FORT HOOD, Texas- Maintaining a strong marriage can be tough when you're in the military. Between deployments and training, Soldiers don't always have quality time with their spouses.

To help strengthen marriages and give couples new tools to deal with the stress and problems that may arise, leaders from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, hosted a married couples retreat, in San Antonio, Texas, July 28-30.

The retreat was sponsored by the Army Strong Bonds Program, which covered the cost of food, childcare and lodging.

During the event, couples were given time away from their kids, took part in a program designed to help them grow as a couple and learn to overcome conflicts.

According to Chaplain (Maj.) Joshua Pair, the 2nd BCT chaplain, couples took part in skill-building exercises, which helped them improve their communication, build the skills necessary to diffuse arguments and improve the time they spend together.

Participation in these retreats helps couples strengthen marital cohesion, stop negative patterns and reduce stress, explained Pair.

"These retreats focus on strengthening the lines of communication to enrich their relationship as a couple," he said. "[These] retreats can help married couples by getting them to focus on talking to each other and working through their issues."

The couples were given plenty of time to spend with one another and their children.

Although many couples there were newly married, even the more experienced ones found the retreat to be quite valuable.

"It was like a refresher for us," said Jessica Nilson, wife of Spc. William Nilson, a communication specialist with 2nd BCT.

"This was an opportunity for us to hear things we've learned from our six years of marriage in a different light and think about how we can improve our skills as a couple," said William.

The couple was impressed with more than just the program, though.

"We've never been to San Antonio since we moved to Texas," said Jessica.

"This gave us the opportunity to take the kids somewhere we haven't been before," said William.

Because the retreat took place during the work week, it left the couples with the weekend free.

"We have the whole weekend," said William. "There are so many things I can do here in my free time."

Between the lessons learned and free time they had, the Nilsons definitely felt the retreat was worth the trip.

"We loved it," said Jessica. "This is something I would definitely recommend to other couples."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16