I love learning tricks and hacks. Especially when it comes to marriage and relationships. In addition to officiating weddings and working with couples directly, I have a podcast. The main purpose of the podcast is to help couples navigate engagement. We want to help couples prepare for their wedding, but also prepare for marriage. The podcast allows me to share a little of my knowledge and experience. But selfishly, I enjoy the conversations. I get to meet interesting people and truthfully, I learn way more from the guests than anything I have to share.
On a recent podcast, I was interviewing Charles Crouch. You can listen to the episode here. He is a very smart and accomplished leader. Charles is a former Navy Seal who now works with married couples. His approach is called Seal Your Marriage.
We had a great conversation, and during the interview, he gave me a simple throwaway nugget of wisdom that has stayed with me. Partly because I have sons in the military, but also because it is such good advice.
Ranger Beads or Navigation Beads
Admittedly, I had never heard of them. My oldest son is a Staff Sergeant and Infantry Squad leader in the 82nd Airborne division of the Army and has his Ranger tab. My second son is in the 1st Infantry Division. But I had never heard of these beads. So, I decided to do a little research on my own and I asked my oldest son Camden to fill in the rest.
Pace counting, or tally stepping is a long practiced military technique. Pace beads are popular with Army Rangers, Army Special Forces units such as the Green Berets and Delta Force, Navy Seals, and the British Army's SAS (Special Air Service). The photograph on the left shows a set of Ranger Beads.
The English mile is based on the ancient Roman soldier's mile. The Latin phrases "mille passus," or "milia passuum," meant a "thousand paces" The word was eventually shortened to the English word "mile.” The average soldier walked 5,000"foot-lengths" or "feet" in a mile. Much like the pace we use today, a Roman pace consisted of two steps equaling about 5"foot-lengths."
Why do soldiers count paces? My son Camden explains in this video:
Michael Nieger explains, “Pace counting is an essential technique used by advanced-level land navigators who travel cross-country through challenging wilderness. In certain situations, a map and compass alone just aren't enough.”
Now where was Charles taking me with all of this? He uses pace counting beads when he works with married couples. Specifically, he gives them to the guys. He explains in this video clip:
When I heard that advice, I thought it was brilliant. Basically, before you can criticize or instruct or complain or whatever it is guys think is needed in that moment, use the beads. You have to compliment or lift up your spouse 10, 15, 20, or 30 times before you get to say anything corrective or critical. Just awesome and very smart
You have to compliment or lift up your spouse 10, 15, 20, or 30 times before you get to say anything corrective or critical.
As unique as this sounds, the wisdom behind it is ancient. I lead a weekly Bible study at my church and the book we are currently working through is the book of James. James is famously the brother of Jesus. But the book of James has a lot of practical advice. It is the kind of book that I recommend to husbands all the time. It is not heavy on theology or philosophy; it just calls out things we do and tells the reader to work on those things.
In the first few verses of chapter one, James hits us with a powerful statement. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19)"
The beads can help a solider get back to camp, and they can help a husband find the bed instead of the couch.
If husbands can just get this one thing handled, think of how it could transform marriages. If bosses, employees, fathers, mothers, children, politicians, teachers, and students could get this one thing straight, it could change our culture. And if I am honest, if I can get this one thing straight, well it would save me from stepping in it frequently. Admittedly, I get lost in conflict. I forget how I got here and I have no idea where I am going. Foolishly, I think criticism or proving I am right is the way out. I need something to remind me where I started from and what the goal is. My goal is not to win. My goal is to love. The beads can help a solider get back to camp, and they can help a husband find the bed instead of the couch.
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
While I know what James says is true, there is a big difference between knowing and doing. What I like about the navigation beads is that it is a visual and tactile reminder. Something that you can carry and hold to nudge you. Most of the times when I say something I regret, those are the times I wish I had a tangible reminder.
Theologically, I know that God is speaking to me constantly, reminding me to listen, be quiet and don’t get angry. But the visible tactile discipline of the beads is something that can be extremely helpful.
Guys, do you need help in the area of conflict or confrontation? Get a set of Ranger Beads. That’s an order!!!
But seriously, if you want to find a set of Ranger beads, just go to Amazon or Etsy and just type in Ranger Beads.
In closing, one more time from the mouth of James the brother of Jesus, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”