Sky Meadow Retreat
  • Private sessions for Couples
  • Private Couples Retreat
  • Testimonials
  • We choose partners consciously because they offer us unconditional love and acceptance,
    and unconsciously
    because they perfectly expose our hurt places
    that are in need of healing

    While a healthy relationship can be a place of great love and support, its main purpose is to challenge us
    to grow and become whole individuals.

    Conflicts in relationship show us exactly where we are already hurt
    and need attention.

    The most sustainable relationship is one where both partners keep getting healthier.

    A relationship grows weaker when you abandon your individual growth  for the sake of unity or harmony.


    A relationship grows stronger, however,
    when it supports and encourages each partner to be more whole and complete.

    - Conscious Communication

    Click on cover image to purchase the book

    Read reviews here

Couples Work

For people in committed relationships
who care about their partner,
but feel discouraged, disillusioned, or disconnected
  

Does this sound familiar?       
      You care deeply about your partner, but the conflicts are wearing you out and you often feel separate and alone. No one suggested that intimacy would be so thorny and hard. How is it possible that this person you fell in love with causes so much turmoil in you?
    You have probably been struggling to get them to change, alternately attacking and withdrawing, hoping this will make them treat you better. You may sometimes think that you picked the wrong person, or that you are the problem and are just not capable of being close.
    You know by now that its impossible to force someone to change, and you may realize that distancing yourself doesn't work either. Its all-too-easy these days to end this relationship and get a new partner, but does this really solve the problem, or do you just start over with a new set of challenges?
   Perhaps there is something about you that makes this process so difficult, but that's not a reason to quit. Besides, you like being connected to another person in this way, and being alone doesn't really work for most of us in the long run.

Consider this:  
    The difficulty you face is not you or your partner. The problem is that our society has undergone a revolution in the way we view relationships and your expectations for equality, deep intimacy, and individuality have raced ahead of your ability to achieve them. We don't yet know how to share power, be vulnerable, have personal expression, and be genuinely connected to someone else.
    Being part of a couple today is the most difficult thing anyone can do because no one ever taught us how to do it, and all the rules have changed so dramatically in the course of one generation. Its essential now that you learn skills for responding to each others emotions and needs so you can have the deep and supportive relationship you really want.
 
    What you need are tools that enable you to understand and express your feelings and needs without blame and listen to those of your partner without judgment. There are skills that help you to establish healthy boundaries and negotiate directly so that each of your needs are met. And there are ways to access empathy and express compassion, even when you feel threatened or separate.

How I can help you: 
    I have worked with couples since 1990 helping people who don't feel understood to listen supportively and assert themselves responsibly. I spent ten years as a professional divorce mediator before realizing that my passion was to teach couples how to use effective communication skills
before they split up.
     I offer three-hour intensive, confidential, sessions that focus on applying the skills of listening and assertion to current conflicts in your relationship. For most of the session you will be communicating directly with your partner about a live issue, and I will be coaching each of you in presenting and receiving, as needed.
    In this process you can expect one or more issues to be resolved and, more importantly, you will learn and practice tools that you can use at home. The skills are relatively simple, and I have detailed them in my book,
Conscious Communication. Most of us need help in applying them, however, because they require such a radical shift from the way we are used to approaching our partner.
      Unlike traditional therapy, I usually do not get involved in the content of your issues, and instead focus on facilitating your process. I offer a lot of coaching in the beginning as you are learning the skills, and less as the session goes on and you are able to do it on your own.
     I will help you identify repeating patterns in which you hook each other, and offer alternative responses that will help you feel more connected and get more of your needs met. The goal is for you to better understand your partner and be understood by them, stay connected when there is conflict, and re-frame threatening situations so you see yourselves more as allies instead of adversaries.

Want to know more? 
   Check out my book - Conscious Communication which details each skill and shows you how to use it - including three chapters focusing on couples.  Click on the book cover to your left to purchase !
 
    Ready to go deeper?   Book a
three-hour private session with me, Miles Sherts, at a beautiful nature sanctuary in the hills of Vermont...
    with a focus on listening and communicating with your partner when emotions are charged, and making shared decisions.
    Sessions cost $275 and can be booked for a morning or afternoon, or as part of a longer private couples retreat.

    A private couples retreat includes two nights in a beautiful cabin surrounded by gardens and ponds, and two extended private sessions with Miles. This is an excellent way to go deeper and integrate the skills with time away from your busy lives to practice and connect with each other.

To book a session or private retreat,
send your request with possible dates to office@skymeadowretreat.com

About Me: 
    My background is in conflict resolution, and conscious communication skills. My approach differs from more traditional therapy in that it focuses on your immediate emotions and needs. Rather than trying to establish a common story, I help each of you connect your individual needs with your emotional responses and prompt you to find a way to meet those needs.
   

What Happens in a Three-Hour Session with Miles?

Miles' approach includes a brief overview of the theory and practice of Conscious Communication skills applied to primary intimate relationships. He then will prompt you to bring up a current issue in your relationship while he actively coaches both of you in Assertion and Supportive Listening skills. For much of the session you will be communicating directly with each other and Miles will be facilitating. As you become more familiar with the skills, you will be talking more together and Miles will be intervening less.

