Base marriage retreats provide revitalizing getaways

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Samantha S. Crane
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
A few weeks ago, I would tell you I didn't need to go on a marriage retreat. They were only for couples who were having problems. Back then, I wouldn't be caught dead in long, boring classes punctuated by awkward silence.

I'm not going to lie. The first time I saw the e-mail advertising the Mountain Home Air Force Base marriage retreat, I deleted it. But then my husband asked if I wanted to go. Since he was scheduled to leave for two months to go back to school right after the retreat, I looked into it a little more, saw that there were only three, hour-long classes throughout the weekend and decided I could tough it out. We signed up, paid our fees and got ready to go.

The retreat in Cascade, Idaho, ran from July 11 through 13, and the weather was perfect the entire time. The first day, couples could golf, canoe, kayak, fish or just take some time to explore the local area and relax after checking in.

We made new friends right off the bat and spent most of the day with them. At 8 p.m. each night, the hotel served fresh baked cookies and milk, which quickly became one of everyone's favorite events, especially the children. To finish an awesome day, the downtown theater invited our group to watch a closed viewing of The Incredible Hulk with the Cascade community donating funds to supply everyone with free popcorn and drinks. There was also a family movie at the hotel for kids and a bonfire for those who just wanted to sit back and eat s'mores.

The next day, we spent the day at the lake once again at a private party that community members of Cascade arranged for us. We spent hours riding jet skis, boating and swimming. It was an amazing day and the sunburn was worth it. During that time, couples could also visit the hot springs or go zip lining if they preferred.

The Cascade American Legion Post 60 supplied lunch the last day in another show of the community's support for those in uniform. Everywhere we went, people thanked us for our military service, treated us like royalty and made sure we were having an awesome weekend getaway.

Oh yeah, there was one class each day too. The time flew by -- especially after seeing Master Sgt. Steven Wright, Airmen and Family Readiness Center superintendent and class instructor, in a wig. The three class sessions focused on communication and what to expect before, during and after a deployment. Each of the three sessions was fun, interactive and highly informative. It made me much more confident about our impending separation.

The entire weekend opened my eyes to what marriage retreats really provide -- a revitalizing getaway focused on keeping a relationship healthy. We made new friends, learned how to make our relationship even stronger, ate delicious cookies, played on the water for hours and became more comfortable with the possibility of being separated for long periods of time -- a facet unique to military life.

Any married couple, no matter what stage their relationship is at, would greatly benefit from a weekend away from everything where the only thing you have to worry about was whether to go to the lake or go zip lining.

I use to think these things were only for couples experiencing marital problems, but now I know any relationship can be made stronger.