Emily and I have a tradition of celebrating our July wedding anniversary with a vacation. We’ve been married for 11 years, and we have gone on a variety of trips, from a tropical cruise, to exploring the Australian Outback, to driving along the coast of California, to spending the night in a historic castle.

couples retreat - kayaking

It has been increasingly difficult to get away just the two of us since having kids. We still take a special family trip each summer, separate from visiting extended family. It is wonderful to explore a new location with the girls, but it doesn’t give us much restful time to reflect and talk about life, family, hopes, and dreams.

This year, when my parents offered to watch the girls for a few days so that we could take an anniversary trip, we knew exactly what kind of vacation we needed.

For our 11th anniversary, we gifted one another a couples retreat in the mountains of rural Virginia.

We define “retreat” as a getaway that focuses on rest, recreation, and reflection. It is a time to disconnect from our normal routines, spend time together, and make space to have honest and intentional conversations about relationship and family topics.

For three days, we lived in a tiny cabin tucked deep in the Virginia mountains, complete with a cute little outhouse.

our rustic cabin

Our tiny cabin was located on a 47-acre plot of land in Floyd, Virginia, featuring hiking trails, a rambling river, and a yoga studio. Prior to our arrival, we corresponded with our Retreat Facilitator, Ashera, who also lived on the property. We shared with her our intentions for the retreat: we wanted to rest and relax, do yoga together each morning, and enjoy the outdoors. We are normally detailed planners, but this time we left the day-to-day planning of the specific itinerary to Ashera. That was absolutely invigorating.

Each day followed a somewhat predictable schedule. Breakfast was at 9am, we had a couples session with Ashera at 10am, yoga at 11am, lunch at 12pm, and then a choose-your-own-adventure afternoon. Dinner was at 6:00pm and then we were provided with a couples exercise, designed to teach us a communication skill and invite us into a state of reflection. We entered into each couples exercise with an open mind, suspending judgement and embracing the opportunity to spend time together in a novel way.

couples retreat exercise -  nature walk

Our first couples retreat exercise was to walk through the trails on the property together and use all of our senses to experience nature. We heard birds chirping, heard the river rushing over rocks, and saw brightly colored flowers and hundreds of shades of green grass and trees.

We had also been instructed to look for something from nature that reminded us of the other person and explain to them why we chose it. Emily found a little walnut that reminded her of my brain. I laughed at first, but she went on to explain that she is fascinated by my creative mind. I showed her a wild purple flower that reminded me of her. Its petals were delicate and soft, but it was also beautiful and strong.

As New Yorkers, we don’t often get the opportunity to spend time quietly walking through nature. We appreciated the guided focus for our walk and the conversations that it inspired. This is an activity we would love to continue in the future, by taking time to absorb the beauty of nature through our senses and sharing the beautiful qualities we see in other people.

couples retreat exercise - mandala

Our second couples retreat exercise was to build a mandala together. A mandala is a geometric design, with an inner and outer circle. It can be used to visually represent thoughts around a central topic. We were instructed to choose a theme, and place a stone in the middle of the plate to represent our idea. We chose to focus on our hopes for our family.

We then took turns picking up stones, stating a word out loud, and then placing the stones on the plate to form two circles around our central theme. It was helpful to take turns choosing the words and share them without judgement. We created a beautiful design that represents our family.

This is an activity that we intend to use in the future when we need to brainstorm ideas together, or share hopes, dream, or goals around a central idea. We are also inspired to think about how we could use this activity as part of a family meeting structure, so that each person has the opportunity to share their ideas, and we create something beautiful together in the process.

couples retreat exercise - 20 questionsOur third couples retreat exercise was to use a list of 20 questions to deepen our communication. Emily and I dated long-distance for several years, and we enjoyed using creative question lists. For this exercise, we were encouraged to ask the same question multiple times in order to deepen the answers. The process revealed there is always something new we can learn about one another when we take the time to ask new questions and listen attentively to the answers.

couples retreat exercise - watch The Office

Our fourth couples retreat exercise was one that I created myself. We may not have had cell phone service or WiFi, but I thoughtfully downloaded 10 episodes of The Office onto our iPad before we retreated to the woods.

When we got spooked in our rustic cabin at night, we could laugh at the folks who worked at Dunder Mifflin, and forget about spiders and snakes. We would watch an episode, muster up the courage to run to the outhouse, and then settle in for a night of rest in complete darkness.

interior of our cabin

This couples retreat was different from any vacation we’ve ever taken together before. This trip wasn’t about sightseeing, fancy restaurants, or exciting entertainment. This year, we were in need of rest, relaxation, and reflection. Retreating to the woods for 3 days was an enlightening experience.

We removed ourselves from the demands of our normal daily life, and spent time talking and laughing. We are inspired to intentionally incorporate aspects of this couples retreat into our regular rhythms of life.

Thanks for pinning!

I'm Tyler Moore 

My wife and I live with our three young girls in a 700- square-foot apartment in New York City. I started Tidy Dad to help others tidy, simplify, and find joy in their lives. I firmly believe the tidying process can transform your life. I’d love for you to join me in exploring ways that tidying can make room for what’s important in life. 


