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Airman learns communication skills in resiliency class

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jake Eckhardt
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
This article is part of a feature series on how military members and their families apply skills learned in base resilience course by Airman 1st Class Jacob Eckhardt.

The divorce rate in America is about 50 percent and one main contributing factor that leads to divorce is the lack of communication, according to a study done by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Airman 1st Class Howard Spitzenberger, 15th Operational Weather Squadron forecaster, said he used the skills he learned in the resiliency class at Scott in October of 2011 to enhance communication between him and his wife of three years.

"The first two years of our marriage were rocky," he said. "I didn't know how to express myself to her. I love her, and I wanted her to know that I loved her."

According to Spitzenberger, the most helpful part of the class was active-constructive responding. This segment teaches participants that there are four different ways to respond to what a person says, but only one of the ways to respond will positively build the relationship.

"When she used to come to me with good news, I would respond with something like 'that's good.' I realized that I was communicating in a passive-constructive way. I would acknowledge them, but not give a proper response for what it was."

Recognizing the problem gave him a better understanding of how what he said affected his wife.

"I put these new techniques into practice soon after the class," he said. "When she talked to me about something that she was excited about, I talked to her about it, I asked her about it and I got excited with her about it."

His relationship with his wife and his work has taken a more positive stance since he began using the active-constructive response technique.

"About three or four weeks ago, she came to me and told me that she really appreciated how I was paying attention to her," he said. "We have been fighting a lot less. I am also able to focus a lot more at work, because I'm not worried about my home life."

Spitzenberger believes that the reason he wasn't able to open up properly to his wife was due to the lack of examples of good marriages that he was exposed to in his life.

"I noticed that I had treated my wife with the same passive attitude as my mother did with my father. I believe the issues have come from not having a good example."

His two-year-old daughter, Chloe, also motivated him to become a good husband.

"I believe when you get married, you don't get married to break up," he said. "It's a promise to be together forever. Since my daughter was born, my wife and I aren't just committed to each other for each other; we are committed to each other for our daughter as well."