Married couples in the Army struggle daily balancing family and work stresses. Spouses struggle with the battles of handling the household, kids, and career decisions while the military spouse leaves for extended periods of time and works long hours. In the chaos of life unfortunately, families and marriages can become the casualties.
But the Unit Ministry Team of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, comprised of Col. Jeffrey Voyles, 94th AAMDC command chaplain, and his assistant Sgt. 1st. Class, Leander Outlaw, chose to help guide and educate 17 married couples by hosting a Strong Bonds marriage retreat, in Waikiki Aug. 23-25.
The retreat included class lectures and activities for couple to develop an understanding about the importance of trust in a relationship.
"We used the Speed of Trust curriculum and it is focused on trust being the foundation of any relationship," said Chaplain Voyles. "So we really coached couples to learn some skills to either affirm, or deepen the trust they have, restore trust that has been broken. We also wanted to give skills that would allow them to extend trust to others in a way that uses their heart and head so as not to be taken advantage of."
Marriage length of the couples varied widely, some had been married only a few months while others have been married for 13 or more years.
For one young couple, the Strong Bonds weekend offered information on how to build their new marriage with trust and how to tackle challenges as they come. It also offered an opportunity to learn from those in the group who have been married longer.
"Being married and part of your marriage team, it's always best to set yourself up for success," said Sgt. Mejestique Williams, a chemical, biological radiological, nuclear noncommissioned officer assigned to the 94th AAMDC. "Even if you don't feel like your marriage needs it, you can always improve on some area and programs like this give you the tools to improve if you are serious about your marriage."
His wife, Makiko Williams, originally from Japan, found the other couples attending educational as well.
"When you come to this kind of event you can meet different people that may have gone through similar things," said Williams. "Hearing other peoples advice and what they do is helpful. And to know it's not just us, maybe we can use what they did.
For one couple of 13 years, and high school friends, the weekend activities gave them an opportunity to pause and think about what sometimes gets forgotten in a marriage spanning several years.
"This was good to go through the different aspects of trust and see how easy it is to lose it and how hard it can to regain it," said Capt. Jason Johnson, a plans officer assigned to the 94th AAMDC. "I know personally for me it was recognizing there are those things that I can do better and work on to maintain the trust where we want it."
For the Williams family, the weekend offered an opportunity to gain skills on a level they could put into use in their relationship.
"I loved the event. It was extremely helpful. The four courses and the 13 behaviors explanation was really a nice way to put into words different problem solving techniques," said Williams.
With all the information that the class provided it was easy to see that a strong, trusting relationship, takes a lot of work. Many people hope that there is a secret to the mystery.
For the Voyles family the secret to their more than 30 years of marriage centers around what they find most important in their relationship.
"My wife and I share the same faith, and out of that faith is the commitment that we are going to make this work. We also focus on our seven children and have always been committed to nurturing them in the best way possible," said Voyles. "I think we are always looking for the magic book to read, the magic thing we can do, instead of turning to the basic things."