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Honey, I Want to Move to Mars

My wife is a semifinalist to board a one-way mission to the Red Planet. I’m proud, happy, and thrilled for her. Now, do you want to know how I really feel about it?

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Jason Stanford and Sonia Van Meter.
Photograph courtesy of Jason Stanford

Until recently, I never understood the scene in Apollo 13 when the astronaut wives watched their husbands launch into space, leaving them back on Earth to deal with the reporters.

Reporter 1: Mrs. Lovell! Mrs. Haise!
Reporter 2: Can we speak to you? Can we just have a word with you, please?
Marilyn Lovell: Remember, you’re proud, happy, and thrilled.
Reporter 1: How are you feeling?
Mary Haise: Well, we’re very proud, very happy, and we’re thrilled.

It made no sense to me. Wasn’t saying you’re proud, happy, and thrilled stating the obvious? Their husbands were astronauts, for crying out loud. How else would you feel? At least, that’s how I felt until my own spouse made it past the initial stages in the application process to be among the first humans on 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.

Usually, however, the questions I get asked are less about the babies and more about how they are made. Over dinner in a crowded restaurant, a friend asked her—in front of me—what she would do for sexual gratification for the rest of her life on Mars. (I assume this is why we named the Mars Rover Curiosity.) In one of the high points of media speculation, the co-host of an Austin morning radio show asked her how she would handle her urges and coined the word “marsterbation” by way of suggesting an answer.

I might have suggested another couple of words in response to that particular question, but I know better than most that the notion that someone can retain privacy once they’ve entered this modestly public life is archaic. When Mars One whittled the 200,000-plus applicants down to 1,058, Sonia got enough media coverage to become a minor celebrity around town. It doesn’t hurt that she is easy on the eyes. I love her, the camera loves her, and now strangers do too.

When we go to parties we hear whispers. “That’s the Mars girl,” people say. Women—it’s always women—approach to congratulate her on her bravery. Rarely does anyone engage her as a space geek to talk about what she hopes to find up there, but if someone did, he or she would open the discussion to Sonia’s innate curiosity and her enthusiasm about humanity’s drive to explore and expand our understanding of what is possible. She honestly does not understand why everyone does not want to go to Mars, though she knows I would last about half an hour before getting bored up there.

But that’s not what people talk about when they comment about her on the Internet. No sooner had a story about my wife’s astronautical ambition aired in Austin than strangers took it upon themselves to diagnose our obviously flawed marriage.

“Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than a one-way trip to Mars,” tweeted one stranger.

“She must really be sick of her husband,” commented another, unaware of how surprised I am that she married me in the first place.

One Internet commenter posting under the pseudonym “Acup” wrote: “Wow Im glad Im not married to her.” True enough, since she’d probably tell him where he could put his apostrophes.

More to the point was “buck,” whose keen insight resulted in this trenchant observation: “Going to Mars and abandoning your husband and children forever? Brave? Hardly. Selfish? Most definitely.”

Sonia had not learned the first rule of the Internet: never read the comments. Excited to see the reaction to the story, she read, aghast, as strangers sat in anonymous judgment of our marriage. What started as a brave woman claiming her ambition had become a public hazing.

“I want you to tell me honestly,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “Am I being a bad wife?”

Neil Armstrong probably never had to ask his wife this. Or maybe he did. Maybe his wife had to demonstrate to him that the fullest expression of her commitment was to love him to the ends of the Earth and then one very large step beyond. Maybe she had to reinforce to Neil that all she wanted was for him to become the biggest version of himself. Maybe she loved him “no matter what,” and risking his life in space was the “what.”

But as I mentioned before, Neil came home—and he hitched a ride on a government-funded spacecraft. Here is where my nightmare scenario deepens. To fund this private enterprise mission, Mars One is considering staging reality television shows to narrow the field of “marstronauts” down to the final four. If she goes the distance, I will evolve into a professional astronaut wife, constantly calibrating my words and tempering my public behavior to avoid hurting her chances or the mission. It’s not just that I don’t want to be sitting on a porch in our dotage with her glaring at me for screwing up her life’s dream. She has chosen this, so we will do it.

This mission is, admittedly, a literal long shot. They have to raise more than $1 billion, solve the radiation problem, build a new generation of spacecraft, and figure out how to sustain human life on a cold, airless planet that has neither water nor pizza delivery. Not even Netflix. But regardless of whether this actually happens, the possibility of my wife flying into space some day in the future forces me—right here, right now—to accept that this may happen.

Watching the launch will be the easy part. Living without her will be an agony that I will have to share with the world. I’ll be Mr. Sonia Van Meter for the rest of my life, showing up to cut the ribbon at Sonia Van Meter High School and telling her story here on Earth. I joke about endorsing products (“While my wife is exploring Mars, I’m doing the laundry with new Cosmos Detergent. It’s out of this world!”), but there will be some who view me as a cautionary male, cuckolded by an entire planet. And though remarrying isn’t an option, others might think me unfaithful if pictures of me socializing with women friends end up on TMZ. There aren’t a lot of happy options when the public gets invited into your private life.

This would all fit more neatly into popular understanding if we were conforming to gender stereotypes, if she were the man and I the supportive wife. These roles are not strangers in our society. She could be understood as an explorer, and I the determined source of support back at home. If I were the wife, I could say that I love Sonia, no matter what, that I love her to the ends of the Earth and beyond, that I want what she wants, and people would nod approvingly at how nice it must be to have such love and support.      

But until the culture grows up, my answers will only puzzle those who want me to describe the view as I look into the abyss. I will miss her. I will be lonely. I will mourn her a million times before she dies. I will not like any of this, but I love her, and this is a horizon worth crossing. Like those astronaut wives before me, I will man up. And when people ask me how I am feeling, I’ve got my answer memorized.

I’m proud, happy, and thrilled. 

