Can an Open Marriage ever really Work?

POLYAMORY

Can an Open Marriage ever really Work?

People come in all shapes and sizes. They have different wants and needs. Anthropologists say what was traditionally supplied us by a whole village such as warmth, guidance, financial sustenance, understanding, passionate love and eminent friendship we now seek solely in our spouse or significant other. But that’s a huge burden to carry. Due to the high divorce rate, the need for sexual novelty, the desire to try the same gender or emotional needs that their spouse can’t supply sometimes pivots them in the direction of an open marriage. It’s often when the needs of one person cannot be met by the other. It’s no one’s fault. Instead, it’s usually just a mismatch. For others, it’s a need to explore further with love, a mindset that requires free will, strong confidence, good communication and a non-jealous personality. Surely, there are dysfunctional open marriages as there are dysfunctional closed ones. But can an open marriage ever really work? Experts say there are such that can work but it takes the right kind of couple and the proper mindset. Open and honest communication is the most important aspect. An open marriage doesn’t mean a person can have sex with whomever, whenever. Instead, a certain set of pre-agreed upon rules are made and adhered to, with each mate’s preferences in mind.

According to psychologist Deborah Anapol an expert on polyamory— practicing intimacy with more than one partner, though many couples who in an open marriage struggle with jealousy from time to time, very few say they regret being able to share intimacy outside the confines of their relationship. There are many alternative romantic and sexual couplings going around nowadays. People are getting married later on in life due to the time it takes to get a proper education and work your way up. The new generation prefers lots of choice and not getting tied down. In the wake of the sexual revolution and the explosion of dating and hookup apps, people have freedoms and opportunities they’ve never had before in the history of humankind. That and the elevated divorce rate has non-traditional people looking for new ways to have their needs met, explore their sexuality and enjoy their life with others.

Still, the reason for entering into such a relationship is important. One party should not be pressuring the other into entering into such an agreement. Another party should not be going along with it when they really don’t like the idea, just for the sake of saving the relationship. Instead, this is something that both parties have to be sincerely interested in. For some couples, it’s a way for a person who has a large sexual appetite for instance to have his or her needs met without disenfranchising their partner. For others, it’s a way to express their freedom. They believe the human heart has the capacity to love more than one person and in more than one way. They feel that commitment and fidelity are not synonymous. Besides intermittent jealousy, the potential for a stream of uncomfortable conversations and lots of chances to be tempted to lie to your partner, cause many to steer clear of the idea. Others fear the chance that no matter what rules are in place their spouse could run off with another. Really it’s all about how you feel about one another and your relationship. If it’s a way to renew the marriage or explore new dimensions of love and freedom, go for it. If it’s to placate someone or a last ditch effort to save the marriage, you may be setting yourselves up for a terrible fall. For more pick up a copy of the book, The Seven Natural Laws of Love, Polyamory in the 21st Century by Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D.

Which is better, Adultery or Divorce?

annoyed

Which is better, Adultery or Divorce?

When in a dysfunctional marriage where you both feel a real relationship is out of the question, but you decide to stay together for financial reasons, for the sake of the children or because it’s too painful or burdensome to get divorced, in this situation it’s difficult to know how to proceed. Is adultery then the only way forward? Or should they just go ahead and get divorced? In the long run, which is better, adultery or divorce? Each person and couple in this unfortunate predicament must evaluate carefully how they each feel, using their values, judgment and beliefs in order to decide what is best for them. So then since everyone is different, we can’t ask which is better in a large blanket statement, since everyone must evaluate for themselves. But in general, which of the two alternatives is morally a better choice, adultery or divorce? This is not in terms of a bilateral divorce where both parties decide to get divorced. Nor is it unilateral where one person wants a divorce but the other does not. This is when one person is interested in taking part in a romantic and physical relationship with another outside the marriage.

From an ethical standpoint divorce is a far better choice as it does not involve deception. If you are in a loveless marriage but decide to stay together for financial reasons but are childless talk to your spouse about having an open marriage. At least if there is a way to communicate honestly about things, perhaps there is a chance not of reconciling the relationship but the mutual respect that both people shared. If the couple has children, it’s a much thornier issue. They will find out sooner or later that mommy or daddy has someone else. So how do you counteract this? Divorce would be the better option there. Or perhaps separation if the financial burden is too much. If this is a high conflict relationship get out. High conflict homes are the worst environments to raise children in. It would be much better to have two divorced but happier, well-adjusted homes than one miserable one together. The deception part of adultery, especially if it’s long term or serial adultery is the worst part. It shows a grave disrespect for the other person. Like it or not when we marry we attach ourselves to a legal and social union. It may not be easy when marriage falls apart. If you are in this situation, learn to talk to one another and solve things so you can find mutual happiness in some way. See what can be worked out. Give respect and expect it in return. Sooner or later all the tumblers will fall into place. To learn more about adultery in marriage read, Parents Who Cheat: How Children and Adults are Affected When Their Parents are Unfaithful by Ana Nogales, Ph.D.

