This post will be long but I must share it. These are the responses to a post a friend of mine on facebook made regarding a call for people in open marriages to share their stories.
Erica Bastow I cannot imagine many situations where an open marriage could actually HELP! Someone gets their heart broken, sooner or later. IMO if you want an open marriage, don’t be married…the whole concept of marriage is to give yourself to one person…not one person plus the occasional outsider!
Kathleen Donnafield I am forever confounded by the open marriage concept. Stupidity personafied!
MsLilithe Magdalene It’s not ofr everybody.
Liandra Dahl I have an open marriage and if an IQ test means anything I have an IQ of 138 so I don’t think that classifies me as stupid Kathleen. Marriage is what the two people in it choose to make it. For me an open marriage is a realistic and compassionate view of commitment and longevity. I also find it arousing to know my partner is with other people so it makes our sex life even better and does not detract from it. I have two very dear friends who are also in an open marriage and have been so for 15 years and are the happiest couple I have ever witnessed with the most excellent communication and trust skills I have witnessed in all my 32 years.
Kathleen Donnafield Whatever floats your boat honey. Why bother with marriage? Just have a free for all whenever you want it. I don’t know how to people can face each other with love and admiration and especially respect, knowing the other is not monogamous
Sam Rapien I’m somewhat baffled by your comments, Kathleen. All of the research in the field of evolutionary biology aside, not to mention the benefits society gives to marriages/civil unions which would be incentive alone to get married to someone you love, the truly baffling part is your belief that those who have chosen an open relationship/marriage is “stupidity personafied [sic].” Since the concept of loving more than one person is foreign to you it becomes “stupid” to live your life in such a manner? Then, when confronted with a rational answer to your post you respond with “Whatever floats your boat?” It appears to me that, because you don’t see the benefits to an open marriage or don’t understand why people would choose such an agreement then everyone that has is “stupid.” It’s the same kind of emotional logic that leads people who don’t understand evolution and its role in nature to then dismiss it as “stupid.”
To fill your own lack of understanding with emotional conclusions is the very definition of close minded. People engage in decisions and choices that I don’t necessarily see the benefit in my life but could see how it would work or be helpful for other people. Unfortunately, this appears to be lacking in many people who would rather jump to a belief or emotional reaction rather than using reason to come to an understanding.
I doubt anyone would be able to change your belief about open marriage any more than you are going to be able to make others think about the downside by calling those within open relationships “stupid.” However, I would encourage you to maybe understand how it might be beneficial and work for others.
Liandra Dahl Why bother with marriage? I wish to “bother with marriage” because I am committed longterm to love and support my spouse, to raise children together, to be there for my partner as emotional support, financial support, social support. I wish to bother with marriage because there SHOULD be so much more to marriage than forced sexual monogamy and in our marriage there is. We two people face each other and say I love and respect you not because we insecurely demand sexual monogamy from each other but because we love, admire and respect each other deeply. We trust that we are honest with each other and have very open lines of communication and boundaries around the “sexually open” component of our marriage. It is not a free for all and I find your language disrespectful. Perhaps your trouble understanding respect between two people is because you have none for others unless they think and behave just like you. Monogamous marriage is a valid choice and I respect it but so often it is deceptive, two people stand and face each other and say “I want you and no one else” and they’re lying to the one person they love most in the whole world. I don’t lie to my spouse and I don’t expect my spouse to only have desire for me. I don’t see love and desire as a zero sum game. I don’t see my desire for others reducing how desirable my spouse is or how much I love them and I don’t see my spouses desire for others as detracting from how desirable I am to my spouse or how much they love me.
MsLilithe Magdalene I love the analogy that when you have more than one child, your love for the previous children do not diminish as you have more – there is always more room in your heart for another child (well, that depends on the parent, and the situation as well.) But you get the idea. Same with partners. But it is not a “free for all” – it is about trust, and good communication and boundaries and respect. It is about being willing to sit with your own internal feelings of jealousy and not being good enough.
Kathleen Donnafield Don’t be baffled Sam; I simply believe it is sheer fallacy to take vows of marriage when in the back of one’s mind is the anything goes as long as both in the union agree. The fact that marriage vows seem to be needed to have children is so hypocritical when in all other respects, there is none (respect)
MsLilithe Magdalene This assumption that having an open relationship equals no respect is a fallacy. That is a projection of your own fears of how it would feel if you were in that situation.
