Tending Eros in Longterm Relationships

RETREATS on MINDFUL SEXUALITY for COUPLES

WHAT IS THIS?

Tending Eros is a series of retreats for couples that want to renew, restore or deepen their erotic connection. Just as a garden needs care and attention, a thriving erotic life needs tending or it will wither on the vine.

As our relationship changes, we are faced with ongoing challenges to intimacy and desire. These challenges can lead to conflict and disengagement or be a portal to creativity, connection and growth.

Our couple’s retreats will teach you skills to weather these difficulties and transform your relationship.

TRANSFORM & CULTIVATE

erotic
PRESENCE:

• • •
Cultivates curiosity and engagement when passion is ebbing.

erotic
COOPERATION:

• • •
Cultivates deep connection and trust when intimacy is fading.

erotic
EXPRESSION:

• • •
Cultivates freedom and play when creativity is dwindling.

erotic
ATTUNEMENT:

• • •
Cultivates mystery and surprise when spontaneity is waning.

We want your “garden” to flourish for a lifetime, not just a season.

For this reason, Parts 1 and 2 must be taken in order and before Parts 3 and 4
The skills and practices taught in Presence and Cooperation build on one another and can transform these common erotic challenges into opportunities for renewal, healing and growth. 

Expression and Attunement (Parts 3 and 4) may be taken together or separately (and in any order).
These retreats will show you how to expand beyond deadening routines and recover the creativity that often gets lost with the passage of time together.

Regardless of whether you’re in a sexual drought or fully nourished erotically, Tending Eros will help you establish a more awake and passionate erotic life.

Who attends?

PASSION & PRESENCE retreats are especially helpful for couples who are:

In a loving relationship, but having little or no sex with each other

Interested in using sex for growth and transformation

Unsure how to speak openly about their sexual desires and fears

Adjusting to physical changes due to aging or illness

Seeking more freedom, ease and play in their lovemaking

Stuck in power struggles, hurt and resentment about sex

Wanting the benefits of commitment without giving up thrills

Wanting to build a solid foundation for the years to come

What is a retreat like?

The training format consists of morning mindfulness followed by “group time” and one-on-one support from the leaders.

We intentionally foster an environment where couples support other couples. This dissolves the silence around sexuality that leads so many of us to feel deficient and ashamed. Rest assured, however, that we also respect your privacy. You will never be required to share explicit details about your sex life.

Throughout the day, we give short talks on mindful sexuality followed by experiential (non sexual) exercises that you complete under the supervision and modeling of the leaders.

We help you get connected right from the start, so that you can meet difficulties as a team.  This is why we practice in class and give you assignments at night.  We want you to feel confident that the skills you learn in the retreat will transfer to your life at home.

You will also receive private exercises to complete before and after group sessions.

These are not hands-on techniques, but rather gentle guidelines to cultivate a present and exploratory state of mind. Most participants find that the exercises add safety, particularly if you’re at an impasse, but you can always modify them to fit your individual needs.

FAQs

Yes. Starting with the first retreat, you will acquire more ease in talking openly about sex. This happens through ice breakers, structured dialogues and hearing the leaders talk about sex. We will teach you how to slow down, notice, and report on your experience in a way that engenders curiosity and compassion from your partner rather than defensiveness or withdrawal. We also teach you how to find your way back to a mindful state when you get triggered.
Time and again we have seen couples recover the love and passion that once was theirs. This happens by starting to repair past hurts and becoming more vulnerable with each other. As you speak your deeper truths, you become re-acquainted and often re-engaged with one another. While this doesn’t happen for every couple, we have seen it often enough to know that emotional honesty can be a powerful aphrodisiac.
Almost all of us carry unresolved hurts, disappointments and fears that, when unnamed, create a wedge between us and our partner. We introduce communication processes that invite a level of transparency that builds the needed safety to let yourself see and be seen by your partner. The trick is wanting to be reconnected rather than simply “venting.” If your true intention is to heal and grow closer, then it is possible to name things in a way that deepens rather than destroys connection.

In regard to your second question: We advocate as strongly for boundaries as we do for self-expression. We honor your internal knowing about what is best for you and never push you to go beyond your limits. Therefore, you are always in charge of when, how, and with whom you disclose.

