Chapel retreat strengthens marriage ties

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Frances Locquiao
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Moody couples had the opportunity to participate in a retreat to help strengthen marriage ties and learn more about each other.

The marriage retreat, located at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island, Ga., was designed for active duty families and focused on dealing with stresses on marriages, deployments, military life and family separation, said Chaplain (Capt.) Larry Fowler, 23rd Wing chaplain.

"We wanted to create downtime communication where couples could interact with each other as well as learn from other couples," said Chaplain Fowler. "We gave them the tools to communicate and understand."

The event was based on Christian foundations with the mindset referenced to faith and religion, he said.

One couple, Lt. Col. Joe Rizzuto, 23rd Wing chief of safety, and his wife, Kelli, participated in the retreat because it was an on-going tradition for them.

"For our anniversary in October, we try to look for a retreat to go to as part of our tradition," said Colonel Rizzuto. "We like to participate in retreats because it improves our marriage each time we do it."

For newlyweds, Senior Airman Steven Hammond, 71st Rescue Squadron airborne mission system specialist, and his wife, Kaylee, the retreat was a way for them to learn the building blocks of marriage.

"We chose to go because it was an opportunity to build a stronger marriage," said Mrs. Hammond. "We were also interested in taking classes such as the five love languages."

The three-day, two-night event occurred on a weekend to fit in with the participants' schedules.

The cost of the retreat was $50 per couple and $5 per child, with registration based on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"One of the best things about the retreat was that they provided child care--we would not have been able to attend if it was not available," said Mrs. Rizzuto. "It was good to be able to check on the kids every time we had a chance to."

One of the activities included a tile exercise, where one spouse holds a paper tile, while the other listens. Then, the spouse who was listening had to paraphrase what the other spouse was saying.

"The tile exercise helped us communicate better," said Mrs. Rizzuto. "I'm usually a person who doesn't like to make confrontations, but we learned to use the tile method to express our feelings."

The couples also learned about the five love languages, which are five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.

"I learned that Kaylee and I have different love languages," said Airman Hammond. "The class taught me how to understand and communicate using her love language."

During the last day of the retreat, all couples renewed their vows.

"The renewals of our vows took place on a waterfront," said Mrs. Hammond. "It was such a beautiful atmosphere."

Because of the retreat's success last year, Moody's chapel earned $5,000 from Air Combat Command chapel and $10,000 from the U. S. Air Force chapel, which covered most of the couples' expenses this year.

The retreat was an excellent way for Kelli and I to get to know each other all over again, said Colonel Rizzuto.

"I whole-heartedly recommend this kind of retreat for everyone," he added. "We are thankful and impressed that the chapel worked this hard for us."