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Strong Bonds Retreat + The Nothing Box

Posted Dec 09 2012 9:31pm

Happy Monday folks!  We got back from Orlando and holy cow did we have a great time!  We were in Orlando for an Army Strong Bonds marriage retreat.  The Army pays for your room, seminars, and most of your meals … you just have to get there!  On top of that, they hire a nanny service to provide child care during the event so you and your spouse can focus on the message.  Since Orlando is a short 4.5 hour drive, we were all over it.  Chris, Emmalyne, and I hit the road Friday at lunch and checked in by 5:30PM.  We got lucky and our retreat was held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress and we were given glasses of champagne upon check in.  My kind of hotel ;)



Rather than give a play-by-play, I want to break down the weekend and provide some information on our experience with the Strong Bonds program.  This post is kind of lengthy … so read on at your own risk ;)



Our retreat was “ Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage ” with Mark Gungor (via DVD).



 I really enjoyed the presentations.  I feel like Mark Gungor is half pastor/stand of comic.  While he presented the male vs. female scenarios as stereotypes (and says so) I found a lot of the situations to be relevant to my own marriage.  First, he described men’s brains as being compartmentalized with boxes.  A man has a box for each thing (IE: job, house, spouse, kids, etc.) and the boxes don’t touch.  Women’s brains however were described as a ball of wire with everything interrelating and connecting.  Additionally, men have a “nothing box” where they can literally think about nothing.  This particularly resonated with me.  Over the last 6 years I have never believed Chris when he said he said he was thinking about nothing because obviously he had to be thinking about something.  HA.  Mr. Gungor went on to give 4 steps to get a man to do what you want which I made sure to take elaborate notes on ;)  Overall I truly enjoyed these presentations and plan on borrowing my friend’s DVD to catch some of the parts we missed.



I was extremely impressed with the nanny service that was hired for this event.  They separated the children by age into separate rooms.  Each room was spacious, fully staffed, with tons of age appropriate toys.  I felt completely comfortably leaving Emmalyne there while we attended the sessions.  Additionally, on Saturday child care was available from 8AM-10PM so couples could have focused processing time together.  Chris and I took advantage of this for a date night.  Emmalyne throughouly enjoyed her time in child care and all the nannies knew her by name and would tell me stories about her antics when I picked her up.



Chris and I treated ourselves to a fancy dinner at the hotel restaurant Hemingway’s .  The atmosphere was quiet and intimate.  We were able to discuss some of the things we learned and brainstorm ways we could help the other and strengthen our marriage even more than it already is.  I had the Alaskan king crab legs with boursin whipped potato gratin and steam asparagus.  The potatoes were seriously heavenly and the crab legs were pre-split to be enjoyed without the mess.  Chris had the cast iron rib eye with grilled asparagus.  Our server surprised us with dessert … coconut ice cream encrusted with milk chocolate and key lime pie.  Every bite we had was delicious and our time together was special.


Hemingway's Restaurant - Grand Cyrpress


 I highly recommend married couples to attend a marriage retreat at some point … whether that be through the military, your church, or another organization.  Being married isn’t always easy and a good marriage takes work.  Retreats are a good way to arm yourself with the best tools to make your marriage and relationship successful.  I would love to attend some sort of marriage-strengthening experience every year or at least every other year!


Before leaving Orlando we did have a chance to hit up the awesome outlets.  More on my finds later but let’s just say Emmalyne takes after her mommy …

Emmalyne Shopping


Have you ever attended a marriage retreat?  What’s the best advice you have ever received in regards to relationships?

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