Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s Family Advocacy Program (FAP) holds regular workshops based on helping couples improve their relationships.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work’s next iteration will be on Feb. 14. Though the day might be different, the class will maintain its prime directive of helping couples better learn how to work together for a stronger connection.

“We like to keep the explanations very basic,” said David Phillips, the workshop’s instructor. “Think of it in terms of 90 and 10. You get home and 90 percent of things are great. If you’re noticing the 10 percent that aren’t, something’s wrong. We try to help couples focus on that 90 percent.”

The workshop is not purely lecture. Rather, couples can use exercises that promote communication.

“There are a lot of chances for interaction between couples,” said Debbie Burns, prevention & education clinical supervisor for FAP. “It is a great class for couples who are doing well but want to do better or ones who might be facing other issues.”

The class’ core principles are derived from Seattle researcher John Gottman who has studied relationships between couples for decades. Gottman’s methods are so advanced that he has achieved notoriety for being able to identify whether a couple would get a divorce with an over 90 percent success rate.

The class is strongly advocated for by other services on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune as well. U.S. Navy Cmdr. Brandon Harding, director for MCB Camp Lejeune’s Chaplain's Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO), has used the same principles in his counseling.

“I’ve been a fan of Gottman since 2004,” Harding said. “(In CREDO) We will take couples away for a weekend and have them practice the skills and grow from them. We try to look for an overlap in emotional intimacy.”

Phillips and Harding both agree that, when it comes to a relationship, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

“Just like you don’t wait for the check engine light to come on every time you get a tune up, you shouldn’t wait until you’re in a crisis to learn more,” Harding said.

“For couples approaching a crisis, this class can serve as a prelude to counseling,” Phillips explained. “It provides a baseline education for healthy behaviors. By investing eight hours you are saving countless more.”

The class will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Building 797, Room 5, on MCB Camp Lejeune. Couples are required to attend together. For more information visit