By Pfc. Bailey Anne Jester, 1st BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.April 14, 2010
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Making a relationship work takes time, communication, commitment and effort. Leaders from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division held a series of Strong Bonds Marriage Retreats, here, to help spouses build stronger marriages and improve the quality of their relationships.
The retreats were organized by unit and rank structure. The brigade's chaplain office held the largest retreat, from April 5 to 7, for the junior enlisted Soldiers of the brigade.
"The purpose of this retreat is to build strong family and marital relationships. Also good communication skills and conflict resolutions between spouses," explains Somerset, Ky. native, Chaplain (Capt.) Claude Hoffman, chaplain for 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. "We want to help the couples to stay on the course."
Many couples lack relationship skills such as trust, honesty and a foundation of friendship, Hoffman explained. "It isn't anybody's fault; just culture has taught us to rush into relationships without the right skills."
There were about 116 married couples who attended the event.
"We expected about this many couples," Hoffman said about the outcome. "This was one of my better groups, they were dedicated and serious about what we had to say and you could tell they wanted to be there."
Many topics were discussed during the scheduled sessions on the retreat; such as how to better communicate with each other and resolving issues.
"We hoped to come up to the retreat and learn how to better our relationship and ways to improve ourselves," said Littleton, Colo. native, Kayla Claunts, the wife of an "Ironhorse" Soldier.
To create a romantic atmosphere for the Soldiers and their spouses, the retreat was held at the Holiday Inn on the scenic Riverwalk of San Antonio.
"The Riverwalk helps create a more intimate atmosphere," Hoffman explained. "One that is difficult to feel in the Fort Hood or Killeen area."
Little Lambs, an accredited daycare team, were contracted not only to help create a more relaxed retreat, but were also there to relieve the stress on parents to find daycare for their children while on this three-day retreat.
"The provided daycare assisted us in attending the Strong Bonds retreat," said Littleton, Colo. native, Pfc. Michael Claunts, an artilleryman assigned to the brigade. "We didn't have to worry about our daughter interrupting the sessions or worrying about finding someone at home to look after her."
"Between the daycare and active involvement, the retreat was a success," Hoffman said. "We will have more, and hope to have the same outcome."