FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Some Soldiers and civilians learned ways to keep relationships healthy during an Army Community Services' Lunch and Learn session April 14 at the Wings Chapel Annex.

The Lunch and Learn series supports Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Leslie George, a Family Advocacy Program social worker, said sexual abuse can occur in an "established relationship," such as a marriage.

To reduce anger and frustration, George discussed "dirty fighting techniques" and ways to avoid them.

She said sometimes couples pick a wrong time to argue about issues with each other, such as during a favorite TV show or when their partners are already in a frustrated mood. George suggested dropping the issues until the parties cool off or are in better positions to discuss them.

"You want to go back to it because it'll keep coming up. A time out is not putting up a wall - it's a planned break," she said.

Many "dirty fighting" techniques often do not address the main issue, such as escalating, cross-complaining or pulling rank. Escalation happens when couples attack each others' personalities or question the relationship's validity, and cross-complaining occurs when couples state other problems in response to the first issue.

Pulling rank includes statements such as "I'm older than you," or "I make more money than you." These techniques have no place in any argument because they do not address the initial issue, George said.

Some issues stem from the way certain statements are framed, including asking "why" questions and giving advice. "Why" questions, such as, "Why do you leave dirty dishes out'" are not "honest." George suggests making statements like, "Please put dirty dishes in the sink."

Giving advice can create a superiority-inferiority imbalance in a relationship, she noted.

To avoid other issues, George recommends making "I feel" statements.

"'You' statements put people on the defensive," said Joni Martin, another FAP social worker.
Martin encouraged those in attendance to practice the techniques and not give up.
"This is hard. We aren't born knowing how to do this," she said. "It takes time."

One Soldier found the information helpful.

"It put me on point to stuff I do," said Pvt. Latoya Jackson, an AIT student. "I realize how not to do those things, how some things can hurt people."

She said the training can help any Army Family, especially since Families endure stress from deployments.

"It's good because of (their) career. When you get deployed, these classes help with the problems," she said.

The last Lunch and Learn session occurs Wednesday at noon at the Wings Chapel Annex. A Flowers Hospital representative discusses the medical examination process.