There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the infidelity of certain famous persons, notably Jon Gosselin and John Edwards. I’ve observed a range of reactions: pity, as well as criticism, for the wives, shock, outrage, etcetera. There are so many rumors in both stories that it’s difficult to know what to believe. But what I find interested is that there has been talk, in both cases, that we are actually dealing with the sudden publicizing of open marriages.
I don’t buy it. To look at the Edwards’ case first, I don’t see any indications of an open marriage. My husband was actually the one who suggested to me that they might be open, and I don’t think I’ve seen that suggestion from anyone else. He thought they appeared awfully calm about the shit hitting the media fan, but I don’t think that’s enough of an explanation. (Admittedly, I haven’t been paying that much attention.)
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The Gosselins, on the other hand, have some pretty strong internet rumors indicating an open marriage—some sort of contract where Kate allowed Jon to date other women. And of course there are the rumors that she was cheating as well. Assuming for a moment that these rumors are all true—well, yes, I suppose that would fall, rather technically, under a loose definition of open marriage, but, kids, that is NOT an open marriage.
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The Gosselins’ marriage is bitter, resentful, closed, and drifting. Giving your partner the okay to date others because you’re just too damn tired of fighting to keep him home is NOT “open.” Seeing other people because you don’t want to be together anymore, but you can’t divorce because your marriage is the subject of a national television show, is NOT “open.” And the negativity portrayed about each other, both on the show and off, is sure as hell NOT “open.” Open marriage can be defined in many different ways, but the Gosselins’ marriage is clearly in a terrible state—quite counter to being open. To be open, there needs to be trust and communication, and I don’t see that anywhere.
There are some marriages that are open due to a kind of necessity, of course—marriages where one partner can no longer have sex due to disability, or marriages where one partner comes out but they remain together in a non-sexual capacity. Open-by-necessity, I suppose, does exist, and maybe that is what we are looking at here: two reasonable adults run ragged by the demands of 8 children and constant televising, trying to keep up appearances and doing anything to function like the people they’re supposed to be. But let’s not parade that around as an EXAMPLE of what marriage, open or closed, can be. Let’s not confuse this bitterness for something that actually works.