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Marriage Retreat Strengthens Relationships

Couples from 161st Air Refueling Wing and the 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard, pose for a group photo during Strong Bonds. Strong Bonds is a chaplain led program, developed by the National Guard Bureau, offering three days of marriage training in a retreat like setting designed to help Guardsmen build and maintain a strong family structure. (Courtesy Photo/Released)

Couples from 161st Air Refueling Wing and the 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard, pose for a group photo during Strong Bonds. Strong Bonds is a chaplain led program, developed by the National Guard Bureau, offering three days of marriage training in a retreat like setting designed to help Guardsmen build and maintain a strong family structure. (Courtesy Photo/Released)

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE -- Strong Bonds addresses the unique needs of National Guard service members and spouses by providing a relaxing and fun weekend retreat that includes training and activities to strengthen relationships. Participants learn communication skills that help promote marital confidence and satisfaction, as well as facilitate the building of support systems with other Guard members.

Just as aircraft need routine maintenance to ensure they are operating at peak performance, marriages also need to undergo routine maintenance to stay strong, said Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Brown.

For airman, this routine marriage maintenance can be completed by attending Strong Bonds, a marriage retreat sponsored by the National Guard and facilitated by the 161st Air Refueling Wing Chaplains.

"Our goal in Strong Bonds is to strengthen marriage bonds; by strengthening marriage bonds, our military members are able to focus on their jobs," said Chaplain Brown. "When the [service member] is focusing on his or her job, we avoid accidents and prevent serious injury."

Chief Master Sgt. Scott Burton, 161 ARW Security Forces manager, said that he and his wife decided to attend Strong Bonds after his wife returned from a deployment. "I recommend those that were deployed at any length of time or those that just need or want to better their marriage attend Strong Bonds," said Chief Burton. "We learn skills and then practice those skills in our military careers to be the best and ready for what the enemy may throw at us. It's the same in marriage. We must train, educate and sharpen our skills to prepare ourselves to defend our marriage against the enemy."

Chaplain Brown agreed, "Every couple, whether married a year or a couple of decades, can benefit from conversation about how their relationship is doing. We think of this retreat as 'routine maintenance' for your relationship - like an oil change for your car - where you can escape the regular routine and enjoy time together and think about what really matters between the two of you."

He also said that couples should know that by attending Strong Bonds, they're going to learn something about themselves, about their relationship and maybe even get a new start on their marriage.