Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Comments on Article About Open Marriage

Do open marriages work? by Karen Salmansohn (from

Can we talk? I mean really talk? I was deeply involved with a man (let's call him Steve) when he surprised me with an unusual request. One night, Steve explained that if and when we got married, he would always want to have a separate apartment where he could be "alone." 
In his version of our lives, Steve's "alone" was when he would step out on our relationship -- up to three nights a week. Steve wanted an open marriage -- a nonmonogamous, polyamorous arrangement wherein he could go his way and I could go mine.
Steve made his request after he and I were intimately involved -- catching me totally off guard. I'm a nice Jewish girl from Philadelphia who grew up in a cul de sac where we played kickball and said "darn" instead of "damn" when we missed a kick. The concept of open marriage is very foreign to me, but I do consider myself open-minded. I was already in love with Steve, so wondered, "Was four-sevenths of a marriage to Steve better than no marriage at all?"
Was it at all possible that the pros of an open marriage agreement could outweigh its cons? We all know that deceiving someone you love feels horrible on both sides deceiving? open marriage or polyamory is not about deceiving at all. It has to do with telling the truth completely and using your communication skills to an extreme so everyone can stay on the same page and not be deceived -- so could creating a system of rules for cheating actually prove to be helpful? Polyamory is not an excuse for cheating. Cheating does not necessarily mean having sex with another person besides the one you're already with. Every relationship has its own definition of cheating. "Rules" for it aren't supposed to exist just in poly, they're supposed to exist in mono too. Monos "cheat" too. It's not like they're holy. Of course, neither are polys (and it would be unjust to say that we don't cheat either because we do) but don't treat one like it's better than the other. This isn't a value judgement here. It's a lifestyle. Does operating with transparency when cheating lessen the stress of an affair? Cheating in poly is just as serious (or even more serious) as it is in mono. More people are affected and the consequences are greater. Poly isn't about being transparent about the issue. It's about understanding the rules so that you don't cheat. Is the true immorality of cheating the act of dishonesty rather than the act of sex itself? Yes. Not all relationships view cheating as having sex with another person. For instance, I have nothing against my partner having sex with someone else as long as he tells me about it beforehand. It's the dishonesty and lack of communication that is wrong rather than the act itself.
Here's what I learned about open marriages -- the good, the bad and the @#$@!

The Good
When open marriages work, it is most likely because the unconventional unions are focused on good old-fashioned open communication. Telling the truth shows your partner respect, as does following agreed upon rules -- for example, keeping your partner in the loop as to where you have been and who you have been with.This is the case for every single relationship, not just poly. When any kind of relationship works, this is the case. 
The goal of an open marriage is to never have to lie the goal of any relationship. And it's not a goal. It's something you should do beforehand. It's not something you reach, it's something you already do.  -- to create an environment where you can be open about anything that makes you uncomfortable or afraid. Proponents say that this atmosphere supposedly then creates an opportunity for incredible communication, deeper intimacy and the opportunity to thrive as your fullest self. Uh. Duh? Obviously someone's never done this before. 
Basically, the thought is that if you truly love your partner, you want them to live their fullest life -- flings and all. Flings are simply superficial sensory delights. There's no difference between your partner enjoying a pizza with anchovies without you and your partner enjoying a blonde with blue eyes without you.
In a good open marriage, you are simply creating a buffet of sexual experiences, so nobody feels like they are starving for new sensations. This honesty enables couples to avoid the emotional downward spiral of hidden affairs because the need for secrecy is removed. No. No. No. No. No. NO. Just fucking NO. This is so completely wrong, it makes me want to punch this woman in the mouth. One: the thought is not that if you truly love your partner, you want them to live their fullest life-flings and all. If you truly love your partner, you will respect him. That is all you must do. You don't have to give in to what you don't agree with. You don't have to kill yourself over letting him have his supposed "flings" (which aren't flings, by the way). All you have to do is respect his decision for polyamory and that's that. If you don't like it, don't do it. Step away and let the both of you be happy. Second: flings means that the people he sleeps with don't mean anything to him. It's just sex. This is a serious misunderstanding. Some of his "flings" might in truth be flings and some of them may be honest-to-god deep, emotional relationships. Flings implies that he fucks them and leaves them. He may actually not be doing that. He might actually not be the lust-driven man you think he is. Three: In a good open marriage, there is no judgement. There is no "buffet of sexual experiences". It is not like you pick and choose and then throw them away when you're done with them. That's not how it works. IT IS NOT JUST SEX. There is an emotional part in open marriages. You cannot deny that. If it were just sex, it would not be such a big deal. The emotions are more scary because they are the ones that make you feel jealous and insecure. 

