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The Chaplain Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO) holds three to four marriage retreats per month in the Camp Lejeune/New River area for military couples. (Courtesy graphic by CREDO Camp Lejeune/Released)

Photo by CREDO Camp Lejeune

Give your marriage a fighting edge; going all 12 rounds with CREDO retreats

5 Feb 2015 | Sgt. Austin Hazard 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit

SWANSBORO, N.C. – Marriage in the military can be a real challenge. In some cases, it’s a fight to survive. Every early-morning unit workout is a jab, each training exercise a haymaker and every deployment an uppercut. If you go in unprepared, you might get knocked around or even knocked out.


Some consider marriage retreats and couples’ counseling to be measures of desperation, like slipping on a pair of brass knuckles or throwing dirt. So attending one of these “last resort” programs means your marriage must be on the ropes, right? On the contrary, I believe it can help to have a coach in your corner at any point in the fight.


My wife and I recently attended a couples’ retreat that was sponsored by my unit, along with 16 other couples from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and its former battalion landing team, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and we couldn’t be further from the thought of divorce.


We’ve been married more than a year, have a daughter together, and endured pre-deployment training and a nine-month deployment together. Our relationship is stronger than it was before, but this retreat helped strengthen it even more.


“These particular retreats are designed to strengthen marital relationships by empowering the couples with knowledge and skills to enhance emotional literacy, empathy and bonding,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Michaelis, 22nd MEU chaplain. “They teach the participants different communication techniques in a safe learning environment.”


According to Michaelis, the Chaplain Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO), holds three to four retreats every month in the Camp Lejeune/New River area.


Whether your relationship is hanging on or going strong, these programs can benefit you and your partner.


Through a plethora of communication exercises and techniques, my wife and I were able to address and correct small issues between us, voice previously unspoken concerns and generally open ourselves to each other a little more than usual. I saw this with many other couples, too. Everyone seemed to profit from the weekend in one way or another, some much more than us.


“If the Service member deploys, the overall family unit is more resilient,” said Michaelis, who coordinated the weekend retreat and taught the retreat’s various workshops. “If you work on your marriage ahead of time, you’re building a stronger foundation and your relationship will be better able to endure the hardships of a deployment.”


Michaelis participated in one of these retreats with his wife prior to the MEU’s most recent deployment. He claimed it better prepared them for the difficulties that followed and made them stronger for it.


At the end of the weekend, I likened the experience to a training montage; it was a lot of good information, measured improvements and useful techniques in a condensed package.


So if you get the chance, I highly recommend attending one of these events. Whether it’s to gain the upper hand, maintain your fighting edge or to just have fun, every couple entering that ring could use some “Eye of the Tiger.”