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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2008

Retreat places emphasis on basics of love, marriage

By Staff Sgt. Heidi Davis 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Just recently, I learned more about my husband in two days than in our five and a half years of marriage. 

Through the generosity of Langley's People Helping People and the Air Force Chaplain Service, my husband and I as well as 28 other couples enjoyed a free marriage retreat Aug. 22-24 at the Omni Hotel in Newport News. 

The best parts for me weren't the luxurious hotel suite, or gourmet meals; it was the connection my husband and I were able to make, without the distractions of work, children or stresses of everyday life. 

The common thread throughout the conference was knowing each other's "true colors temperament," otherwise known as personality types. The test was divided into blue, green, orange or gold, each with corresponding personality characteristics that impacted communication styles, money handling and behaviors. 

"By understanding each other's color, you can better relate to your spouse's quarks and motives for doing what they do," said Robyn Wilson, 1st Force Support Squadron. 

After discovering I am a Green/Blue personality type and my husband is an Orange/Blue, things in our marriage began to make sense, and our connection became stronger. 

Beyond the colors test, Julie Couture, Family Advocacy, taught us how to communicate effectively with the Speaker/Listener Approach. 

"When the speaker is talking, the listener should be taking everything in and getting ready to paraphrase it back to the speaker," said Ms. Couture. "When the listener repeats what the speaker said to them, the speaker can hear how the listener interpreted the information. It also keeps the listener focused on what the speaker has to say." 

This session proved most valuable for me. While I am in a communications career field, my skills at home need fine tuning. 

Once we knew how to communicate, we were taught how our "colors" impact our budget - how we spend or save our money. Michael and Anna Bennett, 1st FSS, discussed how it is possible to blend spending habits and how each spouse can contribute at different times within the marriage. 

"If you are a 'gold' by nature, that is, you hoard money and hardly ever spend unless it's for a home, vehicle or education, you need your 'orange' spouse around," said Ms. Bennett. "'Orange' spenders tend to live by the moment and spend money with the notion that while it is gone today, more is coming in the future." 

The Bennett's brought me to the realization that while it's important to save for the future, it's also important to make memories. So, spending a few bucks here and there can help us grow closer as a couple. 

After a catered lunch, Chaplain (Capt.) Terri Gast, 1st Fighter Wing Chapel, discussed the need for a spiritual connection between a husband and wife. While specific religions were not encouraged, couples were encouraged to explore spirituality as an avenue to a lasting marriage. 

After learning each other's colors, discussing the importance of clear communication, understanding each other's spending habits and connecting on a spiritual level, Jerome and Angie Wade, certified marriage consultants, taught us how to keep our marriages fresh. 

Having been married 30 years, the Wade's were able to give us couples advice on how to push through the hard times in a marriage to get to the ones that make it all worthwhile. 

"The seventh year of marriage was the worst," said Ms. Wade. "We fought all the time ... I even thought that 'this is it. We're not supposed to be together.' But, Jerome reminded me of the commitment I had made to him and to God. God brought us through, and that eighth (year) was the best." 

The Wade's also placed emphasis on the need to date and how to enjoy a date to its fullest. 

"If you know your schedules are packed with kids, work and everything else, and you know the only way to have a date is to plan for it, then do it," Ms. Wade said. "And remember, when you go on a date, it's to remind yourselves of the person you fell in love with - so, no serious talk. There's plenty of other time for that. Dates are a time to have fun." 

With three children and being mil-to-mil, my husband and I rarely have time to go on a "real" date. By "real" date, I mean one in which we get to leave the house. So, we've gotten creative by playing video games or cards, watching a movie or just sitting together on the couch enjoying the quiet. 

This retreat was amazing. The speakers were right on target. Our relationship is stronger because People Helping People and the Air Force Chaplains Service us the tools we need to keep our communication open, our budget on track and our love alive.