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  • Jami

    Who is anybody to judge a personal relationship between two people and say what should and should not be done? It’s THEIR marriage, not anyone else’s. Your personal view of marriage should apply to just one – your own. Jason and Sonia have the right to do as they see fit between them and it is no one’s business but theirs. If some have a different view of it, fine – but why try to fit someone else into your box by telling them what is and isn’t fair, right, healthy or whatever? Those words are defined by each person for themselves.

    • Michael Blaustein

      I agree with you one hundred percent. I am having a hard time understanding all the judgement and vitriol, calling this woman selfish when she could, in fact, be saving the human race. The only possible explanation I can come up with comes from this phrase: “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”, meaning that there must be something from these people’s personal histories, such as abandonment by their parents, that they haven’t fully accepted, that causes them to lash out at others. I hope that this writer and this explorer can begin to understand that these people are not talking about them, but are talking about people who hurt them personally.

    • zornwil

      I don’t judge the relationship but I do see this Mars One farce as a massive scam that will take advantage of a few innocents while otherwise mostly it’s cynical posturing by wanna-be/will-be reality stars.

    • CPT

      Because he put it on the internet, stupid. Obviously soliciting opinions and discourse. What people are pointing out is that he’s getting hosed by a selfish woman. Nothing wrong with pointing that out, he’s made it obvious to everyone what’s happening and that he wants everybody’s opinion on it.
      What is it you believe exactly, that nobody should ever hold anybody else accountable, or dare to articulate an opinion someone else may disagree with? Just stupid…

  • Beautifully written!

  • bahama

    Haha! What century is this?

    • Kelly

      No kidding! She doesn’t just have to give up her dreams of space travel, she has to give up her name, too. It’s back to the kitchen for you, Sonia.

      • RandomJerk

        Not saying that at all. I’m pointing out that if he’s not equal in the relationship, and hasn’t been from the get-go, he has no justification to complain about it now. Just like people would say that the wife of an astronaut would have no right to complain about it, if the roles were reversed.

      • CPT

        I hope you’re not married, you and bahama have no business marrying another person.

    • RandomJerk

      I’m not making a judgement – as I said, it is what it is. As is clear, she wears the pants – nothing wrong with that, but now he’s whining about it?

      If he’s a beta male with an alpha wife, that’s fine. But then he shouldn’t expect that she wouldn’t make this kind of decision on his behalf, and he has no right to complain about being “Mr. Sonia Van Meter” if he had an equal relationship with her.

      • A

        You say if they were equal that she would take his last name, which is traditional but certainly not equal. REAL equality is keeping your own names, or choosing a new surname together! How is it self-centered for a woman to keep her surname, but not for a man?

        • RandomJerk

          You’re missing the point. I don’t care if she takes his name or not – as I said, if he’s a beta male with an alpha wife, that’s fine with me. But he’s the one whining about it, according to the quote in the article about being “Mr. Sonia Van Meter”.

          What is unequal is that she is ditching her family, leaving her responsibilities to him, and he has little or no say in the matter, apparently. That’s the entire point of the article – he’s at least as unequal in his relationship with his wife, as Marilyn Lovell and was in her relationship with the famous Apollo 13 astronaut. Except, I would argue that what Sonia Van Meter is doing is far worse – Jason didn’t get married to an astronaut going on a one way mission – he married a woman who studied sociology and works at a political consulting firm. Marilyn Lovell at least knew she was marrying a risk-taking Navy test pilot, who might not survive his job but at least intended to come home every time. Mrs Van Meter has no intention of returning home, and was not an astronaut or test pilot when she agreed to marry poor Mr. Stanford.

  • cantbelieveitsnotbuttah

    It doesn’t matter who’s male or female in this scenario, I would not be nodding my head in agreement. It’s sad that she wants to leave you for a planet, how can it not be? You’re both incredibly brave.

  • CalSailor

    I am a supporter of Mars One…and have even giving a passing thought to applying. I understand the desire to go. Her dream is akin to the 16th century great explorers who set to sea with a high percentage never being found again.
    I am in awe of your willingness to stand by her and her dream. As a minister, I understand that the wedding vows we make “for better or for worse” is lived out in marriage in a way no one outside the marriage can fully understand. Only the couple themselves can define that for themselves. If she goes, she will have the person she loves most standing behind her. That’s “priceless”
    I would suggest that you both do what you are doing…the selction stages will continue for awhile, but continuing to discuss it, in facing each day as it comes is all that Mars One or anyone else, can ask.
    Best of luck to both of you.
    Pr Chris

  • CalSailor

    It sounds like you are in the wives submit branch of persons. Thank goodness you are not defining what it is to live their marriage. Why is it ok for men to go away forever (check out 16th century explorations…for example) and not the wife? Sorry. the wedding vows each takes are lived out by the couple and no one else.
    Pr chris

    • TrulyJulie

      CalSailor, you read an awful lot into what I wrote — I never said it was okay for men to go away forever but not the wife. You apparently haven’t read what I replied to DanCarey_404 below. I am not in the “wives submit” category. I’m married myself and know for a fact that a healthy marriage only works if both spouses submit to each other; that includes allowing our individual dreams to change and mature (and sometimes even die) as we honor the union between us, while carefully trying to fit personal hopes and dreams in around that. A husband should champion his wife’s individual dreams and vice-versa as long as her dreams don’t *HARM* him and the union they created together.

      If spouses have made life-long commitments to one another, they need to honor them vociferously. There are plenty of single, divorced without kids, widowed without kids, and otherwise unattached people to populate Mars. Or married couples who agree to go together, if they’re chosen.

      You’re right that the wedding vows are lived by the couple and no one else, but if you read Jason’s piece above you can see that his wife’s narcissism is hurting him. He’s gritting his teeth and trying to suck it up, but he shouldn’t have to. Her unilateral decision obviously doesn’t come from a desire to do what is best for BOTH of them. This is why marriages fail when both parties originally intended it to last forever. Selfishness will suck the life out of any relationship.

