Marriage retreat

Staff Sgt. Bryant Williams, center, a medic for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, tries to control two balloons while his wife, Tracy, left, controls one as Rhonda Shabazz, wife of brigade chaplain Maj. Khallid Shabazz, offers advice May 18 during an exercise at a Strong Bonds marriage retreat at the Drury Plaza Hotel in San Antonio.


SAN ANTONIO — For all married couples, Army life brings its own set of strains, with factors like deployments and frequent permanent change of duty stations causing them to lose their connection which can lead to troubled marriages.

To help couples understand and maintain their marital connection, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division ministry team held a Strong Bonds retreat for 20 couples in the brigade from May 17-19 at the Drury Plaza Hotel on the San Antonio River Walk.

“The intent of Strong Bonds is to make the marriage stronger using Army approved curriculum and the chaplain as a facilitator,” said Sgt. Jessica Covello, a brigade chaplain’s assistant. “With this retreat we had soldiers ranking from captain to private and we merged them all together into one group.”

Once in their group the couples went through different scenarios together, Covello said.

“We used everyday situations such as arguments about money and had the couples resolve them together,” she continued. “They found working as a team was more beneficial than trying to solve it alone.”

Covello said she has attended the retreats on a consistent basis over the last five years, with the most common problem being poor communication between married couples and their inability to express themselves in a manner which each other understands.

“This class did really well at solving their problems and finding middle ground,” she said. “We also separated the spouses and they talked to the chaplain individually about their specific issues in their marriages from their viewpoints.”

“The more involved you can get with putting them face to face and working them out together is the best method,” she added.

Sgt. 1st. Class Mariel Morgan, brigade retention noncommissioned officer in charge, said the training helped herself and her husband understand why there are specific dynamics between them both.

“We discovered the differences between his love language and mine, which is something we had no idea about before the training,” Morgan said. “His language is physical touch while mine is acts of service; he likes to be touched while I like to see him do things for me all the time.”

Morgan said the event was excellently run by the ministry team and with the wealth of relationship mentoring given at no cost to the participants; she would attend again and encourage other couples to sign up too.

“I recommend it to any couple, even if their marriage is good, because there’s always ways to improve it,” Morgan said. “I’ve been married twice and I don’t know all the answers but the chaplain and his wife gave us insights that we wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere.”

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