Review: “Total Marriage Refresh” with Dr. Wyatt Fisher

Almost as predictably as the leaves turning color and the days getting shorter, Amanda and I normally reach a marital low point each fall. Amanda feels lonely and ignored for most of the summer while I’m physically gone or emotionally preoccupied with guided and private trips. And when I return, I crave personal time so that I can decompress and re-energize for another season.

It may seem like I’m airing dirty laundry, but I’m also being honest and real.

To help correct course, I signed us up for a day-long retreat with Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed Boulder-based psychologist who specializes in marriage counseling and who offers his “Total Marriage Refresh” retreat several times per year in Colorado and Texas.

Review: “Total Marriage Refresh” with Dr. Wyatt Fisher

When reviewing backpacking shelters or running shoes, I often identify a specific optimal end-user — e.g. “best for thru-hikers and gram-weenies in arid climates” or “ideally suited for long runs on rugged trails.”

But I won’t similarly limit the suggested audience for Dr. Fisher’s retreat. If you are or want to be in an intimate relationship, I’d heartily recommend it. Amanda concurs.

  • For couples not yet married, it will help preempt some difficulties;
  • For struggling married couples, it will help identify specific areas for improvement and give you tools for addressing them; and,
  • For role-model couples, it will help you be even more awesome.

The 8.5-hour event cost $150 per couple, and we spent another $100 on a discounted room at Marriott’s Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel so that we could have a rare uninterrupted night of sleep (our feline fur child is TERRIBLE at night) and so that we’d be on-site for the 8:30 AM start.

Upper North Fork Bull Lake Creek, Wind River Range, Wyoming

About Dr. Wyatt Fisher

Dr. Fisher has a masters and doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology, and is licensed in Colorado. His practice is in Boulder.

At these retreats, he seems to be in his element. He clearly has a genuine interest in the content and a passion for helping couples, and his stage presence is excellent. Amanda and I also really appreciated his relate-ability — he regularly used his admittedly imperfect marriage as a case study and as a source of comedic stories, and during breaks he staged himself at the ballroom door so that he could give attendees more personalized counseling.

Honestly, if I could ever attend one of my own Backpacking Gear & Skills Clinics, I hope I’d walk away as impressed with the presenter.

Content & format

The retreat’s narrative arc uses the “Six Proven Steps to Marital Satisfaction,” which is Dr. Fisher’s proprietary packaging of relationship research and anecdotal best practices. Like Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Fisher’s program is easily digestible yet thorough. A forthcoming book was not mentioned, but it seems like an inevitable accompaniment to his in-person practice, blog, podcast, and retreats.

Dr. Fisher lectures about each step for about 45 minutes, mixing it up with personal stories, client experiences, and funny video clips. These portions were clear, concise, and engaging.

After each step is explained, couples were dismissed for individual breakout sessions to personalize the content and to practice some communication strategies. We found this time to be as valuable as the more formal component, and reason enough to attend the retreat in-person together instead of simply utilizing Dr. Fisher’s recommended reading list:

Room for improvement

Our only recommendation is to update the workbook so that it’s gender-neutral, e.g. don’t assume that all couples are heterosexual or that the male is always the high libido partner. Dr. Fisher spoke to us today in neutral terms, but the workbook seems outdated.

While updating the workbook, I might suggest it be subtly reformatted to make it an even better reference. Just by adding a few pages, topics could be better separated and there’d be more room for note-taking.

These are small tweaks though. Overall, Amanda and I agreed: 5 stars.

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Posted in on November 16, 2019


  1. Becky H on November 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    I love that you take the time to do this- thank you for sharing the information.

    • Andrew Skurka on November 18, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      You bet. I find backpacking websites lacking heart if they are always just pitching “7 best lighters of 2019” and “top gifts for under $50” type of content. Hope you can make one of his retreats.

      • Mark Filbey on November 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

        A book my wife and I have found to be incredibly helpful in our relationship is The Five Love Languages.

  2. Brian T on November 18, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks for your openness and recommendations. I think that all romantic relationships require maintenance and exercise just as much as our gear and our bodies. I certainly relate to the challenges of being away working and needing space to decompress when you’re home. Communication and true love go a long way! I really appreciate your sharing this.

  3. Hunter Hall on November 18, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Were there any tips on how to help aggravated, non-backpacking partners cope with exploding gear closets? 🙂 If so, sign me up!

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