Military Marriage Truce

When Army specialist Cliff Styles returned from Iraq in November 2006, his marriage started to crumble, as the stress of battle had followed him home.

Unable to shake the war, Styles avoided his wife.

"You come home [and] you know nobody's trying to kill you -- but you still feel the anxiety and the anxiousness," he told ABC's Erin Hayes.

As a last resort, the couple attended a free weeklong retreat designed for military couples to spend quiet time together.

"It seemed like every time we spoke, there was an argument about something," Eddie Garcia, another veteran, explained. "We didn't know how to get along. We didn't know how to get past that boundary."

Styles and his wife, Karen, attended a Phoenix Project retreat in Pilot Point, Texas, where marriage counselors understood their circumstances. They go horseback riding and fishing in a program privately funded by a group of war veterans.

"I've lived it," said Teresa Goforth, a veteran of military air command in Vietnam. After the conflict, her marriage didn't survive.

"I don't want this to happen to the next generation," she said.

"These guys are going through the same kind of thing that I went through," said Vietnam vet Jim Schwebach.

That shared experience makes the Iraq War veterans feel comfortable at the event.

"These are people who are proven combat warriors, who have dealt with the situation and have learned the problem and have fixed it," said Eddie Garcia. "And if they can do it, why can't we?"

Take the Battle Out of Life

During the retreat the couples are taught how to improve their communication skills with their spouses. They're encouraged to listen past the worries of war and listen carefully to one another as they trade battle-hardened toughness for some gentleness.

"All this time it was right there," Eddie Garcia joked, "I just had to shut up and listen!"

Another success story -- Troy and Rebecca Tretter -- dropped their plans to divorce after one of the retreats and are now expecting a baby.

Styles also found hope at the retreat and said his wife again enjoys his company.

"That really makes me feel good," he said. "There's now a peace that I have not had in a long time."

A peace, their counselors hope, that will follow them home.

For more information contact: www.phoenixprojectretreat.org

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