Close the door on open marriage

Read our lips, say readers: Open marriages don't work.

By Salon Staff
Published November 29, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

I'm willing to bet that mine will be one of the few responses urging the girl
whose husband slept with her "best friend" to try to save her marriage,
but that is my reaction.

Since she has this man's baby, she is stuck with him for at least the next
20 years, whether they are married or not. Nothing in her story
reveals him to be abusive or hopelessly degenerate -- he appears to be,
like her, suffering essentially from immaturity.

Of course the very first thing this couple should do is go immediately to a marriage counselor. That said, here is a layperson's view.

The most important thing they can do is drop the idea of the "open
marriage." They probably think they're the first, brilliant couple to realize
that marital fidelity is stifling to the individual, unnecessarily restrictive,
old-fashioned, blah blah blah.

Unfortunately, open marriage is an old, tested and tired concept that doesn't work any better in actual practice than communism does. They've missed the starry-eyed optimism of this idea by about 30 years. Sexual intercourse is too intimate and emotional to be shared (if you're married) with anyone outside the marriage. Asking permission is completely
irrelevant -- it's wrong, it's destructive and if they won't commit to marital
fidelity the marriage will implode, which is what is happening now.

If this girl thinks giving up on the marriage would be easier than working
at it, she'd better spend some time talking to divorced mothers. Even
after you divorce, the other parent will influence where you live, how
you live, how much money you have, any other relationship you develop
and the emotional life of your child (therefore YOUR emotional life) for
years! There is no "easy" way out of this. None. Too late.

Far easier for you to live with -- and better for your child -- would be for
you and your husband to sit down and redefine your marriage. Have
the child stay with grandma, sister or a trusted friend (not "best friend"!)
for a weekend and go away, even if it's just to an inexpensive motel in
your own hometown. Ask the big questions of each other: What's important to each of you? What do you want to accomplish? How do you want your child to be raised? What do you want out of your marriage? Where do you see yourself and each other in 20 years? What did you love about each other when you married? What is there to love now?

In summary, my advice is to wipe the slate clean. Don't come back a
year from now during a fight and bring up what's already done and over
with. Put it behind you, reconnect with each other, commit to fidelity and
work hard at your marriage -- it's less work in the long run, and most
beneficial to your child and to the both of you. I've been there, almost exactly there. I hope you can work it out.

P.S. Dump the "best friend," someone who would sleep with your
husband, with or without your permission, is no real friend. And you
really don't need this person around your new, improved marriage.

-- Anonymous.

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What do I think? ...

I think the woman who wrote this is demented.

However, if indeed she wants a marriage (rather than a revolving-door his-and-hers lover system), she needs to do the following:

1) Immediately move 1,000-plus miles away -- with the baby.

2) Concurrently with that, serve hubby with separation papers.

3) Get a job selling new cars at a retail brand-name dealership. If you work your ass off there, you'll earn enough money to make it.

4) Keep your legs closed!

5) Admit to yourself that sleeping around makes you a pig.

6) Decide to not be a pig.


8) Hubby must join Marines and make Lieutenant to prove himself.

9) His commanding officers must vouch that he's "clean."

10) If you make it this far, get counseling and try to start over.

Don't kid yourself, though, you are BOTH degenerate pigs and don't stand a chance. Do your kid a favor and find her a nice foster home.

-- D. Gregory

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Dear Mrs. Danny,

It is time to renegotiate your contract. ANY open marriage, semi or
otherwise, is certainly doomed. Marriage is not, as I'm sure you now know,
just about great sex or financial support or "chemistry." It is the deep
comfort of knowing that someone loves you through and through, and that you love them back.

It is the joy of sharing your days and nights with your best friend. It is the security of knowing that, whatever the temptation, your lover will always prefer YOU to any other person.

How can Danny feel special when you would rather have sex with your ex from Croatia? How can you feel special when he would rather sleep with your best friend? "Rules" be damned -- if you want to spend the rest of your life with this man, then you must both make the decision to give each other all of your sexual attention.

There is so little that is sacred in today's society. Make your marriage sacred. Choose to set aside some part of yourself for your mate alone, not to be shared with anyone else. That is the beginning of trust.

I wish you and Danny the blessing of delighting in one another for a

-- Anonymous

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OK, you two. Prepare yourselves for some tough love.

Your wanton disregard for each other's feelings and the well-being of your daughter is reprehensible. You gave up the right to pursue these whimsical affairs the moment you chose to procreate. Playtime is over. It's time to shift the focus off your genitals and onto your little girl. You are your daughter's most important teachers.

What will she learn if you continue this behavior? That you should always put your own selfish needs above others. That it is OK to hurt the ones you love. That she should find a husband just like daddy who will humiliate her and cheat on her. That her parents' concern for her takes a back seat to their sexual escapades. She will pick up on this faster than you can imagine, and her self-esteem will go right down the toilet.

Fix this marriage now, or 18 years from now your daughter will be grinding her crotch in my lap at a strip club while her boyfriend is off sleeping with her best friend.

-- Brennan Houlihan, Los Angeles

Salon Staff

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