Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Strong Bonds

Last weekend, Romeo and I were fortunate enough to participate in one of the US Army's Strong Bonds Retreats.
Which, by the way, how awesome is it that the military will send families on all-inclusive mini-vacations?
Anyway, I digress. We were in lovely Myrtle Beach, SC at an awesome resort, and it was a BEAUTIFUL weekend. We were really blessed to be given this opportunity. At first, I was a bit skeptical of what the retreat really included, but once we arrived, I was fully reassured!! We checked into our suite,
(yes, I did say suite.)
that overlooked the beach,
(that's right, ocean view!)
and I took a moment to appreciate all of our blessings.


Nonetheless, we headed down to dinner, where we met up with a lot of really fantastic people. We sat at a table with other couples, and just exchanged conversation about anything and everything. Things were really shaping up to seem not-so-bad! We played a few getting-to-know-you games, and then we were done for the night!

After that, most people parted ways, and some, like us, ended up at the hotel bar, and eventually left for a stroll on the beach. We knew that the schedule for the following days' activities began a bit early (breakfast at 7am!), so off to bed we went.

The following morning arrived far-too-quickly, but I couldn't help myself.

Hello, sunrise!

And as such, we began Day 1 of the Strong Bonds Retreat. The first session started at 9am. It was about coping with deployments, and life after a deployment. All-in-all, it was nice to hear that everyone shares similar emotions and concerns. It was at this point, that the lector had each of us write down one thing about our spouse that has changed since the deployment began. It took a minute for me to think, but I wrote down that I felt like Romeo has become more responsible and appreciative since he left for earthquake-land in January. Romeo said that he thought I was more independent.

Well... then, of course, the speaker circled the room searching for people to share what they had written down. No interest. She then dismissed the session for a short break. When we returned, she again asked for volunteers to share what they had written. Finally, there were people who were willing to speak. At first, the observations were all pretty positive. "He's more loving" "She's more understanding" "He's more patient with the children""She's a better cook".

And then...

Things began to get ugly.

I don't remember what comment it started with, but all of a sudden, the "changes" were not good. Even moreso, couples began, in a way, calling each other out IN FRONT OF EVERYONE IN THE ROOM! I whispered to Romeo asking if he felt that this was appropriate, and he said that if I stood up and called him out IN FRONT OF HIS PEERS, he'd be more than just a little upset. The microphone continued to go around the room, and the madness continued until finally, the speaker interveined.

The speaker seg-wayed into the next session, which, SURPRISE!! Was conflict resolution. Hmm... now how interesting could this get?

We went over a few techniques, all of which were valid, but not really realistic in a heated-argument setting. The speaker then was out to prove a point, so OH! Let's invite a couple to argue in front of this room full of people. BRILLIANT.

Much to my utmost surprise, and somewhat dismay, a couple ACTUALLY VOLUNTEERED. They pulled up two chairs in the center of this huge and completely populated conference room, and proceeded to duke it out. They started with finances, then led into their children, then into social habits, and into every little personal nook and canny of their relationship! They had officially just aired every piece of dirty laundry that they shared.

Oh good lord.

Now, let me make this known- I AM NO MODEL WIFE, to say the least, and my husband and I are VERY happy with our relationship, though I know it isn't perfect. BUT, to share the inner-workings of our love with a room full of other people who 1) are mostly strangers, but 2) are some of the people that the Soldiers in the room see every day at work, is a bit awkward!

Needless to say, the weekend had taken an interesting turn. After all of that madness, things settled down. We were dismissed for the day and were able to spend our time doing what we wanted. We went downtown to spend some quality time sightseeing. That night, when we got back to the resort, Romeo and I grabbed a couple drinks and hit the beach. We sat, just talking, and it was just wonderful. The day's events had provoked a lot of conversation, and it was nice to be able to discuss some things that we hadn't really thought to talk about before. The moonlight and the frozen drinks made the evening just that much more fun.

Sunday came, and was a lot more tame than the prior day. We talked about personalites, and the languages of love. Both of which turned out to be rather dry topics.

All-in-all, the weekend was a success. We spent a lot of quality time together, and got to relax a lot. Strong Bonds as a whole was informative, and definitely eye-opening. Romeo and I both agreed that we would participate again, and that it is absolutely a valuable resource of Army life.

For my fellow MilSpouses, if you get the opportunity, I would suggest participating in a weekend retreat. They're fun, informative, and FREE!! So why not?

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