      • CalSailor

        Julie: I think you need to look carefully at your entry in reply to Jim. Your whole first paragraph talks about HER need to honor him by submitting to his wishes. He’s a “doormat”? He should get counseling? He doesn’t have to support her dreams, but she has to drop her dream because he’s uncomfortable? This is hardly an image of both parts of the marriage mutually submitting (which, I actually agree, is the meaning of Paul’s statement on marriage, “husbands love your wives…”) Both people in a marriage have to sometimes give up their dreams for the sake of the marriage. But why are you so hard on her? As a military Chaplain, I’ve seen the other side of reality so many times it isn’t funny: The wives left behind so the husband can go off to war. Instead of telling the women they’re being doormats, we tell them to support their husbands…that’s their DUTY to enable their men to survive in war. How is this different?

        Great explorers aren’t just of one gender; and as life changes, so do relationships. I see a man writing about loving his wife so much he’s willing to let her follow HER dream. Sure, he’s mourning a future possility that she might leave. But isn’t that a sign of true love? That one gives up his dreams for the dreams of the other? I see his post as poignant and loving. And yet you tell him to get counseling.

        The mission to Mars is relatively new. How long have they been married? Have you not seen something new that strongly attracts you? How does a couple react? What about women who set of to college or medical school when they were forcing society to rethink the discriminization denying them entrance Some of them left families behind. Sometimes, that comes with driven people trying to live a dream. And that’s true for both genders.

        We don’t know if she will be picked. There are 1000+ initially selected. There is a long process involved, and only 4 people are going. If any ONE of her training group drops out, the whole group fails. She’ll have plenty of time to decide whether or not this really IS her dream. This is like a kid in level 2 gymnastics already dreaming about going to the Olympics, and her parents saying…oh, we can’t afford to support that? How does anyone know whether or not the kid will make it that far? Don’t you support her now, and see what happens down the road.

        She has taken one step on a road that has so many steps in it, that it is not funny. As they progress further, and as they live with this as a couple, then we’ll see. She may wash out. She can decide that the reality of what this entails is not really what she thinks it is. He and she together will have plenty of time to decide what they are going to do. Is that fair to demand that at this initial step she can’t even dream? All I see happening now is that she has been caught up in a dream that many of us relate to (why do you think Star Trek has kept its fan appeal for 50 years? Because men AND women are explorers and dreamers…), and she is taking an exploratory step. He is thinking of a far away possibility, and beginning to see what women married to explorers have known for centuries. Why not just encourage them to keep dreaming and keep talking and let them see what happens?
        BTW: I wrote a primary post below. Did you read it?
        Pr Chris

        • AJ

          Great, great post – hope everyone reads it!

        • Scott S

          Apples & oranges comparison here, I believe.
          Husbands (and now wives too) go off to war with the prayerful intent to return home alive & in one piece.
          Not the case here.

        • Casey Stimson

          It’s about her leaving her family. It’s not about being a doormat. You feminists have no family values. That’s destroying society.

        • CPT

          Wait wait…”husbands love you wives” to you means both somehow equally submitting “to each other”. That is an incredibly warped personal interpretation of scripture.

          • CalSailor

            On the contrary: The second half of the statement in Paul is “husbands love your wives AS CHRIST loved the Church and gave himself for it.” Are you trying to say that only women have to submit? Men have to emulate the immage of Jesus. He was NOT compelled to submit, but he freely gave up divine power to go to the cross.

            In a relationship that is based on mutual love and respect, BOTH sides have to give up their position in favor of the other. CPT, do you think that the wife should simply say: “sure honey” whatever you want? That is not the image of humanity that is portrayed in the NT. the biblical marriage means that both sides are honored equally. And sometimes, for the wellbeing of the marriage, the man has to willingly set aside his own desires for the sake of his wife and the marriage.

            Neither the husband or the wife cannot assume dictatorial authority, or the marriage is not long to endure.

            Pr Chris

        • The very first part of your comment is wrong: you said “Your whole first paragraph talks about HER need to honor him” as a fault or a evidence of the machism or something. But, the POINT is that SHE will abandon her family. It’s not about equality, but the case in discussion it’s HER decission and HER narcissism. So no equality talk here.

        • bob

          Being a soldier is not a 1-way ticket (though sadly, it can be). There is a big difference in taking a risk to defend your country, the very family you are leaving behind, vs. what this mars trip is doing

    • Wing Fat

      I want marry US woman, Edward, but she not marry me yet, so I want to Offer to prove love by Marrying and go to Mars for her.

    • DeepThought

      It looks like mean get the shaft in this new marriage paradigm. Lose the kids and lose the money? No wonder less and less men are getting married. Society and the feminists have gone off the deep end.

  • CalSailor

    Anyone of you who want to comment on this ought to check out the Mars One site: https://www.mars-one.com/
    Then see what you think!
    Pr Chris

  • Bradley Speck

    After being in relationship with my husband for nine years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email is ([email protected] } tel.+2347053977842) you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything.

  • arthur

    Look guys, she is not going to Mars for YEARS, if at all. This whole situation is a humongous “IF” and the guy clearly knows it. We, as humans, are terrible at looking at the long term, and even though his article speaks of it, I’ll bet he wrote all this for the purposes of the short term, which is to reassure the wife he loves that she can dream her dream without being a terrible wife. Years later, when maybe sh*t gets real, the truth (the actual truth) will probably have no choice but to come out, but that isn’t now. Heck, right now she hasn’t even been selected. So my guess is he’s thinking, instead of jumping the gun and cutting off the relationship now, play it out as supportive as he can be. Maybe she won’t even get past the next selection phase. Or maybe Mars will inexplicably explode, because science.

    I should also mention that I do not think this is a great situation to be in for their marriage. I’m no expert, but there is definitely something amiss here. The reality is, that is also not terribly unusual for marriages in general. It’s why counseling is actually a thing.

    And I guess for the record, if I read this article with the genders switched, I’d feel the same way.

