With fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce, a British couple wanted to road test their brand-new union to make sure they stayed on the happier side of that statistic. For some, that might mean visiting a counselor, spending some quality time together or getting advice from other couples.
That was the plan for the Mike and Alana Clear, too, and then some — some 20,000 miles, eight months, nine relationship experts and advice from over 100 couples from the Kenai Peninsula all the way to Tierra del Fuego.
“We’ve decided to use our honeymoon to benefit our brand-new marriage, not just sit on a beach somewhere squabbling.”
They decided to film the entire expedition and turn the results into a feature-length documentary called “Going the Distance,” which has just been released this week. The film already has gained notoriety, being selected for several film festivals and winning a gold in the 2014 International Documentary Movie Awards.
The couple was married in 2009. It was love and laughter at first meeting, but they wanted to be serious about the success of their marriage and devised the trip as a sort of marriage gauntlet. In the first part of the film they undergo DNA testing, neurological scans and meet with a noted psychologist to evaluate their compatibility. The test results are sealed in an envelope, to be opened only at the end of their trip.
In July 2009, the Clears flew to Anchorage to meet the Ural motorbike with sidecar that they had shipped across the pond, and set off to the Russian Old Believer Village of Nikolevsk outside of Anchor Point on the Kenai Peninsula to meet their first couple. Nina and Dennis, who were media shy but did consent to being filmed for the documentary, made for a charming first interview.
“Eighteen years. I love my husband. It’s my love. Just when I meet him, I love him,” Nina said.
“You get married you become like, a one. Sometimes get in an argument and before you know it all the friends know what they were arguing about. I tell them, ‘Don’t go and tell your friends about it. Because it’ll be over before you know it and your friends will keep dragging it around,” Dennis said.