And what about that green-eyed monster jealousy? Most open marriages make strong distinctions between sex with others and romance with others. Couples who subscribe to open-marriage philosophies typically agree to keep their spouses first at heart -- no matter who else they mingle with.

The Bad
I must confess, every time I type the words "good open marriage," my fingers twitch. These words feel oxymoronic. That's because you're taking it all wrong and have a deep misunderstanding of what an open relationship is in the first place much more a good one. Personally, I view more cons than pros to an open marriage. For me, the whole point of marriage is to show your love and commitment by protecting your union with fidelity. Sexual fidelity? Protect your union? Hey, babe, who's gonna take it from you? The blonde with the blue eyes? Is sex really all that important? Is the act the thing that really matters? Or is it the emotions that come out of the act the issue that makes you scared of losing your husband? Or is it that you don't trust your husband enough and think that when he finds someone who's supposedly better in bed than you, he'll leave you and go to her? There's a great deal of calm and security that comes from knowing your partner is directing his love and attention to you and you alone. Oh yes. Yes, there is. But how do you really know that? Do you think that just because he's with you, he's not thinking of having sex with other women? 
For me, rather than viewing open marriage as offering a yummy buffet of taste sensations, I view it as one big recipe for disaster. The main ingredients -- resentment, competitiveness, jealousy, insecurity, curtailed time, scattered affections, feelings of betrayal, lack of security -- all inevitably blur the lines of a healthy marriage.Resentment. In a healthy marriage, you wouldn't have that. Competitiveness. In a healthy marriage, you wouldn't have that. Jealousy. In a healthy marriage, you wouldn't have to deal with that, because you would already have talked to your partner about the way you feel. Insecurity. In a healthy marriage, you wouldn't have to deal with it because theoretically, you would have communicated it already to your partner. Curtailed time. Time is never endless. Even in mono, time will be curtailed. Deal with it. Scattered affections. This is the Starvation Model. If you love more than one person, you have to divide up your love. That's not true. For example, if you have two children, do you love one more than the other? If you do, you're a bad parent. Feelings of betrayal. This obviously would not happen if you were in a healthy marriage or really in a poly one in the first place. Lack of security. It's because of insecurity. All of these problems have to deal with the person who's scared shitless about poly. It's your own problems that you have to deal with. It's not the system, it's YOU. 
For me, a healthy marriage asks you both to bring out your highest selves. Sure, it might take a little higher willpower to resist the lure of extracurricular sex, but this discipline is for the higher good, allowing for a calm, secure refuge to emerge. It's not about the sex. It's about the emotions and your insecurities.  Calm and security may not sound as hotsy totsy as sex and more sex, but many of us believe it brings far more happiness in the long run. IT'S NOT ABOUT THE SEX!!! This security brings with it the confidence of knowing your partner is committed to you "till death do you part" rather than until their next Wednesday evening date. Or until they cheat on you anyway or divorce you. Which in your case might be very soon...Okay, why am I talking to an article that's not going to talk to me back? Mf.
In my opinion, open marriage is pretty much the opposite of marriage. People have different views of what marriage is and what it isn't. But of course, it's your opinion. It seems to be about avoiding commitment an opinion.-- one of the cornerstones of a happy marriage. You may be able to agree on the "rules for cheating" in an intellectual way, but doesn't the emotional nature of love always get in the way? What is so wrong about the emotional love getting in the way? Why would it matter if there wasn't any insecurity on your part? 

The "#$@%^!"
By the end of my research, What research? Research requires data and evidence. You have opinions and misjudgment. I'm extremely offended by this. Has this woman asked or confirmed or even talked to any person in an open marriage? I firmly believed that open marriage is merely an excuse for getting away with behaving self-indulgently and recklessly. In my book "Prince Harming Syndrome", any man who wants an open marriage is what I call a Prince Harming. Prince Harming is someone who does not make his partner feel safe, calm, secure, confident -- and the idea of an open marriage does not leave me feeling that way. A person and an idea are two completely different things. If a person doesn't make you feel safe, calm, secure, and confident, that's a problem. If an idea doesn't make you feel that way, that's a different issue. 

