Marble Falls, Texas —
Soldiers and service members are under stress working daily to train, support and defend the nation. Stress at the workplace can bring stress into family dynamics at home. The Army recognizes the importance of the family and the vital support they give to service members.
To help strengthen military families, the U.S. Army North Command Chaplain’s Office conducted a Strong Bonds marriage training event Sept. 17-19 at Horseshoe Bay Resort in Marble Falls, Texas, that included team-building mixers, as well as discussions of how to improve communication, strengthen marriages and endure the challenges of life in the military.
“In fiscal year 2010, the Army completed the third year of a five-year longitudinal study evaluating the outcomes of the Strong Bonds training program,” said Staff Sgt. Carlos Vazquez, ARNORTH Chaplain’s Office Operations NCO and facilitator. “Preliminary outcomes show a 50 percent lower rate in divorce with an increase in marital satisfaction for participants.”
The workshops were conducted in a relaxed setting to help enhanced learning and relationship building.
Vazquez highlighted that Strong Bonds have had couples from newlyweds to those with 30 years of marriage, and families from single Soldiers who wanted to learn how to communicate effectively with their teenage children before deployment, to blended families who want to grow into one happy, resilient family.
Strong Bonds couples program was developed because the military family can expect more challenges than most – long separations due to combat deployment or overseas assignments, frequent relocations, and extended work hours. Quite often military spouses carry the burden of taking care of the entire family.
“Though not a guarantee of relationship success, in working with Soldiers and families, both here and through the years, it has been encouraging and refreshing to see many relationships strengthened or rekindled by awareness and application of even basic principles and techniques,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Allen Staley, ARNORTH deputy command chaplain and facilitator. “There are principles and techniques like talking and listening to one another, striving to understand each other better, solving problems, resolving conflicts, deepening commitment or even just having fun together.”
“I would encourage everyone to give Strong Bonds a try,” Vazquez said. “While this training is facilitated by Chaplain Staley and I, we have been with couples and families who were willing to be candid and share stories and ideas with one another.”
Army chaplains recognized the importance of a strong marriage so military families can succeed at home. During the training event, couples gain communication and support skills that strengthen their marriage as it pertains to stresses the military life brings.
“Strong Bonds offers an arsenal of tested, proven and regularly updated materials and formats designed to address key relationship issues of concern and stressors affecting all Soldiers and their present or future families, combining traditional teaching methods with group/couple interaction, discussion and personal application,” Staley said. “This is usually done in a relaxed setting, ‘away from the flagpole,’ which gives participants appropriate time and atmosphere to focus on and apply relationship and personal dynamics.”
Building and maintaining good marital relationships will increase your involvement and commitment to your marriage and your family.
“In all my 19-plus years of serving, it has been a true honor to help single Soldiers, couples and families find productive ways to communicate and express their love for one another, as well as learn from each other and establish support networks with the chaplain’s section and one another,” Vazquez added.