A solo escape at Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat

How to reignite the spark in your relationship by going on a romantic couples’ retreat — alone

In March 2020, when lockdown first came into effect, psychologists predicted that there would be two types of relationships: Those that would be strengthened by quarantine and those that wouldn’t survive it.

My relationship sits firmly in the former category but that doesn’t mean that suddenly spending 24/7 together has been seamless. Habits that were once endearing are now exasperating. Nit-picking could best be described as a competitive sport in our household; one that no one has any hopes of winning.

On a head-clearing drive a few weeks ago, the solution came to me — we needed to get away for a couple of days. Away from each other, that is.

Science backs the idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Countless studies have demonstrated that solitude leads to increased empathy, a better sense of self and an improved ability to work through complex problems, including processing emotions. The result of dedicated alone time is stronger relationships with our friends, family and partners.

I proposed the idea to my partner, Keilie, who all but pushed me out the door; a response I’m still not sure whether to be pleased with or offended by.

A week later, I’m turning down an inconspicuous gravel road in Mackenzie Country, headed towards the Mount Cook Lakeside Retreat. One of the few accommodation options located directly on the shores of Lake Pukaki, it’s best known as a couple’s luxury getaway but I figure if it’s good enough for a honeymoon, then it’s good enough for a “me-moon”.

I’m greeted by co-owner Luke Paardekooper, who gives me a tour of the Ashley Mackenzie Villa. He points awkwardly to where I can find the tennis rackets (“Although I guess you probably won’t be using them,” he says) and my welcome bottle of bubbly (“You can always take it home?” he suggests).

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