CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan --
Deployments can wreak havoc on Marines’ relationships with loved ones whether they are married or single. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s frequent deployment cycle gives no exception to the stress of separation. Families can quickly feel the burden of multiple month-long exercises and patrols every year; a burden that may not be easily shrugged off following their Marines’ return.
One subordinate unit of the 31st MEU is stepping up their efforts to help combat any post-deployment hardships within Marine families. Combat Logistics Battalion 31 has started hosting Four Lenses classes to their Marine families, the first of which was held at the Ocean Breeze Club here, April 26.
“The Four Lenses class is designed to enhance the relationships in our unit’s families because it can be hard to keep a solid foundation with how often our Marines are gone,” said Carolyn Burgin, the family readiness officer with CLB-31, 31st MEU and a native of San Diego. “It can be a high-stress environment even when they are not gone with all the preparations and exercises, so some families may never feel fully relaxed.”
The integral part of a healthy relationship between two people is an understanding of one another and a comprehension of why someone does what they do. The core of the Four Lenses class is identifying which of four personality types a spouse is, hence the class’s name, and helping to foster open dialogue about how those personality traits might affect families.
“What we teach are means by which families as well as leaders can use to gain insight about themselves and their partners to more effectively communicate or get a point across,” said Tony Rodriguez, life-skills trainer with Marine Corps Family Team Building, Marine Corps Community Services. “We naturally only see people through our own personality lenses, but what we aim to do is allow these participants to see each other from the others’ lenses.”
The class identifies the four “lens colors” to the participants: blue, which are people who base decisions on emotions; gold, people who are structured and require organization; orange, people who are adventurous and make courses of action as such; and green, people who are analytical and want all the facts before stepping out. After identifying what colors the participants were, the Marines and spouses engaged in games and whimsical discussions to bring the best parts of each color out while learning how to recognize “color-based” actions.
“With him being deployed as much as he is, it’s hard to keep in contact and share the little things as opposed to always talking about being away,” said Jessica Washington, wife of Sgt. David Washington, artillery technician with CLB-31 and both natives of Alexandria, Va. “The emotions that are both present and missing can wear on you and knowing it’ll happen all over again soon is always in the back of your head.”
The end result of the class was to aid the participants in understanding why their spouses act the way they do when stressed, allowing them to better discuss and mitigate any negative results. The attendees laughed and enjoyed the time during the class, but left with better understandings of themselves and their loved ones.
“This is not an end-all solution to every relationship issue out there, but a strong stepping stone for advancement,” said Rodriguez, a native of Detroit. “Not only can you better understand yourself by knowing your personality color, but if you know what others’ colors are, you can better communicate with them.”
Family Readiness Officers and MCCS will continue to offer Four Lenses class to not only CLB-31 families, but for all units spanning the 31st MEU.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.