Taking off from our ‘conversation’ last week about free-flowing open marriages where you don’t ‘feel stifled’ there was an interview I had stumbled upon of a famous open marriage in the sixties, where the couple had spoken about their ‘open relationships’. Kabir Bedi and Protima Bedi had admitted that their decision to practice polyamory within their marriage had eventually led to a breakdown of not only the marriage but nearly their bond and friendship. I believe it was one of the first times, a married couple had come out in the open to speak about their arrangement.
Protima had said, “To my analytical mind this relationship of marriage is a very forced one between two people…. for the security and upbringing of the child the parents need to be monogamous… for a secure home. But both people should understand and accept the fact that there would always be temptation. You are tempted to enjoy and express yourself. It doesn’t mean you hate the person you are with. It has nothing to do with the other person. We wanted to break down all the norms.”
Later both spoke about how it had broken the marriage. But then that was in the seventies. Today we are in an age where marriage is an institution vociferously questioned for its relevance, where polyamory seems to have gained much momentum.
Carrie Jenkins makes an important point when she says “monogamy has historically been gendered. Even in situations where marrying more than one woman has been illegal, it has often been normal for men to have mistresses, but different rules have applied to women. This is unsurprising: in a patriarchal society with property inheritance passing along the male line, paternity is key, and enforced female monogamy is an effective way to control it.”
It might work for some, but most of the open marriages that start out with a sense of liberation and ‘live and let live’ ideas, run into trouble. Many of my friends from school and college who got married to dominating men that wanted a ‘housewife’ to keep home and hearth were miserable in the institution of marriage. The statistic was higher when women give themselves up headlong into the chores of marriage -giving up all financial independence and cutting down drastically on personal pursuits of happiness. Ofcourse today many urban marriages are more equal and demand more space. But if a couple find marriage all in all restrictive and conform to the view that you cannot predict who might take your fancy tomorrow then I’d say you don’t need marriage at all. Choose a life with personal space, diversions and hobbies with friends and financial independence that gives you a feeling of liberation and self-reliance and the ability to go with your attractions without any strings attached.
Marriage itself is about constancy and consistency; fidelity and steadfastness, so why even be in the institution when it’s not working for you? Just stay single and spare everyone the hurt and let down? Sure, I’d cite the polyamory argument-indulge your desires and be attracted to whomever you like. It might not be possible to tell your partner ‘don’t be attracted to anyone else” and end up with both of you being controlling and dissatisfied. Why be in a relationship like marriage at all?
Open marriages fall apart more often than not, because marriage itself comes with expectations, dependability, belonging and love. Jealousy and rule violations nearly always crack apart the ‘pact’ to ‘live and let live’ within the framework of a farcical marriage. Did any one of the partners bargain for falling in love while in open relationships? No! So open marriages leave themselves ‘open’ to many resentment, hurt, disappointment, arguments, jealousies and rule violations and eventual break-up. The entire situation does warrant much premeditation and thought, because we were indeed hardwired for security and commitment when within a marriage.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at nishajamvwal@ gmail.com...