Christina Page Kathleen- that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it, but I think you should respect that of others. Personally, I don’t think that I could have an open marriage, it’s just not for me. However, I would never judge someone in an open marriage, and ya know what, they probably have a better marriage than I ever will! Here’s the thing- I think it’s really hard to be monogomous, and I have had truoble with it in the past. I like variety, as most humans do. From an evolutionary perspective, humans aren’t meant to only be with one person. So, I can’t really imagine only being with one person forever. However, I’m also jealous and hate the idea of an open marriage. So, where does that leave me? 1. single forever 2. cheating 3. bored sexually in my marriage (if im ever married) or 4. maybe once I’m more mature and less jealous, in an open marriage.
MsLilithe Magdalene Marriage also confers rights (hence the reason why gay marriage is such an important right to vote for) – rights on taxes, rights on hospital decisions and visitation, etc. etc. It’s saying “I am there for you no matter what”. Just because the two agree to allow love and enjoyment with other people does not take that away. I hear you Kathleen, conflating the energies of cheating in a monogamous marriage, with the agreements and energies of an open marriage – and they are just not the same.
Sam Rapien I am still baffled, Kathleen, as to how you believe that those who do not share your opinion (note the word “opinion” and not “truth”) are of lesser intelligence. I am baffled by your inability to understand that the way you live your life and the way others agree to live their’s are not subject to right and wrong, that it is simply a matter of what works best for you and your partner. I am baffled by your desire to post a dissenting opinion that is only backed by your own emotional beliefs yet you state it as some provable fact. I am baffled by your lack of respect for others’ opinions yet wave the respect flag in your defense of monogamous relationships. I am baffled by how you could honestly believe that everyone should fit into your cookie-cutter idea of what a strong, fulfilling, and loving relationship is. And now I am left baffled by your anger at everyone voicing THEIR opinions in a comment stream that you volunteered YOUR opinion in when it is clear you don’t understand how facebook works.
Erica Bastow I am baffled by people that play the “biological card,” to explain the validity of open marriage. Sure, biologically speaking, men were originally designed to spread their seed via multiple partners. BUT, by this same biological theory, women were designed to be with ONE partner…with someone who would protect her and her offspring. So it seems to me that since our MODERN world is overpopulated and it is not necessary for guys to have ten children to carry on their name and work their crops anymore, we should consider the “biological card” a moot point. Honestly, I don’t think that most married couples who are in love,and are trusting and sharing, would really need to go outside the marriage to satisfy their sexual needs. A couple that trusts each other can fulfill each others sexual desires simply by communicating what they want. When you really love someone you want to make them happy in the marriage, and that includes sex. But why go to multiple partners for various desires you have when you can get it all from the one person who you know that won’t judge you for your weird sexual fantasies?
MsLilithe Magdalene Highly recommend the book Sex at Dawn – women are NOT biologically designed to want only one partner. Here is a great video with the author of the book, and the first half of the video is really a condensation of it.
Erica Bastow You can’t base the idea that women are not biologically monogamous, based on the opinion of Christopher Ryan’s book and that video. Much more research has been done that shows women, even in very primitive times, as needing the support of family and clan (including mate) to rear their children and survive. Even today, women have a very difficult time rearing children without a partner, whether that be a man or a woman…even with social services.
MsLilithe Magdalene The book is far more than opinion, and I would love to see the research you mention. I really wish you could see that being nonmonogamous has nothing to do with being abandoned, as your last post intimates. In fact, the bonobos, that Ryan speak of, are very tribal, supportive, matriarchal and share child rearing and food – all happily along with their fluid sexual partnerships. This does not mean that all humans should be nonmonogamous – his claim is merely that we are genetically predisposed to it. Monogamy is something we have learned through social change.
Erica Bastow Through social change and economic depression humans have become dog eat dog rather than cooperative clans like the bonobos. I cannot see a future where humans will have “fluid sexual partnerships” that don’t end badly. We have more emotional development that apes and other animals…and more emotional baggage…so you can’t compare us to primitive man or apes.
