Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Alternative Lifestyles Save Marriages?
As we all know, the divorce rate in America is extremely high. According to divorcerate.org 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. Though divorces happen for a number of reasons, infidelity unsurprisingly is the #1 reason for married couples to call it quits. Is it crazy then to assume that if traditional cheating was a non-factor then marriages, on average, would stand the tests of time?
Realistically, as human beings, we are going to have sexual desires for other people regardless of marriage. It's natural and inevitable. The true test of marriage is whether or not you act on those desires by going outside of your commitment and betraying your spouse's trust.
With that being said, it seems that some couples have adopted open relationships and alternative lifestyles to alleviate the possibility of cheating--since it's not really cheating if your partner knows and approves. Studies are showing that many couples that have adopted these lifestyles are happily married and less likely to divorce. Their logic is that since they are given the OK to act on those purely sexual desires, there is no need to cheat or be deceptive.
Since I'm not an expert on the subject, I decided to recruit a friend of mine (Andrew the AssHole) to research the topic and share his findings and thoughts on the matter.
Is this a viable alternative? Are open relationships worth compromising the sanctity of marriage? Or are Will and Jada Smith just some freaks?
What do you think?
Kim is a married woman with kids. She lives a pretty normal life in a two income household. Kim, with the husband's knowledge, goes outside the relationship sexually. One of her lovers asks her to try something “new”… New being a swingers club. Those who don't know swingers club is a sex club. Her first time in the establishment she was surprised with how affluent the people were, and the parking lot had many cars in the $100k - $400k price range. Kim does end up having sex with her lover in a private room. She enjoyed herself enough that she decided to ask her husband if they could join a swingers club… He said YES!!!!
I have heard of these things in movies and in relation to Hollywood, but everyday people doing this? It led me to do some research into what can be referred to as “The Lifestyle.”
Before we get started I think it would be good to get a few definitions clear so that we are all on the same page.
Swinging: when a married or otherwise committed couple engages in sexual activity with another couple, multiple couples, or a single individual. Usually mid 40 age range participates.
Exhibitionism: having sex with a partner while being watched.
Voyeurism: watching others have sex (perhaps with the above mentioned partner).
Soft Swinging or Soft Swap: kissing, stroking, or having oral sex with a third or fourth person. Soft swap may be in the form of a threesome, group sex, or the literal swapping of partners.
Full Swap: having penetrative sex with someone other than one's partner. Although this is the commonly understood definition of swinging, it is not necessarily the most common type.
Group Sex: An all-inclusive term for activities involving multiple partners in the same vicinity.
Hot Wife: married woman who has sex with men other than her spouse, with the husband's consent. In most cases the husbands take a vicarious pleasure in watching their wives' and the other male/s enjoyment, or enjoy watching, hearing, or knowing about their wives' adventures.
Polyamory: the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate long-term relationship at a time with full knowledge and consent by everyone involved. Poly lifestyles vary, with some being open relationships and others being polyfidelitous.
Selective swinging: include mostly childless, unmarried young graduates whose average ages are as low as the late 20s, whereas traditional swingers' events tend to have average ages in the 40s. Selective parties are often referred to as "exclusive" or "elitist." This subgroup coined the term “The Lifestyle.”
Now that the different non-monogamous lifestyle has been defined lets compare it to the traditional husband wife monogamous relationship. Today's marriages have a more than 50% divorce rate and one of the major causes is infidelity second to money related issues. Is it realistic to think that after walking down the aisle that your spouse loses their sexual drive for anyone other than you? Most societies largely discourage sexual relationships outside of the committed relationship. However, since there is a 50% or higher chance that your spouse will go outside the relationship sexually would you consider an open relationship?
Hugh Hefner is probably the most famous person practicing of open relationship. He has 7 girlfriends, at last count that he has a “committed” emotional relationship with. Three of them have a cable TV show. To those in The Lifestyle that type of relation is much different from the non emotional commitment practice of swinging.
I often see relationships where one is “cheating,” by sneaking in time with their lover(s) outside the relationship. Some even know but choose to turn a blind eye to it. Lying to cover ones tracks seems like a lot of extra work. The masses of society seem to think that what I don't know won't hurt me. As a society do we prefer to be lied to?
Philosophically there is a major difference between open relationships (or marriages), swinging and polygamy, but it all boils down to knowingly allowing or participating in a non-monogamous relationship.
I imagine that we will get a lot of anonymous comments on this topic. But I truly want to know how open is too open? Would you prefer to live the illusion of a monogamous relationship? Would you be willing to negotiated boundaries (typically in regards to emotional relationships with multiple people or casual sex) of a non-monogamous relationship?