There’s a National Coming Out Day to celebrate all of those who have come out and been open and honest about their sexuality preferences. I love that they have a day for this. It occurred to me while discussing this day on my Facebook account, that in this day and age there are so many different relationship types. Many people feel they need to be in the closet about their relationships, as well. One of the quickest growing alternative relationship options is an open marriage. Many celebrities these days have been discussed to be participating in an open marriage, such as Mo’Nique, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett. Of course, there are rumors about several more, but the above mentioned have gone in print openly admitting their open marriage.

So what is it? Often times, many people think it’s just permission to go around having sex with random people, and sometimes it’s confused with swinging relationships. According to Wikipedia, the technical definition is permission to have an extramarital sexual relationship with someone other than your spouse. However, ask anyone in an open marriage, and often times their definitions are vastly different as to what it means to them. Often referring to an open marriage as a swinger situation is offensive to the couple, because to many people it is not just about sex.

How does it work? Some open marriages have a strict set of rules to allow their partners to be intimate with other people outside the confines of their primary relationship. The partners involved in an open marriage will often start off with a set of open marriage rules. These rules differ per couple, and are something usually deeply discussed, and readdressed over time to keep current and updated. Each couple involved is different, and situations vary per couple. Sometimes not even both members of the relationship participate in the open marriage. Some open marriage situations give their partners permission to have emotional relationships outside of their primary relationship (this often times gets referred to as polyamory which is a whole different blog post altogether).

Why an open marriage? A lot of people in today’s society believe that monogamy is not what we as humans are designed to do, but instead trained to believe is the right thing to do, since that’s what our parents, and their parents did. However, with a divorce rate of 3.4 per 1,000 population many people in an open marriage will argue it helps to keep their marriage solid. Out of those divorces, some say that infidelity is the cause for 90% of those divorces, and that 30-60% of all married couples will engage in infidelity at some point in their marriage. Is it human nature to be monogamous, or is it human nature to want to be with more than one person? That’s the ever evolving question around open marriage. But in this day and age, with divorce so popular, I say do whatever works for you and your marriage. Marriage is an all encompassing word. Make your own definition.

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