BY KARL WILLIAMS – WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii – Communication is vital in a combat zone. It is even more important in building a strong and lasting relationship in a marriage.
More than 30 couples from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) attended an Army Strong Bonds Retreat (SBR) located at the Hale Koa, in Honolulu, Nov. 17-19.
SBR is a unit-based, chaplain-led program which assists commanders in building individual resiliency by strengthening the Army Family. The retreat or “get away” provides a fun, safe and secure environment for couples to address the impact of relocations, deployments and military lifestyle stressors.
Specialist Stuart Elliot, an integrated test equipment operator and maintainer, B Company 209th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB), 25th CAB, said that his initial expectation of the SBR was somewhat different.
“Knowing the Army, I thought we would be doing some trust exercises. Standing in the ocean, holding our spouse’s heads under water and trusting that [our] partners would let us up for air…something crazy like that,” said Elliot.
“I didn’t expect to be in a classroom type environment talking about conflict resolution,” said Elliot.
His wife, Amanda, from Greensville, S.C., agreed.
“We’ve [been able] to broaden our skill set as to how we communicate with each other. In the sessions, people are asking questions and bringing up different marital scenarios. You get to view things from different perspectives, giving you a better understanding on how to communicate with each other and problems that may come up in your marriage” she added.
With increasing demands placed on Soldiers and Families, to include both frequent deployments and duty relocations, intimate relationships are fully tested. Healthy relationships contribute to the maintenance of a healthy Army and a secure future force.
“The Army understands that healthy families; healthy marriages; healthy Soldiers from a spiritually fit perspective are just that…they are spiritually fit,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Tony Cech, battalion chaplain, 209th ASB, 25th CAB. “They are better; they are more productive as Soldiers in the military.”
During one of the assemblies, Cech, along with Chaplain (Capt.) Oyedeji Idowu, squadron chaplain, 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 25th CAB, talked to the couples about two significant characteristic of a successful relationship – trust and forgiveness.
“Forgiveness is not forgetting the past,” Idowu said. “It’s about being able to move past that point in time to forgive [a partner] while also working on rebuilding trust in the relationship.
“When spouses practice forgiveness they rebuild trust that leads to reconciliation, it’s an important foundation for a good relationship.”
Idowu added, “It doesn’t have to be a marriage that’s at risk; it could also be a marriage where the couple simply wants their marriage to get better – to improve what they already have.”
Married more than six years ago, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Hansen, native of Montgomery, Al., of A Co., 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th CAB, said, “It was such an uplifting experience the first time we attended a marriage retreat.”
“We went into it…kind of like it was a free vacation. Free child care for a little bit, but we ended up getting a lot more out of it.”
Daniel’s wife, Shelly, also from Montgomery, AI., agreed and said Strong Bonds is revitalizing. “Even if you think things are great…it’s always great to have a reminder of why you are married.”
Story and photos by Sgt. Karl Williams, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs