Guard couple help others develop “Strong Bonds”

Story by Chief Warrant Officer Joseph P. Lyddane, 138th Fires Brigade

Thanksgiving2011 073

Capt. Phil Majcher and his wife Tami have a passion for helping Kentucky’s miltary families. Through the Kentucky National Guard’s Strong Bonds Program, they’re reaching out to show married couples how to communicate. (Photo courtesy Phil and Tami Majcher)

COVINGTON, Ky. — As the Kentucky Army National Guard continues to conduct operations in support of the war on terror, the Soldiers and families thereof continue to combat their own conflicts in the form of reintegration. The spouse who remains home assumes the daily tasks as if nothing changed when in reality they now have acquired the responsibilities of the father, the mother, comforter, disciplinarian, bill payer, banker, to name a few.

The acceptance of divorce in American society as a ‘way out’ has impacted Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors alike and created staggering divorce rates amongst all branches. This reality has altered or in some instances removed the meaning of marriage all together. The Armed Forces must be willing to acknowledge this disparity and offer assistance to the ones who are willing to sacrifice so much.

For those willing to put forth the effort, there is a program that allows military couples to police themselves and essentially, start where they left off. Chaplain Phil Majcher is a Kentucky National Guard State Support Chaplain as well as the 1/623rd Fires Battalion chaplain. Together with Tami, his wife of twenty-two years, he recently conducted a Strong Bonds Marriage Enrichment Seminar in Covington, Kentucky on January 24-26, 2014, but with a different emphasis than their predecessors.

strong bonds logo

“The thing that impresses me the most is that the military acknowledges that the strength of family increases and supports the readiness of the Soldier,” said Majcher. “’Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage’ taught us some fundamental differences between men’s brains and women’s brains. Other programs, like PREP, taught us how to communicate without having our differences escalate out of control.”Tami echoed her husband’s sentiment. “The military believes so much in this that they are willing to invest in this program to support the family. That investment includes putting the couple up in a great hotel for the weekend, offer state of art training that includes time to practice what they are learning, providing meals for the participants and child care is offered to those couples with children.”

Click here for more information on the Kentucky National Guard Chaplain Corps and the Strong Bonds Program.

One enthusiast of Strong Bonds is State Command Sergeant Major Thomas Chumley, who was on hand to see some of the training. He expressed the importance of marriage, making reference to his wife of over thirty years.

“As a husband, I have found, with the support of my wife, our bond makes a world of difference for me to accomplish my mission,” said Chumley. “A relationship requires good communications to work. A good marriage takes thought and work and they don’t just happen overnight. Military life puts a lot of stress on marriages and this is the reason the Kentucky Guard leadership supports the Strong Bonds program.”

SRR_0285

“A good marriage takes thought and work and they don’t just happen overnight,” says State Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley. “Military life puts a lot of stress on marriages and this is the reason the Kentucky Guard leadership supports the Strong Bonds program.” (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

The seminar incorporates and offers advice that covers most of the problems that marriages experience during reintegration. The topics of personality conflicts, sexual misunderstandings, society misconceptions, forgiveness, and the differences between men and women’s brain configuration not only helps couples understand why things are not the same as they were prior to deployment but helps resolve some of the problems they have experienced in the past as well. The participating couples are provided with tools that provide them a chance to see how to succeed in life, what motivates them and how they are different from those they are close to.

The Majchers offered their own personal testimony and were available throughout the duration of the weekend to answer questions or provide guidance and assistance. The program is designed to remove the stressors of the normal environment and other distracting stimuli. Every step is taken to ensure exclusivity towards achieving the couple’s goals thus allowing them to reset their marriage, apologize for the past, and move forward as one autonomous unit.

“I literally heard a couple tell us at this event that they have talked more in the last couple hours than they have in the last year,” said Majcher. “During the training events, I have seen couples really get serious about their marriage.”

Majcher said that in every event one or both of the participants suddenly get an “ah ha!” moment where they understand why a particular thing happens in their marriage and how that can change it for the better.”

“Not to mention, a lot of the couples start dating again,” he said.

“You must really believe in this program to join up with your husband and present it to others. Some wives might think working with their husband is an obstacle,” said Tami. “I believe in marriage and I know it’s hard work. It takes two people. It just seems right to do this together. We look forward to doing these events together and expect to do more.”

Strong Bonds Family Event package