CAMP ZAMA (Aug. 21, 2020) – Money issues in marriage haven’t stopped due to COVID-19, and neither has the Camp Zama Religious Support Office when it comes to helping couples resolve those issues.
Chaplain (Maj.) Doug Ochner, U.S. Army Garrison Japan deputy chaplain, led the office’s first hour-long Money Matters Virtual Marriage Workshop from his office here Aug. 19, addressing subjects such as budgeting, financial affairs and buying a vehicle.
“On the list of issues couples argue about, finances usually ranks up there pretty high,” Ochner told the group of five couples gathered through Google Meet.
Thankfully, however, learning about personal finance and talking about money can improve a couple’s relationship as well as bottom line, Ochner said.
Different approaches to finances can actually improve a marriage, Ochner said.
“Opposites attract, right?” Ochner said asked. “The financial geek is going to be attracted to that free-spirited person who throws caution to the wind because that’s not who they are, and vice versa, but that’s where coming together, these differences really enhance marriage.”
Ochner encouraged participants to be satisfied with what they have, quoting a Japanese pastor he heard when he was lived in Japan in the 1980s.
“At the heart of debt is the mistaken belief that having more, newer, better stuff is satisfying,” Ochner recounted. “But how can stuff satisfy our hearts? It wasn’t made to. Were you made for the shirt you’re wearing or was it made for you?”
Couples who attended said they took the workshop to learn something new and make sure they were on the right track.
Heidi Clemons, who attended with her husband, Jay, said she is an Accredited Financial Counselor, and has taught financial classes, but participated because there is always more to learn.
“Finances are an important part of a good marriage and any extra insight into being aligned is helpful,” Clemons said.
It is essential that couples communicate about finances, Clemons said.
“Since money fights and money problems are the number one cause of divorce, and our military lifestyle adds extra challenges, I believe talking about finances can keep us (and all couples) better connected in finances, goals and other situations,” Clemons said.
Lamario Harris, who attended with his wife, Tiara, said they are well versed in the basics of personal finance, but recently made a renewed commitment to following their budget more closely, so they appreciated the chance to take the workshop.
“It takes discipline,” Harris said of following a budget. “It’s nice to have affirmation that you’re going in the right direction.”
Tiara Harris said she recommends couples take future workshops because they can get couples talking about money in a supportive environment.
The workshop can make conversations easier, allowing participants to suggest possible changes, she said.
Ochner said the Camp Zama Religious Support Office used to offer the workshops twice a month before COVID-19, but plans to offer them monthly, every third Wednesday, as long as the installation is under Health Protection Condition C (which limits the number of people who can meet in person).
After the seminar, the couples received a free dinner at either the Camp Zama Community Club or the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Club, Ochner said. The limit per couple was $30.
Ochner said the chaplain community as a whole is hosting the workshops, and different chaplains will hold them depending on the month.
“I’d just like to say I might be joining the next one as a participant,” Ochner said.
To contact the Camp Zama Religious Support Office, call (DSN) 315-263-4898 or (COMM) 046-407-4898.