Let me get straight to the point: The idea of an open marriage scares the beejeez out of me. It's not that I'm judging couples who choose to go that route--do what you need to do people--but the thought of "sharing" my partner so intimately does not appeal to me personally. Then again, one only has to observe the numerous community posts regarding infidelity and marriages gone sour to acknowledge the obvious: the traditional marriage rubric ain't exactly perfect either. Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, so they say.
There's been a lot of talk about open marriage this year, and yet, for all the various representations in the media, the idea is still somewhat mysterious and even threatening. I think it's so hard to define because like all relationships, it's complicated. What works for one does not work for some, no question there. So while we're admittedly curious about this exotic open marriage beast--after all, it's hard for some couples not to fantasize about a life of never-ending wife and husband swapping and satisfying sex, while others dread the idea of sharing their spouse a la "Big Love" (guilty!)--some of us remain understandably unconvinced of its worthiness. Today however, I read probably the most realistic interpretation of one woman's experience with an open marriage and how it was not some superficial attempt to get laid more often but literally, a device that the Tango author Redsy (er, I'm assuming that's an alias?), attributes to saving her marriage altogether.
For the record, it was her idea, not his:
"Of the many surprising benefits of open marriage, perhaps the most surprising is that it can, if handled gently and lovingly, bring you closer to your spouse. If you're secretly carrying on an affair, or emailing an ex-lover, or otherwise harboring deeply held desires that you can't share with your partner, you are experiencing the alienation this lack of honesty can create. I know because I used to feel completely lonely in my marriage. I felt I couldn't tell my husband what I wanted sexually or otherwise. I made the mistake of having an affair rather than telling him what I needed and nearly ruined everything. Luckily, we made our way back to each other and have arrived in a place of deeper honesty, including a mutually agreed upon desire to have an open marriage."
By creating boundaries and therefore agreed upon expectations, the author found herself and her union not only nourished by honesty and communication, but discovered the happy side effect of realizing that she was more attracted to her spouse than ever. She also admits that they may or may not stay on the open trajectory, but were it not for a proactive changing of the status quo, at least for a period, they might not have made it as a couple period.
Read the article in its entirety at your leisure here and see if you don't agree that in certain situations an open marriage can be as empowering as a hearty dose of counseling, if not more so. And think of it this way: If opening things up would make the difference between a happy marriage and divorce, would you consider going there? Let's talk.
See also: "Married life is killing me"