Do Open  Marriages

 Need to Fail?     

 Open marriages primarily fail  because of three things: possessiveness, jealousy and fear of abandonment. 


      My wife, my boyfriend, my husband, my girlfriend -- although we use these terms as a way of associating couples, the meaning often tends to exclusivity, even to a kind of ownership.

The Judeo-Christian beliefs about women and sexuality date back to a time when women were the property of their husbands.

But the sex-related laws were originally designed to guard the purity of the Jewish race. By the time these law were adopted by Christianity there was a need to protect church property from being inherited by the children of priests (Originally, priests could marry.)

Over the years the original purpose of laws about adultery and the woman's place morphed into what amounts to the anti-sex and anti-woman laws and, which by extension, became God's laws.

Except that these laws were clearly man made because a perfect god wouldn't have authored laws that so clearly are unjust and imperfect. (As just one example read the book of Leviticus, which ascribes the death penalty for all manner of trivial offenses.)

But biblical apologists say that Jesus changed this.  Have you considered another death penalty case in Jesus' own words in Luke 19:27?

Apologists say these are different times and, indeed they are. And nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to sex.

Today, divorced people remarry, and couples, including millions of senior citizens now live together outside of marriage.  The list of biblical "sins" that are now routinely ignored goes on and on.  

Societies that haven't been influenced by these Judeo-Christian teachings don't experience the same level of personal and social problems. Sociological studies make this clear.

" Making sure that our spouse is happy should be central to marital love and trust.

 But this trust is often threatened if the happiness of our spouse involves someone of the opposite sex and roughly the same age."



     In open marriages a spouse often spends time enjoying the company of another person.

If we were totally honest, we might say that we want our spouse to be happy and enjoy new experiences — but only with us.

This obviously throws the issue of unconditional love into question, and we are left to face one of our major human shortcomings and the source of problems -- jealousy. 

Sharing Affection and Love

      We know that both men and women can be attracted to someone of the opposite sex and still be very much in love with their spouse. 

We seem to assume that a partner has only so much love to give, and if they give some of it to someone else, we'll get shortchanged. 

" Interestingly, the opposite is generally the case. The more we genuinely love the more we can love."


The exception is when a partner becomes emotionally involved with another person.  Not getting emotionally involved, of course, is rule #1 of open marriages.

      Next, we have the issue of, "If she/he really loved me, my partner wouldn't be interested in anyone else."

Men have always have affairs with women they don't love and wouldn't think of marrying.

Although you might think it's different for women, bear in mind that women often date and sleep with different men -- and that doesn't even count the women who do it for money or advancement.

Although sex is best with love, clearly sex can, and commonly is, enjoyed for its own sake.

Not only is the lure of "someone new" built into our genes, but given the facts of our evolution, this tendency was clearly designed to enrich the gene pool.

The fact that he or she occasionally evidences a sexual interest in someone else is only abnormal if it never happens.

In successful open marriages people are not trying to replace their partner -- only supplement them. 

Fear of Abandonment

      Even if the marriage is solid (which it must be if an open marriage is contemplated) one partner may at some point find someone else that seems to have traits that their partner doesn't have -- good looks, wealth, special talents, or whatever.

Part of this is attraction is because the new person can represent something new and exciting -- just as their marriage partner undoubtedly did at one time.

In this regard we must acknowledge the Coolidge Effect where it has been found that both males and females of most any species experience a heightened sexual attraction to a new sexual partner.

What inexperienced partners in an open marriage have to realize is that this "new" wears off.  This is supported by the fact that marriages to the "other person," if they occur, tend to have high failure rates

But, of course, infatuation and love can be blind, and often the partners don't see this until the major damage is done to the original relationship.

If children are involved, a resulting divorce can create severe problems. So, in this sense, especially if certain rules are not followed, the fear of abandonment can be very real.


      Unlike monogamous marriages, open marriages can expose our deepest personal fears and insecurities. 

While in a perfect world these may not be desirable or even justified, possessiveness,  jealousy, and fear of abandonment can, and commonly do, inflict great personal pain.

Despite our best efforts to surmount what might be seen as our personal shortcomings in an open relationship, most of us are only too human, and shades jealousy pop up at some point. 

At that point a couple can talk it out, while putting the welfare of their relationship foremost in any decisions. They may simply decide it was an experiment they weren't ready for and agree to again close the relationship. 

If, however, things have gone too far, or one of the partners is not willing to forgive and forget, the marriage can be irreparably damaged.

Simply put, you should not let things get this far.

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