Dating is for making the most of your options. Marriage is for nurturing the one wonderful union you've been lucky enough to find so it grows into something incredibly wonderful.
It was surprisingly difficult to find statistics on whether open marriages work. Ironically, open marriage isn't something we talk about all that openly. Ironically? It's not ironic at all. This is the reason why people (at least in the United States) don't talk about any kind of open relationship much. Some research suggests that open marriage has a 92 percent failure rate. I'd like to see these statistics. It's not that I doubt it, but I would like to see them. Also, have you ever considered that 50% of regular mono marriages end in divorce? Have you ever considered that maybe it's not the idea but the people who are responsible for failure? Steve Brody, Ph.D., a psychologist in Cambria, California, explains that less than 1 percent of married people are in open marriages.Married people in the United States? I'd really like to see those stats. Nevertheless,it does seem to be a trend on the upturn. Several online dating sites offer applicants a new box to check -- married. Several online dating sites, key word being several. Now let me ask, how many dating sites are there actually? Several in a lot more is not really an upturn at all. 
So what happened to Steve? I said no to his suggestion for an apartment he'd go to three days a week. You can't be four-sevenths married. I actually agree with this. Steve doesn't seem like a very smart investment. If you are going to cheat, why bother asking someone to marry you in the first place? Sex does not equal cheating. It is not cheating. At least Steve told her about it before they were going to get married and not tell her after she found him with another girl in bed. Give the man that. Of course, he could have told her at the beginning of the relationship, but at least he got around to it. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Stereotype About Mentally Ill People

Yesterday, I was going through my Xanga home page, looking for blogs that my friends had written or recommended, and discovered fallingsafely's page. The first post I read by her was one about kittens, so obviously I was hooked from the start. I decided to read her other posts to see if I liked what she wrote and see if I wanted to add her as a friend. I started reading and I couldn't stop. She's a beautiful person. She writes incredibly. What really struck me though was this one post that I felt I could completely relate to. It had to do with how people classify mentally ill people the way they do dogs, for example. "Oh my god, he's so cute!" Not all mentally ill patients have lost their faculties. Not all of them are vegetables. They aren't animals or possessions. They're human. They have personalities, likes and dislikes, triggers, and emotions like the rest of us. Of course, they don't act or think the same way that the rest of society does, but that is not to say that they are not made of the same stuff. There are, of course, mentally ill patients that are dangerous and should be treated with the proper care, but there are others who simply are like fallingsafely or some of my friends or even me.

 I have friends who are truly mentally ill and who take medication for it. When you first meet them, you know there's something "wrong" with them. One cannot interact socially. The other has hate problems (though I think they're getting better). The other has a socially unacceptable sexual attraction. The list goes on. However much these problems define and control their lives, the problems are not the people themselves. These people have mind-blowing artistic skills; they argue philosophy, literature, society, history, religion, you name it; they write; they make their own clothes; they enjoy playing video games etc. They can interact socially and do so to the extent that they are able to. They all have friends and people who either do understand them or are reaching out to them to help them in their troubles and issues. Madness leads to mad company--just like the Mad Hatter and the Hare are friends, so my friends have mad friends.

I believe a bit of madness is good for society. Think of all the great artists and writers. Many of them had mental illnesses or were struggling to overcome them but their work is respected nonetheless. The most famous example is van Gogh, who sold only one painting in his entire life, and whose works today are the most expensive. Other media nowadays has also tried to show us that mentally unstable people are not mindless. The movie (and the book) Girl, Interrupted portrays a young girl who is sent to a hospital to be treated for borderline personality disorder. There, she meets other women who have similar illnesses. Though the movie is more romanticized than the book, there are similar scenes where the girls are shown enjoying activities such as playing the guitar, reading, watching TV, listening to music, going outside and walking, eating ice cream, etc.
Another incredible book is Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho. It's the story of Veronika, who amazingly enough, decides to die (who would have thought) by swallowing pills because she believes that life has nothing left in store for her. She wakes up in the local insane asylum, Villette, to be told that though the pills were not enough to kill her immediately, they had done irreversible damage to her body and that she'd die within the next few days. The whole book deals with her struggle to maintain her will to die while she meets "insane" people and realizes why in truth, she decided to kill herself. Coelho, himself once a hospital patient, questions society and their view of sanity, while he opens up a new world of views that "those" people have. It's an incredible, amazing book. I highly recommend it.

It's not only ignorant to believe that mentally ill people are like dogs or are all pushed into one group on the fringe of society, it's also not very ethical. The ones who believe that it's "cool" to be mentally ill are those who need to learn what it's like to live with a life that does not coincide with the world's view. When you are mentally ill, you do not instantly become loved, looked up to, talked about in awe in a whisper. You are feared, rejected, pushed away, ignored, and discriminated against. What would be so cool about that?

fallingsafely's blog entry and one of my friend's works of art done entirely in sharpie with no rough draft or anything--done on the first try. tell me it's not fucking amazing.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


do you hear
that high-pitched noise?

it's my heart
about to explode in