By Lizann Lightfoot

Military couples learn to be creative when facing the many challenges of military life. We can’t always celebrate holidays and anniversaries together. . . or even be in the same time zone. But smart military couples know how to make the most of all their time together. Any day with your service member can be a great day. Whether you are running errands on base or filling out paperwork, look at all these creative opportunities that are built into military life!

1. Spend the whole day together. . . . at the pass /ID office.

clock from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 David Lofink, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

What better way to express your love for each other than to sit in uncomfortable chairs and wait hours for your number to be called?

2. Go shopping together. . . at the commissary.

Commissary from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 USAG Livorno PAO, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

If you want to make the trip last all day, be sure to go on payday! Then you can weave through the packed aisles and exchange sweet nothings as you wait for an hour in the checkout line.

3. Enjoy the dimly lit ambiance. . . of the pre-deployment PowerPoint brief.

Empty Theatre from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Lee Adlaf, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Go ahead and snuggle up next to your loved one. You will appreciate the dim lighting as you start to cry. But hey, at least the battalion has arranged childcare in the room next door, so you two lovebirds can enjoy your child-free time. 

4. Spend a romantic evening together. . . blowing pixelated kisses on Skype.

Blowing kisses from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Curtis Foreman, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

In between kisses, continually ask, “Wait, can you hear me?” Then discuss taxes, Powers of Attorney, and how to effectively discipline your crazy children. It’s sure to be an evening you will both remember.

5. Hold hands. . . while you enroll at DEERS and TRICARE.

Holding-Hands from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Yoel Ben-Avraham, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

Ah yes, nothing brings you together like packets of paperwork and the endless repetition of your spouse’s Social Security number. Right?

6. Take a trip together. . . across the country for a PCS move.

Packed W123 300TD from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 Jurgen, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

When packing for the trip of a lifetime, be sure to include these PCS essentials: houseplants, legal documents, and all your wedding china.

7. Get pictures taken. . .at the passport center.

Passports from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 J Aaron Farr, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

If your service member gets international orders, you will need a tourist passport and a no-fee passport for all family members. But all that paperwork and stress will be more fun when you do it together. So, remember: bring 2 other forms of photo ID, don’t wear a hat, and be sure not to smile. Sounds like a great time!

8. Hit the clubs. . . the SNCO Club or the Officer’s Club.

Studenskygrad Club from Flickr via Wylio
© 2003 YoTuT, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Yes, these still exist on most bases. The SNCO club is like a bar, with a pool table and dart boards. The Officer’s Club is typically a fancy restaurant appropriate for Sunday brunch or wedding receptions. Find the one that best matches your personality. And your service member’s rank.

9. Go camping together. . . on the floor of your new house while waiting for your goods to arrive.

beach camping from Flickr via Wylio
© 1999 Ted Gresham, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

You always said you wanted an adventure!. Here’s an idea: Live without furniture for a week or two! It is sure to bring both of you closer together. Literally. Because you’re sharing a sleeping bag.

10. Enjoy a romantic lunch. . .at the hospital’s galley while waiting on the pharmacy.

Christmas Pub Light from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Pavlina Jane, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Because you know the pharmacy won’t call your number for an hour, and you know the galley is all you can afford. But hey, they have a good salad bar.

11. Celebrate Valentine’s Day. . . in July.

Happy Valentines day! from Flickr via Wylio
© 2015 Susanne Nilsson, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Sure, it would’ve been nicer to celebrate in February. But that’s when he (or she) was in the Middle East and you were at home. Their evenings were your mornings, and you only communicated by email. Instead you waited until July when you would finally be together in person again. 

12. Soak up the sun. . .at the rifle range.

Sunshine from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 Kiyonobu Ito, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

It’s good to take your date outside and enjoy nature together. If you sign up for Jane Wayne Day, you and your loved one can enjoy all the sounds and smells of gunpowder, too. Win-win.

13. Do chores together. . .like preparing uniforms.

daddys uniform from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Patrick Malone, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

This chore can be extra fun if you do it together: You hold the uniform, while they mount the medals. Then your spouse isn’t sure if they look right and asks your opinion. Repeat.

14. Find someplace off the beaten path. . . Because you’re lost at your new base.

Opalescent Forest Road - HDR from Flickr via Wylio
© 2014 Nicolas Raymond, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

No idea how to find your new housing area? Not sure if you are anywhere near Building 3761? Don’t worry! Just enjoy the scenery and the adventure as you drive all over your new base with your loved one. Bonus: See if you can spot any architecture that does not involve cinder blocks or bricks.

15. Try a new recipe together. . . like the ever-popular dish, What Can I Make with the Random Ingredients in My Pantry Before We Move?

Pantry from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 Irish Typepad, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

You need to eat before your big move tomorrow, but all you have left are some packs of ramen noodles, a can of corn, and a bottle of caramel-flavored syrup. (No matter what you make, it will still be better than an MRE.)

16. Get dressed up. . .for a military ball.

Military Ball from Flickr via Wylio
© 2014 Johnny Silvercloud, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

After all the other crazy dates our service members put us through, the ball is one that everyone looks forward to. The dresses! The great food! The dancing! It almost makes up for all that time spent at the pass/ID office and TRICARE.