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When husband and wife don't live on the same planet - literally


Stashed in: #love, Relationships, Mars!, Marriage, Space!, Mars Humans

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Nothing says "I love you" like a one way trip to Mars:

You might have read about my wife, heard her on the radio, or seen her on TV. She’s Sonia Van Meter, the Austin woman (and stepmother) who is a semifinalist for Mars One , the privately funded European nonprofit that wants to recruit and train people to be sent to Mars in groups of four starting in 2024. When people learn of this, they invariably ask how I feel.  

I’m proud, happy, and thrilled, of course.   

Now I get it. Marilyn Lovell’s string of supportive adjectives was more than an astronaut’s wife’s version of the clichés that Crash Davis taught Nuke LaLoosh. It was her way of being supportive while telling the press to go to the beach and pound sand.

But astronaut wives only had to hold out for a week before their husbands came home. If Sonia goes to Mars, she’s not coming back. The Mars One Project is a one-way trip to establish a permanent human colony there. And it’s at this point in the story when people turn to me again and wonder what evil lurks in my heart—or in hers.

Most of us run through certain hypothetical scenarios when getting married. Would you forgive me if I cheated? Would you stay if I were paralyzed? If I were brain dead, could you pull the plug? Do you really mean it when you say you’ll stand by me in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part? We forget that our vows are not lyrics to be recited for public enjoyment but promises to be kept. I looked at the wedding vows that Sonia and I wrote so carefully, and there is no asterisk, no out clause releasing me in the event of extraterrestrial excursions. This is probably my fault. I was the one who suggested including the Michael Ventura quote in the wedding ceremony: “Marriage is not the answer, but it is the most demanding way to live the question. Don’t ask questions. Live them.” 

On the other hand, going back over our wedding vows, as I have been doing frequently, reminded me how consciously we made a commitment to seek adventure in each other. Our vows ended with an overt attempt to leave the crowd laughing, but buried at the end is our solemn oath:

Do you promise that come Hell or high water, secession or recession, killer bees or swine flu, federal indictment or tabloid scandal, that you’re in this together, no matter what?

It seems like the best explanation for why I support her going to Mars, but that I married her “no matter what” satisfies exactly no one because it doesn’t answer the tabloid-level question people now ask. Will she, you know, have to help populate the planet? For the record, keeping adults alive on Mars will be enough of a challenge. Human reproduction is not part of the mission.