Open marriage generally refers to both partners having multiple sexual partners while married to each other. That, I find, belittles the entire purpose of marriage. Why bother, after all, single people have loads of relationships (I use that term lightly) while searching about for the one person they can fall in love with for life.
Having been married since the age of 16, 41 years ago, I tend to see the word ‘open’ in a different light. Open means that you don’t smother each other, that you are honest with each other, that you support each other in good and bad times, and that you encorage one another to grow, learn, and become the person they are meant to be.
For instance, I didn’t go to university until I was 36 years old. But, due to my husband’s constant support, I managed to earn three degrees in five years, and was on a scholarship in Nottingham, England when our son died and I quit school to take care of his daughter. Without the encouragement, support, and outright cheerleading my husband gave me, there were times I would have simply given up. Instead, I graduated third in my class, Magna cum Laude, Mortar Board Society, and Alpha Chi Honors Society. That is an open marriage. Because, trust me, we didn’t spend all that much time together during those five years.
We have vastly different interests on many levels. An open marriage means that I don’t try to force him to change those interests because I want him to do things I like to do. Instead, I encourage him to do those things, and occasionally go along with him, and he does the same for me. We don’t have to live in each other’s pockets 24/7 to enjoy our lives together.
Most importantly, an open marriage means that we work as a team. No one is the boss, and we both work hard to keep things good between us. We talk it through, sometimes after a yelling match and a few slammed doors, but we talk it through. We also agree to disagree and some topics we avoid because we both know it will lead to endless debates and neither of us will budge in our opinion. But, we respectfully agree that as individuals, we should and can have differences of opinion, and still love each other.
The whole sex thing, well, trust me, sex isn’t the be all, end all of a good marriage. Important, yes, vital at some points in life, but the most important thing is love. Love, when he gives you a foot rub after a long day. Love, when you cook his comfort food (even if you hate it) when he is stressed out. Love, taking care of him when he gets sick, even if he is a bigger baby than your two year old. Love, when he sits through yet another three hanky girl movie even though it bores him to death. All those little things, that’s what makes a marriage work.