News: Couples find solace, solutions during Marriage Retreat
Story by Spc. Shantelle Campbell
TIKRIT, Iraq – Seven dual-military couples spent valuable time with their spouse and gained some helpful tips for sustaining a healthy relationship while deployed during a Marriage Retreat inside Freedom Rest – North at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, May 9-11.
"This is a chance for them to work on their marriage over here," said Chaplain (Maj.) Mark Moss, the brigade chaplain for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kan., about the retreat.
"It's an environment in which they can come and they can both open themselves up to some change," Moss added. "It doesn't have to be a marriage that's at risk; it could also be a marriage where they simply want the marriage to get better – to improve what they already have. [This] teaches them new tools as in the case of communication techniques. It [also] gives them new tools for their toolkit that they can use to help have a better relationship."
During one of the sessions given during the retreat, Chaplain Moss, along with Maj. Terry Romine, the 3rd Infantry Division Family Life chaplain, talked to the couples about two important qualities of a successful relationship – forgiveness and trust.
"Forgiveness is not forgetting the past, and it's also not (about) looking for payback," Moss said. "[It's] about being able to move past that point in time to forgive them [while] also working on rebuilding trust in the relationship for whatever has happened.
"When [couples] have forgiveness and [they] rebuild trust that leads to reconciliation, it's a very important foundation of a good relationship," Moss added, "because the truth is that we live in an imperfect world and neither spouse is perfect. We all bring our own baggage into a relationship, and we do hurt each other at times. But, if we learn how to forgive each other that helps to develop, in the long run, a stronger and better relationship down the road as [they] work those hurts."
For Sergeants Brian and Heather Scwhentner, both Soldiers with 4IBCT, the marriage retreat was more than an opportunity to relax and spend time with each other; it was also a way to interact with other couples while learning ways to build an even stronger relationship.
"They've actually seen a lot of real-world problems," said Brian, a native of Orlando, Fla., and an aviation operations sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, about Chaplains Moss and Romine. "The tools that they have to offer bring something to the table for just about every type of relationship there is."
"You get to interact with other couples and not have a one-sided view on just your relationship," said Heather, a Honolulu native and an administrations sergeant with Company A, 701st Brigade Support Battalion. "You get to see their different problems and how they approach them [by finding] solutions with the tools that the chaplains bring."
This will be the last marriage retreat conducted by the 'Dragon' brigade as the brigade prepares for redeployment to Fort Riley. However, Strong Bonds marriage events and training are planned for couples upon redeployment.