    • zornwil

      If this thing happens, she’s going until she dies. Mars One has no plans to bring people back. But it’s all a big and superficial scam, anyway.

  • valiskster

    This woman must REALLY want to get away from her husband.

  • Bert

    My thoughts exactly. The silence on obtaining the billions this will cost (apart from “ads, tv, private funding”) and the absence of an any actual technical concept whatsoever makes this obvious.
    I once applied for it in the initial stages, and asked about 10 times what kind of fees I could expect, what was exactly expected financially, if they had any realistic further idea how to proceed beyond selection. Never a reply. The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

  • bimini

    Just a thought, people can define for themselves what their marriage means or doesn’t mean and what they want out of it. We all don’t need the same things.

    • TrulyJulie

      Bimini, that’s true, but Jason’s own words tell us that his wife’s dream of spending the rest of her life without him is killing him. He apparently made a lifelong commitment to her and believed she did the same to him. He has defined what he wants out of his relationship, and his hurt at her choice is evident.

      • RandomJerk

        I don’t know why this is so difficult for people to comprehend. At least you get it, TrulyJulie. The whole article is about poor beta male Jason and his wife, who studied sociology and works at a political consulting firm, suddenly deciding to drop all her commitments on his lap and run off on a one-way trip to Mars.

        It’s entirely irrelevant what anyone’s definition of marriage is, or whether she likes Star Trek, or whether or not she’ll make it through the selection process.

        The point is, she decided for both of them and her decision, if she’s selected, is permanent for both of them.

  • The Real World

    For one this is a stupid article and can’t believe I read it. Two, ten years is a long ways away and a whole new set of candidates will most likely be chosen. Three, It’s very selfish. Leaving a family to constantly wonder about their loved one and to also start over just so someone can be recognized as a pioneer of Mars. And four, four people to start a colony? The chances of survival would be extremely low. Although I enjoy the thought of space travel and colonization of Mars, this is beyond a far fetched dream.

  • Say what!?!

    She cray cray over spay spay.

  • i don’t understand this

    The way I see it, she already made a life long commitment. Now she’s making another one AFTER she already made one to you, her partner. These are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE, life long commitments.
    If she had started the relationship with a caveat of “I’m going to love you while I’m here, but know that somewhere down the line, i will be voluntarily leaving the planet forever, 0% chance of ever returning” and he still wanted to pursue the relationship, that would be one thing.
    But she didn’t. She promised him to be with him forever. Then was like, “oh wait, actually, I’ve changed my mind. You’ll never see me again, hope you’re cool with that. and BTW, I still love you and we should stay married but you’ll NEVER SEE ME AGAIN”

    • TrulyJulie

      You nailed the key issue!

  • zornwil

    I hope the reality stars (including of course this author) and others associated with Mars One realize that until the project produces some result other than generating celebrities, it’s hard to see any statements from the participants as more than either media whoring or absurd naiveté.

  • zornwil

    Although that’s a valid reason to get “kickers twisted,” for the sake of outrage over what is really simple media whoring by these would-be/will-be reality stars masquerading as real emotion, or outrage over those who are so naïve or even mentally challenged they are being used by the Mars One producers. I am not outraged, but I am saddened for those innocents being used. For the media whores, meh, I don’t care, I suppose it’s nice they’re getting their 15 minutes.

  • CalSailor

    What is the difference between going on something like this, and going on a mission where the chances are less than 1 in 100? Yes, technically, the explorers in the 16th century mostly intended to come back, but they were aware that the risks were HUGE. There were people willing to pay huge prizes for various achievements. Why? That was the only way to get people to take on some of the riskiest missions.
    Whether Sonya goes or Dave goes or neither, where it nothing wrong with a dream and finding the will to follow it; otherwise we would not have had many of the advances that have marked humankind’s history. How many people have died, for example, for the technology that may find the Malaysian airlines black boxes? Submarine technology cost a huge percentage of the deaths to bring in the modern age. Think of how many subs are still “on patrol” from WW II. And yet, men went out on them…for the sense of exploration, as well as the sense of obligation to the society. Space is merely the latest of the huge challenges. Take a look at my other post, because both of these couples are in the same boat.
    Pr Chris

    • submandave

      If I gave you a choice between being shot or rolling a die that gave you a 1% chance of not being shot which would you choose? In any event, while I think you have either been free with the hyperbole or overly dramatic in estimating the risks earlier explorers faced, it is immaterial to the main thesis of my post. I never questioned anyone’s choice to go to Mars, I only questioned the assertion that criticism of that choice was necessarily sexist.

      • CalSailor

        dave…I’m not far off…for instance, according to this weeks TED talk on Huffington Post, the presenter is a Canadian astronaut, who talks about suiting up in the same room that John Glenn used, and all the pioneers in the space program. the odds are in the range of single digits 1/x.
        What was the success rate of those trying to go to the North Pole, or circumnavigate the world, or some of the other very risky adventures…and even if the effort itself succeeded, how many in the crew might have died in the process? The death rate in the great exploration, was very high, no matter where they went, whether Mexico, Iceland, or wherever.
        I agree that there is no difference between which spouse goes and which remains–that is a reflection of the change in role models in the last 400+ years. The issue for Jason is that he is having to play the (normally) women’s role, to remain home while her warrior husband went off to war, whether by submarine, or as an infantryman. Some on this thread have seemed to be very critical that SHE would htink of going, and he has to remain behind. I think both Jason and Dan, as partners in a marriage where one has been selected for the next step.
        Pr Chri

  • w

    being a wise man, you will likely follow the “don’t read the conmments” rule – but – just in case you do –

    I think you are an extremely well spoken and persuasive writer, and I wish you the best. we should all be so lucky to be supported in our dreams – unequivocally.

  • SF2Singapore

    Sonia would have just as much to be proud of back here on earth if she made it up there. Don’t let others get you down. This is a lovely testament to your devotion, support, love and vows to each other.