If you have a genuine interest in reconnecting erotically, even if you don’t know how to or haven’t had sex in a while, then our retreats will be beneficial for you. If you are in an active crisis, or if cooperating in a joint exploration feels impossible, then we suggest you do other therapeutic work first.

If you feel contempt for your partner, or have already “left” the relationship and do not want to return, then our retreats are not for you. We are happy to talk with you about your situation to determine if attending our retreats is the right course of action for you.

Figuring out which retreat is right for you can be hard if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Our retreats focus on using sex for enjoyment and transformation. The facilitators are credentialed therapists and life partners with decades of experience teaching mindfulness, leading groups and helping couples get unstuck. We meet with every couple individually, developing a relationship with you and following your journey as a couple.

We also provide personal coaching as needed throughout the retreat, particularly when you are triggered. Instead of avoiding sex to avoid problems, you will learn ways to work with difficulties that help you grow as a couple.

Many sexual enrichment programs focus on ways to enhance pleasure and performance. Knowing how to pleasure each other is important, but so is having tools to work with the limiting beliefs, unresolved hurt and shame that leads many people to avoid sex in the first place.

By learning how to explore your experience as a team, you can begin to access your Pure Erotic Potential. This is the vast creativity available to you when you let go of goals and become embodied and attuned. While many enrichment programs focus on your sexual behaviors, we focus on your state of mind. We teach you how to enter a “state of novelty” to experience more variety in your love-making. You will learn to attune to, and be guided by, the dynamic erotic energy inside of you instead of following familiar pathways to arousal.

If you just learned about your wife’s affair, you need time to recover your equilibrium and heal. These days, affair recovery is thought of as a series of stages that include recovering from the crisis of the disclosure, understanding the meaning of the affair and re-envisioning your post-affair relationship. The final step is erotic recovery.

If you have moved through the first few stages and feel ready to re-engage erotically, then by all means attend our retreat. However, since you said you are in crisis, we suggest you work through the other phases first.

The retreats build on each other and parts 1 and 2 must be taken in sequence. This is because we teach and practice different mindfulness skills each retreat. We want you to practice the skills in between sessions so they become integrated into your erotic life. Going step-by-step also builds the needed trust to risk expressing your deeper desires with one another and to embrace erotic challenges as a team. You can take parts 3 and 4 in either order.

You are not alone. Many people have trouble expressing their desires to their partner or even knowing what they want. They have little practice looking within or have prohibitions against acknowledging their sexuality. Many of us learned early in life that our needs don’t matter, so we calibrate to others and quietly “wait our turn.” Or, we may have asked for something and it didn’t go well, so we stopped asking. We address these very common issues in our retreats.

We also use mindfulness to help you listen to the deepest parts of you, to help you first get clear about where you are so you can give voice to your desires. Our mindful approach is about helping you access your inner knowing, rather than fixing you or changing your relationship.

Yes. Our retreats welcome couples of all orientations and preferences. Every couple, no matter their orientation or gender, will face an ebb of desire due to over-familiarity. They will go through bodily changes that affect partner sex. Knowing how to stay connected during these phases and having ways to enliven eros is what Passion and Presence® is all about.
We don’t know anyone who hasn’t experienced some shame around their appearance. Many of us struggle with feelings of unworthiness if we don’t match an idealized image of desirability. This can dampen desire and cause us to avoid sex altogether. We celebrate diversity and believe that every human being has a right to enjoy and express their sexuality, no matter their size, shape, age, or ability. According to the feedback we receive, we are very good at establishing a safe, non-judgmental and inclusive environment.
Almost all of us have experienced some level of relational and sexual wounding. We take this as a given and offer tools to heal erotic wounds. You can name your experiences if you want to, but you will not be expected to do so. Many people with a history of trauma are relieved by how much attention we place on going slowly, staying mindful and relinquishing goals. The tools we offer are designed to help you feel more united around working with unpleasant feelings that arise during love-making. We offer ways to honor your limits by becoming more embodied and self-aware. We also help you heal from the past by teaching you how to stay connected to yourself and your partner in the present.