There is a certain unbearable sweetness in the story of a long marriage. George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Bush have the longest marriage of any US President. Married in 1945, they have been married 67 years. They started their life together in the Navy at the end of WWII. The first of their 29 homes was in Virginia Beach.
"I married the first man I ever kissed," said Barbara Bush in one of our weekly Military Wife Quotes. "When I tell that to my children they just about throw up."
Not me. I love a story of happily ever after--especially a happily ever after that starts in the military. Military.com's advice columnist Ms. Vicki and I have been exchanging stories of long married military couples as if they were Pokemon cards. Here is a couple who light up when their mate enters a room. There is a couple who made it through eight deployments. Here are some doddering old soldiers teetering around the commissary holding hands. Look! Look! An NSW couple who struggled for years and years and almost broke up then figured it all out!
Between the two of us, we call these people 'ridiculously happy military families.' And we want to be just like them.
Both Ms. Vicki and I are married to our service members for more than 25 years. We search through our collections of long married military folks and try to figure out what they have in common. Did she work full-time? Did he do laundry? Did they mow the lawn together? Did they get a lot of therapy? How did they get through so many deployments? Did they hide from the kids and have a lot of sex? Or were they just meant to be? Is it just magic?
We haven't come to any firm and fast agreement yet about what really helps military couples get all the way to happily ever after. Sure, we could say that military love is about Respect. We could say you have to COM-MUN-I-CATE. But those words don't really tell the whole story.
I'm starting to think that the story of a long, long military marriage is told in sidebars and subtleties. Its the way you pillow your head on his chest. It's the way he thinks over when and how he is going to deliver news you won't like. It's in the way you worry about him when he has a cold and the way he lets you know you are being a nutball about your daughter's new boyfriend. Are those things magic or work? Instinct or wisdom?
We don't know yet. But it is an answer we are so willing to find and share with you.