9 Ways to Be Married: Explained

It's one thing to say "I Do"—and another to keep on doing. At a time when statistics show many forces working against it, how does marriage continue to thrive? MORE talks to a variety of women in committed, if sometimes unconventional unions about how they choose to tie their knot

by Doren Allen
Photograph: Jens Bonnke

Don’t you miss anniversaries? We celebrate our anniversary as the day we met, so we still have hoopla. We give each other cards and do nice things because we want to commemorate the moment that we first laid eyes on each other. The first thing he gave me was a peanut butter cookie, at the conference where we met. If we have a spat, he gives me a peanut butter cookie.

#3 Gay Marriage
Samantha Aulick, 41, and Alexa Lemley, 38
Columbus, Indiana
They fell in love as teenagers, when Samantha—Sam—took a job at the catering company owned by Alexa’s parents. Both went off to college and on to other female partners, though they remained friends. Sam lived in Maryland, Alexa in Kentucky. In 2000, Alexa returned to the catering company to be its executive chef; Sam went back in 2005 to handle sales. Working together, they rekindled their relationship, and have been together seven years. “We’ll get married as soon as it’s legal in Indiana,” says Sam.

Nine states and the District of Columbia now recognize gay marriage, and 50 percent of Americans support it, according to recent national surveys. The latest census shows 646,464 same-sex households in the U.S., a number that has nearly doubled since 2000. Among that group, 131,729 couples identified themselves as married. Many gay-rights advocates believe both figures to be low. Sam reflects:

On Small-town life We’ve found acceptance. We’re an out couple in a very conservative rural community; we’ve had people tell us that until they met us, they didn’t believe gays and lesbians deserved rights. We love each other very much, and it’s obvious.

Why not a civil partnership? Marriage legitimizes the relationship in the eyes of other people. We want the respect and legal protection a marriage provides, especially if we have children. A civil partnership doesn’t offer that.

Wedding dreams We have about 10 different scenarios: taking friends and family to Europe or to a lovely place in Maine. We’ve also thought about having a big to-do, because marriage is a celebration of unity and community. (“We want to have kids,” adds Alexa, “but I’m a good Catholic girl; I’d like to be married first.”)

#4 Ricochet Marriage
Cozy Meyer, 49, and Joe Newman, 48
Las Vegas
Cozy and Joe met at their California junior high; then her family moved to another district. When she was 17 and he was 19, a friend fixed them up, and they married a few months later, in 1983. Joe was in the Navy and often away. When he was assigned to another base, Cozy decided not to move with him, but the divorce was amicable. She later remarried and had two sons, now grown.

For nearly a decade, the former couple had no contact until Joe, who hadn’t remarried but did have two sons, phoned Cozy to talk over what had gone wrong between them; he wanted closure, and he wanted to learn about himself. Cozy, separated from her second husband at the time, realized she still had feelings for Joe. “But I’d made a commitment to try to reconcile with my sons’ father,” she says. She and Joe lost touch for another decade until Cozy, by then divorced and living in Las Vegas, trained to be a massage therapist and was required to provide contact information for her first husband as part of a background check during the licensing process. “I had to find him,” she says. “When I did, I went to Los Angeles in 2003 and we had lunch, which turned into dinner and then breakfast—and the rest is history.” Joe, a tech-support agent for the video game company PlayStation, moved toLas Vegas. They remarried two years ago.

First published in the March 2013 issue

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