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Training and Education Command

United States Marine Corps
PREP helps couples make renewed commitment, grow closer

By Cpl. Alisha R. Fitzgerald | | August 22, 2003

MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- The Depot Marine Corps Family Team Building staff combines with Depot chaplains to offer Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program classes once a month.
Six couples attended the August PREP session at the Marine Corps Community Services-South Carolina Learning Center Aug. 16.

PREP is a skills and principles-building workshop designed to help couples communicate better, work through problems and increase their commitment to each other. It has been proven so effective that it has been featured on "20/20," "48 Hours," "Oprah" and in many articles throughout print media in recent years.

During the sessions, couples receive guidance on expectations, commitment, fun, forgiveness, friendship, feeling understood and sensuality. The main focus of the workshop is to learn how to prevent serious problems through communication and learning how to properly handle conflicts.

"All couples have problems," said Lt. Cmdr. Bruce Boyle, H&SBn. chaplain, who taught the August PREP class. "The way they handle those problems is the key."

The course teaches speaker/listener techniques as the main tool to combat problems. It highlights the "right" and "wrong" way to communicate. The couples practice this technique during the workshop by passing a ball to each other when it's time for that person to talk.

"We talk all the time, but we don't necessarily communicate," said Boyle. "Talking is easy, but really listening takes work and commitment."

Couples learn to listen to each other by filtering through outside factors, such as emotional state, beliefs, expectations, style differences and self-protection.

"These factors bury intimacy and openness," said Boyle. "If we can minimize them, honesty comes through and trust is built."

Another key aspect emphasized is re-establishing fun in a relationship. Couples are urged to regularly schedule "date nights."

"A lot of the couples really benefit from this," said Boyle. "They get caught up in their
daily routine and never realize how important it is to take time for each other and actually go on a date. I've had couples tell me it brings back the anticipation they had when they first got together."

Many couples can benefit from PREP. It is open to anyone in a serious relationship, not just married couples and not just couples experiencing problems. However, it is not to be the eradicator of serious turmoil.

"We want to stress that PREP is education, not therapy," said Boyle. "It's designed and geared to enhance marriages. Like the old saying goes, we provide 'a little more tools for the tool kit.'"

Although the couples who attended the August session, like all others, are to remain nameless to protect their confidentiality, they provided nothing but positive feedback to Boyle after and during the workshop.

"A lot of couples assume that they knew how to communicate beforehand, but afterwards say, 'Now we understand that true communication takes commitment,'" he said. "Those who come in thinking their marriage is in a bit of a rocky state come out feeling that they're not as bad off as they thought." 

The course is designed to be a 12-hour workshop, but due to the Depot's recruit training schedule, has been condensed to a six-hour session, making it easier for Recruit Training Regiment personnel and their spouses to attend. Childcare is provided by the Depot Child Development Center for those who may need it. The Depot MCFTB limits each group's size to enhance intimacy and promote new friendships among the couples, according to Boyle. The next class is scheduled for Sept. 20. To register, call MCFTB at 228-1505.

For more information about PREP, log on to their Web site at

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