What is the concept of marriage? As far as I can remember, when I married my husband, the vow was to be united and become one with him, to be true and to be intimate only to him. However, it seems some couples want to make their vows AFTER their marriage because they think it will make things better. To stop the arguments and infidelity issues, they decide to go into an open marriage. But can it possibly resolve anything? Can it save a distressed marriage?
“A marriage is only as strong as the two individuals. A great marriage – not just a good one – is one where each man does his own inner work and supports his husband to do the same.” — Mark O’Connell LCSW-R
In actuality, the idea of an open marriage is not as new as we think it is. This type of relationship has been seen years back, although not as prevalent as now. The increasing number of couples who want to try an open marriage maybe because as infidelity heightens, couples want to justify their actions and would rather find a reason to save the marriage than resolve the matter. If the intimacy is gone between the couples, then perhaps an open relationship would solve it, as this is only a sex issue. But would it work?
The most deafening answer is NO. It won’t help strengthen a marriage, nor does it encourage honesty in the relationship. Here are a few reasons why.
- Rules Don’t Equal Real Emotions. When a spouse cheats and tells his partner that he loves her no matter what, they think that their love and trust for each other sill encompass anything, which is why some of them are willing to permit others to ‘join’ the union temporarily, just to fill in what’s lacking in the marriage. But we all know it’s easier said than done. Remember that emotions don’t mind the rules. If a spouse sees another to fill in the gaps, the rule here is, of course, to not get emotionally involved. Eventually, he gets attracted at a deeper level; the rules will be so much harder to follow. Instead of helping the marriage, the only thing it will do is to worsen it.
“Needs vs. wants—it’s not just semantics.” — Catherine Aponte Psy.D.
- Jealousy Is Inevitable. Envy is one of the things that an open relationship wants to avoid. If the couple says, they truly love each other, letting another person in the relationship will not cause any jealousy – or at least that’s the rule. But humans are innately possessive, especially when it comes to things and people we love. No matter how modern or open-minded you think you are, it won’t be easy to acknowledge that you are sharing your spouse to another – your lifetime partner and father of your kids. If you are not at all affected by it, though, you might want to assess your feelings towards your spouse. Perhaps they’ve gotten cold because of what you’ve been through.
- Self-esteem Will Absolutely Suffer. Having friends and significant others is an important part of one’s life simply because you can’t find everything in one person. But when your spouse talks you out of wanting to connect with another physically or intimately apparently to ‘save the marriage,’ and you reluctantly agree, it will slowly devour you and your self-esteem. You start to wonder why he asked for it in the first place, and then you think that you are not enough for your spouse. To solve this, you may seek attention from others and will push you to see others as well. The vicious cycle continues and will ultimately destroy the marriage.
If you and your partner are considering open marriage, perhaps you should think twice or thrice before doing so. It might look like a promising solution to your marriage problems, but then again, it may only be a temporary mask to the real issue at hand. It might even add more insult to the injury that your marriage has already gone through.
“Accepting concepts that have been considered blasphemous by some in our culture—like making it okay to marry for money, having term limits, or opening our minds to open marriage—would make marriage more practical and realistic.” — Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W.