By now, our generation is fairly acquainted with the concept of an “open relationship.” There might be many of us who have personally tried it out, or heard about it second-hand. For fairly liberal college students, most of us can see the logic behind it, though not all of us may agree with it. In the same vein as open relationships are open marriages. Yet, while cultural beliefs are shifting rapidly in this day and age to accept such institutions, there persists the urge to preserve monogamy.
In a Huffington Post article that explores real-life examples of open marriages, we learn about couples who dabble in non-monogamy for a few years and other couples who have established clear rules on how they go about their non-monogamous activities. In the article, for example, Bryce and Dana lay down some ground rules, which included always practicing safe sex, not spending the night at other people’s places, and running every sexual encounter by one another first.
There is a very logical attempt to distinguish between the carnal and the emotional, which can be quite difficult to separate. In a Live Science article, Dr. Schwartz claims that “monogamy is invented for order and investment — but not necessarily because it’s ‘natural.’” Dr. Lancaster also explains that the social concept of monogamy ensures the continuation of the human race, which makes it a “compromise” that all humans must make.
In that sense, the concept of “open marriages” not only appears to be a paradox, but it also seems to dive into the heart of a huge conflict between human desire and social compromise. If society were to function in an orderly fashion, then this type of conflict is not one that can be dissected in mainstream culture. This may all seem like pretty heavy implications simply for a few couples who are just trying out new trends, but it does explain why “open marriages” will never be the norm.
Mona Xia is a sophomore majoring in critical studies. Her column, “Footnotes,” runs Thursdays.