The NYT Magazine Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage theme reveals the impetus of why marrieds are so interested in bringing others into the fold.
They are looking for an easy button.
When I was less experienced in relationships, I would hear folks say, “marriage is hard work,” to which I would respond, “it shouldn’t be because of Love.“
So, naive, I was.
Today, I believe marriage is joining two people to function as a stronger unit than each could be alone.
“if you want to go fast go alone – want to go far, go together”. Kenyan Proverb
These couples started out for a marathon but then neglect to check into their relationship and turned it into a sprint. In our growing narcissistic society, these couples never learned how to confront and deal with challenges.
But marriage should work like two cogwheels turning, functioning as a unit, with each turn, a new fit.
We see; instead, partners behaving like grinding gears, not knowing how to shift properly when one shows another side, another facet of their personality and its subsequent need. When rejection enters the equation, as it did for both Elizabeth and Daniel at different points in their marriage, instead of our partner displaying a “get in where you fit in” attitude, one or both partners mentally checks out of the marriage.
Of course, when a partner checks out in the marriage, that leaves an “opening” for a new partner to step in. This is how we’ve come to define an “open” marriage in our society.
If a need/want isn’t met by our partner, we find someone else who will fill it. This is our society’s “do-si-do” version of intimacy.
While I can’t fault anyone for wanting a fulfilled life. Should it really be at the expense of another person? Maybe our first “marriage” should be to self… Sologamy.
But I digress.
I think there’s a missed opportunity for couples to work within the marriage to find fulfillment.
Instead of opening the marriage, the couple could be open, transparent, and vulnerable to each other.
Yet, many of us go through life refusing to be vulnerable to anyone. Hell, we, as a society, “eat our weak,” so it is much easier to hide our longing, desire, pain, etc., and like snacking, we have some random person meet our wants, and then when we’ve had enough, we dispose of them.
This version of “open marriage” is an old and oft-told story. Old as marriage itself.
Where’s the story of how two people in marriage fared when they signed up for the adventure to be open, transparent, and vulnerable to each other, and with no escape clause.
Who is living that new and enterprising marriage model?
The opposite of rejection is not acceptance – it’s belonging. And that’s a choice only the heart makes.