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Bringing back marriage retreats for Airmen, spouses

Capt. Brandon Stewart, 325th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps chaplain hosts a marriage retreat seminar Aug. 17 -18, 2019, in Fort Walton, Fla. Stewart began the seminar by asking couples what expectations they had going into marriage to create a discussion on expectation versus reality. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

Capt. Brandon Stewart, 325th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps chaplain hosts a marriage retreat seminar Aug. 17 -18, 2019, in Fort Walton, Fla. Stewart began the seminar by asking couples what expectations they had going into marriage to create a discussion on expectation versus reality. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

Airmen from the 325th Fighter Wing and their spouses pose for a photo at a marriage retreat seminar Aug. 17 -18, 2019, in Fort Walton, Fla. The event was hosted by the 325th FW Chaplain Corps and was the first one held since October 2018 when Hurricane Michael devastated Northwest Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

Airmen from the 325th Fighter Wing and their spouses pose for a photo at a marriage retreat seminar Aug. 17 -18, 2019, in Fort Walton, Fla. The event was hosted by the 325th FW Chaplain Corps and was the first one held since October 2018 when Hurricane Michael devastated Northwest Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

Airmen from the 325th Fighter Wing and their spouses participate in a communication activity at a marriage retreat seminar Aug. 17 -18, 2019, in Fort Walton, Fla. Participants were encouraged to describe to their significant other an experience or a feeling they had determined by which emoji they were given. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

Airmen from the 325th Fighter Wing and their spouses participate in a communication activity at a marriage retreat seminar Aug. 17 -18, 2019, in Fort Walton, Fla. Participants were encouraged to describe to their significant other an experience or a feeling they had determined by which emoji they were given. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

Tech. Sgt. Noah Stamps, 325th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps superintendent, asks a group question at a marriage retreat seminar Aug. 17 -18, 2019, in Fort Walton, Fla. Approximately 20 couples attended the seminar and discussed topics including expectations versus reality, balancing work-life and children, being healthy together, forgiveness, finances, navigating the trials of changing environments, and in some cases, rebuilding from the 2018 Hurricane Michael. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

Tech. Sgt. Noah Stamps, 325th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps superintendent, asks a group question at a marriage retreat seminar Aug. 17 -18, 2019, in Fort Walton, Fla. Approximately 20 couples attended the seminar and discussed topics including expectations versus reality, balancing work-life and children, being healthy together, forgiveness, finances, navigating the trials of changing environments, and in some cases, rebuilding from the 2018 Hurricane Michael. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The 325th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps hosted a marriage retreat seminar Aug. 17 -18, 2019.

The event was the first one the chapel had held since October 2018 when Hurricane Michael devastated Northwest Florida.

The retreat was primarily for active duty service members and their spouses. The couples who participated ranged from all demographics including younger-aged couples, couples who had been married for 15 years, and couples with children. Approximately 20 couples attended the seminar.

The seminar included discussions, activities, and a surprise section of the itinerary where the couples were able to renew their vows to each other in a collective beach-side ceremony.

Topics for discussion included expectations versus reality, balancing work-life and children, being healthy together, forgiveness, finances, navigating the trials of changing environments, and in some cases, rebuilding from Hurricane Michael.

Communication was also a highlight of the discussion.

“Communication is the biggest thing we have to focus on and how we communicate with our tone and rhetoric matters,” said Capt. Brandon Stewart, 325th FW/HC chaplain and host of the event.

“How we communicate with our kids, spouses, and coworkers is the easy part,” he continued.  “Once we’ve communicated comes the hard part; how it’s received. The way you felt today, the way you feel tomorrow, is not the same as how you felt before.”

Stewart was accompanied by Carlos Jones, a long-time friend, motivational speaker and author.

Jones administered some of the event’s content and activities, focusing on what components he thought are necessary to navigate marriage and relationships.

“[In the beginning of my marriage] I didn’t see the value my wife brought to that table,” said Jones.

Jones then talked about, for him, how marriage wasn’t what he thought it would be and how his insecurities impacted the communication he had with his wife.

“There is power in letting someone know what is going on,” he said.

Stewart also added how communicating using details can be critical for couples. Chemistry and tone are also important when communicating with a spouse, and Stewart said how couples treat each other is essential in making any marriage work, not just military marriages.

“The relationship is like an onion, it starts opening up,” he said.

For more information on the next marriage retreat contact the 325th FW Chaplain Corps.