Life in the military can put a strain on relationships, especially during deployment. Spouses often find themselves living far from their extended family and friends while their loved one is away. The Military Services recognize the challenges military duty can put on a marriage. To help, each Service branch offers programs designed to enrich marriages by helping couples develop better communication skills and rekindle the romance.
These programs are usually run by chaplains with the help of commanders, the Family Support Center, and installation family readiness programs. They are non-faith specific and are generally low-cost or free to service members and their spouses. Programs vary by Service branch and by installation, so check with the chaplain on your installation or the Family Support Center for programs in your area.
The Army program, Strong Bonds, is offered through installation chaplains. Strong Bonds is often offered in turn with the deployment cycle. However, workshops and marriage enrichment classes may be available at any time and are open to active duty, Guard, and Reserve service members. Besides workshops for couples, Strong Bonds also offers programs for single service members and families.
The Marine Corps marriage enrichment program is called the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). Open to married couples, as well as couples in a serious relationship, PREP is designed to enhance communication skills and build stronger relationships. Couples can benefit from this workshop, whether they are newlyweds or have been married for twenty years or more. The program is available at military installations through chaplains and Marine Corps Family Team Building.
Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operations (CREDO) offers a series of programs on Navy and Marine Corps installations and on Navy ships. Their Marriage Enrichment Retreats (MER) are designed to help couples focus on their relationships while enjoying food, fun, and romance. Couples also learn about handling conflict, growing their marriage, building intimacy and communication, and understanding each other. More information is available on the Navy's ChaplainCare website.
MarriageCare retreats are available to couples either pre- or post-deployment. The program began several years ago when chaplains noticed couples were having trouble adjusting after a deployment. Chaplains on Air Force installations may also offer marriage enrichment workshops or other programs. Check with your installation's chaplain to see what's available in your area.