Fidelity and Promiscuity; Evolutionary Adaptations found in Both Sexes

INFIDELITY

Fidelity and Promiscuity; Evolutionary Adaptations found in Both Sexes

Conventional wisdom states that men always have a wandering eye. Though many settle down to healthy, monogamous relationships, it is believed that they are still prone to promiscuity and always wanting sex. For women, however, they are supposed paragons of fidelity. Once a woman finds a man she wants to settle down with, her heart is his. She won’t stray unless he treats her terribly, or so it is thought. At least these are the messages we are fed through the media, our families, and our cultural superstructure. But is it true?

Practically, we’ve probably all observed a “one woman man” who makes a great husband and father and wouldn’t dream of cheating. We also know women who would prefer not to settle down and see their love life as one unending adventure. So what’s going on here and what does science tell us? A recent study out of Oxford University is illuminating our view on the sexes and how fidelity and promiscuity play a role in our evolution. Oxford researchers believe that the faithful and the not-so-much are actually pretty evenly distributed throughout the sexes. What’s more, each person’s position fulfills a specialized role.

To conduct this study, Dr. Rafael Wlodarski and his Oxford team combed through data from two other studies. One was called the “sociosexual orientation inventory.” Here 600 people answered a questionnaire which investigated their tendency to enter sexual relationships without commitment. The other study measured the length of people’s index and ring fingers. 1,300 participants took part in total. The length of one’s ring finger in comparison to the index means more exposure to testosterone in the womb. This finger phenomenon holds true for all primates, and is associated with higher levels of promiscuity. Men were in fact more likely to engage in promiscuity than women. Dr. Wlodarski and his colleagues weren’t surprised by that, but what researchers wanted to know was if each sex had a separate sexual strategy that they engaged in. Researchers found, however, that being promiscuous or faithful were strategies that both sexes engaged in, and have genetic underpinnings.  Dr. Wlodarski and colleagues believe our sexual strategies are in fact phenotypes.  They are the outward expression of underlying genes. Here’s where natural selection comes in. Perhaps genes that promoted successful mating strategies were passed down from one generation to the next.

Phenotype differences between men and women are surprisingly similar. For men, promiscuity to faithfulness was expressed in the ratio of 57:43. For women, promiscuity was outdone by faithfulness but only by a slight margin 53:47. What’s shocking is both of these ratios are really close to 50:50. During the Stone Age, childbirth was dangerous business and a child under four had a low chance of survival. The more women were inseminated the more likely our species would survive. Also, the greater gene variety, the healthier our species would become. Therefore, in a mere evolutionary sense, men and women benefited to a certain level of promiscuity. The faithfulness part comes in as a young child requires both parents to survive in the wild. Therefore, the expression of faithfulness and continuity between parents helped children and our species continue.

Biologists have considered this in theory, but Dr. Wlodarksi’s findings add weight. That theory is called evolutionarily stable strategy. This theory states that those behaviors that helped the species survive become more prominent, whereas those that did not became less so. But what does this mean for the state of modern love and marriage? In the future will doctors be able to genetically test a person and tell them which pattern of love fits their makeup and who is their best match, be they faithful or promiscuous? Does this mean that certain couples would fare better with an open relationship while others would naturally be more monogamous? Science is still a long way away from helping us engineer or hack our love lives. But it certainly is food for thought. If you want to know how science can make your love life sweeter read, Principia Amoris: The New Science of Love by John Mordechai Gottman.

Can an Open Marriage Prevent Divorce?

open

Can an Open Marriage Prevent Divorce?

A new study shows that the idea of an open relationship is more prevalent than ever before. The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships recently published a study by University of Michigan psychologist Amy Moors that showed that married couples today are more open and willing to try this type of arrangement. The technical term is consensual non-monogamy. This means that both partners agree that they are allowed to have outside sexual or romantic relationships. There are polyamorists who want to have multiple loves, and swingers who prefer to have multiple partners. But instead of cheating, both partners are open and honest with one another about the other relationships they take part in.

A study conducted previously found that between four and five percent of couples practice some form of consensual non-monogamy. What isn’t known is if there are more people or couples who would consider such an arrangement but fear bringing it up. 1,280 heterosexual adults between the ages of 18 and 67 took part in this latest study. Most were single or in a monogamous relationship, none were in a consensual non-monogamous relationship.

