Open marriage


Open marriage

Open marriage typically refers to a marriage in which the partners agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded as infidelity. There are many different styles of open marriage, with the partners having varying levels of input on their spouse's activities. Open marriages place high value on honesty, especially of needs and wants.

Contents

History of the term

The origins of the term open marriage remain obscure. Researchers in the 1960s used the term open marriage to describe individual freedom in choosing marriage partners.[1][2] Closed marriage meant individuals had to marry someone based on social prohibitions and social prescriptions. Open marriage meant individuals could choose to marry someone based on personal preferences.

Nena O'Neill and George O'Neill changed the meaning of the term with the 1972 publication of their book Open Marriage, which sold over 1.5 million copies. The O'Neills conceived open marriage as one in which each partner has room for personal growth and can develop outside friendships. Most chapters in the book dealt with non-controversial approaches to revitalizing marriage in areas of trust, role flexibility, communication, identity, and equality. Chapter 16, entitled "Love Without Jealousy", devoted 20 pages to the proposition that an open marriage could include some forms of sexuality with other partners. These concepts entered the cultural consciousness and the term "open marriage" became a synonym for sexually non-monogamous marriage, much to the regret of the O'Neills. In the 1977 publication of The Marriage Premise, Nena O'Neill advocated sexual fidelity in the chapter of that name. By then however, the concept of open marriage as sexually non-monogamous marriage had gained a life of its own.

Today, with many committed couples not seeking formal marriage, the term is frequently generalized to 'open relationship' or 'responsible non-monogamy'.

Relationship maintenance

The impact of open marriage on relationships varies across couples. Some couples report high levels of marital satisfaction and have long-lasting open marriages. Other couples drop out of the open marriage lifestyle and return to sexual monogamy. These couples may continue to believe open marriage is a valid lifestyle, just not for them. Still, other couples experience serious problems and claim open marriage contributed to their divorces. All couples in open marriages may therefore want to pay attention to their relationship maintenance behaviors.

Ground rules

Couples involved in open marriages or relationships typically adopt a set of ground rules to guide their activities. Ground rules in relationships allow partners to coordinate their behaviors so they achieve shared goals with fewer conflicts. Some ground rules are universal in the sense that they apply to virtually all relationships in a particular culture. Other ground rules apply to specific kinds of relationships, such as friendships or marriages. Still other ground rules are designed to manage romantic rivalry and jealousy. The ground rules adopted by sexually monogamous couples tend to prohibit behaviors that are viewed as acts of infidelity. The ground rules adopted by sexually open couples tend to prohibit behaviors that provoke jealousy or health sexual concerns. Partners may change the ground rules of their relationships over time. One example of a changing ground rule includes where a married couple decides to separate. Without divorcing, they are still legally married. However, they may choose to continue cohabitation.

Open marriage styles

Couples in open marriages may prefer different kinds of extramarital relationships. Couples who prefer extramarital relationships emphasizing love and emotional involvement have a polyamorous style of open marriage. Couples who prefer extramarital relationships emphasizing sexual gratification and recreational friendships have a swinging style of open marriage. These distinctions may depend on psychological factors such as sociosexuality and may contribute to the formation of separate Polyamory and Swinging communities. Despite their distinctions, however, all open marriages share common issues: the lack of social acceptance, the need to maintain the health of their relationship and avoid neglect, and the need to manage jealous rivalry. Many couples have rules such as: No emotional attachment, must use protection, never in 'our bed/home', no illegitimate children, and/or must or must not know who the other person is, and so on. Some open marriages are one sided as well. One partner who may need more sexual gratification than the other is free to seek it out where he/she sees fit, all while maintaining a functional emotional relationship with their full-time partner.

Jealousy issues

Couples in open marriage expose themselves to situations that can potentially provoke jealousy. Most couples in open marriages report experiencing jealousy at some point during their marriage.[citation needed] Ground rules are one way to help manage jealousy in open relationships. However, ground rules may not be sufficient.[citation needed] Couples in open marriages may benefit from a general understanding of jealousy and how to cope with it.[citation needed]

Open marriage acceptance

Surveys show large majorities of people disapprove of extramarital sexual activity. A few studies show people specifically disapprove of open marriages. Critics have put forward moral, medical, and psychological objections to open marriages. The lack of social acceptance places pressure on couples to hide their open marriages from family, friends, and colleagues. This may limit their social support network.

Legal issues

The practice of extramarital sex is often illegal in jurisdictions where adultery is illegal, regardless of whether the partner(s) has given their consent. Open marriage is not the same thing as polygamy, where sexual relationships are not necessarily contemplated, but rather one can have more than one simultaneous spouse, which is said to protect individual and marital property rights.

Incidence of open marriage

The incidence of open marriage is the frequency with which open marriage occurs. Several definitional issues complicate attempts to determine the incidence of open marriage. People sometimes claim to have open marriages when their spouses would not agree. Couples may agree to allow extramarital sex but never actually engage in extramarital sex. Some researchers define open marriages in highly narrow terms. Despite these difficulties, researchers have estimated that between 1.7 percent and 6 percent of married people are involved in open marriages.[citation needed] The incidence of open marriage has remained relatively stable over the last two generations.

Notable people in open marriages

References

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  19. ^ In Touch Exclusive Interview: Inside Larry King & Southwick's twisted relationship
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See also


External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • open marriage — n a marriage in which both partners accept that they will have sex with other people …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • open marriage — ► NOUN ▪ a marriage in which both partners agree that each may have sexual relations with others …   English terms dictionary

  • open marriage —    a marriage in which neither spouse hides extramarital copulation    The openness consists in not lying to the other about lying with others:     A groovy couple with an open marriage... (Bradbury, 1976) …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

  • open marriage — {n. phr.} An arrangement by mutual agreement between husband and wife whereby they are both allowed to have extramarital affairs. * /Chances are the open marriage arrangement they had didn t work out too well so they are getting a divorce./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • open marriage — {n. phr.} An arrangement by mutual agreement between husband and wife whereby they are both allowed to have extramarital affairs. * /Chances are the open marriage arrangement they had didn t work out too well so they are getting a divorce./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • open\ marriage — n. phr. An arrangement by mutual agreement between husband and wife whereby they are both allowed to have extramarital affairs. Chances are the open marriage arrangement they had didn t work out too well so they are getting a divorce …   Словарь американских идиом

  • open marriage — noun a marriage in which each partner is free to enter into extraneous sexual relationships without guilt or jealousy from the other • Hypernyms: ↑marriage, ↑matrimony, ↑union, ↑spousal relationship, ↑wedlock * * * noun, pl ⋯ riages [count] : a… …   Useful english dictionary

  • open marriage — noun Date: 1971 a marriage in which the partners agree to let each other have sexual partners outside the marriage …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • open marriage — a marriage in which the partners agree that each is free to have sexual relationships with other partners. [1970 75] * * * …   Universalium

  • open marriage — noun a marriage in which both partners agree that each may have sexual relations with others …   English new terms dictionary


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