Iowa Guard members build “Strong Bonds” during weekend retreat

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185 ARW Wing PA
Twenty couples affiliated with the Iowa Air National Guard attended a marriage retreat held at the Marriott Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska over the weekend. Iowa Air National Guard Chaplains from the185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City and Fort Dodge along with their counterparts from the132nd Fighter Wing in Des Moines, Iowa played host for the two day event dubbed "Laugh You Way to a Better Marriage".

According to organizers, the program's aim is to get those in attendance in a non-threatening environment and strengthen relationships by using laughter.  "Laugh Your Way" is a Strong Bonds event sponsored by the Chaplain Corps of Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard military services.

Chaplain Steve Peters of the 185th Air Refueling Wing says he loves facilitating Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage because he says it's a lot of fun.

"I love to watch couples engage with each other - almost like seeing a light bulb go on over their heads as they begin to understand their spouse in a new way," said Peters.

Peters says that a marriage seminar is not the first thing most men think of when they think of a fun way to spend a weekend. But he explained that the approach is well received by men and women alike.

"Though this event is fun, it is anything but light and ineffective," Said Peters. "Couples get to know and understand each other more deeply no matter how long they've been together and their relationship is stronger and blessed by the experience."

Unlike many traditional marriage seminars that tend to be overly serious, technically and emotionally taxing, the "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage' retreat, according to Peters, is different. He says the difference is that it helps couples deal with tough issues in a way that is fun.

"Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" is a video based program that features Mark Gungor who is a pastor of Celebration Church in Green Bay, WI.   Sessions included: The Tale of Two Brains, Why Does He/She Do That? The #1 Key to Incredible Sex, and How to Stay Married and NOT Kill Anybody.

While it may not have come as a surprise to those in attendance, a main theme of the program explains how men and women are unique and different and why that is great.

Senior Master Sgt. Rick Irwin of the 185th Air Refueling Wing and his wife Angel attended this weekend's event  and said they would encourage anyone to sign up for a future event.

"I really didn't know what to expect when I first signed up, but the program was really well done" said Irwin, "it was a really good opportunity to spend some quality time having fun with just my wife and me".

Peters said Iowa Guard Chaplains plan to offer more Strong Bonds events in the future including another "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" retreat, a family retreat and a singles retreat.

Chaplain Peters says events like this are a good opportunity to work with their counterparts from within the state while working towards a common cause.

"I think it's great we are working together for a common goal: caring for our Airmen and their families," said Peters. "Though we are from different major commands and we have different wing missions, our state mission as the Iowa Air National Guard draws us together. After all, our mission and purpose as a Chaplain Corps is the same!"

The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the 185th Air Refueling Wing, the Iowa Air National Guard, the United States Air Force or the Department of Defense of the external website, or information, products, or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Services/Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the United States Air Force does not exercise editorial control over the information users may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of the website.