TEMPLE — Due to military training, temporary duty assignments and deployments, married soldiers and their spouses can often spend more time apart than together, testing even the strongest of marriages.
To help soldiers from 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, reconnect with their spouses after months of extensive training exercises, soldiers and their spouses attended a marriage retreat Dec. 6 in Temple.
Capt. Kevin McCarty, chaplain for 2nd “Lancer” Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, addressed the unique challenges the Army presents to married couples.
“(Ironhorse) couples have been separated by the field, and their soldiers are about to leave for (the National Training Center),” McCarty said.
Over coffee and croissants, he talked to the couples about the importance of trust, communication, love and commitment.
McCarty selected an English-speaking spouse from the group and began a conversation with her — in Spanish. He later used this to demonstrate some of the difficulties of communicating.
“If you don’t talk to someone in a way they can understand, you might as well be talking in a different language,” McCarty said.
Using a drawing game to express the importance of effective communication, McCarty instructed spouses from each couple to attempt to draw a picture based on their significant others’ description.
When finished, McCarty asked if the couples felt the exercise was difficult or easy. The majority found the exercise to be difficult.
“The (drawing game) was probably my favorite part of the event,” said Cpl. Cody Lance, a cannon crew member with 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment. “We came hoping to learn how to better communicate, and I believe the (retreat) helped accomplish that.”
Natasha Lance, the corporal’s wife of more than three years, said she also enjoyed the communication test and believes it will be easier to communicate with each other in the future.
“Many young couples don’t know what right looks like when it comes to a relationship,” McCarty said. “Then they are expected to make it last.”
He said he hopes couples left the retreat knowing how to reconcile both the little and big hurts that come up in their marriage, he said.
Natasha Lance said the event helped her realize problems aren’t always her husband’s fault; it takes both husband and wife to understand how to communicate and work with each other to make their relationship stronger.
“We can never have too many marriage training events,” McCarty said. “A healthier marriage makes a healthier Army: healthy lasts.”