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

Why stay married? Finding time to be an individual is part of being a couple. Marriage is not a joined-at-the-hip, 24/7 partnership, but rather a blending of two people who want to weather any storm that life throws their way. I may have had moments when I didn’t like my husband very much, but I’ve always loved him, regardless. I’ve never thought about ending the marriage. I’d miss my best buddy. And I signed on for better or worse. I would hope he’d say the same thing.

#8 Married, Living Apart
Kambri Crews, 41, and Christian Finnegan, 39
New York City
He’s often on the road, she needs to stay put, and they’re separated at least 10 days a month, often more. Yet they’ve been together for 10 years, married for six.

Christian, who has a recurring role on the TBS sitcom Are We There Yet?, performs in comedy clubs all over the world; Kambri runs a New York public relations and production company. The couple saw each other only four days in October but spent three weeks together at Christmas. “I can’t imagine a different arrangement,” she says. “There have been instances when we were together for longer than we expected, and after four weeks, we said, ‘Who’s going on a trip next?’ ”

Kambri and Christian, who have no children, are among the estimated 3.5 million married couples involved in some variation of a Living Together Apart marriage. That number has more than doubled since 1990, according to the U. S. Census Bureau, driven chiefly by economic necessity—and often by the mutual pursuit of satisfying careers. Kambri’s views:

Benefits It’s corny but true: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We’re always excited to be back together. And both of us like having time to ourselves.

Drawbacks Sometimes he’s gone when something special is happening. I don’t think we’ve had Valentine’s Day together since . . . ever. Luckily, I don’t care. Logistics can be a problem. Who bought toilet paper? Who’s taking the dogs to the vet? But those are minor issues.

No Temptations We’re committed, faithful, monogamous. I’ve never worried; it’s not an issue—knock on wood.

Why Marry? That declaration of your commitment to each other in front of friends and family is important. When I saw everyone surrounding us at the wedding, I was absolutely overjoyed. I said, “I get it—it’s bigger than us!”

#9 Modern Traditionalists
Terry Grahl, 43, and Scott Grahl, 43
Taylor, Michigan
“There’s a little old-fashioned in me,” says Terry Grahl. Her husband of 20 years is a rail-terminal manager and the primary breadwinner. Terry runs a nonprofit that redesigns the interiors of shelters for abused women and their kids; she also has a part-time job cleaning an office. But when her children (three sons, 18, 17 and 14,and a 13-year-old daughter) were small, she was a stay-at-home mom. “I’m still here when the kidscome home from school,” Terry says. “If that’s what traditional is, then that’s what we have.”

Sixty-six percent of American families with children have dual incomes. Only about 16 percent of households consist of a breadwinner husband and a stay-at-home wife, according to the most recent figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. How has the 1950s marriage model changed to meet the needs of today? Terry explains:

Why she decided to stay home After my first son was born, I continued to work full time in the accounting department of a manufacturing firm. My sister took care of the baby. When I told my mother that I wanted a second baby, she said, “Who’s going to raise your -children?”

Regrets? It’s the best decision we’ve ever made. My husband was excited when I said I wanted to stay home with the kids. We were a little scared about money, but we cut down on things like the cable bill.

First published in the March 2013 issue

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