There is this unspoken rule that couples have when they marry, it goes a little something like this: “I (insert spouse’s name here), agree to only ever have sex with you (insert other spouse’s name here), because I will only ever want to have sex with you, but, if I ever do have sex with someone else, I (insert offending spouse’s name here) will be a bad person, because our vows are a magic spell, connecting us only to each other forever. Moreover, if there should happen to come a time that I break our said vows, my marked depravity will be the cause, because those words are supernatural and so is our love!
To some, that might sound ridiculous and maybe it’s so. For many others, however, this is a coveted fairytale and its compelling indeed! I call bullsh!t though! Magical vows and lifelong fidelity are allusive at best! Think not? Well, statistics say that marital affairs are not only rampant in the U.S., but are one of the leading causes of divorce; so my assertions on that front aren’t that far off. The reasons as to why people cheat? Well, many have their notions, but I posit a rather unpopular theory—that sometimes people are unfaithful because of unrealistic expectations, rather than from the oft held belief that it’s due to a lack of love.
Now, I would estimate that in the eons since humans have been binding themselves in marriage, infidelity has always been a theme. As such, the status quo is typically to show sympathy and concern primarily for the non-offending spouse. But, there is a problem I see with that trend: it’s biased! It shows almost no consideration or compassion to the partner who steps out, which isn’t the least bit fair?
See, as a married woman, I know all too well about the unrealistic space that comes with the promise of saying “I Do”; it’s a hole that is supposed to be filled with loyalty, steadfast devotion, unwavering attraction, patience, a lifetime of tolerance, and give or take a few
screaming/ wonderful kids. That’s not only what’s expected, it’s what’s openly talked about; but there are other spaces too.
Hearts, even in marriage, occasionally love other people—some old, others new. It happens. There is also the space of trying to reconcile each person’s individuality, while at the same time, attempting to live as a pair. Additionally, couples struggle with the hard lines, (the “we wills” and “we won’ts”), that although crystal clear and perfectly drawn before marriage, tend to get blurred and shifted over time. The question then becomes, how do twosomes deal with these issues and why would they cause either spouse to cheat? To best explain, I think a real life example is paramount.
A few years back, around 2006, the comedian and actress, known to the world as Mo’Nique, (Queens of Comedy, The Mo’Nique Show, Parkers, Almost Christmas), explained in an interview how she felt comfortable enough to talk to her then partner (now husband, Sydney) about her own rather unpopular “space”. According to her, although she desired to be with Sydney in a committed relationship, she was still sexually drawn to another man, and thus asked Sydney for an open relationship. Mo’Nique explained her situation in this way:
“Initially, when I asked for it, it was because I wanted to continue to see the gentlemen that I was seeing, and I felt comfortable telling my best friend (Her Husband Sydney)…so when I sat down and said this is what I want initially it was because I wanted to still have sex with who I was seeing and I didn’t want it to be where I was keeping anything from my best friend.” [2
Monique later went on to clarify,
“That’s how it initially started, and when I tell you the conversations that we’ve (She and Sydney) had, it has taken me to a different place where I’m not even thinking of another man sexually, but still open to it.”
With that example, I’m sure many minds are reeling at the thought that I might be suggesting open marriage as a solution to infidelity—and to those people, I’d say that they’re right! I do promote open marriages, but not in the traditional sense where couples have sex with others besides their spouses. That’s neither my goal, nor my point in sharing Mo’Nique’s story; notwithstanding, however, what I commend about what she did and something I advocate wholeheartedly, is being completely transparent with the person to whom you’re married, to the point that you are able to let them into your most uncomfortable spaces.
Why? Because even in marriage, we are still uniquely multifaceted people; Because secrets kill us from the inside and cause us to do many regrettable things. We should be open because we said those super-magical vows, (remember) that for most included the phrases, “to love and to honor” and “till death do us part”. But mostly, we should be open because it allows us to unseal all those locked spaces that we hide from our spouses– to inevitably set us free, and make us more capable to completely love!
Let us know in the comments, what’s your take on a truly “open” marriage?