Whatever the case, the blogosphere is now abuzz with conversation about open marriages, which have been around for thousands of years, but have only reentered the spotlight thanks to marriages like Mo'Nique's and TV shows like Big Love. After combing YourTango's archives for first-hand accounts from couples in open marriages, we decided to shed some light on the most common misconceptions about polyamorous marriages:
Thank you all for your comments and questions about my recent blog "Open Marriage Benefit: A Three-Parent Household." I thought that this week I would answer one of the questions I received based on that piece. MaliMali asked, "Is she mainly your girlfriend? Is it like he comes home to two wives? Have you ever shared a boyfriend in your marriage?" The answer, after the jump.
You're in an open relationship, and you have both a husband and a girlfriend. What if your girlfriend or you or your husband all fall in love with someone else? According to polyamorist Jenny Block, "although they are very good friends, my husband and my girlfriend are not in love or involved with one another. And my girlfriend and I are very much in love. The thing is, we don't think of love as a limited commodity. So, falling in love with someone else is not so much of an issue."
Maybe the answer isn't getting rid of porn, but exposing ourselves to more of it. And not just porn, all things sexual. Time and again, I hear that being exposed to porn dulls people's connection to true sexuality, that it skews one's understanding of reality, that it turns honest men (and women for that matter) into creepy perverts. I don't buy it. Not after hanging out with and talking to porn vendors and stars and fans and production people. I think just the opposite happens.
My girlfriend was browsing Facebook and found herself "face to face" with friends from her childhood and from college, all with wives or husbands, and babies and houses. And when we went to bed later, she cried. "Sometimes, I just want to be normal too," she said to me with sad, green eyes. "I want to put up pictures like that. I don't want to have to explain myself. I don't want to worry about what other people think." It made me sad. Really sad. Here was this incredibly strong, intelligent woman who was feeling pressured by these images of supposed normalcy and correctness. She felt bombarded by messages that seemed to be about the "right" way to do things and made her feel as if all of the love and happiness we have was, in that very instant, wrong. It's hard not to feel that way when the conventions that everyone accepts are staring you in the face, taunting you. "You don't have a husband. You don't have a baby. Your girlfriend's married. You should be ashamed. You're doing it wrong," their happy pictures and messages seem to say.
YourTango's open marriage blogger, Jenny Block, thanks her readers for giving her a forum to write about open marriage. Jenny writes that, "We are a part of change. Changing the way we think about love. Changing the way we think about marriage. Changing the way we look at one another. It has been a difficult year—or several years even—for most of us. Change is needed in so many realms. The world of love and relationships deserves no less attention."
"Monogamy Is Good, And It's Here To Stay." I was leery about this piece the minute I saw the title. But as soon as I read it and saw the word "fad" used to describe the kind of relationship that I have been deliriously happy in for years (and the kind hundreds of other people I have met have been in for decades) I knew I was dealing with a classic case of fear and misunderstanding—a dangerous mix. I thought I might simply reply in the comments section, but I quickly realized that I had way too much ground to cover. So, below I have gone section by section in responding to Ms. Cline's piece.
What about jealousy? It's the question everyone asks. I thought I would focus on two emails I received on the subject, one from someone who is not married and one from someone who is; both people are dealing with the issue that always seems to come up whenever polyamory is discussed: jealousy.
On October 4, 2008 Jenny Block spoke at the Poly Pride Rally in New York City. The rally was part of Poly Pride Weekend, a gathering for polyamorous people, those who maintain multiple loving relationships at the same time. Jenny is the author of Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, which all started on Tango, in her essay, Portrait of an Open Marriage.
The most visible members of a group end up defining the look of the group. Despite the fact that this is an inaccurate and unfair, it's also inevitable. If I had a magic wand, it would be one of the first things I'd change (after getting rid of world hunger and professional wrestling.) But I'm not waiting around for fairy dust any longer. This has been on my mind for a very specific reason. I have chosen to write about my life and when I'm asked to speak publicly about that writing people are often surprised when they see what has been described as my "conservative look." It's disappointing, quite frankly. People in open relationships don't all look the same.
It's like a Spin Doctors song or something. A pair of men in Atlanta were thrown out of the apartment they shared with 1 of the men's wife for fighting. Evidently, the husband and wife were going at it, as husbands and wives do from time to time, and the other guy got jealous and started a fight.
Opening a relationship is no simple task, Jenny Block explains. From the book Open by Jenny Block. Excerpted by arrangement with Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2008. As time went on, she realized that several key elements make a successful open marriage, and though those factors involved the community of people she surrounded herself with, it was mostly about how she chose to act and react, and how to be in her relationship and her own skin. Having come this far, she more than realized that it was never going to be easy. She was always going to need to protect her daughter. Things couldn't always be exactly as she wanted them to be. But she was doing it, and she knew she wasn't alone in her journey.
If Bill was suggesting a sexual relationship with me, he was coy about it. The man I had interned for in college met me for coffee, ostensibly to talk advise a young sprout on her career. He's brilliant, attractive and a leader in his field. But when Bill began talking about how he sleeps with women other than his wife, I panicked at any hint of a subtext. What threw me off was when he told me that the wife knew about it. That was the first time someone I knew confessed to an "open marriage," and it challenged my notions -- illusions, perhaps -- about intimacy and fidelity. I'm as jealous as they come and I asked Bill if it bothered him that his wife slept with other men. But he said certainly not -- sleeping with numerous people actually made him a more confident person. And did their children know?
Jenny Blocks answers the question "Where do you find people to seduce?" So you and your partner have decided to embark on an open relationship. You've talked about it and thought about it and considered all of the ways it might work – and not work – and decided that you're both interested in giving it a try. That's when the second most frequent question I get arises. Dear Jenny: We're ready to try opening our relationship. But where do you find people to seduce? Best, Open to Something New