    In most couples there is a tendency for each of you to react strongly to the other, and the emotional charges that result often undermine your basic capacity for caring. You will be coached to become aware of your own emotional charges as they arise in live conversations with your parter, and activate a simple process of self-care so that you are not overwhelmed. This enables you to interrupt patterns that often keep you and your partner at odds with each other, and creates an opening for understanding.
    If we focus on establishing the "facts" and assigning blame, we feed our habit of competition and undermine our own need for trust, safety, and intimacy. If we learn instead to recognize our actual feelings and needs, while also recognizing the deeper feelings and needs of our partner, we enable cooperation and invite true companionship.

Sessions are held in confidence, and while you will be encouraged to be honest, open, and vulnerable, you will not be pressured to do so. Unlike other forms of therapy, Miles does not get involved in the content of your discussions, only the process. The aim is to teach you how to recognize your own emotional charge and take responsibility for getting your needs met while giving your partner feedback in a way that is more likely to be acknowledged.

This is a skills-based approach which intends to equip you and your parter to speak and listen to each other first to understand, and then to resolve differences between you. The premise of this work is that interactions in your primary relationship will consistently trigger old wounds which often surface as hurt, anger, or resentment aimed at your partner. The skills taught here enable you to process these reactions more honestly and effectively. Instead of simply blaming your partner and insisting that they change, you will learn how to focus on yourself first, and then express your emotions and needs in a clearer way.

We encourage you to take some time before or after your session to be together in the peaceful sanctuary of our retreat center. This can be helpful to integrate the work you do in these sessions. You are welcome to walk in the woods or fields, swim in the ponds, meditate in one of our meditation huts, or take in the expansive view of the Green Mountains from our hill top.

The Work of Being a Couple

Many of us find intimate relationships very challenging.   We want connection and independence, and are not willing to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of harmony.  It no longer works to fit our relationship into a standard formula such as traditional marriage.  And so, we find ourselves in unexplored territory, with no map or compass to give us direction.  When conflicts arise, we often don’t know how to approach the situation so that our emotions and needs, and those of our partner, are addressed with care.

There is no longer a simple model to follow for a happy marriage, and many of our habitual ways of relating to a partner seem to result in increased conflict, and more distance between us.  The social structures that minimized tension by assigning specific roles, and designating one person as the decision maker, do not work for many of us.  We are entering a new paradigm of partnering that requires us to question our most basic assumptions, and find a new approach to intimacy.

The traditional format for marriage required that we sacrifice our individual feelings and needs for an outward appearance of unity.  This formula kept marriages together at the cost of individual growth and creativity, and is no longer a priority for many of us.  We want to be ourselves, and be connected with another person.  We are looking for a partnership of two equals with a deeper love that allows us to flourish as individuals.   And so, necessarily we are going to be faced with conflicts that were largely ignored or denied, just a generation ago. We don’t yet know how to be intimately connected to another, and ourselves, at the same time.

The nature of a primary relationship is to expose parts of ourselves we have kept hidden, even from our own awareness.  When these shadows surface unexpectedly they can be very difficult to respond to, in ourselves, or in our partner. A predictable aspect of this process is that our hidden wounds often correspond to our partner’s wounds in a way that automatically hooks each other, and can result in extreme reactions.  These reactions can escalate and create an immense downward spiral of attack and defense that can destroy the trust and love at the foundation of the relationship.

          In the old paradigm of marriage, this kind of conflict is something to be avoided at all cost.  We learned to deal with it through submission or withdrawal, or blaming our partner, and trying to force them to change.  In the new way of relationship, conflict is approached with care and recognized as a means to further personal growth and deeper intimacy in the relationship. And a constructive resolution of conflict is one where both people are able to meet their needs and have their emotions recognized. 

To maintain a primary intimate relationship today requires a new vision.  Instead of a new model to try to fit ourselves into, this new way may involve learning simple tools of constructive communication with which we can address conflicts in a way that increases intimacy and strengthens our integrity.  It may also include support from someone who can witness the uncomfortable places in your relationship without judgment, and offer a safe and supportive environment for you to bring these into the open and address them directly.

My work with couples is based on the simple idea that bringing these hidden wounds into awareness, and becoming familiar with the corresponding negative patterns between partners, defuses their potential for destruction.  Once we can name a wound as individuals, or a pattern between us as a couple, it no longer can control us as it has in the past.  By bringing these hidden forces out into the open, we can deal with them directly, and once we become aware of their negative effects, we can more easily choose to let go of them.

I am trained in mediation and conflict resolution and teach communication skills in various formats.   I worked for 10 years as a divorce and family mediator and learned first hand some of the dynamics that force couples apart. I also have a background in meditation and spiritual exploration and have worked with couples and individuals trying to bring more awareness into their lives.  I am committed to using my experience and skills to support couples in staying together, and strengthening relationships through consciously addressing our different needs, values, and emotions.

These sessions usually begin by focusing on a current issue in your relationship, from one partner's perspective.  With direct coaching the person expressing the concern is encouraged to explore their basic feelings and needs, while the other partner is taught how to listen from a neutral place and offer support.  In the process of exploring specific conflicts, both of you learn how to express your emotions and needs in a way that offers the best opportunity for resolution.  You each also learn how to listen to your partner supportively, without reacting or debating.