KMC retreat helps fine-tune marriages

Capt. Jenny Lovett
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***“My spouse is not my enemy” was the most memorable one-liner from the
KMC’s first annual marriage retreat, when 102 couples massed on
Garmisch’s Edelweiss Lodge to hike, hang glide, rock climb, and to have
a date with their spouse.

The retreat was six months in the making by two KMC chaplains intent on
helping military couples fine-tune their marriages through renewed
commitment to each other.

Military couples have unique hardships and circumstances to handle,
said Air Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gary Garvey, 435th Air Base Wing
chaplain.  “This was one area that we felt the chapel was missing
out, but one where we could provide enormous positive impact on the
lives of our active-duty members.”

The retreat was designed for young couples looking for Marriage 101,
older couples needing a tune-up and everyone in between.  

It was led by two long-married couples – Jim and Bea Fishback, married
30 years, and Shirley and Moe Lawing, married 42 years – who drew upon
their own marriages with funny skits and amusing anecdotes that every
couple could relate to.

“The goal was to provide a weekend getaway that truly benefited
everyone,” said Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Doug Wooten, 415th Base
Support Battalion chaplain.  “We had amazing help from our great
KMC advance team and from the folks at Garmisch and most importantly
from our conference leaders who were able to show that marriage is a
tough commitment through a lifelong journey of laughter and joy.”

Exploiting the isolation of the Alps, the retreat used projects to
encourage each couple to spend time alone together to talk – about
housework, raising children, paying the bills, going to church and
especially about a renewed interest in each other.

Husbands and wives were all around the resort, engaged in deep discussion.
The newest couple in attendance was Seth and Kelly Zub, who have been married only two months.  

“We were looking mainly for ways to help us communicate,” said Mrs. Zub, an art teacher at Baumholder High School.

The Lawings were the longest married couple, at 42 years.  
“We are obviously as different as night and day,” said Shirley during a
skit in which she and Moe bantered back and forth for nearly five
minutes their extreme differences.  “But committing to each other
and our relationship has gotten us through.”

The loudest message from the retreat was that each person is unique and
what each person brings to the relationship is worthwhile.  

“The conference re-energized us.  I have begun to see my spouse in
a different light, hopefully as God sees him,” said one of the
participants on the feedback form.  

“It’s great to know that folks who have been married for a long time
face the same problems we do, but they made it through and are enjoying
life together.  

“It’s also great to know that my spouse isn’t my enemy,” said one Air Force couple married for a little over three years.

According to retreat exit polls, there were 124 individuals who felt
the conference allowed them to recommit their marriage with their

Plans for next year’s conference are already in the works and local
chaplains will be providing that information as it becomes available.