  • RandomJerk

    As does he wish his wife had, based on what I can tell from the article.

  • RandomJerk

    They won’t have each other for long, if she has her way. She’ll be forever separated from her husband and children, both physically, as well as by a 20-30 minute time delay in radio messages (depending on where Earth and Mars are in relation to one another).

    This guy seems like he lost the marriage lottery, I wouldn’t call him lucky.

    • David Beemer

      OMG – Your name says it all. I’ll give you credit, you’re an honest internet troll.

      Love is a odd thing and marriage is different for many people.

      Throughout our collective history men and a few women went off on exploration voyages for years, some times decades and many never returned. How is this lost upon society? The society that you enjoy, is literately built upon the backs of others.

      For the greater good of mankind… Means nothing?

      No worries, keep thinking small and have no fear, you too will one day take the dirt nap just like the rest of us.

      • RandomJerk

        This isn’t trolling. Look up troll. I’m actually presenting an opinion and engaging people in debate about it.

        Anyway, I’m not criticizing her decision to go on a journey like this. I’m criticizing the idea that as far as the article says, he didn’t have a say in it – she decided for both of them.

        You’re comparing this situation to a comparable voyage of exploration in history – very retrograde of you. Because a husband might have set off on a ship and the wife had no say, the the same standards should apply now?

        The author compared it (more logically than your comparison, in my opinion) to Apollo-era astronauts. And I’m pointing out that the major difference between Jim and Marilyn Lovell and this couple is that Marilyn knew she was marrying someone in a high-risk profession and even then, Jim Lovell made every effort to come home from his job.

        This guy, Jason, married a woman in a very safe life and career, who then after a few years of marriage and getting involved in the lives of his kids, decides to change careers to one from which, if she’s chosen, she is guaranteed to not return. There’s a big difference and I’m surprised that mentioning that is so controversial on this page. I think there is a lot of knee-jerk “it’s equality” reaction going on, without much deeper thought into it on the part of those who think this makes sense.

        • Argenta

          I agree with you on this. I don’t think gender equality is (necessarily) an issue – I personally think someone leaving their spouse KNOWING they’ll never come back is doing the wrong thing, no matter how great the adventure waiting for them. And I would say exactly the same if it were a man planning to leave his wife behind. Just wrong.

      • CPT

        Well if everything you said is true, she wouldn’t need to divorce him, now would she? They could remain married. She wants a divorce and to fly off to a planet millions of miles away because she has no true loyalty or commitment to her husband and kids. Divorce just insures (to her) that she can be with other men on that mission if she wishes without having to feel any sting of guilt. She will regardless eventually, all these ho-ass walk away wives do at some point.

      • CPT

        She is DESTROYING HER FAMILY for her own selfish gain, and your assertion that it’s all for the “greater good” is typical selfish shitlib commie BS.

  • aquinas

    I can’t believe Mars One will get anywhere, but by god I can hope.

    So Carl Sagan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGK84Poeynk

  • queen_ee

    Jason, I read with enjoyment, and then I came to the last paragraph and teared up. Your spouse is lucky to have someone who supports her dreams. And you are so right, that if the gender roles were reversed there would be little hubbub.

  • Rhette

    First of all, you are a great writer. Second, I admire your level of commitment and love for your wife.

  • Alex

    Jason, I hope you have learnt not to read the comments section. Your words have had too much consideration to engage in the reactionary, throw away comments that have been left here. All the best to you both, I’m sure your wit, empathy and ability to see beyond yourself will serve you well if your wife does makes it through to Mars.

  • Bob T. Cynic

    There is a happy ending in sight for you, though : Mars One will never fly…

  • I understand.

    Jason, what your marriage means to you and your wife is your business. How you two feel and deal with an incredibly difficult decision is also your business. Will there be speculation? Unfortunately, yes. Will there be judgement? Again, unfortunately yes. Will people assume that your wife bounced in one day and chirpily told you, “Honey, I’m leaving to Mars to never return! Byyyyyeee!” and that when this opportunity first presented itself you and your wife DIDN’T have one of the most serious and important discussions of your marriage, incredibly, apparently so. However, I want to thank you for your very honest and insightful article. I only wish you and your wife the best. I understand the pull of a once in a life time, never thought to be attained dream, and loving someone enough to let them chase it.

  • Ben

    marriage and these things we got used to keep our civilization from growing. I’ve also been considering going to Mars and not looking back. Sonia has my total respect and support for considering taking this step to give one more chance to humanity, for if we stay on this planet that we are gradually destroying, our days are numbered. and Jason has my total respect, support and empathy for supporting Sonia. some here say about Jason “a doormat who apparently needs help to find your backbone.” if Jason can go through this, he has one of the strongest backbones ever.

  • Rexiiel Maghuum

    that what the Lord has bind, do not be separated by man. Obviously here the promises are invalid for one part of that couple.

    • Rexiiel Maghuum

      dump that woman, and get two or three!! or at least one thatreally is going to spend life beside you, not one that is going to leave you forever.

  • Rexiiel Maghuum

    Nice said!

  • Rexiiel Maghuum

    I agree with you also!

  • Keen

    I think this is a totally hypothetical discussion. These folks will NOT be going to Mars in 2024, 2034, or even 2044. All those challenges and technological hurdles . . . funded by a reality show? That’s NOT real.
    Figure about 100 billion will be needed to give them a 50-50 chance of survival. They’ll need resupply missions too. IF an international effort is started soon, maybe we could have a Mars Colony about 2050. Wish I was going to be here to see it! But these folks are safe. Colonize the Moon first.

    • Ben

      They don’t need to survive. The mission is a success if one of them make it there alive. We can do this very cheaply if we just accept that they will die there and somehow get people to volunteer anyway. Also if they do happen to live long enough to finish constructing their settlement that will drastically reduce the cost when major governments get around to sending a mission.

  • Keen

    By comparison, the Curiosity Rover program, size of a car, cost 2.5 billion. And it doesn’t eat, breathe, need exercise, protection from radiation, and a hundred other things. If these two lovers separate, it won’t be because of a Mars mission.

