If I remember correctly, Carrie Ann called her mother first, and then her grandmother, to give them both the good news: "You know that Life Partner Ceremony we've been joking about? We're doing it.”
As a sort of cheeky homage to our now long-running and lame joke, we started telling people that we were actually were planning a Life Partner ceremony. Also, we had no idea what else to call it.
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When Carrie Ann spread the news to her family, she didn't pull any punches in her explanation of what it was that we wanted to do. And what we wanted to do, essentially, was to have a small ceremony in a private place. We wanted to publicly declare our love and our devotion to each other, and also our intention to remain together forever.
Afterwards, we planned to have a small party of some sort. And that was it. In other words, we wanted to go through the process of getting married, but without the inclusion of a priest, or anyone else who had the power vested in him by the State of Pennsylvania to proclaim us man and wife.
My own parents, when I tried to spell out the thought process behind our UnWedding, were understandably confused. "Why not just get married?" my mother asked me.
I did my best to explain how foreign and austere the concept of married life felt to me, but I don't think I succeeded in making a connection. After all, my mother's generation didn't grow up amongst 52 percent divorce rates. And even though I personally have a good number of friends who once lived so-called bohemian lives, and who have since gotten legally hitched, I also know a decent number of smart people with no interest whatsoever in the wedded life.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not really sure why that is. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that so many of my peers grew up in broken homes? Maybe it's a result of the decline of family values? It's tough to say. But one thing is for sure: Traditional American marriage in changing fast, and in a major way.
When I first started thinking seriously about this concept - the end of traditional marriage - I mentioned it to a journalist friend who was living in Portland, Ore. That city being what it is, I wasn't entirely surprised when she assured me that she knew loads of couples who'd cobbled together their own alternative relationships and marriages.
I told her I wanted to write a serious trend story for a magazine about the sudden rise of non-traditional couplings, and was there any way she could put me in touch with a few of these people? "Not a problem," she wrote in an email. "I'll get back to you in a week or two."
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When she finally did write back, it was with disappointing news: Apparently most of the couples she'd had in mind had since broken up, and the only contact who seemed willing to speak with me on record was a woman who had married her bicycle. Which I'm sure was a fascinating story in and of itself. It just wasn't what I was looking for at the time. (And yet I couldn't help myself from wondering if that union had somehow been consummated... )