You may have heard about the 100 people who have been selected to go on a ONE WAY trip to Mars. That’s right. They know they are NEVER coming back.
And they’re totally cool with that.
Moreover, the 100 people — 50 men and 50 women — were selected from TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND applicants. So, not only are there 100 people willing to commit to saying goodbye to EVERYONE and EVERYTHING, there were 200,000 people hoping to see the Earth and all of us in the rear view mirror.
And their spouses AREN’T GOING.
I’ll admit — I don’t get it. I mean, sure, I have my days with Earth. There are certainly moments when there’s just too much terra firma for me. Stress, snow, responsibilities, Kardashians …
…There are days when getting away sounds nice. To Hawaii. Or Costa Rica. Somewhere warm. And RETURN-ABLE.
I’m all for adventure. I’ve been skydiving and zip-lining, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding and surfing. I married a soldier, for Pete’s sake. Obviously a life filled with predictability and comfort wasn’t high on my wish list.
But I can’t imagine why someone would want a one way ticket to Mars. And I really can’t imagine why the spouse of that person would be okay with that.
Still, my 12 years of marriage have over-lapped
ever-so-conveniently inconveniently with our country’s 13 years of war. My husband has been deployed much more than he’s been home, so I can probably understand what these couples will face better than most.
Consider the similarities:
Iraq/Afghanistan: Really far away and a place the spouse at home has never visited.
Mars: Really far away and a place the spouse at home has never visited.
Iraq/Afghanistan: Unusual terrain and weather patterns the spouse at home has never encountered.
Mars: Unusual terrain and weather patterns the spouse at home has never encountered.
Iraq/Afghanistan: The person taking the trip doesn’t know what will happen when he/she arrives.
Mars: The person taking the trip doesn’t know what will happen when he/she arrives.
Iraq/Afghanistan: Everyone you know thinks the spouse and the service member are crazy for volunteering for this.
Mars: Everyone you know thinks the spouse at home and the traveler are crazy for volunteering for this.
Iraq/Afghanistan: It will be dangerous. He/she could be seriously injured or die.
Mars: It will be dangerous. He/she could be seriously injured or die.
Iraq/Afghanistan: You can communicate! All the time. Via email, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Chat, occasional phone calls and good old fashioned letters and care packages.
Mars: You can communicate! Online only … and with a SEVEN MINUTE delay.
(Seriously. Imagine how that conversation is likely to go:
[Wait seven minutes. Fidget. Polish the nails on both hands.]
[Wait seven minutes. Turn the laptop around so you can start defrosting the food for dinner.]
“How are you?”
[Seven minutes. Dinner is on the stove.]
[Seven more minutes. Eat. Feel self-conscious about your table manners. Finish meal. Start to wash dishes.]
Anyway, a 15-minute conversation will take DAYS! )
Iraq/Afghanistan: He/She is most likely coming home.
Mars: He/She is NEVER coming home.
So here’s my free advice for the spouses of these — really incredibly brave, I’ll give them that — people signing on for this trip to Mars:
Stop the madness.
I mean, on The Honeymooners Ralph would threaten Alice with trips to the Moon, but only when he was really, really mad at her. He really viewed it as a banishment.
(The moon, incidentally, is much closer. And people have been going there and coming back for decades.)
You just can’t let your spouse go through with this. It’s ridiculous. If your spouse persists with this idea, you need to file for divorce. You can be still be a supportive friend to him or her, but you cannot be a spouse to someone who never intends to come home again.
Every time I’ve hugged my husband goodbye as he has left for a deployment, I’ve done so knowing that I MIGHT never see him again. It has been agony. The pain is worse than any physical pain I’ve ever experienced. (And I opted for natural childbirth — TWICE.) But each time he has INTENDED to come back and the odds were always heavily in favor of us being together again.
Each time, I have had hope.
There have been many days (days of stress, snow, responsibilities, Kardashians) when hope and that end date were the only things that got me through.
And you won’t have that. You really need to think this through.