By Spc. Rommel Forde | 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
FORT CARSON, Colo. — The Strong Bonds program is a unit-based, chaplain-led program that aims to assist Soldiers and Family members through teaching resiliency and strengthening techniques. Families learned how to cope with common stressors indicative of the military lifestyle June 7, 2019.
Soldiers and spouses from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division participated in the Strong Bonds event held at the Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs.
“As a chaplain I feel greatly rewarded when couples come to a Strong Bonds event and recognize that all of us can grow in our marriage and relationships,” said Capt. Victor A. Matos, chaplain, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st SBCT. “Couples keep the interaction real and caring, and leave with a sense of freshness and encouragement as they work toward having the best marriage they can achieve.”
In order to maximize the training, Strong Bonds is held in venues external to post. This allows couples to momentarily disassociate with the stressors of Army life and focus primarily on their relationships. The relationship training at the event is designed to inspire a fun and secure atmosphere, which encourages couples to address the challenges and concerns engendered by military life.
“Being a military couple takes work, patience and time, especially with our busy schedule,” said 2nd Lt. John R. Lowe, battalion chemical officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st SBCT. “Marriage is something that needs constant work and nourishment. Having an opportunity like strong bonds provides a place to have fun, learn and meet other military couples in similar situations.”
Each Strong Bonds event varies but the couples at this particular event spent most of their time engaged in an interactive dialogue. They discussed vital topics such as deployments, moving, training, children and jobs. Additionally, each couple received the opportunity to learn about the five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Couples explored the five love languages in depth and learned how they can further strengthen their relationships.
“By learning each other’s love language, we are better able to fill our spouse’s ‘love tank’ and when our love tank is full, we are more open to the requests of our spouses,” Matos said.
Each couple that attended the event was provided a copy of the book, “The Five Love Languages — Military Edition.” The book details the intricacies of the five love languages and its interplay in different couples’ relationships. It illuminates the ways in which couples communicate and express key emotions. By identifying and learning to speak each other’s primary love language, couples can achieve a long-lasting, loving marriage.
“I am delighted to introduce tools, principles and practices in a safe community environment in support of closer marital relationships, healthier communication and deeper intimacy,” Matos said. “It is extremely rewarding when couples recognize there are always opportunities to grow in the relationship, and a key recipe for long-term success involves putting our spouse’s best interests ahead of our own. If both spouses are willing to do this, the long-term rewards will exceed expectations. It is worth trying.”
At the end of the event, each couple left with a wealth of information and new tools to further grow their relationships.
“Strong Bonds was a very enriching experience, which provided my husband and I a solid understanding on how to communicate and understand each other better,” said Alexandra Del Valle. “Going to Strong Bonds was extremely beneficial and taught us some important lessons and tools to use in our marriage. Marriage is work and this is one way to make it fun for both people.”