Inside My Open Marriage

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One man and two women
When monogamy doesn't necessarily mean happily ever after.

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time doing my best to fit in. Wearing the "right" jeans, getting the "right" friends, signing up for the "right" classes. I felt like I had a few extra hurdles to jump. My dad was a rabbi (still is). My parents were hippies (not so much anymore). And we were as middle-class as they come (read: no winters in Aspen).

Most of those "fitting in" worries fell to the wayside when I got to college. But one thing hadn't changed: I wanted a storybook marriage just as I had been promised in the movies, just as I had dreamed about with my friends. I imagined the handsome guy, the gorgeous dress, the beautiful children. The whole thing. MyDaily: After The Royal Wedding, Real Women Share Their Visions Of Prince Charming

And I got it all. I met the guy, I got the dress, and I gave birth to the child. The thing was, though, I didn't feel deliriously happy and satisfied. Wasn't that how I was supposed to feel? Wasn't that why everyone was in such zealous and unanimous support of the whole monogamous marriage thing?

I tried to get to the root of my unhappiness. I married a man who loved and respected me (and vice versa). I didn't give up my career. I was doing everything "right." So why didn't it feel right? Maybe it was because I was having a tough time losing the pregnancy weight. Maybe it was because postpartum depression was no stranger to me, but sleep certainly was. But that was all normal, wasn't it? Happily ever after was just around the corner, right?

Not exactly. It wasn't marital bliss that was just around the river bend, it was a woman I met at a writer's retreat. We became fast friends and, within a few months of meeting, embarked on an affair. I don't know how to explain it. But I felt so happy. Not just with her. But with my husband as well. It was as if I could love him more because I wasn't expecting him to "complete me." I was, and am, a whole person. I didn't need completing. I wanted complementing.

At the time I felt very confused. It was counter to everything I had learned. I was supposed to want—need —one man with whom I would become one. He was supposed to be all I would ever need. But it was no wonder I felt so unsettled. How could anyone be everything for another person?

We have all kinds of friends because they complement us in so many different ways. So why not more than one romantic involvement? Not because of biology. Science has proven that. The only thing I could figure is that it was a holdover from a time when monogamous relationships were necessary to confirm paternity or to join fortunes and families.

Monogamy is certainly one way to live. But it shouldn't be the only way. The Puritans drilled monogamy into our heads, and somehow we're still listening despite the ever-growing rates of divorce and affairs. Just because a particular religion still preaches it today is no reason for everyone to follow it. Marriage is a civil institution. MyDaily: Women Less Affected By Sexual Harassment Than Men

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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  • In Anglo Saxon times, a man could divorce his wife on the grounds that she was too passionate.