  • Ron Finger

    You are fooling yourself guy.

  • Douglas Wise

    My girlfriend and I broke up because I signed up to go to Mars. I didn’t make the cut, but I have no regrets. If you have the chance to go to Mars you take it. You leave your loved ones and everything you built in your life and you go. No question. Yes, you’ll miss all those you left behind, but, dammit, you’re going to Mars! She’s not being a bad wife. She’s winning the lottery. She’s being given the opportunity unlike one ever before in human history. She’s stepping into a science fiction novel.

    Jason… it sucks to be you. It does. You’re going to be a Mars Widower. She’ll be alive, but nowhere you can visit or talk to outside of e-mail. The woman you love is leaving you forever without the benefit of a huge fight and hatred of each other to ease the way. On the plus side, how many men get to say their wife left them for another planet.

    With all that said, I’d get a divorce. One effective the moment she leaves the atmosphere. Unless there’s a real chance you can be on a later ship. If you’re on different planets for life then both of you need to be free to date and move on with your lives.

    I want to give you both massive hugs. This is not an easy thing for either of you, but I envy both of you.

    • Scott S

      I hope you aren’t blaming your ex-girlfriend in any way. Finding yourself choosing between your girlfriend & Mars, you chose Mars. She can hardly be faulted for not wanting to remain in a relationship knowing it has no future.

      Unfortunate that Mars did not choose you as well & you lost out on both of them. But I’m happy for you that you have no regrets.

  • Zac Stanford

    Hey, Jason, this is your brother. I told you she was an uppity broad from the get-go.

  • Zac Stanford

    What’s wrong with Jupiter?

  • MarsInCharge

    This bugs me: “If she would abandon you for Mars, she would abandon you for something else if she deemed it sufficiently novel.”

    I don’t think you understand how large of a deal this is. It’s not like it’s just a job opportunity. It’s a huge advancement for the entire human race. I wouldn’t have any respect for her if she did anything less than try her best to go to Mars.

    It’s Mars. Mars is not novel. If anyone had an opportunity to go to Mars, they should take it. So what if they’re married? She could be a part of history.

  • King of the Pragmatists

    I suspect your selfless approach to the situation is based on your knowledge that she is more likely to win the Powerball Lottery than actually board a spaceship for Mars. he upside for you & downside for Sonia is that the flight will likely never take place even if she is chosen. Mars is now and will always be unsuitable for human habitation. A trip to live at the bottom of the Mariana’s Trench is more likely to happen, more economical, and will yield the same result. That result being a lonely pointless death and an enormous waste of resources. I’m not sure who dreamed up this fantasy/contest or what their end-game is, but it’s most certainly not an actual trip to Mars. That is assuming that the sponsors are sane. In the end the appropriate adjective I’d use to describe the chances of four regular people flying one-way in a spaceship to colonize Mars would be the word “astronomical.” Come on man! Indulging in a little fantasy is always fun, but if anybody has any illusions that this is ever really gonna happen then it’s time for a little reality-check. Hello, Earth to anybody who actually believes this trip to Mars contest is real.

    • Ben

      True mars is not habitable for humans, but that wont stop us from getting people there. It just means that they will die shortly after arriving. If the organization gets enough money to pay for it then it will happen. They chose to do it in a country that wont try to stop them and they are sending people who volunteered knowing they will certainly die there.

  • Hcredo

    I truly wish you the best Jason. And I believe that your decision to support Sonia is the right thing to do, which ever way you look at it. If someone is willing to leave you permanently – on their own accord, then the wisest thing to do is to fully support them to go – so that you can start living your life! But next time around, please find someone who can’t imagine life without you.

  • AJ

    Finally someone who gets it. I was getting worried!

  • Zimbo

    The opportunity of a lifetime. I’ll go in a heartbeat if the opportunity ever presents itself. About time the human race started reaching out into the solar system. Ignore all the negative feedback and follow your dream.

    • Ben

      I would go, but not alone. If I have to spend the rest of my life in a small habitat with 3 other people I need to be married to one of them. Keeping these people from going crazy is hard enough without also forcing them into celibacy.

    • Scott S

      I agree that the idea is intriguing, but the only way I would go on a one-way trip was if my wife came with me. Leaving her behind would be a non-negotiable deal-breaker.

  • mike space doc

    Just heard this couple on BBC. Wow. So, let me get this right: she’s the managing director of a political consulting firm. In Austin. Who wants to fulfill her life-long, Trekie dream. (And, she likes bourbon: https://bourbonface.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/russian.jpg — quite the party girl, there, Sonia.)

    What previous experience or training suggests she’s at all capable or appropriately placed for the mission and would be a good bet for Mars One’s $1B investment? Has she lived in a space-analogous environment, ever? Maybe, wintered in Antarctica? Maybe 6 months undersea on a submarine? Her husband took her to the National Air and Space Museum where she touched an actual spacecraft! She loves the LBJ Library space exhibit! She’s watched Apollo 13, like, a hundred times! Sonia has an impressive web presence (“high priestess of Roddenberry”) that’s not to be missed, folks. From previous articles, she says she’ll be OK as long as she has her wedding jewelry and there’s WiFi access. Oh, and, she has an extremely optimistic outlook on life and faith in humanity — and that all of the world’s problems (wait for it) are “solvable”! Woo-hoo!!

    Uh, OK. Yeah, we’re gonna sign her up, right away! What a perfect candidate!

    TM loves profiling needy, delusional, self-absorbed Austinites. Yawn. Next.

    • Ryan D

      Hey Jason! I think there’s a way out of this!

      Mars is a dry planet. There are no bars, taverns, clubs or liquor stores anywhere.

      She says she’s OK with leaving her husband & family behind forever, but there’s no way she’s going to leave bourbon behind!