Most of the respondents, male and female, thought it was okay for others to take part in a consensual non-monogamous relationship. People were fine with others taking part in this arrangement, but few wanted to do so themselves. Men were slightly higher at just over two percent where women were almost two percent in favor of taking part in a consensual non-monogamous relationship. Psychologists believe that in our culture we are socialized to believe that monogamy is right and that cheating is wrong. There are lots of different ways for this type of arrangement to occur. For instance some couples say they can have sex with whomever they wish, but must use condoms. Others say that they can’t have sex with the same person more than once. Some insist that the marriage must be the topmost relationship. Others invite a third person in to share the relationship and all treat each other as equals. Some are allowed to pursue other romantic relationships in addition to sex. It all depends upon the arrangement.

So can an open marriage prevent a divorce from occurring? Though with the number still low of people who desire taking part in this type of arrangement, for certain people in a certain kind of relationship, with open and honest communication it can be beneficial. Though for most, the guilt and shame, and the feeling that they’ve strayed too far from the norm may make them avoid this type of arrangement. Certainly the communication level must be high, as well as the trust level, and jealousy must be low or well managed, or else it isn’t going to work. For more on this topic try, The Mantra of Love: One couple’s story of turning love into the freedom of non-monogamy by Jay Vincent and Marcy Lynn.

Could a Once a Year Freebie Save a Marriage?

AffairProof

Could a Once a Year Freebie Save a Marriage?

The wife of Brooklyn Nets star Andrei Kirilenko has an interesting outlook on marital fidelity. Russian pop star Masha Lopatova recently said that she allows her husband one night per year to spend with another woman, if he so chooses. Lopatova said, “If I tell my child, ‘No pizza, no pizza, no pizza,’ what does he want more than anything Pizza!” So far the basketball star says he hasn’t acted on it. “If something isn’t allowed you, you want to get it,” Kilienko said. “But if it is allowed to you, you will not need it.” Some female fans however are crying “Foul!” since the couple’s deal does not extend the same benefit to Lopatova. Still, this arrangement has got people talking. Could a once a year freebie save a marriage? Of course, this wouldn’t work for every couple. For starters, most would have to have a reciprocal arrangement, since the woman’s inability to meet her desires outside of the marriage, and his ability to do so, could build resentment which may undermine the whole relationship. Another problem might be that the husband could want to visit his paramour on more than one occasion. Still, there are so many marriages that are undone when one or another person cheats and the couple cannot overcome it. In those instances, this could be sort of a release valve.

Writer Ada Calhoun, in a New York Times essay published in mid-September, talked about her quasi-open marriage with her husband, and how it was put in place to allay his fears of her straying, or outright leaving him. Her husband even transformed his fear into something more than an interest. Calhoun writes, “It may seem eccentric that my husband has translated the common fear of being cheated on into enthusiasm for the idea, but he’s not alone. Type ‘cuckold’ into a pornography search engine and you’ll be greeted with countless scenes in which people play out that exact fantasy.” She explains too how she was more adventurous sexually than her husband before their marriage. “Because of this, my husband has at times fretted that I might leave him. What should he do with that anxiety? Maybe eroticizing it isn’t the worst strategy, especially if it gets us talking about what turns us on and keeps us in the loop about each other’s lives. Surely it’s better than the more mainstream reactions to jealousy: becoming paranoid or controlling.” There isn’t any real clear outline of the rules Calhoun and her husband have put into place. We don’t know if she is allowed to stray outright, or vice versa. The only clear rule posited is that both members should be completely honest. Her husband will never have to guess at what her intensions are, because he will clearly know. She will tell him exactly what is on her mind. But that goes for him toward her too.

One of the impetuses for this essay was the fact that her husband had strayed in the past. Calhoun writes, “Years ago, my husband told me he had fallen in love with someone else. He was deeply confused and scared by it. I didn’t even know who he was talking about; that’s how much of a secret he had kept his growing feelings. When he told me who it was, a co-worker, I felt as if I had been shot. I broke things. I threw him out. He ended the affair. Since then, I’ve forgiven him, and we’ve worked hard to figure out why it happened and what it meant.” So her option is somewhat of a quid pro quo. Psychologists say that it takes two special people to engage in an open relationship, those who can find ways to deal with and manage their jealousy in a healthy manner. Each couple needs to discuss in depth the ground rules, what they want to know, and don’t want to know, and guidelines about who it can be, where, when and safety issues, such as condom usage. Putting things into perspective, Calhoun writes, “The main thing that helped me get over the affair was realizing that attraction to other people isn’t necessarily a sign your marriage is bankrupt. In the course of being together forever, especially if you’re out in the world meeting new people, it happens. One of the challenges in a marriage, in addition to deciding whose job it is to do the dishes and how to balance the budget, is to figure out how to deal with lust or love for other people.” Certainly an open marriage isn’t for everyone. But some psychologists believe it can work for a select few. For more on this phenomenon and how to enact it pick up a copy of the classic, Open Marriage: A New Life Style for Couples by Nena O’Neill.