Marriage program teaches better communication
Hal Runkel, founder of The ScreamFree Institute and licensed marriage and Family therapist, leads a session with Army parents last year at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Runkel will conduct ScreamFree Marriage Feb. 28 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Fort Rucker's Wings Chapel. Through the technique, couples are encouraged to focus inwardly and remain calm.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 14, 2013) -- All relationships have their ups and downs and their twists and turns, especially for military Families, so to help strengthen Fort Rucker Families, Army Community Service offers the ScreamFree Marriage Program to help bring Families closer together through respectful communication.

Installation Management Command and the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation are partnering with ScreamFree Marriage to bring the program to Fort Rucker for free, in hopes of bringing in people who may be worried about the hassle of seeking relationship advice, according to Luticia Trimble-Smith, Family advocacy program manager.

"We hope the workshop will reduce the chances that a partner is being emotionally or verbally abused and won't seek help. People [often] don't realize that when you put your partner down and say negative things to them all the time that that is a part of abuse. Emotional and verbal abuse are types of domestic violence," she said.

The workshop will be held for the first time on Fort Rucker in Bldg. 6036, Wings Chapel, Feb. 28 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The presentation includes a free chicken dinner provided by Picerne Military Housing and free childcare, but participants must be pre-registered by Feb. 21. People can pre-register by calling 255-3898, 255-9641 or 255-9644.

"At a private institution this program would cost around $75 per couple, so it is well worth it to come out and improve your marriage. You get the program for free, a free babysitter and a free dinner. Participants will also receive ScreamFree Marriage books and DVDs free of charge," said Trimble-Smith.

The workshop aims to be a "life-changing marriage event" where participants learn different ways to calm themselves down so they can communicate more effectively.

"It is about learning and being calm. It will help people respect each other better. Knowing you react poorly to certain situations is the first step. This workshop will help you look at yourself to see why you respond that way and what ways may be better," she said.

The workshop, developed and conducted by Hal Runkel, calls for people to look inside themselves.

"[Runkel] is trying to teach people to listen and understand before [they] open [their] mouths and say something [they] may regret later because [they] are frustrated or angry. Self-awareness is key in relationships. It is not looking to blame someone else in the relationship, but to take a step back and realize that you are responsible for how you react to your partner, and taking ownership of that and finding ways to calm yourself," said Trimble-Smith.

People do not have to be married to attend the event. It is open to all couples in the Fort Rucker Family, whether they are dating, engaged or thinking of getting engaged.

"Healthy marriages are good for our Families and if it is good for Army Families then it is good for the Army mission as a whole," said Trimble-Smith. "We want to strengthen Families and classes like this help reduce stress in a household."

The title of the workshop can be misleading, according to Trimble-Smith.

"Some people will think, 'Well, I don't scream at my spouse, so that is not for me.' It is not necessarily about yelling or screaming because in every relationship there is going to be some anxiety and stress. It is for people who argue and for people who don't. Everyone can get a lot out of attending," she said.

Using the silent treatment is one form of communication that is not endorsed by the program that some people may use on their partners, and Trimble-Smith said although people may think it is harmless, that it is a form of screaming.

"A lot of people may think screaming is not harmful, but the emotional neglect that follows is unhealthy and is just as damaging as screaming at your partner," she said.

The workshop is described as being very interactive, not as being lectured at by someone on a stage or having to sit through an endless PowerPoint.

"It is fun and people won't be bored, but it is not an in-your-face-training where people have to disclose personal information about themselves either.

"People loved the ScreamFree Parenting that we held last year, so we believe the sister program will have just as positive feedback," she said.

Officials encourage participants to come with their partners, but that if someone wants to attend and their partner cannot then that is fine as well.

"It is best for couples to attend together, but it is not necessary. If someone is single and feels the need to improve their communication skills for when they do find that special someone then they are more than welcome to attend, as long as they pre-register," said Trimble-Smith.

The buffet-style dinner will be before the workshop. People wanting to eat can show up a little early, but eating is permitted while the workshop is being conducted and is even encouraged.

Though the program is directly trying to improve marriages and romantic relationships, Trimble-Smith said that the workshop will help all inter-personal relationship communication.

"It is about enhancing relationships. It will benefit the entire Family because when the parents are happy and are able to communicate in a respectful, calm manner then the children will see that and hopefully imitate that and learn that there are other, more positive ways to communicate with each other. It can also help in dealing with people in the workplace. It will provide the tools to communicate in any situation where you have to work with others," she said.

Page last updated Thu February 14th, 2013 at 14:00