Strong bonds: Fort Bragg couples get more than a weekend getaway
STRONG BONDS: After writing their vows during an earlier exercise, couples stand and recite them to each other as part of the last exercise of the curriculum during a Strong Bonds retreat at Great Wolf Lodge, Dec. 4.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The key to a strong, healthy relationship may not be what you always thought it was, which is exactly what Soldiers and spouses found out during the Strong Bonds retreat at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, N.C., Dec. 2 to 4.

Just as Soldiers learn the important skill sets of functioning as a team on the battlefield, it is equally important for them to effectively connect and communicate in a relationship with their spouse or significant other.

"It's especially critical for military personnel in that it's difficult enough being in a relationship with someone, but when you take the dynamics of the military, the Army, the separation, the work stress, the long hours from time to time, that puts additional stress on relationships," said Chaplain (Maj.) Ralph Clark, Fort Bragg Garrison Family life chaplain, Watters Family Life Center.

The Fort Bragg Garrison command chaplain's office from the Watters Family Life Center, hosted the retreat, one of eight they host per fiscal year. The retreats are split up into two similar programs in order to facilitate both single Soldiers, and married Soldiers and their spouses.
The curriculum for married couples is based on the program referred to as LINKS, or lasting intimacy through nurturing knowledge and skill. The program teaches that life is unpredictable and relationships require a little more communication and constant adjustment to keep the love strong.

"My favorite part of the lessons were when they would split up the females and the males into discussion groups to write down their opinions on different subjects in a marriage," said Pfc. Jalair Dixon, patient administration specialist, 28th Combat Support Hospital, 44th Medical Brigade, and native of Atlanta.

The curriculum for single Soldiers is based on the PICK a Partner Program, which stands for premarital interpersonal choices and knowledge, or simply, how to avoid falling for a jerk(ette).
"Soldiers demonstrate great resilience on the battlefield, which helps them successfully complete their mission.

By teaching these curriculums, as chaplains, we hope that through the LINKS and PICK a Partner program, Soldiers will learn more about themselves, and have the resiliency to apply the information to build and maintain a stronger relationship and marriage," said Clark.

Perhaps one of the most significant lessons that both programs teach is the Relationship Attachment Model, or RAM, an illustrative model depicting the balance between know, trust, rely, commit, and touch.

"It's not like you're going to tell yourself that you're going to go there and come back home and everything's going to be the same. You're going to leave with some type of knowledge," said Dixon.

What different approaches and techniques work best for you in a committed relationship? Well, you will just have to find out at the next Strong Bonds retreat.

For more information regarding an upcoming Strong Bonds, singles or marriage retreat, contact your unit chaplain, or visit If you are a part of the Fort Bragg Garrison Command, contact Staff Sgt. Kenneth Douglass or Chaplain (Maj.) Ralph Clark at the Watters Family Life Center at 396-6564.

Page last updated Fri December 9th, 2011 at 09:57