The InDependent Wellness Summit is our annual, online event for all military and first responder spouses- past, present, and future. Learn more about the program here.
We’re already halfway through the InDependent Wellness Summit recaps and there’s so much inspiration to be found in each and every interview. If you missed Day 1 or Day 2, make sure to check out those recaps before diving into today!
Today’s interviews focused on adventure and intimacy. A pairing that seemed odd at first but ended up coming full circle by the end of the second interview. We started Day 3 with an interview with Chris and Lacy Wolff, both of whom have experience with military life and first responder life. As any member of these communities can attest to, these lifestyles can be very adventurous. As Chris said right away in the interview, “You get so many unique opportunities with the military that you don’t have in the civilian world. We urge people to make the most of their military time because you get out and realize what an amazing opportunity it is.”
He couldn’t be more right. We really do have the opportunity to experience so many unique and interesting situations; it’s up to us to find the adventure and fun in them even during the times when they feel anything but. As a military spouse stationed in Japan, I found myself becoming a little too complacent and comfortable with my usual routine as we approached a year and a half of living overseas. I realized with crystal clarity one afternoon while walking my dog that I have to continue to be a perpetual tourist here in Japan. Because before I know it, orders will be cut and we’ll be headed off into the wild blue yonder. This goes for any military family located anywhere in the world. Don’t lose your sense of adventure and get too settled where you’re stationed. Keep taking advantage of the special opportunities that military life affords.
While adventures are usually all fun and games, they can take a sinister turn when we’re not properly caring for ourselves. Especially for service members returning from deployment or first responders coming off a tough shift, adventure can turn into an unhealthy pattern of behaviors. While binge drinking every weekend probably feels like an adventure and may lead to some fun experiences, for example, it’s a quick fix for the desire to feel an adrenaline boost and doesn’t support long-lasting health.
Instead of turning to substances to enhance the adventures you seek, Chris and Lacy recommend 1) regulating your nervous system, 2) finding adventure through community, and 3) getting outside of your comfort zone. Regulating your nervous system sounds very scientific but if you pause to take a deep breath (inhale, two, three, four, five, exhale, two, three, four, five) you’re already on your way to down-regulating your nervous system and bringing your body back into balance! (Feel free to stop reading and take a few more breaths!).
Once you’ve regulated your nervous system, it’s time to find adventure within your community. For Chris and Lacy, that means doing something physical like scuba diving, biking or running. Any activity that gets you moving and that you can do with someone else will not only help release any lingering stress hormones in your body, but will allow you to feel a deeper sense of connection.
Finally, all healthy adventures should include a certain level of discomfort. As Chris says, “I know it sounds crazy, but if you don’t have that discomfort, you’re not really on an adventure.” Being outside of your comfort zone is what really allows you to fully connect with those around you because you become more vulnerable. That sounds like a bad thing, but what it really means is you’re at your most authentic. And when you’re at your most authentic, that’s when meaningful connection really happens. Adventure can be healthy and fun! But it can also be unhealthy and dangerous. Taking the time to seek adventure in a way that will support your overall health will leave you better off and ready for whatever circumstances you may face in your life.
When we lean into adventure and go on healthy adventures with our spouses, we make more room for intimacy in our marriage. Intimacy means more than sex; it means deep connection and understanding of your partner. And that’s exactly what Shaunti Feldhann spoke to during her interview!
As a married person, I found Feldhann’s interview incredibly enlightening, particularly because she addressed something that I think most women are unaware of: men have different insecurities than women. This seems like a no-brainer as men and women are different, but when we drill down into the daily activities than make up a marriage, it becomes pretty clear why you find yourself regularly fighting over how to load the dishwasher.
Feldhann shares, “By definition, if my spouse has different insecurities than I do, by definition something different is going to hurt my spouse’s feelings than would hurt mine.” For women, their primary insecurity is, “Am I worthy of being loved for who I am on the inside?” and for men, their primary insecurity is, “Am I any good at what I do on the outside?” Hearing this immediately helped me better understand my own husband. There’s a powerful vulnerability and incredible love underneath the mask men put on of being strong, dependable, and a “hero.” They yearn to know that they’re the hero to their spouse and that what they’re doing is “right” and “good.”
Feldhann pointed out in the interview that unless we have this knowledge, partners will often unknowingly send negative messages to each other that feed their insecurities and cause conflict within their relationship. The good news is, all of you are reading this right now, so now you know. But how can you send positive messages instead of negative ones? Feldhann’s answer is called The Next Day Rule. When a situation arises in which you want to correct or criticize what your spouse is doing, first ask yourself, “Is this thing that I’m about to do or say going to be important the next day?” If the answer is “no” keep it to yourself and just Let. It. Go. (*Cue Elsa*). Another way to think about it is, “Is it worth hurting my spouse’s feelings today?”
Once you’ve completed the first step, the second step is to bring up the situation the next day. And not in a mean or annoyed way. With love in your heart, objectivity in your voice, and a strong desire to be a team, bring up the situation with your spouse and discuss it. Show that you appreciate what they did and then help them understand what you’re thinking/feeling about the situation that happened yesterday.
Out of the entire interview, this part was the most revelatory for me. I’m already considering the impact of my words on my spouse and trying to be more mindful about how I can build him up instead of feeding his insecurities. This is the key to feeling deeply connected and happy in our marriages!
If Day 4 and Day 5 are anything like today, participants of the InDependent Wellness Summit are in for a real treat! I barely touched the surface, and you don’t want to miss a thing. Don’t forget to register, if you haven’t already. General Admission is FREE and you have until March 15th to listen to the interviews (Mar 14th to register). Or, you can upgrade for 50% off to the All-Access Pass and enjoy the interviews for life.
Strength in Adventure and Strength in Intimacy were generously sponsored by the AUSA. The AUSA Family Readiness Directorate is dedicated to providing Army families the tools and resources they need to help them manage the challenges of the military life cycle. Through four pillars of support; education, information, advocacy, and outreach, AUSA Family Readiness aims to connect with Army families, both past and present, in tangible and impactful ways. Connect here: https://www.ausa.org/military-families.
ABOUT ALEXIS MILLER
Alexis Miller is the Director of Communications for Warriors at Ease, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to bringing yoga and meditation to the military community through a network of trained professionals and through free programs that support them in their health and healing. She’s also the writer behind the blog Wife in the Wild Blue Yonder, where she shares her travel and military life experiences with readers. Lastly, Alexis is a certified yoga instructor and specializes in bringing yoga and meditation to the Yokota Air Base community. When Alexis isn’t busy working, you can find her doing yoga, rock climbing, fly fishing or traveling.