Open relationships and marriages are making their way into the norm. All too often, we hear rumors of celebrity couples who have discreet open marriages. Talk shows explore the roots of monogamy, and investigate open relationships to determine if such a union can actually work. For now, open relationships are taboo… but as the rates of divorce continue to skyrocket, maybe… just maybe… open relationships are the way of the romantic future.
Marriage is no longer what it once was. The institution of marriage was borne out of political necessity and economic stability. But now, marriage is encompassed into commitment, love, and unwavering devotion to another. In the Western world, where marriage was once a pragmatic arrangement, we now connect marriage to a sacred union between two loving adults.
And yet, despite decades of being told that monogamy is the foundation of a strong marriage, all too often, marriages fail because of affairs and cheating. Cheating is vilified in our cultural space. Cheating is considered dishonest, selfish, and heartbreaking… yet it continues with potent gusto.
There’s been tooooo much commentary on cheating, thus spawning an industry in which the likes of Maury, Jerry Spring, Divorce Court, etc. are legendary. I’ll admit, I frequently watch these type of shows succumbing to my guilty pleasures. But I can’t help but think that a lot of the people on these shows would save themselves a lot of drama and embarrassment if they just accepted the fact that people cheat.
Whenever I hear advice about “how to keep a man” and such, I roll my eyes. It’s ridiculous to think that there’s some formula to dating and romance. There is no structure, no rules to follow. There is no universal edict that’ll keep your boyfriend or husband home. There is no system to rely on.
So why not just admit and cope with the inevitable … that its very likely that your significant other will dip out every once in awhile.
***OK, before you all hate me… hear me out.***
I don’t believe in open relationships, but I do believe in open marriages.
I don’t believe that monogamy is necessarily “healthy” for all marriages. If monogamy honestly works in a marriage, then cool. That’s awesome. But for the vast majority where it doesn’t… I think there are ways to compromise. If two consenting married adults are genuinely in love with one another, then does it really do much harm if one (or both) of them play the field occasionally? Of course it must be done with respect and discretion (no strippers or unemployed groupies messing around in the bedroom while the kids are home…that’s completely uncool), and communication is non-negotiable. If all those bases are covered, then I don’t see the harm in an open marriage.
I’ve met a few folks in open marriages and I picked their brains. And no matter what hardballs (no pun intended!) I threw at them, they seem confident in their marriages and the ways in which they explore their inherent sexual desires. And they seemed… happy. Not the fake-happy that most married folks put on; no, they seemed genuinely happy.
The same can’t be said for open relationships. While in a relationship, partners are still growing into one another. Inviting anyone else into such a precarious union is detrimental to mutual growth. Age also is an important factor; young couples lack the wisdom, restraint, and communication skills necessary for open relationships.
But for older married couples who have experienced so much together, open relationships can work…
And let’s be honest: being sexually involved with one person for the rest of your life seems …. boring. Unnatural, even. And, there are a gazillion people that we run into, we’re bound to be attracted to others outside of the one’s we legally committed our entire lives to. And let’s not even mention how, in time, our personalities, values, interests, and priorities change. Can marriages really stay so rigid when everything else about them constantly fluctuates?
As millennials, we’re redefining everything. We communicate differently and we have multiple platforms for cultural expression. We are reordering social values and reworking economic relationships. Perhaps we should do the same for the institution of marriage?