Back in the early ‘90s, there was a sitcom called “Major Dad,” about a gruff Marine who meets and marries an artsy, liberal journalist. I remember thinking it was a ridiculous premise. There was no way these two opposites would ever make it past the second date let alone make it to the altar.
Fast-forward ten years or so to where an outspoken attorney is walking down to aisle with an equally outspoken Air Force pilot.
I know a lot of military marriages where the couple seems cut from the same cloth. They share the same hobbies and interests; they agree on everything from religion and politics to whether or not the Three Stooges are funny.
I know more than a few military couples that, although their love for each other is obvious, leave you wondering how they ever ended up together in the first place.
I wonder if my husband and I might appear that way to people who don’t know us well. Of course, some of our differences are of the usual “Venus/Mars” kind common to any couple. He’s “This Old House,” and I’m “Downton Abbey.” The last election we saw eye to eye on was for local dogcatcher. We don’t agree on the Three Stooges.
Some of our differences are unique to our situation. As a lawyer, I tend to see the world in shades of grey. My husband, with his background as a military pilot, is trained to see things in black and white. That can lead to problems when I want to parse all sides of an issue, and he wants to make a quick decision on something. More often than not, though, he’s been able to make me see that sometimes it’s best to go with your gut, and I’ve been able to help him see the benefit of excel spreadsheets in making a decision.
But we have our similarities, too. Three Stooges aside, we laugh at the same things. We share a love of country. We are devoted to our family. The things that bind us together are bigger than our differences.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, I raise a toast to all those couples, military and civilian alike, who make it work not in spite of their differences but because of them. Who love and appreciate not just the things they have in common, but the things that set them apart.
There’s a quote from the Trappist monk and writer Thomas Merton that I like: “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
Happy Valentine's Day!