161st chaplains invite ANG couples to Strong Bonds Retreat

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Arizona Air National Guard couples are invited to attend the upcoming Strong Bonds Couple Retreat.

The retreat, which will feature the "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" curriculum, will begin March 30 at 5 p.m. and will conclude April 1 at 11 a.m. The retreat will include eight hours of instruction, and a built in date night on Saturday evening which is designed to allow couples to be alone and reflect.

Established in 1997 by the Army, Strong Bonds is a chaplain-led program designed to strengthen relationships, inspire hope and rekindle marriages.

"Our members are under stress in lots of different places," said Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Brown, 161st Air Refueling Wing chaplain. "They have job stress, financial stress and relationship stress. We chaplains want to help our members learn some tools to better manage their relationship stress and to make their home lives a place of joy and strength. Strong Bonds gives couples tools to make their relationships successful and joyful."

The retreat not only offers a free getaway for ANG members and their spouses, it also helps couples gain practical, useful information based on years of developed research.

"I highly encourage anyone -- no matter how long you have been married - to attend a Strong Bonds Retreat," said Master Sgt. Paul Alexander, 161st Maintenance Group training manager, who attended a past Strong Bonds Retreat. "You as a couple grow in your marriage every day and your relationship is constantly being challenged. Marriage was created to be a 'until death do you part' and I feel it is important to be proactive in your marriage health as people are in their physical health."

The conference, materials, room fees and meals will be paid for and priority will be given to those who have been deployed in the last 12 months or will be deploying in the next 12 months.

"The way the material was presented created a relaxed and non-confrontational approach toward couples, which allowed them to see weak areas in their marriage," Sergeant Alexander said. "It will teach participants that men and women talk and think differently than their spouse."

Another retreat participant highly recommended for Airmen and their spouses attend Strong Bonds.

"The chaplains do a great job of making it a low threat environment no matter what your religious comfort level," said Maj. Patrick McDonnell, 161st Maintenance Squadron commander. "I went reluctantly with my wife, but when I left I could not wait to go back. Even if you have a strong relationship, Strong Bonds will bring you even closer."

A link for a video preview of the material can be found at http://www.laughyourway.com/video-library/.  

Registration ends March 21 and can be done by visiting www.strongbonds.org. Select "find an event," and follow the on screen instructions for the "161 ARW" event. Be sure to use a civilian email address and register both the servicemember and spouse.