Although statistically only about 1% of couples agree to an open marriage, polyamorous relationships are certainly more visible than they were even a decade ago. If you are part of the 1%, perhaps you are wondering if an open marriage bodes well for a happily ever after, or if it will swiftly lead to problems that end in divorce. While no two marriages are the same, it is interesting to explore the concept of open marriage, and the potential outcomes of such a decision.
Defining Open Marriage
While the specific “rules” of an open marriage are decided upon by each couple, some of the basics generally include:
- Two consenting adults are joined in a traditional legal marriage;
- The couple agrees to guidelines related to relationship exploration—potentially including sexual contact—outside the marriage.
Famous Couples in Open Relationships
A number of famous couples are rumored to have engaged in open relationships, and some have discussed their relationships publicly. A few names with which you may be familiar include:
- Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith;
- Mo’Nique and Sidney Hicks;
- Shirley MacLaine and Steve Parker;
- Robin Thicke and Paula Patton;
- Ethan Hawke and Ryan Shawhughes;
- Anthony Bourdain and Asia Argento.
As couples explore the possibility of an open relationship, there are a number of prickly issues that require consideration:
- Studies indicate that 95% of Americans believe that sexual exclusivity is essential in a relationship. Chances are, if one partner wants to move into an open relationship to spice up what has become a boring marriage, the other may not be too keen on it. The possibility that one spouse feels coerced into agreeing to the arrangement means that while things appear to be open and aboveboard, dangerous feelings may be boiling just beneath the surface.
- Jealousy may emerge from either partner at any time. Even the most modern and enlightened among us may fall prey to this, and may manifest as anger, resentment, depression, powerlessness, and other unpleasantries.
- More sexual partners results in the potential for more exposure to STDs. Besides the obvious health issue here, bringing home an STD can lead to some unhappiness in the marriage.
- Judgment by friends and family may be hard to endure. Clearly, an open marriage is a non-traditional choice. People are bound to have opinions, and many will feel compelled to share them, adding a strain to the marriage.