Photo Information

Navy Lieutenant Commander Aaron Kleinman presents a class titled “How to Succeed at Intimate Relationships” at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 12, 2016. The class was part of the iRelate program designed to encourage healthier relationships, decrease divorce rates and improve unit readiness by allowing Marines to make informed decisions about relationships. Kleinman, from Norfolk, Va., is the chaplain for Assault Amphibian School Battalion, School of Infantry – West. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel

Love is a battlefield: Marines train to combat divorce

19 Jan 2016 | Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel I Marine Expeditionary Force

The Marine Corps is known for finding ways to overcome any challenge, but not every fight is on the battlefield.

Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Aaron Kleinman, the chaplain for Assault Amphibian School Battalion, School of Infantry – West, presented a program succeeding at intimate relationships as part of the iRelate program, Jan. 12.

The iRelate program, which focuses on jumior enlisted, is made up of three different classes designed to help Marines make informed decisions whether they are already married, currently engaged, or are preparing for future relationships.

“iRelate was originally developed by Chaplain Michael Foskett as part of his thesis,” said Kleinman, a native of Norfolk, Virginia. “It is now a Loma Linda University PhD study being sponsored by I Marine Expeditionary Force.”

According to Kleinman, Marines can lose up to 90 work days while going through a divorce as well as emotional and physical health consequences. This stress can severely impact the combat readiness of a Marine, and in turn, the readiness of the unit.

The classes focused on intimate relationship awareness and used facts and statistics to disprove myths about marriage and long-term relationships.

“The most common misconception about marriage is that love is all you need,” said Kleinman. “People, especially junior Marines, go into marriage looking at it from a perspective of what they are going to get from it rather than what they are going to have to put in to make it work.”

Sergeant Danielle Auld, an ammunition technician with I MEF Logistics Office, said that the training did a good job of breaking down the information to show how relationships progress based on the effort and perspective of the people involved.

“They showed how all marriages aren’t going to be great all the time, you have to work for it,” said Auld from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “You have to find yourself and be the person that the person you want to find is looking for.”

Countless books and classes are available to prepare couples for the ups and downs of long-term relationships, but iRelate gives unique insight into marriage for Marines.

“It’s the first marriage program that’s been developed from the ground up by Marines for Marines,” said Kleinman. “Most of the data that’s drawn for the iRelate presentation comes from a study of I MEF Marines.”

According to Kleinman, Loma Linda University is monitoring the program to provide accurate measurements of its long-term effectiveness, but that it really comes down to each individual who attends the classes.

“The real impact comes from whether a young Marine is willing to take on some of what they have learned and actually make a change,” said Kleinman.

The other classes in the series are pre-marital training and marriage enrichment, which provide hands-on assistance to Marines and their spouses, not just for mental and emotional preparation, but filing official paperwork and command involvement.

The relationship awareness training the second Tuesday of every month and the marital trainings the fourth Tuesday of every month encourage healthier relationships, decrease divorce rates, and improve unit readi