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Heroes in Uniform Become Heroes at Home

Transformed Couple Builds Marriage Program that Enriches Military Families

Noel Meador and his wife Karissa struggled during their first three years of marriage.

“I was working eighty hours a week as a pastor,” says Noel. “I didn’t realize that Karissa and I had very different ideas of what it meant to be married and to be in the ministry.”

Noel Meador

Noel Meador

Friends and family members saw the couple’s conflict and encouraged them to take pro-active steps to save their marriage.

When Noel and Karissa agreed that divorce was not an option, they got counseling and worked hard to build a healthy relationship. That meant sharing their feelings, discovering their different personalities, and learning how to appreciate the other person.

“God did an amazing work,” says Noel. The couple emerged on the other side of their struggles with a passion to help other couples build strong marriages and strong families. Together they created the Lasting Relationships marriage enrichment program (Portland, OR) which impacts thousands of couples in the Pacific Northwest.

And their experience opened the door to an even greater ministry opportunity.

Build Stronger Families Among Our Service Members

In 2009 Noel was invited to join the staff of Stronger Families, a nonprofit based in Seattle, WA. Soon after he signed on as marketing director, the Stronger Families team asked Noel to pilot an experiential marriage enrichment program for service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He and Karissa designed a relationship curriculum based on their previous material but specific to military members, veterans, and first responders, whose unique occupational experiences add stressors that impact relationships and families.

“Service members are highly-trained in their specialties,” says Noel. “Our approach needed to mimic that intensity, be highly experiential, and offer a clear action plan.”

The result was OXYGEN for Your Relationships, a suite of marriage enrichment tools that have impacted more than 40,000 users at 76 military installations worldwide.

When couples attend an OXYGEN seminar led by a certified trainer, they complete an OXYGEN Profile Assessment. The assessment is a personalized roadmap that gives spouses insights into their personalities, motivators, ways to communicate better, and ways to adapt to the other’s strengths.

Noel worked with Rodney Cox at Ministry Insights to develop the OXYGEN Profile Assessment, which is patterned after the Leading From Your Strengths profile. “Rodney helped us to streamline this tool to give couples some practical next steps,” says Noel. “The assessment is really reliable.”

Ministry Insights routinely extends its mission to transform relationships worldwide by working with like-minded organizations, adapting its patented assessment technology for ministries like Stronger Families. This way, partner organizations save a small fortune and Ministry Insights helps supercharge their work.  “We’re thrilled to partner with Stronger Families team and offer this special licensing agreement,” says Rodney. “It is a way for Ministry Insights to extend its mission in a meaningful way.”

Build Stronger Families with Faith-Infused Content

While the OXYGEN curriculum doesn’t tout scripture, its content is faith-driven and based on biblical principles.

That’s a selling point for military and first responders, who may hesitate to use materials that are promoted as Bible-based. “Many OXYGEN participants probably don’t attend chapel on a Sunday morning, but are willing to come to a marriage experience,” says Noel.

More often than not, Stronger Families partners with base chaplains to bring the material to those they serve. “Chaplains love the fact that the OXYGEN experience is faith neutral,” says Noel. The experience opens the door for service members to get the help they need to build a stronger marriage. Afterward, chaplains then have a tool they can use to follow up with the soldiers, seamen, and airmen and offer longer-term spiritual care.

Build Stronger Marriages Among Our Heroes

Couples routinely share their stories about the impact of OXYGEN with the Stronger Families team.

Ben and Katie are among them. They were stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona but lived separately with the intent to divorce. Ben had admitted to having multiple extra-marital affairs. Katie lived with their three children, all under the age of six.

Yet Ben wanted to repair his marriage. The base chaplain told him about the OXYGEN conference in Sedona, two hours away. Ben reached out to Katie and asked her if she would attend. “We can have separate rooms,” he said. “But maybe this is one way we can work through our challenges.”

Katie agreed to go, but with a caveat: she was willing to attend the conference only so that the two could communicate better while they co-parented their children. She would not reconcile with Ben.

The weekend experience radically changed Ben’s life.

“I didn’t know who my husband was,” says Katie. “His response gave me a glimmer of hope and allowed me to see who this man could become.”

Following the OXYGEN weekend, Ben and Katie entered into 12-weeks of intense counseling. They used their OXYGEN Profile Assessments to begin to understand each other and how they could work to be stronger together.

A year later, the couple returned to the same conference. “We are not only living together, but we have also renewed our vows,” said Ben. “OXYGEN literally saved our marriage.” Ben and Katie are now working together to offer support and encouragement to other airmen and their spouses to help them strengthen their marriages.

Military members and first responders are often caught in between what their job demands and what they are receiving at home.

“Our military and first responders are amazing people who have sacrificed so much,” says Noel. “Through the OXYGEN experience, we give them tools they can use to be great spouses while being great soldiers, too.”

Noel Meador, President & CEO for Stronger Families, has worked in marriage education and pastoral counseling since 2001. He and his wife Karissa co-creators of the OXYGEN for Your Relationships Seminar, which has been deployed on over 76 military installations worldwide. Noel and Karissa have four children and make their home in Seattle, WA.

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