How Open Are Our Marriages?

Rummana Ahmed

In today's world where gender dynamics change everyday, relationships are being redefined. There was a time when the only man/men a married woman knew outside of her husband were her brother-in-law/s but all that has changed. Men and women are increasingly meeting new people at their workplace, in social circles and at other informal interactions. How does this impact the man-woman relationship and more specifically, marriages?

For a very long time I thought that open marriages were a totally western concept. So one lazy Sunday afternoon, I sift through this lifestyle magazine during my pedicure session and stumble upon this article on open marriages in India. Surprise, surprise! So-called taboo topics like open marriages and swingers clubs seemed to be the buzz word among urban young couples.

View: Couples in open marriages justify their choice as a more pragmatic approach to deal with infidelityand the shock and trauma that the significant other goes through.

Gone are the days when marriages were meant to be water-tight units that bound individuals together; notions of freedom, space and choice are increasingly gaining popularity.

We all perceive our married life to be a certain way and when it turns out to be quite different from what we expected, what do we do? Do we spend our entire life learning to live with what we have? Do we walk out of our marriage? Or do we accept our marriage the way it is and actively pursue what's missing outside?

Their argument is that when individuals in a marriage admit to being attracted to someone else at some point or the other in their relationship, then they might as well be open about it.

Marriage doesn't change basic human nature; there'll always be this conflict (momentary or persistent) when you might be attracted to someone else. Why curb your natural feelings rather than being open about it?

Some couples prefer to rather have the option of being in an open marriage than have their partner cheat on them without their knowledge.

Most men admit that at some point in their married lives, they seek sexual gratification elsewhere; in an open marriage, the women at least has the option of having an alternative choice rather than remaining in the dark about her spouse's sexcapades.

Counterview: Why get married at all?

The institution of marriage for many is still sacred and sacrosanct; so if partners agree to dilute the very premise of 'till death do us apart', then what's the point of being married in the first place?

If such notions become permissible in India then sooner or later we will head towards a society where family values will no longer hold true and remain strong and consistent.

Theoretically it might be easy to agree to the concept of an open marriage but what about its ramifications on your present relationship? What if the third-party gets more involved than you are prepared to handle?

An integral part of many marriages is to provide children with a stable upbringing; how secure will they be in an open marriage?

There are several arguments that can be made for and against this debate. The integral point is how do we define fidelity in our marriage? Is it possible to remain emotionally connected to one person even if you chose to have sexual relationships outside your marriage? If you have physically intimate relationships outside your marriage, does that in any way take away from the love and closeness that you share with your spouse?

Share your views for and against the topic. You can connect with me on Twitter as well.