MsLilithe Magdalene It’s not about comparison – it’s about understanding genetic proclivities and putting them into perspective. It’s about stepping out of religious shame and understanding our biological natures so that they can be reframed by those who choose to do so. Nobody is trying to get you to do it – why make it wrong or try to argue against it for those whom it does work? That is the nature of the conversation here. Kathleen’s comments offended people for whom an open marriage is working – calling them stupid. The point is to look at your own feelings about it, honor them – but also honor others’ choices. Just because we have a genetic proclivity towards it is to support those who want to do it – it’s not to shame those who choose and do well with monogamy.
Liandra Dahl Erica, no one is suggesting that the future will be everyone living in open marriages. It’s a personal decision and there are valid reasons for choosing either. The future we want is one were others don’t judge you for your choices. I don’t judge what you choose personally for your relationship structure and if you wish for your relationships to be respected then it is only fair to reciprocate that respect to people who have made different choices. I know people with “fluid sexual partnerships” who have been together for decades. One for 15 years and another for 30 years. They are incredibly happy and so I assure you it is quite possible and already exists as a reality for these people. I don’t know any monogamous people in that long a marriage who haven’t actually cheated and then had to get over the deception… because monogamy creates alot of opportunity for deception. For Kathleen it is sexual monogamy that means respect, for me it is honesty and trust that means respect. An open marriage is not for everyone, we all agree, it’s not for you and it;s not for Kathleen quite clearly. However, monogamy is not for everyone either. There is no reason to argue as there is no right answer just the answer that is right for you and your partner.
Erica Bastow I am not one to offend anyone in their choice of relationship or be offended, as long as no one in said relationship is in emotional pain. But, by God I will defend any children that arise from such a union, as their life will be one of confusion about who daddy is, and daddies will pop in and out of the child’s life as they do the mother’s.
Liandra Dahl I have children in an open marriage. There is no confusion at all about who daddy is. That is a terribly insulting assumption you have made. Implicit in that comment is the idea that an open marriage is synonymous with “men just come and go as they please”. How dare you assume that having an open marriage means less care for children. People who choose monogamy often have “serial monogamy” and move on from families and have more families elsewhere, then due to the “monogamous ideal” previous families become increasingly neglected. Some monogamous marriage are spectacular parenting units and the same goes for open marriages. Some monogamous marriages are hideous parenting units and the same goes for open marriages. To claim that monogamy monopolises good parenting is an utter fallacy and is most definitely a direct insult.
MsLilithe Magdalene Erica – that is a seriously offensive comment you just made.
MsLilithe Magdalene Your assumptions about what a non-monogamous marriage looks like shows incredible ignorance about it. I suggest to do some more reading before making any further comments.
Kathleen Donnafield I think the assumption that everyone one else who has an opinion contrary to your own is ignorant. Not everyone looks at your assessment of some off the wall writer as an authority on what makes a health family unit. Anyone who thinks guys and a gal raising kids is healthy is not giving a diddly damn about the children. And Liandra; you may have a ’138′ IQ and an open marriage to go along with that IQ(?), so in the grand scheme of things….what really do you have? I pity anyone who thinks this is a healthy lifestyle, especially children who live in this type of family. Ask the kids in 20 years what they think of their upbringing. You all pat yourselves on your own backs now, but I’m sure you won’t want to hear the negatives later on.
MsLilithe Magdalene Kathleen – you are the one who started the conversation by calling people who engage in open marriages as “stupidity personified” – so how on earth can you be crying “oh don’t label me as ignorant”? It is one thing to have a contrary opinion – it is another to judge the people who do it – as you did when you commented. I am about to block both you and Erica – I am embarrassed by your remarks – and yes, at this point I will call it ignorance, as you are not reading and researching and talking to what is these days a pretty large group of people for whom this works, nor are you talking to their children – and making really ugly judgments about them, their lives and their abilities to be good parents. You are making sweeping assumptions about something you have FEELINGS about, but not any direct knowledge that you have demonstrated. That is more than just expressing an opinion – that is ignorance.
Kathleen Donnafield Meant to say..I think the assumption that everyone one else who has an opinion contrary to your own is ignorant is your opinion, which doesn’t mean a thing to me. That you would call Erica incredibly ignorant because she has a well-framed response to open marriage, is stating you are right and she (and anyone else who agrees, such as myself) are not entitled to our opinions. But then, why shoud anyone outside of your very narrow view expect otherwise!
