Bob & Barbara Zielinski, founders of Marriage Management, were married in 1970. Bob enlisted into the Army two weeks later and did his Basic Training at Fort Dix, NJ. After a short active duty assignment teaching at the Signal Corps in Fort Gordon GA, Bob had a non-combat accident that affected his eyes and left the service with an Honorable medical discharge. Because of this unplanned event, Bob and Barbara immediately began having marital difficulties such as lack of communication and escalated arguments.
They sought out a civilian marriage retreat that helped their communication. As a result, they volunteered as presenting couple for many years afterward, eventually becoming the National Trainers for other facilitators. “We stayed involved because we needed the support to keep our own marriage intact, said Bob.”
In 1980, Bob & Barbara accepted an appointment by the University of Maryland, European Division, to deliver marriage retreats at 25 different U.S. Military Ordnance bases throughout Germany, where the divorce rate was over 70%! They worked directly with the USAEUR Chaplain Corps. “It was great to be able to serve my military brothers and sisters again, Bob says.” Barbara noted “I saw immediately that the communication problems we experienced back when Bob was discharged were very still very common among other military marriages – even in peacetime.”
“In 1985, a few years after the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall opened in DC,” Bob remembers, “we visited Washington and I walked the Wall. I was deeply affected that so many of my Vietnam Era Veterans did not come home while I did little more than put on the Uniform. I felt as though I owed my country a lot more than I gave.”
After a civilian marriage retreat Bob and Barbara were leading in 2006, one of the participant couples, SGT Tracy Reep, a wounded OIF Veteran, and his wife Elizabeth approached Bob and Barbara with an idea to bring this kind of specific marriage enrichment to fellow Veterans and Military. Along with advice and help from the Reeps and other Veteran couples, Bob & Barbara founded Marriage Management, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated “serving those who served our country and keeping Military and Veteran marriages from becoming a hidden casualty of war.”
The skyrocketing rate of divorces and tragedies among Military and Veteran marriages revealed the desperate unmet need for what Marriage Management had to offer: Real Tools, Taught by Real Veteran couples, to address the Real Challenges that Military and Veteran couples face.
Bob and Barbara have three children and a grandson. They continue to travel around Texas and the country bringing Marriage Management classes to Veterans and Military couples. They continue to improve their own marriage. “I finally have a real military mission again, with my wife as my trusted battle buddy” said Bob.
Accomplishments and Awards
Marriage Management Selected for 2010 “Newman's Own” Award
General James Cartwright, USMC, Vice-Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided remarks at the 11th annual Newman’s Own Award Ceremony at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes on September 1, 2010 and presented the award to Marriage Management Consultants (MMC) for delivering programs to improve the quality of military life. Pictured are Bob and Barbara Zielinski, Executive Directors, receiving the award from General Cartwright and Newman’s Own CEO Thomas Indoe.
Marriage Management Consultants (MMC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on providing free marriage education classes for military couples around the U.S. Numerous deployments and the stress of combat have contributed to sky rocketing divorce rates within military families. “Marriage should not be a casualty of war” says Barbara Zielinski, Co-Executive Director. Her husband of 40 years, Bob, who served in the Army, added “the men and women who have given up so much to defend our freedom deserve the opportunity to enjoy a healthy, happy marriage.”
Marriage Management won the award for presenting Military Marriage Enrichment programs which strengthen military marriages and enable couples to better cope with the unique marital stresses caused by combat, wounds or multiple deployments. MMC classes offer assistance for couples to reconnect and develop the communication and “marriage management” skills necessary to support a healthy marriage. Programs provide a safe place for husband and wife to find support and positive encouragement.
Marriage Management has presented military marriage enrichment programs throughout Texas, including the Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, the Armed Forces Joint Reserve Complex in Grand Prairie as well as in Fort Hood and San Antonio. This grant will allow more Texas programs to be offered this year in addition to classes at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, Camp Pendleton in California and Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
Newman’s Own, the Fisher House Foundation and the Military Times Media Group sponsored the competition that rewards innovative programs benefiting military service members and their families. A total of 138 entries were received for the 2010 program. Six judges evaluated each entry based on the organization’s impact, creativity and innovation.
Marriage Management Board Members attend a holiday reception at the home of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Directors of Marriage Management, Bob and Barbara Zielinski were recently invited to a holiday reception in Washington DC, at the home of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Mrs. Deborah Mullen. Bob and Barbara were "on duty" the day of the reception, delivering a Military Marriage Enrichment at Camp Pendleton, CA for a group of Marines from the 1st LAG (Light Artillery Group) who had returned from Afghanistan just a couple of weeks prior.
Dr. Tom Lozinski and his wife Dr. Roseann Lozinski, members of the Marriage Management Board of Advisors, were gracious enough to stand in and did a great job representing our cause. They met with some of the Wounded Warriors, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others concerned with ensuring our warriors are well treated for their sacrifices.
Pictured below (from left to right) are Dr. Roseann Lozinski, Admiral and Mrs. Mullen, and Dr. Tom Lozinski.
Bob and Barbara meet Admiral and Mrs. Mike Mullen
The Directors of Marriage Management, Bob and Barbara Zielinski attended the 2011 Newman’s Own Award Ceremony to honor this year’s winners. We were honored to have a moment to talk with Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He thanked us for our work with the military and encouraged us to continue this work in the face of so many more who will be returning from deployment. Adm. Mullen told us the real challenge for military families is yet to come, that is dealing with reintegration into family and society and that projects like ours are very needed.
We also had the privilege of talking with Mrs. Deborah Mullen, Adm. Mullen’s wife, who was a judge for the Newman’s Own awards and selected us for last year’s award. She complemented the Military Marriage Enrichment Project and told us we were ranked very high for this year’s competition as well and, like her husband, gave us incentive to continue helping military families.
Hail and Farewell Ceremony of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta invited Bob and Barbara Zielinski, Directors of MMC, to attend an Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Admiral Michael Mullen, the Seventeenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an Armed Forces Hail in honor of General Martin Dempsey, the Eighteenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Fort Myer VA. The President of the United States spoke and presided over the ceremony, which was attended by the Vice President and Joint Chiefs. We were surprised when the President opened the ceremonies with the announcement of the death of Anwar al-Awlaki. The morning was filled with parades by all five Military branch’s honor guard and performances by all five bands. Mrs. Deborah Mullen was also honored for her service to Military families. You may remember that Mrs. Mullen was one of the judges that selected Marriage Management for the Newman’s Own award. Admiral and Mrs. Mullen held a reception following the ceremonies and we enjoyed good food and the company of many friends and officials.
At the request of the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Directors of MMC also attended his first official duty, a ceremony where General Dempsey took the oath of office from the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia, USMC, at the Fort Myers Officers Club.
Marriage Management Executive Directors attend Wounded Warrior event, meet Secretary of Defense and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Bob and Barbara were honored with an invitation to Fort Myer, VA to enjoy a NFC tailgate event with Wounded Warriors from Walter Reed Army Hospital. They were greeted by Leon Panetta, Sectary of Defense, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey and his wife, and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral James Winnefeld and his wife.
Bob and Barbara pictured with (from top to bottom)
SECDEF Leon Panetta, CJCS General Martin Dempsey, VCJCS Admiral James Winnefeld