Staying Married: Never Use the D Word

D word

Being married is not the goal for the young military spouses we see at our live Spouse X events. Staying married—happily married—is one of their many life goals. And we see them looking for ideas all the time.

A participant at our recent Spouse Experience event in San Diego stopped me because she wanted to take a picture of one of the Top 10 lists our audience put together.

She sorted through the papers until she found one titled, “Tips for New Wives.”

I couldn’t figure out what she was looking for. That list had a lot of the things she probably already knew: Go to spouse classes at every duty station. Use your money wisely. Find something that is your thing. Don’t play the blame game.

“I want to take a picture of the list that says, “Don’t use the D word,” the young woman told the table.

“The D word?” I said. “Does she mean D-E-P-L-O-Y-M-E-N-T?”

“No, the D word. As in D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” said another woman at the table.

Turns out that when they were fighting, the young woman and her husband used the D word all the time. As in, We might as well get divorced! And, why don’t you just divorce me then!”

That is clearly one of the things you just can’t do in a military marriage. You can’t throw around the D word.

Because the D word isn’t played lightly (even if you think it is). The D word is a challenge. The D word is a slap. The D word is a weapon.

Our Facebook audience agreed. Whether they had been married a couple of years of a couple of decades, many of them told us that they had a rule that neither partner could play the D word.

Sherie and Josh Tucker took out the D word early. “We married for better or for worse and sometimes the worse comes first,” wrote Sherie. “Whenever things get hard we remember our vows they are words to live by.”

Erica Drewery and her husband married at age of 19 and 20 were also against the D word. “We decided that “divorce” was not to be put on the table. We talked about everything. We talked out our differences. We kept in mind that we loved each other, even through our fights and disagreements.” They have been married 20 years now.

“The “D Word” is not allowed and is never used as a threat” wrote Liz Whirley now married eight years. She and her husband found that you have to work together, compromise, share open communication, practice honesty, and support each other with individual goals and family goals.

Military couples are always going to fight. Just like civilian couples, the more stressed out we get the more likely we are to fight. But having a rule against some of the more damaging behaviors—like throwing around the D word—helps keep things fair.

Do you have any Rules for Staying Married that you would share with our audience?

About the Author

Jacey Eckhart
Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for 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. Find her at
  • the first mel

    We don’t use the “D” word either. We have been married over 25 years now. It seems that if you always consider you have a way out you may not work as hard to overcome issues. Marriage is work and if you love your spouse you should give a 100%. I would hate to see my marriage dissolve because we didn’t care about each other enough to try everything we could to get through the hard times.

  • Rquick

    I believe in talking etc but I also believe in divorce. I dont throw the word around however and I would never use it unless I meant it.

  • guest

    On the other hand, as a child of divorced parents, both my spouse and I know the ramifications of divorce. So yes, we’ve discussed it in the past and used it as a tool to remind us of what’s at stake. I don’t think any topic should ever be off the table.

  • charlotte

    what can i do if my 84 yearwas old husband that suffers with dimenia was taken away from our home and i dont know where he is can someone help me to save our marriage please