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Buddymoons

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The New York Times recently featured an article on the new phenomenon of the "buddymoon," a group vacation that masquerades as a honeymoon. Newlyweds are trailed by a cohort of other couples, single friends, college roommates and assorted relatives as they embark on a journey of intimacy and togetherness at the start of their married life.

Like a Facebook page come alive, the Buddymoon is a shared experience, complete with an ongoing dialogue and group participation at (nearly) every juncture. As on Facebook, the public and private experience congeals into one interactive glom, where life is lived before an appreciative audience -- and everyone joins in the fun.

Group trips are great -- as is a tight social network -- at every stage in life. Some of my fondest memories include adventures with girlfriends, extended family vacations, and trips my husband and I have made with our closest friends.

But a honeymoon is a time of oneness, and a rest, after a momentous occasion: the launch of a lifelong partnership. These spouses will create a life together, replete with the joys and challenges of family and adult responsibilities, "for better and for worse." As that existence unfolds, the opportunity for extended intimate time for a couple will shrink from a week in the Caribbean to a night at the movies -- and maybe a drink or cup of coffee afterward if the babysitting meter isn't running too quickly.

Buddymoons -- with all the light and juvenile connotations of the word "buddy" -- cannot compare to honeymoons, just as "living with" cannot compare to marriage. "Living with" is a dress rehearsal, a lead-in to a lifelong committed relationship. Once both parties have passed the try out, they enter a different phase. When people marry, they morph their relationship into a new being. As Shakespeare says in "Romeo and Juliet," marriage means being "newly baptized," into a fresh life. To put it colloquially, marriage is a big deal.

Like all major life passages, honeymooning is a ritual with a purpose. The week (or so) of intimacy and isolation reinforces the message, "It's you and me now, kid." It's a fun trip -- and a journey of the mind and spirit as well as the body, the cementing of a lifelong partnership. Friends and family need to retire to the role of post card recipient, and leave the heavy bonding to the people who made the commitment