JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
The historic Bolger Center resort in Potomac, Md., just outside the affluence of the nation's capitol, seemed a world away from work, traffic and political sound bites on the airwaves.
About 20 Airmen stepped out of there cars and into the autumn air as they arrived on the three-day, all inclusive retreat Oct. 12-14. In effort to help Airmen improve their ability to send and receive messages in male/female relationships, the JBA Chapel, Airman Committed to Excellence, family advocacy and the resiliency clinic sponsored this vacation getaway, which traces its roots to the foundation of the U.S. Postal Service. The Airmen said they appreciated the history of the locations relevance to their stay.
"The Pony Express brings to mind the time period when Paul Reverre sent messages via horseback to the alert troops the British were coming," said Airman 1st Class Dustin Long, 1st Airlift Squadron.
Since then, the process for sending messages by mail has increased immensely.
"This relaxation retreat serves to promote healthy and successful communication," said Chaplain (Capt.) Denis Gueu, chapel one head chaplain. "Throughout the retreat, you have the opportunity to learn, interact, play and share your experiences with others."
Everyone met up for a conference-room rendezvous before having dinner. They introduced themselves in an open forum discussion and shared what they hoped to gain from the experience.
The responses among the Airmen varied. Some said they came to have a good time and relax. Some wanted to get away from the dorms. Mostly all agreed the importance for attending was to improve communication skills and learn more about the dynamics of male/female relationships.
The two hosts of the three-day getaway, Gueu and Master Sgt. Matthew Cagle, 744th Communication Squadron NCO in charge of cable maintenance, ensured the Airmen if they came prepared to learn and grow, they would get all of this and more from this event.
The next day began with a buffet-style breakfast, followed by the first of three DVD seminar briefings by Mark Gungor, pastor, "A Tale of Two Brains."
Gungor addressed stereotypical behaviors of men and women and how each person is unique. His stand-up comic-style performance highlighted the distinctions between the way men and women process information.
A man's brain is like a closet with clearly labeled neatly stacked boxes, none of them touch and his favorite box is his "nothing box" said Gungor. A woman's mind is like an internet super highway, driven by the energy of emotion; every thought is connected, which explains why they feel the need to talk about everything.
Gungor's perspective served to entertain and enlighten, said Gueu.
" A Tale of Two Brains is absolutely hilarious because it's true," said Long. "I love my 'nothing box.' Sometimes I get stressed and all I want to do is play on my computer and not think about anything. I also know plenty of women and some guys who want to talk about everything."
Understanding this concept and allowing compromise can help diffuse stress in relationships, said Cagle.
The other seminars were much like the first one in humor, while addressing the topics of "Soul Mates: Fact or Fiction" and "Sex Makes You Stupid."
According to Gungor, there is no such thing as a soul mate. He said the concept comes from Greek mythology and excuses individuals' irresponsible behavior.
"Marriage is not about finding the right person; it's about doing the right things," said Gungor.
As for sex making people stupid, Gungor attributes this concept to the human mind's natural ability to imprint on first experiences. He said if those experiences were sordid, they can wreak havoc on a marriage.
There were breaks for discussions and meals following each seminar session.
Senior Airman Candace Moyd, 779th Medical Operations mental health technician, led one discussion about dating violence.
"Dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner," said Moyd. "Labeling dating violence a pattern doesn't mean the first instance of abuse is not dating violence. It just recognizes that dating violence usually involves a series of abusive behaviors over a course of time."
Moyd said looking out for these three phases can help identify a destructive relationship:
1. Tension Building - Things start to get tense
2. Explosion - There is an outburst of violence that can include intense emotional, verbal, sexual and/or physical abuse.
3. Honeymoon - The abuser apologizes, trying to make up with his or her partner and shift the blame for the explosion to someone or something else.
Every relationship is different; Most abusive relationships endure violence that escalates over time and becomes more and more dangerous for victims, noted Moyd.
While participants said they to enjoyed and learned from the seminars, many welcomed the breaks. During free time, members had the option to engage in sports, tour the resort, or go shopping in the local area.
The last night, there was a special dinner room set aside where the members could dress nice, unwind, converse and eat to their hearts delight. The group took photographs and laughs echoed the room as people chattered amongst themselves about their experience at the retreat.
On Sunday, they arose to another breakfast buffet before watching a final DVD brief by Gungor, "The Power of Forgiveness."
Throughout the weekend, members confided in one another about past experience, spoke about their thoughts on relationships, and learned and taught a thing or two about relationships.
Long reflected on the new communication skills he gained from attending the event at the Bolger Center.
"The seminars were really useful," said Long. "I think they challenged a lot of our concepts. Many of us grew up with the ideas there is one person for everyone, love will come eventually,
we don't have to do anything, and we'll just know. It's good to hear a perspective from an 'expert' source. Even if you don't agree with the views, you grow as a person by at least listening to what they have to say and you can incorporate it into your own thoughts."
Click on this link
to view Dr. Gungor's "Tale of Two Brains"