Since 2003, the Orthodox Union’s Department of Community Services has been organizing annual Marriage Enrichment retreats for couples of all ages, to enhance relationships between husbands and wives and make good marriages great. This summer, on the weekend of July 9-11 (which is Camp Visitation Weekend for parents of children in summer camp), following the release of its landmark online Aleinu Marriage Satisfaction Survey, the OU will hold its first weekend since the survey results were announced.
The retreat will take place at the Woodcliff Lake Hilton in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, and will utilize the major components of the Marriage Survey to plan appropriate programming and workshops, which will address the results of the study on areas of marital satisfaction, as well as common stressors or Orthodox Jewish marriages. The camaraderie, ambience, and relationships developed at previous retreats have been extremely conducive for learning new skills.
The survey results, which were announced in January, determined that overwhelmingly, marriages among Orthodox Jews tend to be positive and happy within their marriages, with a high majority of spouses saying they would get married again to the same person. However, there is a “perception” that the divorce rate is rising, and there is a marital satisfaction “down-period” starting well in advance of 20 years of marriage and leading up to thirty years which may precede an “up-period” in which fulfillment and happiness become more common. Even in the best marriages, “conflict is inevitable,” with the leading “triggers” being financial stress; communication difficulties; problems with physical intimacy/sexuality; and just not enough time for each other.
Therefore, the retreat will focus on the following topics, among others:
• Enriching relationships
• Enhancing communications skills
• Strengthening couple bonds
• Conflict resolution
• Understanding and accepting differences, and
• Improving team parenting.
Frank Buchweitz, OU National Director of Community Services and Special Planning, and coordinator of the Marriage Study and weekend retreat declared, “Healthy marriages are the backbone of healthy families, healthy communities, and the basis of healthy congregations. A skills-based marriage education program, such as the OU Positive Marriages couples retreat, can make a powerful and positive difference in strengthening the Jewish family, community, and synagogue. This program is geared to make healthy marriages even better than they are currently.”
“Continuing marital education is the best divorce prevention strategy there is and can keep the relationship fresh by fostering new skills and renewing community support and spousal commitment,” he continued. “The best gift we can give our children is one that will help strengthen the Jewish family.”
Mental health professionals who specialize in marriage enrichment will be present at the retreat and will lead workshops and programming that address many results of the Marriage Survey, and offer practical ideas for enriching marriages.
The results of the study are available on the OU website, www.ou.org.
It should be noted that many older couples have sponsored participation by their young married children to learn and develop important skills for making their marriages start off on the right foot. As a result, a new feature of this upcoming retreat will be sessions geared exclusively for those in their first years of marriage.
The weekend will feature marriage enrichment skills workshops, gourmet meals, excellent Hilton Hotel accommodation, including a full-service spa with separate pool hours.
For more information, including prices, or to register, contact 212-613-8188 or visit www.oucommunity.org.