My Husband, the Sea, and Me

Life as a Merchant Marine wife

We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea.  Those of us who are, we call children of the tides, must return to it again and again…
Chasing Mavericks


My husband is a child of the tides.  Born and raised on the coast of South Carolina, TJ grew up living and loving the salt water.  True to himself, he chased his love for the sea straight into the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York and on to a career where he returns to the sea again and again.  I am a Merchant Marine wife.  The Merchant Marines are an often forgotten branch of our country’s defense system.  My husband is married to me but part of his heart will forever belong to the sea…and I encourage him to follow that part.

Merchant Marines don’t always “deploy” for months at a time; some do, others do not.  Most of the time Merchant Marines aren’t serving in combat zones where they are likely to encounter people trying to kill them.  Pirates of the coast of Africa, maybe, but terrorists with bombs…probably not.  Merchant Marines don’t have great communications onboard their ships; internet is slow, there is a delay when speaking on the phone, and sometimes communications go out completely when the ship is in a storm.  Merchant Marines miss holidays, birthdays, weddings, funerals, and all the little things their families enjoy while they sail the seas to deliver goods or drill for oil.   Their children grow up and they miss it.  TJ missed Vivienne’s first steps, first words, and first birthday.  He had to come home from being at sea to a baby that didn’t know him; didn’t recognize him because his ship didn’t have the capabilities to FaceTime or Skype so she could see his face and hear his voice.  We have spent a few Christmases together and he typically misses weddings and family gatherings.  And you can bet everything always goes wrong with the house when he is away.  Just today I was a furniture mover, professional organizer, chef, maid, and a plumber on top of being a mom!   Sometimes it is enough to make me feel like I’m going to lose my mind because I have to figure out all these things by myself or ask others for help who have their own families and homes.

However, I still encourage TJ to follow his heart to the sea.  Without the sea TJ isn’t the same.  He needs the salt water and the salty sea air to rejuvenate his body and mind.  Even though he spends his time on the sea working, he comes home and I can tell he has been refreshed.  TJ loves me; he loves Vivienne, but he also loves the sea.  When we were married I knew his heart would never fully be mine because once the sea captures someone’s heart it doesn’t return that piece.  I’m ready to give part of my heart to the sea, too, and share what my husband loves.  While I’ve spent many summers on the beach, I’m eager to sail the seas and feel the salty freedom TJ knows.  I’m ready to stand beside him and see the wonders I’ve only read about or seen through video footage on Netflix.  Mostly I’m ready to share this adventure with our daughter.  Vivienne is just like her father; she was born with part of her heart already captured by the sea.

Even through all the lamenting contained in this post, I know things will not change completely once we move aboard our sailboat and sail away.  Moving onto a sailboat won’t suddenly make everything all better.  Instead of learning how to fix things that break in a house I’ll be learning how to fix things that break on a boat.  I’ll become a mate, a mechanic, and a seamstress on top of being a mom.  I’ll learn to fix new things and probably learn more about marine engine parts and pieces than I can even fathom at this point.  TJ will still be a Merchant Marine and he will still sail away with a different crew from time to time.  And though I may complain about it sometimes I am still grateful he has a career he loves that provides for our family and allows us to live out our dreams at a young age.

We are blessed.
We are living out our dreams before we turn 30.
At every turn God has provided a way for us.  God has given me strength when I think I can’t handle one more thing going wrong while TJ is away.  God has given us a child who handles the transition between TJ being home and TJ being away very well.
Mostly, God has given us each other.
God paired us perfectly because he knew I would support TJ’s career and TJ would support me in return.


Par la Foi,
Lane McKelvey

~~All things are possible for those who believe. -Mark 9:23~~

2 thoughts on “My Husband, the Sea, and Me

  1. Lane, you unknowingly wrote a part of my life and heart. I too, lived and felt so many of these things, being a former Navy wife and a “a child of the tide”. Love the three of you.


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