    • Gladius


  • mike space doc

    Correction: they actually live in DC. Better platform for self-promotion than Austin. And, yes, children, they’re Democrats — chasing their dreams, pumping up their self-esteem, fist-bumping, taxing, and, cocktailing their way to fame and fortune! Oh, wait, she wants to save the world via a one-way ticket to an icy death in a tin can in space — and, he’s cheering her on — yuck.

  • MJ

    Thank you! After confirming that this was not an Onion style satirical piece (oops, that was the first one, where she asks her Dad to imagine the first grave on Mars and then he ‘gets it’…huh?) I thought exactly the same. Whoever is doing the PR for this is brilliant. One, she’s only in the running. Two, this doesn’t take place for 10 years. Three, see one and two. No worries, Jason, I’m pretty sure your wife will have her feet firmly on planet Earth for your lifetimes. Head in the clouds, maybe…

  • Argenta

    Just for the record – I do not support abusive, foul-mouthed comments. But honestly, I’m amazed at Sonia’s apparent shock that people would think badly of her decision to abandon her husband and stepchildren. On what planet (pun intended) would you expect widespread congratulations for electing to leave your family behind forever?? A dose of reality is needed here.

  • AndrewBarrePhotography

    Cant see it happening in 10 years, and by then they will be looking for someone younger, like maybe a team of 9 year old ‘Mars Rover Landing’ professionals? (its an Xbox game).

    • Ben

      Older is better. Radiation is a major concern on mars and old people are more resistant to radiation because their cells divide slower, so cancer does not spread as well. Also the carcinogenic effect of radiation exposure often does not cause problems until many years later, so it doesn’t lower their life expectancy much if they are likely to be dead by then anyway.

  • Scott S

    I’m jumping into the discussion a little late. I recently saw a condensed version of your essay reprinted in the October 2014 Reader’s Digest & search-engined some names & keywords to see what this is all about.

    I’m not going to join in with the haters, it appears they’re lambasting you quite thoroughly without my help. Sonia’s decision to pursue this endeavor is her personal choice, your acceptance of her decision is your personal choice, & I respect your right to decide for yourselves regardless of whether I concur.

    That said, I am quite thankful my wife would never do anything like this. I could never live with that myself. I can neither fathom the idea nor bear the thought of never seeing my wife again.

    Yes, we each have our own dreams & ambitions, & of course we support & encourage each other in pursuing them. But neither of us can envision any dream so important or so compelling that us parting forever would be an acceptable price to achieve it. Sharing our lives together is far more precious to us than any dream.

    I do sincerely wish each of you much happiness, success, & fulfillment in your lives, wherever they take you & whether ultimately together or separately.

    • Ben

      Suppose your wife really did want to go to Mars? You would not be supportive? You would try to prevent her? You would keep her from realizing herself?

      • Scott S

        Hypothetically (emphasis added), if she truly did want that, she sincerely believed doing so to be her destiny & the most important thing in her life, & she were determined to do so, I would step aside & allow her to go. After expressing my feelings on the issue I would honor her wishes & be supportive as I could be – whatever that might entail. It would be her decision, one she is free to make for herself, & I would have to respect that.

        But while I would still love her very much, enough to allow her to follow her destiny, if she were to actually go I could not remain married to her. Hopefully she would understand why, hopefully she would respect that, hopefully she would want me to move on with my life after she was gone, & hopefully we would divorce amicably.

        • Ben

          You call that being supportive? Divorcing her?

          • Scott S

            Again, this is an entirely hypothetical scenario.

            My being supportive would be to step aside & allow her to pursue something she wanted & believed to be that important. Not to hinder her efforts or attempt to sabotage her chances in the selection. Obviously, I would communicate my objections & would do my best to dissuade her, but if she sincerely considered this to be her purpose in life & it was more important than our marriage, I would have to respect that & accept it.

            But if she did go there would be no reason to be married to each other. She would be millions of miles distant, going someplace where I couldn’t go, she would never return & we would never see each other again. At best, we might be able to keep in touch with occasional e-mails & video messages. That’s not a marriage, at least not the kind of marriage that I would want to be in. She would have to respect my feelings about it & accept what I would need to do.

            I expect a lot of divorces & broken engagements will result from this, the to-be-left-behind spouse or fiance(e) making the same analysis & reaching the same conclusion – That an arrangement or situation like that would defeat the purpose of marriage.

            Of the candidate interviews I’ve seen or read, those planning to leave wives, husbands & families behind have all acknowledged that doing so would be a sacrifice, but a sacrifice they are willing to make & one they believe is well-justified by the opportunity. Some have expressly stated that they would offer their spouses a divorce prior to leaving. So for them, divorce would be nothing more than what they all have already expressed a willingness to do.

  • Kevin M

    You will look into an abyss. You will miss her. You will be lonely. You will mourn her a million times before she dies. Douglas Wise is right, it sucks for you, sucks beyond description.

    Is she being a bad wife? How on Earth, Mars or anywhere else could a wife who loves her husband the way a wife should love her husband even consider putting you through something like that?

    The long odds are beside the point. The fact that she not only has considered it but is actively & intentionally pursuing it sends a pretty clear message about her commitment or rather lack thereof to your marriage. Even if this is eventually a no-go, odds are sooner or later she will throw you to the curb for more conventional reasons.

  • Ryan S

    No “out clause” releasing me in the event of extraterrestrial excursions? You may want to re-read those vows. Apparently she either found something buried in the fine print or sneaked an amendment through.

  • Ed

    Never in my 20 years of using the internet have I seen so many marriage experts converging on and imposing (actually forcing seems closer to the truth) their beliefs on an article about space exploration and the possible advancements that come with it.

    Good luck Sonia and Jason, even if I am a bit late to the party haha.

    • Scott S

      I chimed in late myself.

      Unclear how something like this managed to evade sensor scan, but I first learned of this a couple months ago, reading a condensed version of the essay in the October Reader’s Digest.

      • Ed

        Haha same here, read it in that Reader’s Digest issue too!

