As society and individuals progress, we look for methods that will improve our lives by eliminating old traditions and practices. We go to great lengths to fight to shift norms that hold us back and prevent us from experiencing life as free beings. The institution that is “marriage”, is ripe for disruption and many people believe that “open marriage” is the saving grace that will come in and eliminate many of the divorces happening these days. To me this is another complicated bandaid on a few deeper problems…
Open marriage addresses many of the carnal “needs” that we claim have ruined the institution of marriage and driven up the divorce rate. These needs are sexual and emotional. Proponents for open marriage claim that open marriage is the most selfless way two people (and their other lovers) can exist together and self-actualize. One could say this about communism as well. On one hand, the idea is very appealing. Stay married and agree to the terms that you can agree to. Support and hold on to your family while exploring your desires, dreams and fantasies. Everyone has the freedom to be who they want, with whom they want, when they want.
I grew up playing sports so making sacrifices, sticking with commitments and adherence to obligations is no big deal to me. In fact I've spent time on teams where I was, and was not, the star. In both instances I had to learn to respect others' journeys as well as my own personal growth journey. Believe me committing to a team where you sit the bench sucks but there's a lot to learn from it.
To me, when you tryout and make a team and go to the practices and play in the games you agree to play for that team. When the going gets tough or if you are carrying the team, you don’t just go off and play for another team or league. In fact, there are many rules preventing players from doing such. Some would say- if a player is good enough, why can’t they just play on as many teams as they like? My answer- safety for the person; commitment for all parties; and trust. It’s not safe for that person to go all out for 2 or three teams. The body can only endure but so much. Then there’s the commitment. Each person on a team is (should be) giving 100%. If you divide 100% you have less than 100%. You can't go about compartmentalizing 100s here and there. The other players should trust that we’re all in this together; we're all going to show up to each game ready to go; and we're all focused on the same objectives.
Take a sport like volleyball. It is the ultimate of team sports- six people in a tiny box, with a tiny ball, using complicated skills to attack the floor of the other team. If you’ve ever watched a higher level women’s game you’ll understand the grace, beauty and technique required of each individual as it fits into the complicated movements and synergy of the entire team. A good family works the same way… each family member’s wonderful contribution works together to orchestrate the beautiful mess of their lives within their home. Mom can't go be mom for another family and give her awesome “mommess” to this family too... As much as she may want a different husband, house, kids, pets or car, it's in everyone's best interest that she sacrifices and commits to the family she chose. It's all in or none in.
So, in an era where primadonnas, franchise players and individuals take precedent, sacrificing for the team seems to be an old school way of doing things. This new way of thinking is deeply rooted in the selfish idea that we miss out on something when we committed to something else. And why would we want to? There’s so much out there to explore and experience and learn. There's the internet and apps and phones; there's traveling and cultural tourism; and then there's the idea of our ultimate quest for personal happiness. But there’s a lot of value in being involved in something 100%, giving our all to it and then being able to walk away from that experience knowing we gave everything- even if ultimately we think we got nothing out of it.
Our quest to be happy and self fulfilled can't come from without. It must come from within. Just as an athlete must love the game in spite of the game rather than loving it only when the team wins or plays well. Nothing and no one can complete you but you. When we enter into a marriage we are raised to believe that you find the other, they will complete you; they are your soulmate; they are your one true love or at least the person you can love until you die. What a heavy amount of stress and expectation we place on others? When a kid makes a team, that team can't promise a division 1 scholarship. The kid must work hard, lift weights, work on their skills and develop chemistry with their teammates. The coach and a program's reputation may increase the odds but ideally the kid's gotta put the work in. The same goes for each relationship we enter.
Our individualized society does not allow for the painful experience of personal growth. Like liars we shield ourselves and our children from it. We allows for self validation but not growth and therefore the idea of open marriage is appealing because we can remain who we are with as many people as we like without the uncomfortable expectation to grow, make sacrifices and transform. So we hungrily move from relationship to relationship (sexual, emotional or familial) because of our on personals lacking and stagnation.
I say all this to say that with open marriage, you need to either piss or get off the pot. Either commit to the person and the family you made, or move on, or be alone. We want to find our happiness through our selfishness when ultimately happiness comes from the pain of sacrifice. There is nothing in us but selfishness, therefore to be able to fully grow and explore and experience life we must put that part of us aside. Our pride, our ego and our physical desires must be stripped away so that we may fully appreciate the benefits of our commitments.