Recently, I was asked to appear on the Ricki Lake Show as an advocate for open marriages, but there was something distinctly missing from the discussion: namely, the concept of what an open marriage really is.
Do I personally believe that an open marriage is practical? No, I do not think that it is practical. Do I think that an open marriage can work for some couples? Yes, I do ... but for how long, and how many will last in the marriage? Well, that all depends.
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Couples that go into a marriage with the idea that it is an open marriage from the beginning have a better chance at sustaing this type of relationship. Where couples that are already married try to open up the marriage later, it's less likely to work because one spouse is usually unhappy in the marriage. The decision to make an already monogmous marriage open should not be taken lightly, as there are many factors involved. One factor that I mentioned on the Ricki Lake Show was the idea of exposing children to an open marriage. Many times adults don't even understand the concept of an open marriage ... so how could a child?
Open marriages are best left for adult knowledge only, not for kids. One open couple that was interviewed on the show introduced their lovers to family members, including the children. But since open marriages are already complicated, there is no reason to involve anyone else — beyond the couple and the lovers — in the matter. Adult time should be just that — left to the couple and whomever they may want to involve in their private lives.
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When couples seek counseling with me to explore the idea of open marriage, one of my conversations is about boundaries, rules, open communication and the willingness to work on the marriage before venturing out and adding a new partner into the mix.
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