FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Even the strongest of marriages take a little work, lots of love and continued enrichment. Thanks to the Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion's Unit Ministry Team, the first, of the 10 "Great Dates," started in September 2010.

Based on the book, "10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage" by David and Claudia Arp, the WTB's dates, held once a month, are hosted at local restaurants.

At each date, the couples review one chapter of the book so that each couple can further their communication skills and strengthen their marriage.

Held for the cadre of the WTB, the ministry's event focuses on communication, conflict, encouragement, creative love lives, and balancing roles of parents and partners. The 10 Great Dates is a command-sponsored program that opens the doors for other commands to focus on strengthening Soldiers' relationships.

"Our commander believes in this so much and wants to support and strengthen the relationships in our cadre that he's kind of footing the bill for this," said Chaplain (Capt.) Tracy Hudgins, WTB chaplain.

Staff Sgt. Lorin Laven, a WTB Soldier and Great Date participant, and his wife, Elizabeth, didn't know what to expect when they showed up for their first date. When they left, they said they couldn't wait for the next.

"We've learned different ways that we appreciate each other and other ways to communicate to one another," said Laven, who has five sons. "It's such a relaxed environment and even though the chaplain hosts it, it's not like we are being preached to. It's something that is actually fun to go to and the talks are about real life situations. It's probably one of the best marriage programs out there that we've gone to and we can't wait for the rest of the dates."

The dates are geared for newlyweds and couples who have been together for years, couples who have children (since childcare is provided) and those who don't - all types of marriages benefit from the time spent on great dates.

"Everyone of us goes to doctors appointments at a minimal once a year, we need to approach marriage the same way. This is an opportunity, no matter how strong your marriage is, to strengthen it and enrich it," explained Hudgins.

"Whether you're having struggles and difficulties or your marriage is rock solid, the dates can only add to it and improve it."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16