I’d seen it on facebook, before it was facebook, back when people still used friendster:
relationship status: open
Har, har, I would’ve said to myself if I were the type to ever say har har. I guess I kinda smiled when I saw that Natalia, a married girlfriend of mine, claimed to be a 99-year-old agnostic Leo in an open relationship. “Yeah, right,” I thought, “she’s so not a Leo.” It must’ve been a joke; no one I knew was even open to the idea of an open marriage. Natalia wouldn’t even wear open-toe-shoes.
Or maybe people are just private, preferring not to live their lives in blogs and blabs. Perhaps that saying about never really knowing what goes on between a man and a woman should be tweaked to include a third or fourth player. I bet we’d all be surprised to learn just how many of our own friends are secretly living such "open" lives behind such closed doors. Even more surprising? Our own reaction to the news.
I tend to judge, a lot of the time, out of fear. I judge what I don’t understand, what I haven’t lived, circumstances I’ve never encountered. Mostly, I pass judgment out of fear, insecurity in my own life. And it’s so hard not to feel self righteous when I come across someone who’s breaking some moral code. But the fact is, there’s always a payoff. There’s a need being met for everything we do.
I recently heard of a married couple who’d been together for twelve years of marriage. He worked full-time, while she tended the house and reared their four chitlins. She became overwhelmed sometimes and voiced her frustrations to a girlfriend of hers who was single. The friend was eager to help, and with all the time they spent together, she began to spend the night. And the next night. And the next. Eventually, she moved in and lived with the family. She had her own bedroom but never slept in it. Snug as three bugs with two rugs. The way the wife spoke of their arrangement, you’d think she was speaking of laundry. Despite airing hers, she claimed she was at complete ease speaking about her open marriage, yet when asked if her friends knew, she allowed, "God, no. They’d never understand. People are judgmental. People who’ve never even been married themselves are sure they’d never dare ‘share’ their husband. What they fail to see is that he shares me. This is something I want and that he enjoys. And we don’t just share a bed. We share all the responsibilities of keeping a home, and I’m so much happier now."
I sat in silence for a while thinking. Mostly wondering what I should (and shouldn’t) be thinking. I couldn’t get beyond the patterns and role they are setting for their children. It’s certainly not the norm, but would that environment screw up a kid? If it’s a loving communicative environment with stability, they’re still living their lives secretively. Would it be better for the kids if they were open about their open marriage?
I don’t think I could ever share my husband. I have a hard enough time sharing the covers. And after spending a few soft-porn days in Miami Beach, watching two husbands wear their t-string-clad, topless wives on their shoulders, as the women made out, in a hotel infinity pool, I wondered if their relationships would last forever. They certainly seemed to be having fun, even once the women came down off their husbands and began to make out with each other, and then each with one of the husbands before they both swam to the other husband and had their go with him. I want to move to Florida, to be near the ocean, and open to new possibilities, just not that open.