Kathleen Donnafield What makes the writer of the book an authority. He is a man who is of the opinion humans aren’t meant to be monogamous. I think the majority of people would disagree with you and I don’t see any good coming out of these types of unions other than the sexual gratification which I’m sure you would equate to emotionally fulfilling. Whatever trips your trigger, it seems. Poor, innocent children.
MsLilithe Magdalene ?”Well framed” would be to be able to back it up with experience, stats, studies, whatever. Her assumptions are her own, based off of her fears and the situations of pain that generally occur in monogamous relationships when people cheat and abandon. They have nothing to do with the concrete realities of people who are living this way, have been living this way for decades and are making it work. That is ignorance. Expressing feelings and fears and opinions is very different than making assumptions about how poly works or how it affects the children in such families – and the statements you have both made are assumptions – not reality. The polyamorous community is much larger than people realize, and though there are many imperfections in some of those relationships, those imperfections are not any more than in monogamous ones.
And here’s news – oftentimes, opinions are based off of ignorance – ignorance is just a lack of information. Informed opinions I have respect for, even if I disagree. Uninformed opinions, judgments based on fears and assumptions – I have no respect for. I can have respect for them if expressed as personal fears or feelings, questions and wonderments, but not when they are lobed at other people and their lives.
Kathleen Donnafield Just because many have lived blissfully in these unions does not make it morally just and again, I sympathize so much for children who have no choice in these matters. I regard this as no different than the Mormon polygamists that people are so angered over. So, that means you approve of their lifestyles as well.
Kathleen Donnafield Oh…and certainly feel free to block me. I personally don’t care what you think of me and your nastiness toward Erica is uncalled for.
List of researches being done on poly families:
MsLilithe Magdalene Oy vey – if you bring nastiness, expect nastiness. The two of you brought judgement (despite your claims to the contrary). Both of the poly people here responded to you with an open conversation about their lives, and asking why you would judge, and all they got back was more judgment. “Look in the mirror”.
MsLilithe Magdalene And yes, if polygamy works for a family, as long as there is healthy family relationships, I think it’s great.
Liandra Dahl I am disappointed to read the malicious negativity from Erica and Kathleen towards those different from them. Your undeserved, self righteous, privilege of hegemonic conformist monogamy makes you feel you have the right to insult people without consequences. You may or may not be ignorant but you certainly are bigots. Just letting you know that I have copied and pasted all these comments and I’m formulating a blog on this prejudice in action as I am astounded by the hypocrisy of Kathleen who feels that the insults she and Erica have levied at people and parents in open marriages are respectful behaviour but whined about “uncalled for nastiness” when someone calls those malicious insults ignorance. How very sad that this discussion couldn’t have been more mature and respectful whilst expressing the two different positions
Kathleen Donnafield Children are impressionable and to live in a relationship that frankly is very selfish with disregard for the children. Whether or not you like my opinions doesn’t matter because I don’t care for yours either. Two people who want to have a open marriage should keep it totally away from their children… Every responsible and loving parent considers instilling values in their children by example but how can you call open relationships providing the kind of role models they need during their impressionable young years.
Liandra Dahl I want to say I do know an adult person who was a child in an open marriage. He is now 45 years old and he has been happily married for 15 years. He is a successful director and he has a daughter and two sons who are brilliant and talented and loved and cared for. He is now also in an open marriage of 15 years with a brilliant woman and they both love and respect each other deeply. They are wonderful, committed parents. It is a common modus operandi of lifestyle bigotry to first claim that adult consensual, loving, respectful but nonconformist behaviour is wrong for the adults involved and THEN when faced with the reality that it is probably not wrong for those people to then wail “but we must protect the children from this monstrous lifestyle” this was used against inter-racial marriages and is used about gay marriages and is used about open marriages. This means of arguing is exploiting children to defend a failing argument that has no evidence or moral value other than BIGOTRY… meaning seeing people different from you as inferior to you (e.g. calling them stupidity personified or insisting they could not be good parents because of who they have sex with) and thus the refusal to respect other people and their families for not conforming to your lifestyle choices.