Marriage Advance held at Camp Humphreys

 Chap. (Col.) Tony Petros, 8th Army command chaplain, and his wife Tricia, speak as members of a panel during Marriage Advance, July 25, at the Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel. (Photo by Monica K. Guthrie)
Chap. (Col.) Tony Petros, 8th Army command chaplain, and his wife Tricia, speak as members of a panel during Marriage Advance, July 25, at the Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel. (Photo by Monica K. Guthrie)

Marriage Advance held at Camp Humphreys

by Monica K. Guthrie
USAG Humphreys

CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – More than 30 couples attended an event designed to help them learn more about themselves and strengthen their marriages. The event, Marriage Advance, took place July 25, at the Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel and focused on Biblical teachings, understanding how past trauma may impact their behavior, and a question-and-answer panel with married couples.

Staff Sergeant Cecil Smith, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, said Camp Humphreys is his first duty station with his wife and they chose to attend Marriage Advance in order to strengthen his marriage.

“No marriage is 100 percent, top-tier perfect, and everybody has flaws,” said Smith. “You can learn a lot from (other couples) in marriage situations, that you might not have considered before but can help you and your family grow.”

The free event began with a catered meal where couples could interact with other couples before moving on to the three-part program. The first segment was led by U.S. Air Force Chap. (Lt. Col.) Ralph Elliott, United States Forces Korea deputy command chaplain, and focused on how the Bible encourages couples to engage with one another. The second, led by Chap. (Maj.) Jesse McCullough, Special Operations Command Korea, allowed participants to learn how childhood events can impact behaviors today. The final section was led by Chap. (Capt.) Justin Wax, 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion, who spoke on grace and forgiveness.

“We have some excellent chaplains, and the community is truly fortunate and blessed to have such an all-star cast,” said Elliott. “Because we are overseas, so many couples are away from family and home and what they’re comfortable with (…) so for some spouses that’s a struggle and that may cause some conflict in their marriage and relationships.”

Elliott says providing support for spouses who are struggling with being overseas is one reason for having Marriage Advance. High work stress for active duty and government employees, along with anxiety can also interfere with the marriage relationship says Elliott.

“It’s so important for us to do these consistently throughout the year to help couples decompress and take a knee,” said Elliott. “It’s aways good to attend some kind of martial workshop, just to improve, to make things better, to learn more about themselves (and) to remain humble.”

McCullough said organizers of Marriage Advance are intentional about creating times to pause and learn what God says about marriage, along with providing practical lessons on how to grow in your marriage. McCullough believes being with others helps create environments where couples can grow together.

“Because (God) designed us to be in community, he gave us communities to grow and bear one another’s burdens (and) to teach,” said McCullough. “So, all of that comes into play at these Marriage Advances, where couples can just come into a place where they can put their kids in childcare, eat some food, fellowship, learn together, and just leave here, hopefully, going in a better direction.”

Smith echoed McCullough saying he attended Marriage Advance primarily to strengthen his marriage but also to find a community for his family.

“With this being our first duty station together I really want to get involved with a community and what better than a church for my wife and I, and our children, to get involved with,” said Smith. “I feel like being involved in this type of positive community, where everyone looks out for each other and has the same belief system to a certain degree, would help us grow stronger as a family and in our faith.”

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