JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —
It can be said the biggest decision of one’s life is whom they decide to marry. Soldiers may make this decision with little knowledge of the person or the person’s expectations, which can lead to marital issues.
With the military seeing a slow, but steady decline of divorce rates amongst service members, programs such as Strong Bonds could be the reason for the positive change.
Strong Bonds began as a program led by unit chaplains that heavily focused on married couples learning to better their relationships. While that focus still exists and is very important to maintain, a major demographic was missing – single Soldiers.
Chaplain (Maj.) John Sedwick, U.S. Army South plans and operations chaplain, said the singles ministry is dear to him.
“I have a special place in my heart for doing single Soldier ministry,” Sedwick said. “I think that sometimes we focus so much on families and homecomings.
“I walked off my fair share of aircraft coming back from deployments and single Soldiers are kind of ushered off by themselves and they go to their barracks,” he said. “They miss a lot of that joyous homecoming, at least temporarily until they can go back to their hometowns.”
Because Soldiers do not want to be someone who doesn’t have anyone to welcome them home, they may be motivated to prematurely enter a serious relationship or even marriage, without learning what a healthy relationship requires, Sedwick said.
With this information in mind, they may be able to avoid tumultuous situations in the future, the chaplain said. He says forgiveness also helps people have a better relationships.
“Reconcile with themselves, reconcile with their past acknowledgement of what’s happened in their life, forgive those who have harmed them or wronged them, so they may become at peace with themselves,” Sedwick added. “You have to become healthy yourself before you can engage in a healthy relationship.”
The chaplain used the book, “The Five Love Languages: Singles
Edition,” by Gary Chapman, to facilitate the training during the Strong Bonds retreat held in Corpus Christi, Texas Nov. 14-16.
Participants first took a quiz to find out what their most and least used love language is out of the five: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch. Once established, discussions were held about the results and how they relate to real-life situations.
The small group, which varied in rank and age, soon realized having healthy relationships does not just mean in their personal lives.
Interactions with coworkers, subordinates and leaders is just as important as with a mate. Having trust and respect between a leader and a subordinate can be the difference between a mission’s success or failure.
For 2nd Lt. Kareem McGolthin, 232nd Medical Battalion executive officer, his mission is essential to the future of the Army, as he works with the cadre and Advanced Initial Training, or AIT, students.
“Identifying the ‘Five Love Languages’ helped me identify some of my weak areas. My weak ones, like words of affirmation, is a big one, especially in dealing with my AIT students,” McGolthin said. “Now I’m more aware and can implement what I’ve learned to get them to perform better.”
The next Army South Strong Bonds event is expected to be held in March 2017. For information, contact the unit chaplain office.