Iím not married and never have been. Early on I realized that I was simply not willing to share that much of myself with another person. In the military or out. But especially not while I was in the military. While Iím almost recklessly generous with material things, something deep inside of me backs warily into a cave when someone tries to get too close emotionally.
When I was in 5th TAC and subject to sudden and frequent deployments, there was a popular song that went, "Whoís makiní love to your old lady while you are out making love?" Some wag changed that to; "Whoís makiní love to your old lady while you are gone TDY?" That applied to us single guys (more so) as well as to a few married folks. It happened to me. Since I was paying the rent, I simply bounced the wench and went and got another one. Not too easy to do when youíve got legal papers and kids, or are just simply cohabiting with the same woman for a long time here in the States. Chanting "I divorce thee" three times does not work in Wichita.
I knew that I could never make the deep emotional and spiritual commitment to another person that I believe is necessary for an enduring and mutually satisfying marriage. I like to go where I please and do what I want whenever I want to do it, within reason, of course. People like me have no business being married; unhappily, some of us get hitched anyway. I guess because itís nice receiving trust and love from another person although you have no intention of fully reciprocating in kind. I once gave most of my paycheck to a married guy who had spent payday playing the slots in the club. He was ashamed to go home broke. (To his credit, he never did that again, and he did repay me.)
I believe that Military marriages require a special understanding and commitment from both parties. There are the constant separations and having to pack up and move lock, stock and barrel halfway around the world that being in the military demands. Or youíre on an isolated site in Alaska and your wife is back at your last duty station in North Boonieville dealing alone with all the family problems. Sometimes itís just being suddenly called back to duty on alert when the baby sitterís been hired and you and the wife are planning a night out. Then thereís the money. Or lack thereof.
I remember a married E5 asking me, back in the mid-70ís, if he should consider using food stamps. He was already moonlighting. I told him that there is no shame in swallowing your pride to feed your family. No, thank you; that was not the life for me. You both have got to be really mutually dedicated to a military career - or at least to each other - to stay in the Service long enough to just make enough money to decently raise your family, in my opinion.
That was Alvin (AKA Max) and Kitty Maxwell, a couple I met in Spain. At the time, Max was an E4 medic, and they had three kids. These two people made you want to get married just from being around them. And neither one was perfect, mind you. But they were perfect for each other. Talk about a marriage here on earth that was made in Heaven. I lost touch with them years ago, but Iíll bet wherever they are, theyíre still together and still in love. Excuse me for getting a little mushy and sentimental, but they had the kind of commitment to each other needed for military marriages to endure. (That's Kitty and Max sitting together in the picture above, and me in the checkered shirt. Mercy! Was I ever that young?)
Some day I'll write about the time Kitty chewed Max out for letting me get drunk. Poor Max had nothing to do with my inebriated state, he just found me in a bar and took me home for safe keeping, but Kitty wouldn't let him get a word in edgewise. He was having plenty trouble explaining why he was in that bar in the first place. I wasn't much help; I thought the whole thing was hilarious and Kitty finally ordered me off to bed. Even in my condition, I knew better than to argue.
©2001 Thurman P. Woodfork
Note: I just learned that Max has passed on; almost as painful was the news that his marriage to Kitty had ended in divorce, and that Max had remarried. Whatever, I will always remember him with Kitty, the way they were in those happy days in Spain. TPW 9/29/03
Time is flowing on...
as wind through the trees
bringing old memories
...floating in on the breeze
When I was young...so long ago
You were my best friend
...and I loved you so
I never thought you would ever go
But you did go...
...went and left me here alone
here to stay and grieve...
...did you not know
your memory could never leave