Fort Bragg couples are learning that basic training doesn’t only apply to the physical spectrum, but through a workshop offered by the Family Advocacy Program, couples learn that training also applies to good communication skills.

Couples Communication is offered twice monthly with the goal of teaching couples how to communicate on a deeper level and how to implement healthy communication practices, said Charles Pennington, FAP specialist.

Communication is a cycle that involves a sender, the message and a receiver, he explained, but it may be helpful to also think of it as food for a healthy relationship.

“If you think about the relationship as a living thing, then you have to feed it,” Pennington said. “If the positive communication is not there, then there’s nothing feeding the relationship.”

Staff Sgt. Albert Davis and his wife, June, attended a recent workshop at the Nijmegen/Cherbourg Community Center. The couple have been married 6 ½ years and are the parents of three children, ages 3 to 8 years old. The class seemed ideal because FAP offers childcare vouchers for free Child, Youth and School Services hourly care.

“We can always work on our communication,” said Albert, who is assigned to the Fayetteville Recruiting Company.

Sgt. Joshua Lundy, of the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment said he attended the workshop aware that he is not a good communicator and that he is someone who loves to “hold everything in.”

When Pennington asked couples to identify goals they wanted to achieve, some included getting a set of rules and principles needed to be on one accord with one’s spouse and gathering better communication skills.

In turn, Pennington told couples to pay attention to body language when communicating with one’s spouse.

“Body language speaks so much more than words and the tone,” he explained. “Think about the posture someone takes when communicating negatively; think about what your body looks like when you’re relaxed.”

It’s easier for a spouse to broach communication at a time when body language is more positive than negative, he explained.

Additionally, Pennington offered tips for being a better listener by using the E.A.R. acronym — be empathetic, appreciative and reflective of what the spouse is communicating.

He also encouraged couples to try to avoid conflict by following the F.I.R.E. model — face one’s spouse, show interest, respect the speaker and maintain eye contact.

Other communication tips offered were:

Don’t be overbearing

Monitor for spousal feedback

Acknowledge difficulty while moving forward and do not have a “so what” attitude.

The class was very informative, said Lundy.

June agreed.

“This information is very helpful in learning how to communicate with my spouse and anyone else. He (Pennington) is bringing up things that I have never thought of, and showing me other things in a different light,” explained June, who encourages others to participate in FAP workshops.

“They (classes) help build better skills for life. They’re free. They offer free childcare,” she said. “It’s just a good way to build up your own life toolkit.”

Couples Communication is one of several classes offered by FAP. Others include Parenting 1- to 4-Year Olds, ScreamFree Parenting, Living with Anger, Spouse’s Battle Buddy Training Day, and Stress Management.

For more information about upcoming workshops and other FAP resources, call 396-5521 or visit www.bragg.armymwr.com/us/bragg/programs/fap.