Marriage Management
Staff Sgt. Ricardo Walker and his wife, Mary, hold hands as they discuss things that their partner does to irritate them during a Valentine's Day marriage workshop at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic in Killeen, Texas, Feb. 12. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

KILLEEN, Texas — Several Fort Hood couples spent their Valentine’s Day weekend taking the time to strengthen their marriage through Marriage Management, a workshop designed specifically for veteran and military couples held at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic here, Feb. 12.

“Barbara always says that every relationship has challenges and it’s not those problems that make a bad marriage, it’s how you handle them,” Bob Zielinski said about his wife and fellow instructor of the workshop.

The workshop helps couples identify what kinds of things trigger them and introduces skills that couples can use to better their communication.

“It just opens up the conversation to increase our awareness of each other and also things we can do to improve our marriage,” Mary Caloca, wife of Army veteran Gio Caloca said about the biggest thing she learned. “I think a lot of communication is done after things have bothered us and this is about taking the time to talk about things that might grow out of proportion later on.”

Bob and Barbara have led workshops like this for more than 45 years, a mere two years after the former military couple were first married.

“When Bob went into the military, there were no resources available,” Barbara said. “We were a young, newly-married couple in trouble and there was no place to go.”

The couple began attending marriage workshops through their church and felt the calling to help other military couples the best way they know how – to understand each other’s feelings.

“I like that it’s very honest. It’s just between your relationship and not everyone else,” commented Lisa Wright, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy Wright. “It’s good to focus on just your relationship and not have to focus on other people.”

Jimmy said he thinks the most useful tool they were introduced to was the Relationship Attachment Model, a magnetic board designed to show their significant other how they feel on any given day. If, for example, a member in the relationship had a bad day at work, he or she may not want to be touched, which is one of the topics shown on the Relationship Attachment Model.

Barbara said that while all marriages have their issues, they discovered that there are extra issues inherent with the military that need to be addressed. Through the workshop, they help military couples learn various tools to improve communication or make sure the communication is healthy.

“We cannot eliminate the stress in their lives, but we can give them ways to manage it and deal with it,” she said.

“We hope they walk away with some of these tools – the physical tools, mental tools, emotional tools – and kind of take this to heart and say, ‘When I’m triggered I’m going to handle it a different way now,’” Bob added.

Because of their passion for helping military couples, they feel that it is important for the workshops to be free for military and veterans. They received a grant from the Fund for Veterans Assistance from the Texas Veterans Commission and have also partnered with United Way.