Nothing kills romance quite like the Army. And I’m not talking about the anniversaries, birthdays and other celebratory moments missed because of training or deployment.
Just the nature of the institution drains the romance even from the sappiest of love birds.
So when I read an article on NBC’s website about the rush of same-sex couples emptying savings accounts to take the offered leave to get married, I thought, “Welcome to the club.”
The article says many couples are forgoing actual ceremonies for the justice of the peace route to get the benefits made available this month.
Seeing as I did this myself once, I understand the motives.
I had only been dating my husband for four months when it was time for the Army to move him, which was really speeding up our timeline.
Instead of trying it long-distance, Matt asked me — via text message, mind you — if I would be willing to move with him.
For some crazy reason I agreed, which sent my mother to a recruiter’s office to get backup on her reasons why a shotgun wedding was a better idea than “living in sin,” as she put it. That way my father could rest in peace, she said.
I told Matt this crazy idea expecting to find an ally, but he sided with her. He was headed into intense off-and-on field training for the next six months and without being married, I couldn’t be his “in case of emergency.”
He then cited the pay increase, the fact I would get health insurance, and that he wanted to marry me down the road anyway — why not get the paperwork over with?
My marriage proposal suddenly felt about as romantic as buying a car.
I agreed, and a month before I planned to move to him, bought a plane ticket and met Matt at Fort Knox, Ky.
We signed our marriage license before our two witnesses — a receptionist and security guard of a Louisville hotel. The man who performed the service was named Gary. When I called about what was required for his services, he responded, “A valid marriage license and $75 in cash.”
Afterward, he took our picture and he gave us a refrigerator magnet, which is still proudly on display in our kitchen.
Matt proposed the next night, and we had a beautiful ceremony six months later surrounded by family and friends. It was filled with enough joy and rice in my suitcase to last a lifetime.
If any romance survived into the next few months of marriage, it was finished off at the Army’s household goods moving office, where I was referred to as “a dependent acquired during TDY status.”
Despite the Army’s rushed timeline and the business-like formality of my marriage, it meant the world to me to see my name signed there beside my husband’s and then printed together on an ID card.
No matter how it happens for each couple now recognized in the Army family — or should I say, newly acquired dependents — welcome and congratulations.