FORT POLK, La. — With spring’s arrival, and as a result of COVID-19 necessitating telework and thus more time at home with my spouse, this not-so-young writer finds his thoughts returning to the day my lovely bride Susan and I tied the knot.To say we had an atypical wedding would be an understatement. But that’s putting the proverbial cart before the horse, or in this case, the wedding before the proposal.We met in a barracks stairwell at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, where we were both students in the U.S. Army’s Intelligence School. I was taking advantage of the acoustics in the stairwell, while Susan was taking advantage of the fact that she had a great alto voice and was easy on the eyes.Before long, we were, uhm, making sweet music together and I asked Susan to marry me while we were on leave during Christmas 1979.Our first duty assignment after school was the Japanese island of Okinawa in the East China Sea.Before we could tie the knot, we had to go through the Army’s version of pre-marriage counseling. In those days, the Army was of the opinion that if they wanted you to have a spouse, they would have issued you one.I tried to convince the chaplain on Okinawa’s Torii Station that Susan had in fact been issued to me — and vice versa — but he wasn’t buying it.Instead, he made sure to point out all of the wonderful things we could expect from our future mate — things like bad morning breath, scratching, snoring, no makeup, and various other “fun” things.It was a horrifying prospect, however Susan and I decided we would continue down the road to what we hoped would be wedded bliss.Once the counseling and blood tests were completed, we had to get our commander’s approval — much like a young man is supposed to ask a father for permission to marry his daughter.Our commander was a devout Mormon who took his job seriously — especially when it came to making sure the men and women in his company were sincere about the “’til death do us part” portion of traditional wedding vows.Convinced of our sincerity, the commander gave his blessing in the form of a signature on a Department of the Army Form 2496 and all that remained was for Susan and me to get hitched.When deciding the next step, we both agreed we didn’t need a big fancy wedding — especially since no one from our families could afford to fly halfway around the world to Okinawa for the ceremony. We decided to head to the American Consulate’s office in Naha City one morning after working a midnight shift.The morning of Feb. 6, 1981, arrived and we changed out of our military fatigues and into blue jeans and T-shirts. We caught a cab at Torii Station’s main gate and took the 15-minute ride to the Consulate. There, we filled out a bunch of paperwork and assumed that would be it. It wasn’t.We were told we had to take the paperwork to the Naha City Mayor’s Office, get a stamp of approval and have our license translated into Japanese.Another 15-minute cab ride found us the only Americans in an office full of Japanese officials. We handed our paperwork to a lady sitting at a desk; she smiled and motioned for us to have a seat.An hour later, she returned with our paperwork stamped and much to our delight, a Japanese marriage license — suitable for framing. The lady even took the time to show us where our names appeared in Kanji — the elegant script used by the Japanese.From there it was a cab ride back to the Consulate where they asked us to “swear that everything you’ve filled out on the papers is true, so help you God.”We did and that was it. We asked the person who waited on us at the Consulate when we actually got married. He told us the marriage was “official” when we received our marriage license from the Mayor of Naha.That was more than 39 years ago. We’ve weathered some pretty tumultuous storms in our time together — not the least of which was having our youngest son do tours of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the key word is “weathered.”It’s not all been bliss, but to quote Susan, “There were times I might not have liked you very much, but I’ve always loved you.”Susan, I think we would have made our commander proud.