By Staff Sgt. Melissa ParrishMarch 27, 2018
Soldiers and their spouses attended the largest strong bonds marriage retreat in the Pacific, March 27, 2018 in Honolulu.
The weekend included kid free date nights, high-energy interactive discussions, couples yoga and couples massages.
Lt. Col. John M. Grauer, USARPAC deputy chaplain and his team hosted the retreat and said this was his largest Strong Bonds weekend.
"Almost 200 people, including couples and their children, signed up for the event so we knew in advance this was going to be big," said Grauer.
The size of the audience was larger than normal, but that didn't change the overall goal of the event. Trust was the focus of the retreat and Grauer and his USARPAC team ensured couples walked away with strategies to help strengthen trust in their relationships.
"Open communication is important in any relationship, whether it be a marriage, family or a working relationship," said Chaplain Grauer. "In order to have that open communication you must first be able to trust that individual."
The couple's marriage experience ranged from 1 year of marriage to 35 years of marriage.
"If you've been married for a few days, or many years, you can always use new strategies to ensure you are building on that trust in your relationship," Grauer said.
Ashley and Quentin Barnett attended the retreat and have been married for seven years.
"This weekend we really felt like this USARPAC retreat cared about us feeling connected as a couple," said Barnett, a Staff Sgt. and master driver at USARPAC. "It wasn't just seminars or class room power points. There was a lot more focus on interaction and applying what we learned. I loved the couple's yoga. That was a cool way for us to connect with each other."
"We also learned after a personality test that we are polar opposites," Barnett said with a laugh. "But that helped us to understand that we handle things differently."
The weekend ended with a sunny day in Waikiki and many couples headed to the beach to enjoy the weather and relax.
The USARPAC deputy chaplain hopes that the strategies the couples learned throughout the weekend will help them not only in their marriage, but with family and work relationships too.
Strong Bond events are held throughout the year with times and dates varying depending on the unit.
Soldiers or family members who want to attend Strong Bonds training should talk to their unit chaplain first. An additional resource is the Strong Bonds website -ww.strongbonds.org.