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Open Marriage: Is it Infidelity?

Open Marriage

Open marriage is a phrase whose roots rest somewhat complicated.It was first used as early as the 1960s. However, it is mostly accepted that it had come into effect in 1972., when Nena O’Neill and George O’Neill first wrote their book “Open Marriage.” Overall the book advocated a liberalization of marriage, using getting the spouses in marriage more room for individual growth. The book initially wasn’t conceived with the idea of upholding infidelity, though in one of its chapters it dealt with the concept that an open marriage could include a consensual non-marital sex relations between the matrimonial partners, and outside individuals. Although this was widely recognized as an advocation of infidelity, the book got the huge notice from the public, and a contemporary expression was invented.

The Ideas Behind The Concept

Today, the ideas that the O’Neills first printed have experienced a certain evolution. Although O’Neill’s book primarily talked about non-controversial concepts for revitalizing marriage, the idea that held on the most is the one that included non-marital relations. One of the inquiries that bothered people ever since is: should these type of marital relations, although agreed on, be viewed as infidelity? Although this is more of philosophical inquiry, individual countries in the USA have a very specific answer to it: Yes. The states in which adultery is illegal, don’t recognize open marriages, and in a case of a court, the proceeding will consider any non-marital sexual relations in an open marriage as adultery.

Why Do People Defend It

The essential idea that stood behind the open marriage is the concept that marriages should be kept important, and non-stagnant. Though this concept has been particularly attractive in the early 1970s, which was a consequence of the cultural change of the 1960s, that idea still holds very much true today. Today, probably even more then before, marriage as an institution is decreasing in importance. More and more couples are getting divorced each year. This is seen as a problem, as it leaves broken families, and consequently, harms the society as a whole. Today the advocates of open marriage are claiming that sexual freedom of marital partners might be the answer to the growing divorce rates. They believe that the main reason why marriages break down is the sexual frustration of one, or even, both of the partners. Consensual sex with other people can provide the answer to this frustration, according to them.

But, Is That Infidelity

That question still stands. Although it is difficult to talk about infidelity, if both partners are aware of what is going on, one might consider the definition of adultery. In the classical meaning of the word, infidelity is considered everything that is sexual and goes outside the boundaries of a marital union. So, we can say that although an open marriage is an infidelity, in the classic meaning of the term, from the purely logical point of view, an open marriage simply cannot be considered adultery, as the sense of the word itself includes untruthfulness which an open marriage is not.


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