I was twenty-five and a new Navy wife. Being straight from the Land of Oz, I didn’t know the first thing about the military lifestyle; there were no warships in Kansas!
With Uncle Sam as my father-in-law, I took a fresh look at my new role as a military wife. The first time I stepped onto the quarter-deck of my husban Ray’,s first ship, the USS Kansas City, not only reminded me of what a privilege it was to be allowed on a warship, but it initiated three vital new habits.
Three habits of a new military spouse1. Embrace adjustment
Marrying a service member not only brought me into the circle of a larger military community, but it brought a bag of new emotions, too. Packed in my husband’s sea bag was an unforeseen visitor. And I felt its presence throughout my husband’s military career.
This unseen visitor’s name is "adjustment." Three weeks after we married, I met adjustment when Ray left on his first deployment. After homecoming, adjustment hung around for a time. And like any unwelcomed guest, adjustment caused some struggles to surface. Perhaps because we were newlyweds, we gave each other time and space to work through reintegration issues. We took it slow, didn’t over plan, and kept expectations reasonable. In time, we eased back into our natural roles, and adjustment finally let himself out the back door. Still, I wondered, when the honeymoon phase was over, and the years and separation begin to take their toll, would adjustment pull us apart.
After a two-year stint on shore duty, Ray went to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, and his sea bag reappeared. When I saw it, adjustment triggered unsettling feelings once again in the pit of my stomach. I realized adjustment would always be in that bag like standard military issue and embracing adjustment is key for bringing us into mental, physical, and spiritual balance with each another. Having a strong faith enabled us to reach his military retirement and beyond
Take Faith with You
It wasn’t called “spiritual readiness” when we were just beginning our military marriage, but by making faith an integral part of our union, it did make a difference in how we coped with the rigors of the military lifestyle. Today, couples can maintain intimacy and reinforce their spiritual connection with God and each other by having a spiritual motto. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but something that brings inner strength, meaning, and motivates for pressing through difficult times together. It could be something like: “your faith helps me to believe we can 'bear, believe, hope, and endure all things' together." (1 Corinthians 13:7).
Become A Serious Learner
As a young military wife, I paid attention to the news and took particular interest in the military causes our country engaged in and why. I learned the names of the leaders in other countries and what they were all about, especially the Middle Eastern countries, where wars and civil wars sometimes tend to be spiritually driven.
When America’s military is called upon to stop dictator aggression or the spread of terrorism, it’s important to know the whys behind military force -- the long range implications as well as the immediate. With young people being less religious today than in previous generations, combined with many overly absorbed in social media to the point of a sense of complacency, it is easy to miss the subtle changes that can make America vulnerable to potential threats. Being attentive to the world’s issues adds depth to our roles as military spouses.
Lisa Nixon Phillips, a native of Lawrence, Kansas, is a retired Navy wife, mother, author, and business owner with her husband, Ray. A passionate supporter of her husband’s military service, Phillips volunteered for various military family events during the span of her husband’s 21 years of service. Believing that faith makes a difference, God became the anchor for keeping her life focused, fulfilling and always with a purpose.Phillips has two grown children. Her daughter, Megan, a first lieutenant in the Army National Guard is a field medical assistant in the Seattle area, and her son, Lawrence, just graduated from high school is scheduled to enlist in the Navy. She and her husband, Ray, currently reside with their two pugs in Arlington, Washington.