Chapel hosts marriage enrichment retreat

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Back in 2006, New York Times journalist Lizette Alvarez wrote, "Military deployments have a way of chewing up marriages, turning daily life upside down and making strangers out of husbands and wives."

Many Air Force programs are in place to assist spouses with the loneliness, financial challenges, parenting responsibilities and the stress experienced before, during and after deployment. Next month, the chapel, assisted by the airman and family readiness center, is hosting a marriage enrichment retreat to give Keesler spouses an opportunity to reinforce their relationships and to share their experiences with other couples.

The retreat takes place Aug. 23-25 at an outdoor center in Milton, Fla. Priority is given to married couples who've experienced deployment in the past two years. The retreat is limited to 20 couples. Food, lodging and transportation are provided.

The event is being funded by Air Education and Training Command's chaplain's office.

"We are investing in this marriage retreat because strong marriages and families are crucial to the strength of the Air Force," said Keesler Chaplain (Capt.) Melvin "Ken" Smith.

"It's held at a secluded location where each couple has its own room or cabin," Smith continued. "There's a large room where we'll have 10 different seminars covering various topics that are intended to strengthen marriages. Each session is about 45 minutes long with breaks in between. In the middle of all that, they'll have an opportunity to participate in zip lining, canoeing and other outdoor recreational activities."

The chaplain acknowledged that the separation of deployment can have lasting effects on a marriage.

"We'd like to offer these couples an opportunity to give their marriage a 'tune up,' so to speak," he explained. "Priority is given to couples who have experienced deployment, but any active-duty married couple can sign up. We already have 13 couples, but we'll continue to take names and draw up a waiting list in case any couples change their minds."

Strengthening military marriages is the goal for the weekend, the chaplain stressed.

"This isn't necessarily a retreat to help troubled marriages, like those that are on the verge of divorce, although it could definitely be beneficial to them," he pointed out. "We're emphasizing the word 'enrichment' in this retreat."

The chapel is using the same seminar material the airman and family readiness center has used in the past to help couples evaluate and discuss their relationships. Each class includes a teaching portion followed by personal time to try out what has been taught, followed by group discussions.

To sign up or for more information, call Larcher Chapel, 377-4859.