By Cpl. Salvador R. Moreno , I MEF
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A service member returns from deployment to his spouse. He’s back to his daily routine and in high spirits. Then a few months go by and he realizes there is trouble in his relationship.
No matter what he says or does it just seems to make matters worse. What does he do?
The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program helps couples identify and solve marital problems before they begin.
PREP, a one-day workshop to enhance couples communication skills, is held every other month at the Marine Corps Family Team Building.
“It’s a couples communication workshop that’s going to help both partners understand each other and get some new tools for their tool box, so they can talk to each other in a more productive manner when they are having a disagreement or misunderstanding,” said Lizz Carty, family readiness program trainer with MCFTB.
The class hosts a variety of couples including those currently dating, newly married and couples who have been married for years. The class is based on30 years of research and has developed along the way. But the common theme at the workshop is a variety of communication techniques and the benefits of developing those skills.
The MCFTB trainer’s partner with PREP trained chaplains to divide the different sessions to give a variety of communication examples and techniques during the day-long workshop.
“We give our participants a different style of presentation for every section so it’s engaging, and you get the perspectives of different trainers as well,” Carty said. “We use video-clips, posters, workbooks and a personality activity to try to get everybody up and sharing.”
Navy Lt. Justin Hayes, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton chaplain, said Marines don’t go into battle without training first and it wouldn’t be wise to jump into marriage without preparation either.
“We all come out of high school with under-developed communication skills,” Hayes said. “We have a mixed bag of good and bad skills. We seem to excel at the bad ones and that’s what we use to beat our marriages up with.”
Some of the techniques and topics covered during the workshop are relationship risk factors, communication danger signs, safety and structure in communication and forgiveness.
“The techniques my wife and I learned from the class, we use at home to help us be more effective communicators,” said Lance Cpl. Samuel Zaragoza, a PREP participant. “We are pretty open and talk about everything. That’s one of the things we pride our relationship on. This just gave us extra tools in our bag should we have any problems.”
All service members, dependents and civilian employees on base are welcome to attend the workshop.
There are no requirements to attend the class. Participants don’t have to be married or attend with a partner, but are encouraged to come as a couple.
It’s a great opportunity for couples who are dating or engaged to start a relationship with a strong foundation for communication, Carty said.
“Our main goal is to make sure our Marines and families are ready to meet their mission, life and career events,” Carty said. “We want to make sure you have all the education readiness tools at your disposal to be ready to meet all the challenges you might face.”
The next workshop is scheduled for Sept. 22. For more information on how to sign up or other MCFTB programs and classes, call (760) 725-9052.