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July 25, 2019

On Retreat

Emily and I have a tradition of celebrating our July wedding anniversary with a vacation. We’ve been married for 11 years, and we have gone on a variety of trips, from a tropical cruise, to exploring the Australian Outback, to driving along the coast of California, to spending the night in a historic castle.

couples retreat - kayaking

It has been increasingly difficult to get away just the two of us since having kids. We still take a special family trip each summer, separate from visiting extended family. It is wonderful to explore a new location with the girls, but it doesn’t give us much restful time to reflect and talk about life, family, hopes, and dreams.

This year, when my parents offered to watch the girls for a few days so that we could take an anniversary trip, we knew exactly what kind of vacation we needed.

For our 11th anniversary, we gifted one another a couples retreat in the mountains of rural Virginia.

We define “retreat” as a getaway that focuses on rest, recreation, and reflection. It is a time to disconnect from our normal routines, spend time together, and make space to have honest and intentional conversations about relationship and family topics.

For three days, we lived in a tiny cabin tucked deep in the Virginia mountains, complete with a cute little outhouse.

our rustic cabin

Our tiny cabin was located on a 47-acre plot of land in Floyd, Virginia, featuring hiking trails, a rambling river, and a yoga studio. Prior to our arrival, we corresponded with our Retreat Facilitator, Ashera, who also lived on the property. We shared with her our intentions for the retreat: we wanted to rest and relax, do yoga together each morning, and enjoy the outdoors. We are normally detailed planners, but this time we left the day-to-day planning of the specific itinerary to Ashera. That was absolutely invigorating.

Each day followed a somewhat predictable schedule. Breakfast was at 9am, we had a couples session with Ashera at 10am, yoga at 11am, lunch at 12pm, and then a choose-your-own-adventure afternoon. Dinner was at 6:00pm and then we were provided with a couples exercise, designed to teach us a communication skill and invite us into a state of reflection. We entered into each couples exercise with an open mind, suspending judgement and embracing the opportunity to spend time together in a novel way.

couples retreat exercise -  nature walk

Our first couples retreat exercise was to walk through the trails on the property together and use all of our senses to experience nature. We heard birds chirping, heard the river rushing over rocks, and saw brightly colored flowers and hundreds of shades of green grass and trees.

We had also been instructed to look for something from nature that reminded us of the other person and explain to them why we chose it. Emily found a little walnut that reminded her of my brain. I laughed at first, but she went on to explain that she is fascinated by my creative mind. I showed her a wild purple flower that reminded me of her. Its petals were delicate and soft, but it was also beautiful and strong.

As New Yorkers, we don’t often get the opportunity to spend time quietly walking through nature. We appreciated the guided focus for our walk and the conversations that it inspired. This is an activity we would love to continue in the future, by taking time to absorb the beauty of nature through our senses and sharing the beautiful qualities we see in other people.

couples retreat exercise - mandala

Our second couples retreat exercise was to build a mandala together. A mandala is a geometric design, with an inner and outer circle. It can be used to visually represent thoughts around a central topic. We were instructed to choose a theme, and place a stone in the middle of the plate to represent our idea. We chose to focus on our hopes for our family.

We then took turns picking up stones, stating a word out loud, and then placing the stones on the plate to form two circles around our central theme. It was helpful to take turns choosing the words and share them without judgement. We created a beautiful design that represents our family.

This is an activity that we intend to use in the future when we need to brainstorm ideas together, or share hopes, dream, or goals around a central idea. We are also inspired to think about how we could use this activity as part of a family meeting structure, so that each person has the opportunity to share their ideas, and we create something beautiful together in the process.

couples retreat exercise - 20 questionsOur third couples retreat exercise was to use a list of 20 questions to deepen our communication. Emily and I dated long-distance for several years, and we enjoyed using creative question lists. For this exercise, we were encouraged to ask the same question multiple times in order to deepen the answers. The process revealed there is always something new we can learn about one another when we take the time to ask new questions and listen attentively to the answers.

couples retreat exercise - watch The Office

Our fourth couples retreat exercise was one that I created myself. We may not have had cell phone service or WiFi, but I thoughtfully downloaded 10 episodes of The Office onto our iPad before we retreated to the woods.

When we got spooked in our rustic cabin at night, we could laugh at the folks who worked at Dunder Mifflin, and forget about spiders and snakes. We would watch an episode, muster up the courage to run to the outhouse, and then settle in for a night of rest in complete darkness.

interior of our cabin

This couples retreat was different from any vacation we’ve ever taken together before. This trip wasn’t about sightseeing, fancy restaurants, or exciting entertainment. This year, we were in need of rest, relaxation, and reflection. Retreating to the woods for 3 days was an enlightening experience.

We removed ourselves from the demands of our normal daily life, and spent time talking and laughing. We are inspired to intentionally incorporate aspects of this couples retreat into our regular rhythms of life.

Thanks for pinning!

July 25, 2019

On Retreat

About me

Hi, my name is Tyler Moore. My wife and I live with our three young daughters in a 700- square-foot apartment in New York City. I began my tidying journey when an early-30’s crisis invited me to reflect upon, challenge, and change my patterns of daily living. I quit my job as a school administrator, returned to teaching, and started Tidy Dad to help others tidy, simplify, and find joy in their lives. I firmly believe the tidying process can transform your life. I’d love for you to join me in exploring ways that tidying can make room for what’s important in life. 


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