Pushing Boundaries: The Question of Open Marriage

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For most us, marriage constitutes a sacred union between two people. Some would even say that we have been socialized to believe this. Attaining a healthy and loving marriage lies within the "pursuit of happiness" that we as Americans chase after. Unfortunately, in today's world the odds of keeping marriages intact are much lower than previous generations. Among some of the top reasons for divorce are infidelity and issues involving sex and intimacy.

As a result of this, some married couples have resorted to open marriages to help prevent these problems. An agreement is met by both parties that they can engage in extramarital sex without it affecting their marriage negatively as a way to prevent the dishonesty and deceit that has been the demise of many marriages. Does this kind of openness in a marriage do more harm than good?

One of Black Hollywood's most beloved couples Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee had a period of open marriage during their 57 year union. The unraveling of this secret served as a disappointment to many people who believe these two were the perfect couple. The idea of sharing someone you have made vows to under God with someone else is unfathomable to those who strongly believe that the sanctity of marriage should not be tampered with by extramarital affairs.

Personally, I cannot say that I am for open marriage (or marriage period) but I can somewhat grasp how this would be a viable solution for some couples. In their autobiography, Ossie was quoted as saying " It occurred to us, from observation and reasoning, that extramarital sex was not what really destroyed marriages, but rather the lies and deception that invariably accompanied it — that was the culprit."

It is human nature to desire more than one person. Loving only one person will not inhibit the physical attraction you may have towards other people. You simply make the decision to not act on it out of personal restraint and/or respect for the person whom you are in a relationship with.

A lot of people have not accepted this as fact and it could be partially due to the fact that love leaves little room for logic and rationale. We repress our natural desires and attractions for others out of respect for the ones we love because openly acknowledging this would be damaging to our relationships. Furthermore, what would be the point of committing yourself to one person if you are going to own the desires you have for someone else?

It takes a prodigious level of intimacy and closeness in a relationship for one to be able to express these kinds of desires to their partner without it causing an issue. It also takes a special kind of security in oneself and in their relationship to be able to go forth with such an agreement and not have it destroy the marriage or relationship.

If Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee's bond was strong enough to withstand a period of open marriage then it isn't any wonder that they were able to remain married until Ossie's death in 2005. When we take into account the amount of marriages that have crumbled when it's revealed that both partners have had an affair at some point in time, I have to wonder whether or not that demise could've been prevented if they were just open with each other about the dirt they wanted to do?

The dynamics of boundaries within relationships vary from couple to couple. I get that boundaries are created for a reason but does this mean that talking about what exists beyond them should be taboo? How can couples truly obtain a divine connection if there are limitations on what can and cannot be expressed to one another? I can't say that willingly sharing someone I love with someone else is appealing to me but one thing about the idea of open marriage I appreciate is the open communication that it requires which is a vital component in maintaining a healthy relationship.

What do you think of open marriage?


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LaChelle is an aspiring novelist and songwriter. An avid reader and social commentator, her mission is to engage the minds of others through her artistry. Catch her on Twitter @_theELLE_

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