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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 (such as swinging and polyamory), each with the partners having varying levels of input on their spouse's activities.

History of the term[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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

Relationship maintenance[edit]

The impact of open marriage on relationships varies across couples. Some couples report high levels of marital satisfaction and have long-lasting open marriages.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] All couples in open marriages may therefore want to pay attention to their relationship maintenance behaviors.[citation needed]

Ground rules[edit]

Couples involved in open marriages or relationships typically adopt a set of ground rules to guide their activities.[citation needed] 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 sexual health 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.[citation needed]

Open marriage styles[edit]

Main article: 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 open couples maintain rules forbidding emotional attachment, illegitimate children, extramarital sex in the marital bed, extramarital sex with those known to both partners, and requiring use of barrier contraception.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Jealousy issues[edit]

Couples in open marriage may expose themselves to situations that could 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[edit]

Surveys show large majorities of people disapprove of extramarital sexual activity.[citation needed] A few studies show people specifically disapprove of open marriages.[citation needed] Critics have put forward moral, medical, and psychological objections to open marriages.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Legal issues[edit]

The practice of extramarital sex is often illegal in jurisdictions where adultery is illegal, regardless of whether the partner(s) has given their consent.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Religious issues[edit]

Most Christians believe that God sees open marriage as adultery[citation needed]

Incidence of open marriage[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Notable people in open marriages[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnson, H.M. (1960). Sociology: A Systematic Introduction. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc.
  2. ^ Jacobsohn, P., & Matheny, A.P. (1963). Mate selection in open marriage systems. In K. Ishwaran and J.M. Mogey (Eds.), Family and Marriage (pp. 98-123). Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, Publisher.
  3. ^ Kearl, Mary (2009-11-03). "Love, Sex and Parenting in an Open Relationship". AOL Health. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  4. ^ Pace, Eric (1999-09-01). "Joan Braden Is Dead at 77; Hostess to a Capital Elite". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  5. ^ "Margaret Cho Opens Up About Her Open Marriage". Huffington Post. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  6. ^ Signorile, Michelangelo (2013-08-14). "Margaret Cho On Her Open Marriage: 'I Can't Stop Up That Hole' Interview Discusses Monogamy, Bisexuality, Open Relationships". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  7. ^ "Autofocus" by Natasha Theobald
  8. ^ Salkin, Allen (2007-01-21). "Mr. and Mrs. Natural". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  9. ^ "Jada Pinkett Smith Explains Open Marriage Comments". Us Weekly. 15 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Susan Elliott (Obituary)". The Daily Telegraph. 24 April 2007. 
  11. ^ "Steve Parker and Shirley MacLaine Marriage Profile". Marriage.about.com. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  12. ^ http://homepages.primex.co.uk/~lesleyah/lwhnwalk.htm homepages.primex.co.uk] askzon.com
  13. ^ "Scenes From an Open Marriage". ericajong.com. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  14. ^ In Touch Exclusive Interview: Inside Larry King & Southwick's twisted relationship
  15. ^ "BYU NewsNet - 'Open Marriage' Carries Consequences". Byumedia.com. 2006-04-11. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  16. ^ "SALON Departments: Listress Answers". Salon.com. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  17. ^ Epstein, Daniel Mark (2001). What Lips my Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-6727-2. 
  18. ^ Published 7/22/07 by. "Mo'Nique's in an Open Marriage at The Insider". Theinsider.com. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  19. ^ "Amanda Palmer Gets Intimate | Out Magazine"
  20. ^ Branden, Barbara (1986). The Passion of Ayn Rand. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company. pp. 256–264, 331–343. ISBN 0-385-19171-5. OCLC 12614728.  Branden 1986
  21. ^ Glendinning, Victoria (1983). VITA. A Biography of Vita Sackville-West. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 436. 
  22. ^ Peterson James R. (1999). The Century of Sex: Playboy's History of the Sexual Revolution 1900-1999. New York. Grove Press. (p.61) ISBN 0-8021-1652-3
  23. ^ Kingston Anne. (2004). The Meaning of Wife. Union Square West, N.Y. Farrar, Straus and West. (p.80) ISBN 978-0-374-20510-2
  24. ^ "The Threesome Handbookk: A Practical Guide to Sleeping with Three". 
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ [2]
  27. ^ [3]

Further reading[edit]

  • Block, J. (2009). Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage. Seal Press. ISBN 978-1580052757
  • O'Neill, N. / O'Neill, George (1984). Open Marriage: A New Life Style for Couples. M. Evans & Company. ISBN 978-0871314383
  • Schott, O. (2014). In Praise of Open Relationships. On Love, Sex, Reason, and Happiness. Bertz + Fischer Publishing. ISBN 978-3-86505-725-9

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_marriage — Please support Wikipedia.
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