Marriage, motorbikes and the Pan-American highway

Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:46pm EDT
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By Helen Massy-Beresford

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - If around half of all modern marriages end in divorce, how do a young couple find out whether they are in the 50 percent who stay together?

Newly wed Londoners Alanna and Mike Clear quit their jobs, remortgaged their home and set off on a 20,000-mile trip by motorbike and sidecar to explore their own marriage, while asking people from Alaska to South America about relationships for a documentary called "Going The Distance."

They also consulted the experts before they set out.

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher and neuroscientist Lucy Brown of Rutgers University, New York, scanned their brains to see if neurological responses showed they were "in love."

Geneticist Eric Holzle, founder of DNA-based dating service, took DNA swabs to assess their genetic compatibility, while relationship therapist Terry Sterrenberg of the Gottman Institute spent a day analyzing how they interact.

"When we meet people on the road, they are dumbfounded that we left our jobs and remortgaged our house," Mike said in a telephone interview with Reuters.

But family and friends back home were supportive of their dream. And after Alanna's "existential crisis" when browsing through racks of expensive china to compile a wedding list -- "I didn't want a 60-pound plate," Going The Distance was born.

The two 30-year olds eventually asked friends and family to leave the china in the shop and buy brake cables or nights in hotels as wedding presents instead.   Continued...

<p>A couple share a kiss as they take their own photograph during a warm spring day in Central Park in New York April 2, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>