        • Scott S

          Apparently quite a few others too. A lot of recent commentary.

  • Scott S

    Gina & I recently saw the movie Interstellar, & it got me to wondering. Assuming the missions actually go, how many of the astronauts will actually go through with it?

    Looking at their wives/husbands, children & other loved ones before launch, this being the last time they will ever see them no longer some abstract concept but now a real fact, would they still board the spacecraft?

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    Clearly this pathetic cuck is looking forward to his celebrity status as an “astronaut wife.”

  • Fraga123

    If I were married to you, I’d want to escape to Mars too. Your spineless, puling whine must grate on her nerves every day.

  • Whatever

    Gag. He stupid.

  • Robert What?

    I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but this country ain’t never going to Mars, as much as I’d love to see it. Firstly, we have lost the social cohesion and desire for excellence required for such grand endeavors. Secondly, wealth redistribution has become this country’s top priority (SS, Medicare/Medicaid, public sector pensions, etc) which will render such grand endeavors unaffordable. Lastly, the populations replacing the white European males in this country over the next 10-20 years have zero interest in such things.

  • Bill

    So what happens if she isn’t selected after all, or the whole project gets cancelled? That will be some interesting relationship dynamics a few years later. Hey, I wanted to leave you for good, but it didn’t work out, and now I have to either get a real divorce or make us both permanently miserable until you figure it out.

  • Biff Bannon

    You wife is choosing to leave you forever. You would never see or touch her again. In this, it is essentially analogous to death. Your only communication with her will be via the written word as synchronous conversation will be impossible due to radio return time delay between 4 & 13 minutes. In this, it would be analogous to having a pen pal relationship.

    You can’t compare yourself to the Apollo wives because they knew that, barring accident, their spouses were returning to them. However important such a mission may be, it does not require *her*
    participation. There are suitable unmarried candidates available. Your wife has effectively served you with divorce papers. She’s unambiguously expressed her desire to terminate the marriage for a reason no more important than her personal desire for unique adventure.

    >”But until the culture grows up, my answers will only puzzle…

    It is not the culture that needs growing up, it is YOU who needs to do some maturing by rejecting the queer value system you’ve internalized that leads you to passively accept your virtual castration with little more than this feeble squawk.

    If you and wifey aren’t receiving an overwhelmingly positive cheer of approval and encouragement from the peanut gallery right now, you’d do well to well and truly examine why that might be.

  • chrish

    Yes, facing a one way mission to space, long shot or no, can be considered brave, but also supremely selfish, especially when she supposedly took marriage vows to stay in it together, no matter what.

    But that’s just it, she ISN’T “in this together, no matter what.”

    She’s in this only until she gets her adventure, then it’s “see you later Jack.”That is what makes it apparent that she’s a selfish wife at best.

  • what a mangina beta male simp loser lol she is leaving you for some strange Martian dick

    • Bill

      Captain Alpha is sure to be on that trip indeed to take care of her during the lonely Martian nights

  • maybe you can bang his wife on the spaceship ride over to Mars

  • Leslie Saunders, Protestant

    Vomit bag please.

  • Casey Stimson

    If the mother of my children ever said she would leave us, even hypothetically, I’d file for a divorce on the spot. There are plenty of capable humans without a family to take that mission. What a selfish woman.

  • the truth

    good lord, that’s disturbing. the collapse continues….

  • CPT

    He’s a Space Cuckold.

  • MightyTreeTrunkPenis


  • Jacob Aigner

    Love her to bits, that’s great – but she has no claim on you when she’s gone away forever – surely she has told you to move on yourself, and perhaps meet a new person?!?!?

  • Louise Culmer

    Your article is thoroughly silly. there is a huge difference between what neil armstrong and other astronauts did and what your wife wants to do. They were expected to come back. She is planning to abandon you and your children for good. Comparing her to Armstrong etc is just absurd.

  • Man, you are a poor loser if you think it’s cool to “support” your wife in this crazy idea. Neil Amstrong didn’t have to ask his wife because he would come back. Your wife would not return because it is not planned. It is so sad to see a guy trying to convince himself that this is cool and all. Do you plan to start a new life or do you really think your wife will be loyal to you in Mars? Do you plan to remain sexless here on Earth? Man up and start your life again

  • Ryan S

    Wait a minute. In your “dotage” would either of you even remember that Sonia wanted to go to Mars? Or remember who the other person is? Wouldn’t you more likely be looking at each other & asking Who the Hell are you?!

  • Gladius

    This guy is such a [email protected] Jesus what a simp. Solipsism alert for the wifey.

  • DeepThought

    So remarriage is not an option? What a chump? She abandons him and their children and he voluntarily becomes monk? Are you sure this is not satire? Wait it is from Austin, the most effeminate location in Texas..

    I have a bridge to sell tot his guy…

    • Scott S

      Well, their motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” after all!

  • DeepThought

    So if his self realization was to abandon his wife and children for his job or ambitions would that be fine? Of course, we know the answer.

  • DeepThought

    She is being selfish.

    Hey I want to leave you forever and I want you to stay celibate? Really?

  • DeepThought

    Luck. This celibate chump will be masturbating nightly.

  • erica

    Oh god…… I hope you make the choice for yourself to re-marry. I feel like it’s selfish of her to ask you to stay faithful – while she’s leaving you…

  • Scott S

    Update. Sonia made the next cut, & is amongst 100 candidates selected to move on.

  • Timdogg

    This is just another story about the wife leaving and not returning. Plain and simple. One way space travel is for those who are unattached, or would like to be.

  • Derek Williams

    Still sounds incredibly selfish to me – marriage is FOR LIFE – otherwise those vows don’t mean squat. Her husband needs to grow a set and quit being her doormat. Either you love someone and want to spend the rest of your life with them, or you are willing to throw it all away. She is obviously willing to throw it all away, and if I were in his shoes, I’d have been out the day she announced she was willing to leave me and go to mars.