A FOCUS for Families participant describes their experience and how the customized FOCUS program helped them increase vulnerability and closeness in their relationships.
- How has FOCUS helped your family?
- Our family appreciated that FOCUS was such a tailored program, specifically designed for military families. Our trainer was married to a service member, so she was able to pull from her own experiences and education to give great advice and tools! The best part was that FOCUS is very structured. Men and women learn differently and so the structural aspect of FOCUS allowed us to learn in our own ways. The expectations are laid out, so we knew what to expect. We could see the tangible progress on paper. We had handouts, resources, and were able to apply what we learned and come back to our trainer and let her know what worked and didn’t work for us. She would then adjust.
- What is one memorable moment from your time in FOCUS?
- It was all memorable, but the biggest thing was that my husband and I were having the same conversations, and they were being received differently. Our trainer helped us see other perspectives. I said “I don’t think I’m giving some of these conversations a chance. I need to look at things differently.”
- If you could describe FOCUS in one sentence, how would you describe it?
- FOCUS is structured counseling sessions through the scope of a military relationship, it’s not like traditional counseling but it has the same type of aspects to it. It’s a great resource that is offered.
- How has FOCUS helped you improve your communication skills?
- Completely changed it. Our trainer did a great job giving us so many tools that we can use. Even when we get aggravated, we can think about it introspectively. One of the most useful tools has been the feelings thermometer. Before we get to 100 and say hurtful things, we realize we need to take a break. That changed the game for my marriage … Being able to identify when we are getting uncomfortable or upset.
- How has FOCUS helped you improve your family closeness.
- FOCUS taught my husband how to express himself. Our trainer gave him tools to help him come up with a sentence that can express his feelings and provide information about where he is coming from. That opens us up for more vulnerability and closeness.
- If someone were unsure about participating in FOCUS, what would you say to encourage them to join?
- Any sort of activity where you are focused on yourself, and you are trying to improve yourself is really important. Especially within the military, it’s a very chaotic lifestyle and it can be very lonely. For me FOCUS changed my life. Worst case maybe you’ll learn how to communicate better with the people around you. I became more introspective. It doesn’t just improve your relationship it improves the relationships with everyone around you.
*Interview edited for length and clarity