WASHINGTON - They are the Pentagon's new "rules of engagement" â€” the diamond ring kind. U.S. Army chaplains are trying to teach troops how to pick the right spouse, through a program called "How To Avoid Marrying a Jerk."
The matchmaking advice comes as military family life is being stressed by two tough wars. Defense Department records show more than 56,000 in the Army â€” active, National Guard and Reserve â€” have divorced since the campaign in Afghanistan started in 2001.--Not that prolonged separations, extremely stressful jobs and financial struggles don't tend to be quite effective at breaking up marriages. Nooooo!!!! Blame the spouse. Blame the family. It's not the Pentagon's fault! Really!
"Being in the military certainly raises the stakes when you choose a mate," said Lt. Col. Peter Frederich, head of family issues in the Pentagon's chaplain office.
The "no jerks" program is also called "P.I.C.K. a Partner," for Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge.
It advises the marriage-bound to study a partner's F.A.C.E.S. â€” family background, attitudes, compatibility, experiences in previous relationships and skills they'd bring to the union.
It teaches the lovestruck to pace themselves with a R.A.M. chart â€” the Relationship Attachment Model â€” which basically says don't let your sexual involvement exceed your level of commitment or level of knowledge about the other person.Wow. They got three -- count 'em! 3!!! -- acronyms into the program! Those are marks of military efficiency, folks!
The Bush administration proposes to spend $5.6 billion in the next budget year for quality-of-life services for troops and their families.
That includes help with child care, education, spouse job hunting, legal assistance, commissaries, relocation counseling â€” programs on every family issue imaginable â€” to promote stability, and thus troop readiness.If it weren't for the pork, one would marvel at Republicans showing such interest in actually nurturing families. After all, when it comes to the working poor and unemployed, child care, education, job assistance, legal aid and food stamps are all targets of GOP spending cuts (to pay for their tax cuts for CEOs and massive pork-barrel spending they passed in 2005).
And, of course, paying our soldiers and Marines what they're worth is completely off the table. (Their lobbyists are out-spent by those working for Halliburton, obviously.)
No, it's better to blame the spouses. After all, any self-respecting wife should be delighted to spend her days and nights alone with the babies, eating macaroni and cheese dinners and avoiding all the dunning phone calls from the credit card companies demanding their pound of flesh, while hubby is off in some faraway land on some mission that even today is largely undefined.
But maybe, just maybe, instead of passing the buck to spouses who struggle under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, the Pentagon might look upstairs at who's pushing a foreign policy that strains our armed forces by participating in Iraq's civil war. After all, I hear that there's a War on Terror going on. Maybe instead of being caught in the crossfire in Iraq, our armed forces should be focusing on that.