Marine Corps Recruiting Duty can be a lonely experience. Some units try to boost moral by having family oriented events, such as Family Day, the Marine Corps Ball, and other activities throughout the year. Many times we tend to complain about the interruption and expense these events can have. But my advice, take advantage of them.
For instance, since we have been on recruiting duty I have not gone to the Marine Corps Ball. Why? Because not only would we have to drive 4 hours at our expense (can't use a government vehicle to transport dependents and mileage wasn't authorized) but I would have to pay for child care and a dog sitter. Add on the cost of food and that one event can cost a pretty penny.
But what I found was that it was worth it. For the last family event I had to take time off work and I chose to have a sitter here with friends I trusted rather than use the command sponsored child care. My husband and I drove the four hours to his headquarters.
That night we went out to dinner and spent a night alone in a hotel. With no kids. That's a huge deal as date night was few and far between. It's hard to plan something when anything can happen and work hours are unpredictable. So we were alone together for the first time in months.
The next morning we had breakfast together before going to a spouses communication class. Now at first I was annoyed that we were pretty much forced to take this class. But it was actually a great experience and it brought my husband and I closer together.
Communication is so important to a healthy relationship and I didn't even realized how much we were missing out until we reconnected in that class. Even with all the other couples in the room we were able to connect intimately on an emotional level. It was truly a profound experience. What all happened is for another post, but it was well worth it.
After the class it was off to a command sponsored lunch. Ordinarily the idea of sitting in a room with a bunch of strangers is daunting. Sure, we knew the 4 other people from his office, but everyone else I had never met. My husband of course knew most of them, but I was a little lost at first.
Over the meal I was able to bond with other spouses who were going through the same experience I was. I met women who were just starting out in recruiting duty. These women were overwhelmed and frustrated. I was able to offer my sympathy and experience to hopefully help them. I also listened with envy to those that were almost done and had made it with relationship intact. It was so helpful to be able to come together and gain knowledge and friendship over a common lifestyle. Many of my friends did not really understand what I was going through, so it was great to connect with those that did.
After the meal, awards were presented to the different Marine Corps recruiting stations. So many times we look at the negatives of this duty. Being able to share in each others achievements helped me to realize how rewarding recruiting can be as well.
Afterwards my husband and I were able to spend time together. It seems like such a little thing. Many times we only see each other in passing when the children are in bed and the night is upon us. By that time we are both exhausted and conversation consists "did you pay this bill" or "will you be on the road this week". By that point we might take some time to watch a little television together but that's about the extent of it. When your time together consists of passing tidbits of information regarding the mundane aspect of every day life, it means so much to have time to talk about deeper and more personal topics.
After spending 3 days with my husband, I felt energized and ready to take on the world. Our relationship is stronger for it. So even though I had to pay an arm and a leg for our weekend get away and had to attend scheduled activities, I'm so glad I went.
So if you are out on recruiting duty and your husband comes home moaning and groaning about having to attend a family command event, go ahead and sympathize him. But my advice is to make the most out of the time you get together. Even if it mandatory!