“For the people that aren’t marrying just to get out of the barracks, people that are getting married just because they like someone, the whole courtship process is packed into three years.You meet someone – hopefully early in that time – you get to know them, you date for a while, decide to get married and you propose before you leave so that the Army will pay for them to come with you. She got health insurance; he got to live in a house.” Pretty sweet deal.Alaska sounded good to her, so it just seemed like a sensible decision. Sometimes it’s for love or some sort of attraction—” L butts in: “Yeah and sometimes it will last a couple years and then they get divorced. the reason they got divorced was because his step daughter started sleeping with his old roommate and she was not of age. We were eating, hungover, and the lights dim all of a sudden and a drag queen comes out. ” B says, and laughing again adds, “…and they know we know how to have fun.” I’ve been avoiding the subject since the conversation had been so easy and fun but the subject seemed inescapable.I look to see her reaction to B’s explanation of the “Army Effect.” She was looking at him, listening, and smiling. Like if they find someone like their true love then it’s like, ‘Hey, this whole marriage thing – hey, it’s gotta stop.’” This makes B chuckle. I ask where that couple met and he says he didn’t know if the kid remembers – but probably in a bar. “They got married and her three kids got health insurance and they all lived together.” He continues. So there was legal trouble with his roommate, and it all became a debacle.” B also tells me a story about his cousin who was enlisted in Hawaii and posted a Facebook status reading, “I’m tired of living in the barracks. ” The first comment was “No fat chicks.” And the second was “Ok yes fat chicks.” B and L are both laughing and shaking their heads. And there was this audience participation thing and some lady’s like ‘I haven’t been laid in so long! I have to ask, “Why do you think the sexual assault rates are so high?B immediately remarks, “The Army is a weird culture. It has its own customs, language jargon, everything.” L agreed, nodding, and raising her eyebrows emphatically.I ask what was different about the culture of dating.If you’re not married to her, you have to pay for her to go along.” So I ask if it’s hard to sustain relationships with people outside of the Army if you’re not married.
They had dated for a few years, knew they were in love, and knew B would be going to Alaska. That or they’ll just find some random broad.” L says, “I knew a guy, he married one of his best friends from high school. B says, “But say a soldier finds a random person in town that he thinks is hot I guess, and they want health insurance they can just get married and the soldier gives them health insurance and he gets to move out of the barracks.“I think it’s easier in the Army for people to have relationships that are more casual because you move every three years,” B tells me, “If you’re not married to a person, you’re probably not taking them with you.So, a kind of joke is when you’re asking someone if they’re serious about a relationship you say, ‘Well is she a take-along girl? Do I like this girl enough to take her with me to the next station? Sinclair on my mind, I’ve been curious about sex, love and dating in the army.I sit down for a beer in the living room of [rank censored] B and his wife L. They are young newlyweds with not quite enough furniture to fill the space, which makes it feel even bigger.They both grew up in Army families and lived all over the world.