The place: Keesler Air Force Base. The year: 1980.
Having completed Basic Training, I sat in a room with another hundred or so new recruits getting our orientation to the Air Force in general and the upcoming technical training school environment in particular. This particular session was with the chaplain. He was just trying to help us feel ... at home. As if you could feel at home in this strange environment. No, no, you're on guard, not sure of what's around the corner, what to expect, what to do or say. But he was trying.
"So," he said, "these are just questions. We won't be taking notes or anything. Just to help you think things through. How many of you are married?"
About half the group raised their hands.
"Okay, well, it doesn't matter if you're married or not. Just think about the questions as if you are. So, in the military it is entirely possible that you could be sent TDY to someplace for some time without your spouse."
TDY was the standard military TLA for Temporary Duty. And, of course, TLA is the standard TLA for "three letter acronym".
"So," he continued, "let's say you are married and you were sent TDY to someplace for 6 months without your spouse. How many of you would expect to have sex with someone other than your spouse during that duty?"
I was kind of confused by the question ... simply because I didn't know it was a question. I was married. I said, "'Til death do us part." "Have sex with someone other than your spouse" was outside of those vows, let alone after 6 months. So I was somewhat surprised when easily a quarter of this group raised their hands.
"Okay," the chaplain said, "you move over to this part of the room." They did. "Now, for the rest of you, what about if you're deployment without your spouse was for a year?"
Another portion moved.
I'm now in a small group -- two or three of us.
"TDYs can last up to two years without your spouses. How many of you would not expect to wait two years to have sex with someone?"
I was sitting alone. Men, women, married, unmarried, all of them were sitting on the "I'd expect to cheat on my spouse" side of the room. The notion of remaining true to my wife and my vows made me odd, freakish, clearly a stand-out.
I remember in the movie, City Slickers, two of the characters were discussing cheating on their wives (a theme in the movie, of course). One asked the other, "If you knew you'd never be caught, would you cheat on your wife?" You see, that's our question, isn't it? Not, "How far can I possibly go to be more a faithful, more true, more honest, more godly husband/wife?" It's "How much can I get away with?" It's not "Is there something more I can give up for him/her?", but "How much can I keep for myself?"
But, I suppose, that's not just in marriage, is it?