Open RelationshipsWhat do I believe?  How did I come to believe what it is that I believe?  Does what I believe empower me?  At some point, most of us have considered the first question, but have never stopped to ask ourselves the second or the third.  Perhaps we should.

You see, when it comes down to it, the fact is that most of our beliefs have been established based on what others have taught us. The rest?  Well, the rest is a hodge-podge of conclusions that we’ve arrived at based on life experience; some good, some bad.  There are some beliefs that are so deeply ingrained in us that we are willing to fight, or even die for them.  Others, while they may not be as sacred, are still familiar.  They are what we know to be “true”, but what should we do when our “truth” does not serve us?

Recently, I found myself sitting in casual observation of all the brouhaha surrounding Jada Pinkett-Smith and the allegations that she shares an open marriage with her husband, actor Will Smith. Whether open or closed, I had formed no real opinion about their relationship.  It was none of my business and therefore required no debate, argument, or editorial on my part.  At least that was how I felt up until Jada released a statement in response to the uproar.  Then, I sat up and took notice.

“Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should ‘behave’? Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of ‘you better act right or else’ keep one honest and true?

“Should we be married to individuals who can not be responsible for themselves and their families within their freedom? Should we be in relationships with individuals who we can not entrust to their own values, integrity, and LOVE…for us???”

When I read this portion of Jada’s statement, I felt the strong desire to rise to my feet and give Ms. Jada a standing ovation. It was out there.  She said it-the thing that most of us don’t want to acknowledge.  And I give her credit for being wise enough to recognize and speak the truth: believing that we can somehow control, threaten or guilt someone into honesty or fidelity is a delusion.  In fact, believing that we should have to says even more about us than it does about the person that we are involved with.  Ultimately, we must take responsibility for our own choices and we must allow others the freedom to do the same.   And within that context, it really doesn’t matter how we choose to define our relationship.  What matters is the quality of our experience.  What matters is whether or not we are in a relationship that honors us.

Now, I’m sure that there are many who do not agree with Jada’s views on marriage or how she chooses to define her relationship (hence all the tongue-wagging).  What do I believe?  I believe that marriage is just like everything else in life-meant to show us who we are, not to create a false sense of security for ourselves.  I believe that if we are in a relationship where we cannot trust ourselves and our partner enough to love freely and openly, then we are out of place.  I believe that relationships help to expose all of our little insecurities so that we might be healed, not for us to make our partner responsible for managing our anxieties.

In the end, what each of us believes about marriage and relationships is a personal choice.  If our beliefs empower us and allow us to grow, then we are in integrity with ourselves.  But if they do not, we should find the courage to change them.  So, what do you believe?



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  • shawn
    May 7, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I guess I don’t understand the purpose of an open marriage. Is it just for the benefits? Is it for legal or tax purposes? Here is what I really think happened. Will cannot be faithful and as opposed to leaving him because of cheating this is some “compromised” position she is taking. If she wants to call it an “open” marriage and that helps her deal with it then that is fine. There are men and women who can stay faithful to their spouse out of love and commitment, not threats or punishment. .

    • Angie G.
      May 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Hello, Shawn! Thanks for your comment. My intention when I wrote this was to explore our beliefs about what it means to be in an open marriage, as well as to challenge how we have come to define what that means. In my opinion, an open marriage does not necessarily mean a relationship in which the individuals have relationships outside of the marriage. It can also mean, as Jada indicated, that we trust our partners to act in their own ingtegrity.. How we choose to label that kind of relationship should not matter. Sometimes, I think, we can get so caught up on labels that we miss the bigger point..

      • Marlene
        May 8, 2013 at 10:11 am

        I agree with Jada and I get why she refuses to label her marriage as “open”. I wouldn’t want to have a spouse who requires babysitting. If I marry someone who has to be monitored and watched, then the problem is mine. I can only hope I have sense enough to marry a man who knows how to conduct himself at all times. If I have to threaten another human being to be faithful and honest in relationship to me, I’ve already lost.

  • shawn
    May 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I did want to say it was a very well written article. Many men and woman use the “dont label what we have” as an excuse to keep the expectations of a relationship as vague as possible. No one should have to monitor their spouse regardless what type of relationship they have.


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