Chaplain Helps Military Couples Hone Marriage Skills

Post a Comment » Written on August 27th, 2008     
Filed under: News
HONOLULU, HI (August 27, 2008) – Joshua Stinson, a petty officer in the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, just returned from a four-month deployment in June and will leave again in January. “You never get used to it—this will be his eleventh deployment since we’ve been married.” said Army Reservist Pfc. Lydia Williams, who has been married to Stinson for nearly five years.

The unique stresses created by military deployments led the couple to participate last week in the Strong Bonds Marriage Skills Workshop led by Colonel Mark Larson, an Evangelical Covenant Church minister and the Command Chaplain of the Army Reserve’s 9th Mission Support Command.

“When I was deployed to Iraq last year the primary soldier counseling issue I had to deal with was difficulties with relationships back home,” says Larson. Those difficulties continued when soldiers returned to their families, who often struggled to reconnect.

Chaplains started the marriage workshop four years ago in order to proactively help soldiers define what a healthy relationship looks like. The three-day program can decrease problems that arise before, during, and after deployment, Larson says. Couples also have the option to participate in a ceremony to renew their vows (pictured right).

The workshop is broken into six sessions that include informal discussion followed by practice and coaching. Topics include communication danger signs, talking without fighting, filters, events and issues, expectations, problem solving, foundations for friendship, ground rules for protecting relationships, commitment, sensuality and sexuality, and core belief systems.

Williams says she and her husband learned important skills. “We will have a date night once a week…where we won’t talk about debts or money, and then have a talk night with an agenda once a week for that.”

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