FORT HOOD, Texas-Building strong marital bonds isn't always easy. Hectic training schedules, increased deployment tempo and heavy workloads all must be weighed against the effort to spend quality time with family.

To help military couples strengthen their bonds and increase the number of tools they have to deal with common marital issues, chaplains from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division-through the Army's Strong Bonds Program-sponsored a number of marriage retreats for the Soldiers of the brigade.

According to Chaplain (Maj.) Joshua Pair, the brigade will host multiple events throughout the year in order to help strengthen the quality of life for families and Soldiers.

Pair explained that the couples participate in a 12 hour, three day/two night seminar. The seminar is designed to enhance the couples' ability to communicate with one another.

According to Pair, participation will enable the couples to acquire positive communication and relationship skills that will ultimately strengthen family and marital cohesion.

"The seminar will help Soldiers and spouses avoid, reduce, and stop negative patterns of communication in relationships. This program helps couples build stronger relationships with one another," he said.

While at the event, the couples take part in numerous skill-building activities, which help them learn more about one another, enhance communications and provide the skills necessary to diffuse arguments and improve the time that the couples get to spend together, explained Pair.

During a recent couples' retreat, Spc. John Borgonovo and wife, Sara, learned some valuable tips to enhance their marriage.

John and Sara married while John was home on mid-tour leave from Iraq last year.

"This retreat has helped improve our communication and learn new things about one another," said Sara.

Both John and Sara felt like they learned new things about one another over the short few days, and they also enjoyed having a babysitter who could watch their nine-month old daughter.

Because of the location of the retreat, the couple also had to the chance to spend some time sunbathing and riding boats on a lake near Austin.

All the costs of the retreat were paid for by the Department of the Army.

"These retreats have really worked out well," said Pair.

Pair met one couple in particular during his last retreat that was on the verge of breaking up, but after the weekend were both excited about their marriage and ready to give it another try.

"This helped their relationship," he said.

With the success of the retreats that have been hosted so far, Pair is confident that future retreats will turn out positively, continuing to give back to the Soldiers and military spouses who give so much.