The topic of an open marriage has darted in and out of the media quite a bit lately. First GOP Presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich’s second ex-wife stated in a recent interview that Newt asked for an open marriage that would allow him to have both a wife and a mistress. And most recently, reports state that Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore may have had an open marriage in which one comedian jokingly stated that what started as a threesome, turned into a twosome that didn’t include Demi.
First off, let’s define an open marriage. Wikipedia defines an open marriage as one in which the partners agree that each may engage in extramarital exual relationships, without this being regarded as infidelity. There are many different styles of open marriage, with the partners having varying levels of input on their spouse’s activities. Open marriages place high value on honesty, especially of needs and wants.
The history of open marriages date back to the sixties when the term “open marriage” referred to a person’s choice in selecting their mate based on personal preference and not social prohibitions. In 1972, Nena O’Neill and George O’Neill wrote a book “Open Marriage” that evolved the term open marriage to mean that each partner has room for personal growth and can develop friendships outside of the marriage. The chapter of their book titled “Love Without Jealousy” discussed the possibility that an open marriage could include some forms of sexual relations with other partners. This thought process led to the present day definition of an open marriage which is a sexual non-monogamous union.
The idea of an open marriage has legal and emotional ramifications. In some states adultery is illegal, thus a spouse engaging in extra marital sexual relations would be committing a crime regardless of their partner’s consent. Additionally, like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, eventually an open marriage may lead to isolation and jealousy. And the very idea of an open marriage to appease one or both spouses may eventually lead to a divorce.
I personally do not get the rationale of an open marriage which goes against a basic principle of marriage, monogamy. If you’re agreeable to an open marriage, why get married instead of continuing to date? What are the benefits of being married if your spouse can be shared? Furthermore, the track record of high profile open marriages seems to often time lead to a divorce anyway.
Some notable people in open marriages:
- Edna St. Vincent Millay, American poet
- Robert Crumb and Aline Crumb, cartoonists
- Charles Laughton, actor, and Elsa Lanchester, actress
- Andrei Kirilenko, professional basketball player
- Cindy Margolis, model
- Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, philosophers
- Will Smith, actor, and Jada Pinkett, actress
- Shirley MacLaine, actress
- Thomas Braden, journalist
- Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood
- Mo’Nique, actress/comedian
- Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, actors
- Larry King, talk show host and Shawn Southwick, singer[
- Bob Crane, actor and Sigrid Valdis, actress