with a special ceremony on a remote beach at sunrise. Each couple writes out a list of their relationship resentments and recites them to the other without any rebuttal. They then burn each list in a hole in the sand, renew their marriage vows and drink champagne.
Photo of the Roanoke River by Patriarca12 via Wikipedia