When Big Love came out, we all thought it was pretty silly. To start with, we all consider ourselves to be one family, not three separate but connected families. The ideas that plural marriage is restricted to the one man and several wives model—and that it has to have a religious basis—are both ridiculous. We also don't consider the political jockeying, the backbiting and the attempts to get more of the husband's attention or money, to be loving behavior. If the youngest wife is so insecure, she should go find herself a nice monogamous man.
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."
Love Buzz loves a good open marriage story. This one comes from Page Six Magazine, which features the story of Neal and Claire Boulton. According to the mag, "Over the past year and a half, Neal has been portrayed in NYC gossip columns as: 1) The happily married editor in chief of Men's Fitness magazine. 2) A secretly gay guy who had an affair with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner and was hospitalized after mysteriously leaving his job. 3) A bisexual, unemployed adulterer. 4) Most recently, the secretly straight but still slutty editor in chief of the gay publication Genre whose poor wife took his cheating ass back." So what's the real story? Read on to find out...
"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.
Thinking about open marriage or non-monogamy? According to this author, monogamy and women are a good mix. "If history can teach us anything, the open relationship bandwagon will come and go, which is a good thing because most women still benefit from and prefer monogamy. Why? Women still generally do more work in relationships than men do and openness requires even more diligence than a regular relationship; women are taught to care more about relationships and risk more for them than men, so non-monogamy raises the stakes more for us. And, despite today’s female open relationship proponents, it’s men who typically initiate and prefer non-monogamy."
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.
It started with a flirty dance while out with friends. It turned into a torrid year-long affair that her husband never knew about. One writer shares her tale of infidelity and how, against all odds, adultery put her on the path back to her husband. "I heard the warning voice in my head reminding me that this was dangerous territory: however alone I might feel, I was, in fact, married. And then, for the first time in 10 years, I silenced it. As Alex placed his hands on my hips, I knew with absolute clarity that I was about to have an affair. I knew it was a decision that could unravel even the strongest of unions. I never could have guessed that it would save mine."
If you're a regular YourTango reader you might be familiar with open relationships. Jenny Block, YourTango writer and author of the book Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, has both a husband and a girlfriend. Dan Eldridge, who pens the blog "Marriage Without Monogamy," also has an non-monogamous long-term relationship. But YourTango isn't the only media outlet to tell the stories of people in open relationships. Set your DVR now, because tonight at 10/9c WE tv is airing an open marriage episode of their series, The Secret Lives of Women. The show focuses on four women with distinct non-monogamous lifestyles.
I finally watched the CW's new 90210 last night, and it was better than I thought it would be. I saw the fourth episode, "The Bubble" (you can watch the full first and second eps on the CW website).The relationships on the show are for the most part pretty predictable. There's a love quadrangle between four high schoolers who are dating each other's ex's. (Which begs the question: are friends ex-boyfriends off limits? And can you be friends with your ex?) Then there are the old-schoolers, Kelly Taylor and Brenda Walsh. Kelly is teaching at West Beverly high and has a baby; check out the clip above to find out who the father is. Brenda Walsh is back in town too, but, at least in this episode, doesn’t have a romantic storyline.
People in open relationships often feel joy or pleasure when their partner has romantic adventures with other people. This feeling is sometimes called compersion. The Keristan Commune, a now defunct San Francisco-based polyamourous community, gets credit for coining the term, which is often defined as the opposite of jealousy. The word compersion is widely used in poly circles, but anyone in a non-monogamous relationship can experience joy from a partner's other love interests. When Shara Smith started dating Brian Downes, he was already in a relationship with someone else and he wanted to be careful about respecting Stephanie, his first partner. "He wanted to take all the right steps, and that made me more attracted to him," said Shara, who describes compersion as a "positive emotional reaction to a lover's other relationship."
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.
Opportunities for intimacy are all around us, and they don't need to be sexual. (But they certainly can be…) We can have intimate moments with family and friends and they need not have naughty overtones. But we can also have intimacies that are rooted in sexual desire, and having and desiring and pursuing those relationships need not be precluded by our marital state. I hope that everyone who is married has intimacy with their spouse. But I also want to dispel the myth that marriage is the only thing that can provide "true" intimacy.
Is divorce ruining society? Well, no. A Nerve.com essay argues that divorce has always been a part of society, just for social and economic reasons it hasn't always been visible. But as society moves closer to gender equality and as more and more women achieve financial independence the institution of marriage is taking on a new meaning. Marriage is no longer a means of financial and social security. Marriage today is about love. And conversely, divorce today is about incompatibility. From gay marriage to open marriage, the definition of "until death do us part" is in flux and the odds are good your childrens' marriage will look vastly different from your own. But is that such a bad thing?