Sunday, February 23, 2014

Open Marriages, Open Love, Open Sex! Do They Work?

Does another society marriage bite the dust? It is being said that the once very romantic couple -ex-model Rhea Pillai and tennis ace Leander Paes- are allegedly daggers drawn and trying to agree on a settlement to go their separate ways. Both came into the relationship with much history, but also what appeared to be much passion. 

The relationship gained momentum even as Leander was supposed to be in a serious relationship with actor Mahima Choudhury- and she stated that she had only stumbled upon the truth of his two timing her much into his relationship with Rhea. She had said at the time "In any relationship, there has to be love, trust, commitment and loyalty. If any one of these elements is missing, the relationship isn't worth pursuing," and most of us would agree with that assumption of a relationship?

Today the situation has come full circle with Rhea and Leander allegedly parting ways in a bitter custody battle, and rumour mills cite the cause of the trouble being an allegedly open marriage.  While this might indeed be chinwag, it makes one ponder the ‘institution’ of open marriages and what they must actually mean.

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The dictionary cites an open marriage as a relationship where ‘both partners agree that each may have sexual relations with others without it being regarded as infidelity’. A famous open marriage in the sixties that ran into trouble was that of Kabir and Protima Bedi. 

Protima had said “"To my analytical mind this relationship of marriage is a very forced one between two people….for the security and upbringing of the child the parents need to be monogamous… for a secure home. But both people should understand and accept the fact that there would always be temptation. …You are tempted to enjoy and express yourself. It doesn't mean you hate the person you are with. It has nothing to do with the other person. We wanted to break down all the norms.”

Later both spoke about how it had broken the marriage. But then that was in the seventies. Today we are in an age where marriage is an institution vociferously questioned for its relevance, where open marriages seems to be gaining some momentum.  

So am I endorsing it? Definitely not. I’m exploring this entire new revolution where rumours of a famous actor’s wife hit Bollywood’s social circuit. She and her other friends indulged in polyamory and open relationships that seem to have gained momentum in our generation.  A well known author  who spoke of Open marriages and open love and sex and has been in an open marriage for over a decade speaks about how open marriages make it an expansive, breath infusing existence. The author goes on the explain that people are dissatisfied and unhappy being 'stuck' in one situation forever and the fact that you cannot control the heart and the mind's desires, the thoughts, the wants, and to control is not to love. 

It might work for some, but most of the open marriages that start out with a sense of liberation and ‘live and let live’ ideas, run into trouble. My point here is that why be in a marriage at all when the sense of commitment and honouring those marriages vows don’t exist? Marriage itself is about constancy, fidelity, steadfastness, so why even be in the institution when it’s not working for you? Just stay single and spare everyone the hurt and let down? Sure, I’d say to Jenny Block’s argument- indulge your desires and be attracted to whomever you like, dont be dissatisfied, but then why be in a relationship like marriage at all?

To me ‘open marriage’ is an oxymoron, with marriage being about commitment and a couple spend their lives together with atleast an attempt at fidelity.

Open marriages fall apart more often than not, because marriage itself comes with expectations, dependability, belonging and love. Jealousy and rule violations nearly always crack apart the ‘pact’ to ‘live and let live’ within the framework of a farcical marriage.  Did any one of the partners bargain for falling in love while in open relationships? No! So open marriages might leave themselves ‘open’ to much resentment, hurt, disappointment, argument , some jealousies and rule violations and eventual break-up. 

The entire situation does warrant much premeditation and thought, because we were indeed hardwired for security and commitment when within a marriage.

Nisha JamVwal
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