Protecting Our Relationship and Myself During Shore Duty

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Please welcome Lychelle, a fellow Navy wife who has an interesting take on shore duty. (For those of you who aren’t Navy, shore duty is a rotation where the sailor is not attached to a ship and usually does not deploy… even though John did! Sea duty is when the sailor is attached to a ship and will be away from his/her family pretty predictably.) Even though John’s in the Navy, by some weird twists of fate, we’ve never experienced sea duty– so all we know is shore duty.  I am so grateful for Lychelle’s honest look at how shore duty might be tougher than she anticipated.

In our military world, it seems like our lives consist of big adjustments, huge changes and unknowns. Most of the time when talking about those moments, we refer to events like deployments and PCSing. One big adjustment that seems to get overlooked for Navy families is the transition from sea duty to shore duty.

Since my sailor and I have been married, he has never been home for more than a year straight… and that only happened once. For some families, this would seem luxurious. I am fully aware of how blessed we are.


We've spent most of our married life apart. What happens now when he's home for shore duty? #navy (1)

All of these goodbyes year after year have become our “normal”. Having my husband gone for a few weeks or months at a time is just a part of our lives now. For me, the shorter detachments are pretty unremarkable. Our kids, on the other hand, beg to differ as they still really have a hard time when Daddy is away for any amount of time.

Obviously, there is no shortage of pros when it comes to shore duty. I love the idea of having my husband home for three full years of birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. He has missed so much and it will be fantastic to share so many special days as a family. My husband, of course, is also looking forward to not sleeping on a ship anytime soon. Our 5-year-old seems pretty hesitant to think that Daddy could be home for that long without leaving at all… and our 2-year old is just happily along for the ride.

Will our new normal hurt our relationship?

With any big change, the unknowns are always a little scary.

My husband and I have worked really hard to grow and strengthen our marriage despite the distance and stresses that go along with sea duty. In fact, I believe that those hard and lonely times have given us a unique opportunity to test, improve, and retest many aspects of our relationship.

Part of me has to wonder, if a little bit of distance here and there is one of the secrets to our successful marriage, will shore duty damage it? That may seem like a stupid question, but distance is what our marriage knows as normal. Luckily, I have no intention of letting anyone or anything damage my marriage. I plan on making sure that my husband and I each have time to ourselves over these next three years and that each of us respects that time. Of course we will be soaking up our time together continuing to strengthen our marriage but we cannot forget to let one another breath from time to time.

We've spent most of our married life apart. What happens now when he's home for shore duty? #navy (2)

Will I lose myself with my husband home?

If I am going to be completely honest, I am really concerned about losing myself again during these next three years. As a wife and a mother, my world literally revolves around every one of my family members except for myself. I naturally put all of their wants and needs ahead of my own and have done so for as long as I can remember. As many of you know, during sea duty there are countless nights you’re all alone.

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At first, I had no idea what to do with myself.

It wasn’t until this last deployment that I really started to find myself as a woman, not just a mom and wife. I discovered that I could do many of the things I usually counted on my husband for and that engorged my self-confidence in a way that I never expected. I realized that I could focus more on my appearance and health, which boosted my self-esteem. That confidence and boosted self-esteem is what gave me the strength to finally pursue writing– something I have wanted to for a long time.

Don’t get me wrong, I will absolutely love having my husband home every night. No doubt about it! But, I also refuse to lose myself just because that me time will now be us time.

[Tweet “I refuse to lose myself because that me time will now be us time. #milspouse #navy”]

I have come so far as a woman and honestly, I think that has also benefited my marriage. I will still stay up late to write when inspiration hits; I’ll just be super quiet when I crawl into bed. I will continue to do what I know I can do and it will be great to know that I have backup just in case I get in over my head.

All in all, transitioning to shore duty is an extremely positive experience for the whole family. However, it is absolutely okay to be a little unsure about how your family dynamic will adjust. I suggest really thinking about what aspects of your “normal” you really need to be a part of your “new normal” and discuss them with your spouse. Whether it is time to yourself or continuing to pursue a passion, whatever it may be, find a way to incorporate you needs as well as your spouses into your new adventure, shore duty.

Lychelle Hollback is a military wife and stay at home mom to two wonderful boys, ages 2 and 5. She was born and raised in Wisconsin but now resides in South Eastern Virginia, where her husband is stationed with the Navy. Along with writing, she is passionate about music, singing specifically. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, attending play dates and field trips for her boys and writing blogs about what she knows best; being a mom and a wife.

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