Could it save your relationship?
Author Dossie Easton in her book “The Ethical Slut – A Guide to Infinite Possibilities” opines
“One of the most valuable things we can learn from open sexual lifestyles is that our programming is changeable.”
Social mores are much more relaxed than they have ever been in Ireland. Where once a man married a woman for life and was contracted to such an arrangement, relationships come in different forms to the standards that once applied twenty or even ten years ago. The attitudes that constrained us are now faltering .
I spoke recently with a young couple I know and asked about their relationship. Both have been married for nearly 20 years and have two kids. Their modus operandi is each other is an emotional anchor bound to each other. Their emotional bond outweighs any physical attraction they experience.
As the wife had said to me:
“there has been once or twice in twenty years I might have questioned what we have after I met men, I come home every time though as I love my husband.”
A research paper from Dublin Business School (they do have a psychology department one would be surprised to know) looked at the topic. In a paper titled “A Qualitative Study of Individuals Engaged in Consensual Open or NonMonogamous Relationships” –
The study took a small sample and interviewed four participants in the study. It concluded:
” The current research highlights the importance of the discovery in which deeper understanding of oneself is achieved through the experiences of engaging in consensual non-monogamy.”
Open-marriages can provide the oxygen for marriages where one partner feels suffocated. Older couples can lose that spark in the marriage, snuffed out after 40 years of monogamy. A wife or a husband can seem like they are wearing the same clothes for decades, yet this does not speak to the emotional side and the love for each other.
As with the discussion above and the conclusion from the DBS study, these marriages, in which both consent to a non-monogamous relationship, do so through detailed discussion, boundary laying and a sense of attachment that runs more profound than some other relationships.
Worthy noting that open relationships are distinct from polyamory which I want to cover in another column sometime in the future. A distinction that is important is that polyamory is about multiple relationships, however open relationships are more about the sexual liaisons, letting people avoid being caught in flagrante delicto.
Open relationships were the standard bearer of relationships rather than the standard monogamous model we seek and value so highly today. Left with a wife at home, men in Sparta took a younger man for liaisons to encourage bonds between military units. Greece never really suffered from the same complex, judgemental prudish attitude that hangs about Irish society.
Commentators, I would be interested to know what your experiences are in reviving the spark that was lost physically in a marriage or a relationship. Did counselling bring matters to the fore? Were you engaged with people otherwise in liasons with the permission of your other half and found this made the relationship better or made it worse?
Previously: Fluffybiscuits on Broadsheet