Our culture has officially found its next frontier. And it involves your wife sleeping with another man.
Don't judge, you bigot. It's not cheating. You guys aren't married, for God's sake. Okay, I mean you are, but what is marriage? The last great civil rights movement taught us that it need not be a covenant between a man and a woman. Human civilization had assumed that marriage was meant to be the foundation upon which families were formed, but we were wrong. Marriage, it turns out, is simply a forum for two people to publicly and ambiguously and temporarily declare their vague feelings of "love" for one another.
But why two people? Many speculated that the social acceptance of polygamy would be next on the docket, but polygamy was never going to be championed by progressive pioneers. Polygamy is an old word, and an honest one, so it won't do. Instead they've come up with a euphemism to stand in its place: "open marriage."
There's been quite a lot said about open marriage recently. Just last week, CNN touted a study purporting to show the many glorious benefits of allowing your spouse — particularly your wife — to have sex with someone else.
In the same week, the Daily Mail ran a glowing piece chronicling one woman's brave decision to jump in the sack with strange men. Her husband was apprehensive at first but quickly learned to accept it, and now the three love birds (and their poor, emotionally abused children) traipse around town hand-in-hand-in-hand.
Not long ago, another woman took to the Huffington Post to explain how having sex with other men "brings me closer to my husband." You'll notice how the new polygamy, in contrast to the old variety, often features the woman taking on multiple lovers while the henpecked, emasculated husband puts on an apron and prepares breakfast in bed for his wife and her booty call.
The New York Times also recently explored the ins and outs of open marriages. I didn't read the article but Cosmo provided a handy list of "10 Thing People In Open Marriages Want You To Know," based on the Times piece. Among these things is the fact that an open marriage is actually not the new polygamy, as I have called it, but the "new monogamy."
A "couples therapist" wrote a book with that title, promoting adultery as a healthy option for many marriages. Of course, a couples therapist pushing infidelity is like a nutrionist recommending a diet of cherry Coke and Doritos, but perhaps this will be common advice from the therapy industry within a few years. Maybe it already is. And if the "new monogamy" euphemism doesn't float your boat, another study a few months ago labeled these arrangements "consensually non-monogamous" or CNM for short. Now that this form of depravity has its own acronym, we can be sure that the normalization train is full speed ahead.
Part of me feels silly responding to this. Must I really clarify why you shouldn't have sex with someone who isn't your spouse? Must I really explain why you shouldn't bring your lover home for family dinner and inform your traumatized children that Mommy and Daddy are going to start having sleepovers with other grownups? Yes, apparently. Sadly. I must.
So, here goes: there is no such thing as an open marriage. A marriage can't be "open" for the same reason that you can't build a house without walls or a roof. The walls and the roof are the whole point of the house. Get rid of those and now you're homeless. A blanket laid out on the pavement is not "an open house" or a "new house" or a "consensually non-walled house," it's just not a house. It's a non-house. It's literally the opposite of a house. And if we start calling that a house, then we haven't expanded the definition of a house but, instead, done away with the very concept of a house entirely. And I think that would be a very stupid thing to do because houses are very useful things to have.
Marriage has its own walls and its own roof, and it is within those walls and under that roof that your family must be formed and maintained. Monogamy is but one of the bricks used to build this structure. Procreativity is the other, which also has been largely abandoned by our culture. But these building blocks are the only things that make a marital union distinct from any other kind of union. They are the whole point of marriage.
It's notable that those who seek to do away with this point still have not provided us with a new one. Why marry someone if you don't want to start a family with them (or you can't because you're both men)? Why marry someone if you don't want to be with them exclusively as long as you both shall live? Any other human relationship can be non-exclusive. Exclusivity is what makes marriage unique. Why have a unique relationship if you are not interested in the thing that makes it unique?
To decide on an open marriage is to tear down the walls of your house and take shelter in the rubble. And the fact that the adultery is mutually agreed upon and "consensual" doesn't make it any less adulterous or any better at all. Actually, "consensual" adultery is even worse than the more traditional form.
Our culture has developed this idea that it's OK to commit an evil action if we are open and honest about it. But that so-called "honesty" is born from your pride and your lack of concern for how your wickedness will hurt those closest to you. At least a man who hides his affair has acknowledged, first, that it is base and shameful, and, second, that it is harmful to his family. A man (or woman) who advertises his infidelity is a sociopath with no shame. He is much further from redemption, and his marriage much further from healing, than the man who claims he is staying late for work so that he can meet his mistress at the Motel 6.
The other problem with this kind of honesty is that it is not honest. The people in these relationships claim that they still "love" their spouse, and they still care about their marriage, and their families are still their number one priorities, etc. But these are more outlandish lies than anything a guy might say to hide his adultery. They don't love their spouses, they couldn't care less about their marriages, and they don't love or care much for their children, either. Their first, second, third, and last priority is to satisfy their own sexual and emotional desires.
A cheater in an open marriage demands that we give her credit because at least she's not a liar. But her affair is the only thing she isn't lying about. The entire rest of her life, and almost everything else she says, is a sham and a mockery. She set out to discover a more honest and enlightened form of adultery, and all she managed to find is one that's even more insidious and more cloaked in deception. That's the great irony here.