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Infidelity: Not What I’m Here For

How widespread is infidelity in the military anyway? Is it common? Pervasive? Inevitable?

One of the results of the Petraeus admissions is that the question of fidelity between military couples rears its ugly head. I cannot bear all of the shrugging off of fidelity I have heard this weekend, as if infidelity for military couples is the logical result of spending so much time apart.

I’m not here for that.

I’m not here for infidelity. I don’t care whether every other couple in the military are swingers and serial cheaters and bound to show up on Maury Povich with a paternity claim. I’m not here for that.

I am not the kind of person who can wait here during deployment if I think I am married to someone who does not respect what we have between us. I can’t drag around for 16 moves if I think I can’t trust him when we are apart.

I’m not here for that. Neither is he. My sailor does not have direct deposit so that I can take my boyfriends to dinner. He doesn’t spend his weekends painting our kitchen so I can entertain some other guy. He isn’t scrimping on himself to send our kids to college so that another man can have his picture with them at graduation.

It isn’t only the economics of marriage that are at stake here. No matter what every other couple in the world might do, the two of us are not here to put our own pleasures or emptiness or anger in front of our marriage. That isn’t who we are. How do people go on in a military relationship without that assurance of that most basic trust and respect?

I may sound dangerously Kathie Lee Gifford-ish, but I think we military couples ought to be able to expect a little faithfulness from each other, dammit. And that we shouldn’t have to be eternally young and maniacally thin or fantastically rich to make that happen.

I’m not saying that every military couple is perfect. Or that infidelity does not ever happen. I just think when you wait for someone — when you braid their daughter’s hair and shovel their sidewalks and go to three stores in search of their favorite flavor of Cheez-its — that you ought to be able to rely on them to cleave only unto you.

I don’t care if my sailor is surrounded by topless mermaids, I think I ought to be able to count on the guy because we are married. He should equally be able to count on me. Even if I am a topless mermaid in my own right.

The thought that we should expect a little cheatage to come our way simply because we spend too much time apart is a poison in our culture. Infidelity is not acceptable. It is not inevitable.

Faithfulness is not too much to ask for military couples. In fact, I think that it is because our military lives are so demanding on both the servicemember and the spouse that faithfulness is required of each of us. Every day. All the time. Physically. Emotionally. Financially.

Faithfulness is how we roll.

About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.

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