Diane Cox and Michael Kamer don’t particularly like marriage, which doesn’t mean they hate it. Mostly, they don’t care.
Dr. Cox, 64, and Mr. Kammer, 56, had lived together for nearly 25 years and were raising two college-aged daughters when they exchanged vows in April 2017 in their hometown of New Rochelle, New York, and now they’re empty-handed colonists who feel equally nonchalant about their walk. In the corridor in front of 150 guests.
“We are happy together,” said Kamer. “We are in love.” But, as he notes, “The story here is mostly the status quo story. The happy couple gets married and it doesn’t spoil their relationship.” Neither of them buy into the idea that love and marriage are a package deal, or that one should automatically lead to the other. They said their romance has neither deepened nor slowed since their marriage, and their lives have maintained the same steady balance they established decades ago. This does not mean that they will never tie the knot again.
Dr. Cox and Mr. Kamer are scientists, which may explain their extreme approach to their relationship. Dr. Cox is a professor of developmental and molecular biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. I met Mr. Kammer, a microscopy specialist at NYU Langone Health, in 1992 when she was a graduate student at Einstein and he was the newly appointed training director for microscopy there.
Months after he attends the colleagues’ first dinner at her apartment, they consider moving in together. But before Mr. Kamer can consolidate his belongings into a shared space, she issues a stipulation. At 34, she didn’t want to wait any longer to have kids. If he’s game to become a father, that’s great. If he was under the impression that the bridge to starting a family should not be crossed without ringing wedding bells, he was out of luck. He told her “fine by me”. Their eldest daughter, Rachel Cox Kammer, now 28, was born in 1995. Natasha Kammer, now 26, came along two years later.
Joni Mitchell may epitomize the principle behind Dr. Cox’s avoidance of marriage, which began in custody when she was a teenager. Like the pop star in her famous 1971 hit “My Old Man,” she felt like she didn’t need a piece of paper from town hall to keep her attached to Mr. Kammer.
Her parents, who married more than 50 years before both died, would have preferred that she marry before they had children. Her father was concerned that Mr. Kamer, whose father was a former litigator who understood family law, would have the advantage of custody if the couple separated.
But by 2009, when I wrote A.J New York Post article On why being a wife isn’t a big deal to her, she’s become a flag-waving proponent of cohabitation except for legal restrictions. And she was winning admirers among Albert Einstein’s apprentices, especially her students, for her ideals. “I was the poster child for, ‘You don’t have to get married,'” she said.
The poster began to fade on a trip the couple took to Cyprus in June 2016 for a student wedding. Mr. Kammer, who developed a mysterious infection, was taken to hospital his first night there with a potentially fatal case of septic shock. To avoid complications about whether she was legally allowed to sit at his bedside, he told a nurse that she was his wife.
Adopting this address for real—she proposed in their new bedroom in Rochelle weeks after he had recovered from the infection, he thought about it a few days, then agreed—was a way of protection against future disasters that might separate them because of vague rules about illegality. partnership.
Still, the decision explodes with bouts of regret. “It bothered me,” she said. “I felt like I was betraying this moral position I’ve had for years about government involvement in my personal life.” She said the interns, who found inspiration in her choice to commit without the papers, were disappointed. “But I think, 25 years later, I’ve made up my mind.”
Six years later, Dr. Cox said, the marriage is “an extension of who we were”. Mr. Kammer added, “We depend on each other and expect safety from each other’s presence.” Married or not, they love each other’s company.
Twice a week, despite grueling work schedules, they make time to have dinner together. Dates are rare, but meaningful. Last year, for example, they saw the revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “The Company” on Broadway. This helped crystallize Mr. Kamer’s feelings about the relationship. “We don’t have the sarcastic inconsistency and obsessive second-guessing of Sondheim’s characters,” he said. “We are happy together without ifs and buts.”
“I still find it weird to say ‘my wife,’” Kammer said. “After 25 years of always trying to figure out what’s the right thing to say — a partner? Paramore? pair equivalent? – “Wife” should be simple. But my mind stopped. I find it strange.” Although they now introduce each other as husband or wife, Dr. Cox also struggles with the title. “It is strange to say he is my husband after so many years of not doing so,” she said.
Their eldest daughter, Rachel Cox-Kammer, now a graduate student in body-mind medicine at Saybrook University, never cared what her parents called each other. But she and her sister, bridesmaids at the 2017 wedding, were thrilled when her parents finally got married. Not that they always wanted their mother to be a “lady” like the mothers of their friends, or to present their father as her husband. For them, it was about the occasion.
“My mom and I used to watch a lot of rom-coms, and they have a lot of wedding scenes,” said Ms. Cox-Kammer of Peekskill, New York. Don’t want to get married Clothes shopping will be so much fun. We have always respected their decision not to marry. You can always see their love for each other.”
However, Rachel is not going to follow in her parents’ footsteps. “I knew I wanted to get married at a young age,” she said. In October, she and her partner will marry at Candlewood Lake in Brookfield, Connecticut. The couple met four years ago; They’ve been planning their wedding since August 2021. “We wanted a half-long engagement so we could perfect every detail.”
Mr. Kamer was not thrilled at the news of the engagement. “It’s not our way of doing things,” he said. “But we enjoy seeing our children find their way to happiness.” Dr. Cox said she knows her unorthodox path isn’t for everyone, and she’s happy for Rachel. Both said they support their daughter and will be there to celebrate, perhaps wiping away a few happy tears when the couple announce their marriage.
“It will have all the bells and whistles, and I’ve dreamed of doing that for a long time,” said Dr. Cox. This is fine with her parents. “It’s going to be a great party,” said Dr. Cox.