MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Marine Corps Family Team Building and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego chaplains hosted the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program for 2nd Recruit Training Battalion Sept. 19.
The 4-hour class, offered four times a year, is for couples looking to build and enhance their relationships, whether they are engaged, newlyweds or have been married 30 years.
“Marriage is tough, a lot of marriages don’t work out,” said Lt. Stephen Brown, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion chaplain and class instructor. “It’s something we need to fight for.”
Inside the classroom the lights were dimmed, flower petals were scattered across the tables and dinner was provided to set the scene of a romantic date night for the couples. Child care was also provided so the couples could focus on their marriage.
This was done to ensure the couples felt comfortable and enjoyed the time they had to work on their marriages, explained James Stewart, MCFTB life skills coach and class instructor.
“We’re giving couples a set of tools for those problems we know will come up in a marriage,” said Stewart.
At the beginning of class a clip from the movie “Fireproof” was shown as an example of how arguments can escalate. The scene showed a couple go from a small disagreement to questioning their marriage. This clip was used as a recurring example throughout the class and couples were able to offer suggestions on how things could have gone differently.
“It’s about the dynamics of communicating effectively and discovering each other,” said Stewart.
The class focused on how couples can have a healthy marriage through better communication with each other and how to recognize danger signs.
“Every marriage starts out with good intentions but then complications come up,” said Brown. “Marriage takes a lot of work, a lot of forgiveness.”
Stewart, who has been married 30 years, knows firsthand the difficulties that can arise in ones marriage. It’s about the dynamics of communicating effectively and discovering each other, Stewart explained.
“Not every relationship is perfect, not every problem can be solved,” said Stewart. “Ask yourself ‘Is this situation bigger than my marriage?’”
Throughout the class, the couples referred to workbooks and activities to learn more about each other and their relationship as a whole. Some workbook pages included listing the things they appreciate about their partner and why those things matter to them. After each entry was filled out, the workbooks were passed to their partners so they could understand the other person better.
The couples also had the choice to share some of their workbook entries with the class. Although this type of participation was encouraged in order to get to know other couples and share their experiences, it wasn’t a requirement.
“The class had a lot of information. I learned how to have a different perspective on things and how to approach them,” said Sgt. Lee Yuen, drill instructor, Company H, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, who has been married for six years. “The most important thing in a marriage is to understand what is being talked about and not assuming or misinterpreting.”
Although a Power Point presentation accompanied the class, the instructors only used it to highlight key points and for visual aids. Instructors used examples, both hypothetical and from their own marriages, to explain situations and how to resolve issues.
Staff Sgt. Adrian N. Cardenas, drill instructor, Company F, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion and his wife Jennie have been married for 11 years and have six children, four girls and two boys. They both learned ways to strengthen their marriage taking this class.
“It was very eye-opening. (The class) exposed some of our faults and things we need to work on that we weren’t aware of,” said Cardenas.
Throughout the night, gift cards to movie theaters and restaurants were raffled to encourage couples to spend time together.
“Don’t lose that soul in the marriage, keep that fire burning,” said Stewart. “Fun is something we must make time for.”
At the end of class each person filled out a card requesting something they wanted their partner to do for them in the coming months. Each request was a commitment they made for one another.
Both Stewart and Brown said they may check up on to make sure the couples follow through with their commitments.