By G. Anthonie Riis | Fort Knox NewsJuly 18, 2019
The overall health of Soldiers' Families has direct ties to their ability to cope with Army life.
So says Fort Knox Family Life Chaplain (Maj.) Jonathan Lee. He recently explained that the health of Soldiers' Families also has direct ties to how well they are able to serve in the armed forces.
"Many Soldiers have Families, and it is a great foundation for their stability of many of them, but in many cases because of the conflict between wives and husbands, many Soldiers are stressed out, and it really affects their performance and their attitude at work," said Lee.
Lee said stress is a major reason for the existence of the family life chaplains.
"Our main job is to provide support and help for Soldiers and their Families to improve their communication skills and to make their relationships better and better able to handle the stresses of military life," said Lee. "No divorce is happy, and I find that most of the Soldiers don't want to get divorced. [The prospect of] that is a huge stressor and failure for them.
Lee said some skills require baby steps to learn to communicate better and learn to connect emotionally.
Marriage counseling is perhaps the best resource family life chaplains offer, but it usually just the start, said Lee.
"It doesn't always [start] the same way. Sometimes, couples begin counselling and we encourage them to attend a Strong Bonds training event to use some of the techniques and exercises. Other times, it's after a Strong Bonds weekend that couples realize they need some extra counseling," Lee said.
Counseling then becomes a means for finding problems and discussing solutions, which Lee said leads to the most success for couples who keep working at it.
"They've got to realize that they're in trouble, and that they've got to do something drastic to turn it around; then stick to that process to make it work," Lee said. "Their marriage will need to become their priority."
Lee said making the marriage the primary thing may mean making individual disagreements secondary.
"This isn't a presidential debate. They're not trying to win a contest," said Lee. "[When] there is empathetic listening with eye contact, when you're not arguing to win your point and you're not judging each other, you can carefully listen to each other and the relationship wins."
When couples stop fighting each other, it's important to find a common enemy to fight, said Lee. Debt can be one of those enemies.
"Finances and debt put a huge strain on marriages," Lee said. "If we can get spouses working to eliminate debt, we can help them reduce a huge strain to most marriages."
Lee said family life chaplains aren't the only counselors available to help marriages. He suggests Families visiting Army Community Service family life counselors as another viable option for those looking for help without spiritual influence.
Both chaplains and counselors provide counseling services in areas as diverse as anger management, coping skills, deployment stress and resiliency.
Family life chaplains can be reached at 502-624-5255. Family life counselors can be reached at 502-624-6291.