USARPAC hosts largest marriage retreat here

| March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

USARPAC couples participate in the “Speed of Trust” Strong Bonds retreat, March 25, in Honolulu. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Melissa Parrish, U.S. Army Pacific Public Affairs)

Story and photos by
Staff Sgt. Melissa Parrish
U.S. Army Pacific Public Affairs

HONOLULU — Soldiers and their spouses attended the largest strong bonds marriage retreat in the Pacific, here, March 27.

The weekend included kid-free date nights, high-energy interactive discussions, couples yoga and couples massages.

Lt. Col. John M. Grauer, U.S. Army Pacific deputy chaplain, whose team hosted the retreat, said this was his largest Strong Bonds weekend.

“Almost 200 people, including couples and their children, signed up for the event, so we knew in advance this was going to be big,” said Grauer.

The size of the audience was larger than normal, but that didn’t change the overall goal of the event. Trust was the focus of the retreat, and Grauer and his USARPAC team ensured couples walked away with strategies to help strengthen trust in their relationships.

“Open communication is important in any relationship, whether it be a marriage, family or a working relationship,” said Grauer. “In order to have that open communication, you must first be able to trust that individual.”

The couples’ marriage experiences ranged from 1 to 35 years of marriage.

“If you’ve been married for a few days, or many years, you can always use new strategies to ensure you are building on that trust in your relationship,” Grauer said.

Ashley and Quentin Barnett attended the retreat and have been married for seven years.

Soldiers and their spouses participate in couples yoga, left, at the USARPAC Strong Bonds retreat, March 25, in Honolulu. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Melissa Parrish, U.S. Army Pacific Public Affairs)

“This weekend, we really felt like this USARPAC retreat cared about us feeling connected as a couple,” said Barnett, a staff sergeant and master driver at USARPAC. “It wasn’t just seminars or classroom PowerPoints; there was a lot more focus on interaction and applying what we learned. I loved the couple’s yoga. That was a cool way for us to connect with each other.

“We also learned, after a personality test, that we are polar opposites,” Barnett said, with a laugh. “But that helped us to understand that we handle things differently.”

The weekend ended with a sunny day in Waikiki, and many couples headed to the beach to enjoy the weather and relax.

The USARPAC deputy chaplain hopes that the strategies the couples learned throughout the weekend will help them not only in their marriage, but also with family and work relationships, too.

Strong Bonds events are held throughout the year with times and dates varying depending on the unit.

Soldiers or family members who want to attend Strong Bonds training should talk to their unit chaplain first. An additional resource is the Strong Bonds website: www.strongbonds.org.

United States Army Pacific Soldiers and their spouses participate in the “Speed of Trust” Strong Bonds retreat March 25, 2018 in Honolulu. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Melissa Parrish, U.S. Army Pacific Public Affairs)

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