How to Stay Together Forever, Military Style


Date. Your. Husband. At our Spouse Experience events, we always like to ask long-married military couples how they are managing to stay together forever.

We are secretly hoping for sex tips.

Instead we get advice from these couples married more than 20 years to write love notes. Never go to bed angry. Agree to disagree. Send gifts. Com-mun-i-cate.

And always, always, ALWAYS the long married military people say that you gotta date your husband, wife or partner.

I can’t help it. I hear that advice and kinda inwardly roll my eyes. How many times have you heard that you and your husband should arrange a sitter and have a weekly date and blah blah blah blah blah??

When we were young, my husband and I could never get the sitter part together much less the money for a date. And then when we had the money, we didn’t have the time for a date. Or the energy.

So, really, date the guy? These long marrieds were strung out on too much Netflix-style binge viewing of Grey’s Anatomy. They were dreamin’.

Then this morning I think I got the hang of what these long marrieds were really trying to say from the executive officer on an aircraft carrier (of all people.)

When This American Life visited the USS Stennis during a deployment, Ira Glass got into all kinds of trouble when a sailor told him the place was “a love boat.”

The XO pulled Ira into his office to tell him that on the Stennis had a policy about fraternization that was summed up in two words: NO DATING.

The XO told Ira that he considered a date walking too close together. Sitting too close together. Talking with your heads together.



That dating. Doing those things people do when they are sexually aware of each other. Is that what these long-married partners meant when they were telling us to “date “our husbands or wives?

I went back over the SpouseX lists from the long marrieds and found that they advised couples to Skpye date on deployment—put on some lipstick, gaze into the guy’s eyes and say positive, cheerful things to him.

They said that when the soldier or Coastie or airman or Marine or sailor calls, make him wish he or she was home.

They said to sit on the couch together and talk every night.

They said not to ask your partner “How was your day?” They recommended, “Tell me about your day.”

They said to remember what attracted you to your partner in the first place.

These long married folks were trying to tell us to date -- to walk too close together. To sit too close together. To talk with your heads together.

They weren’t saying that you had to get a sitter and go to a restaurant (although that can be a very nice thing and should be indulged in regularly). They were saying that if you wanted to stay together forever as a military couple, you had to put your body where your heart was.

Does that qualify as a sex tip? I don’t know. I just get the feeling this is very good advice summed up in three little words.  I gotta try it.


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