Marriage is a 24/7 task whether you're newlyweds or partners celebrating your 25th anniversary.
Couples seeking ways to improve their relationship or are preparing for marriage should consider participating in the Family Life Ministry and Training Center's free Marriage Workshop.
The workshop, conducted the second Wednesday of each month, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., covers topics such as building a warm marital climate, avoiding danger signs and handling conflicts.
"It's just an opportunity for our marriages to get better," said Chaplain (Maj.) Chuck Scott, Family Life Ministry and Training Center director. "It's all about learning new things to help you understand your spouse or potential spouse a lot better."
Marriage Workshop participants receive training and insight from the training center counselors, who conduct discussions, display video clips and lead exercises designed to help couples become better within their relationships. Activities include partners listing positive qualities about their loved-ones and learning communication techniques to deal with hardships. Counselors share their own experiences in marriage and they also direct participants to books and other learning resources.
"We try to make the learning hands-on and not simply a lecture," Scott said. "We hope to enrich participants' marriages."
The training helps participants become more resilient because they're better able to overcome disagreements and hardships that arise during their relationships, Scott said. Scott encourages military members to take the course because it will provide them insight on how to improve their home life, which will allow them to better focus on their missions at work.
"Home life directly impacts the military person's effectiveness," Scott said. "The strength of the military is dependent on the strength of the military person and the strength of the military person is only as strong as their Family and their home life."
One area the workshop won't help participants is with specific personal problems. The workshop provides insight and education on identifying, avoiding and overcoming common pitfalls for all marriages but counselors won't devote time to help couples overcome individual issues.
"We're not going to focus on one person's issues because there's not enough time to deal with their issues," Scott said. "We can address, in general, how couples can repair relationships that have been broken but not specifics of one relationship."
Couples with specific issues should consider setting up an appointment to speak with a Family Life and Ministry Training Center counselor one-on-one.
The workshop and one-on-one counseling is open to all married or engaged military couples whether they are active-duty, retired, Reserve, National Guard, Department of the Army civilians or Family members. Members of all faiths are welcome to attend the workshop. Protestant couples receive credit toward fulfilling the necessary minimum of seven hours of pre-marital counseling before being allowed to marry in a Fort Belvoir Chapel.
"We encourage couples to make learning a lifelong adventure," Scott said. "We encourage couples to keep learning in marriage and always get help when they need it because we all need help at times."
Call (703) 805-2742 at least one week in advance to register for the monthly workshop. The center will provide lunch and snacks.