The New York Times Magazine this coming Sunday is running a lengthy article on open, non-monogamous, “monogamish,” polyamorous marriages. We are struck by the openness and honesty of those profiled.
The author, Susan Dominus, writes “Open relationships may sound like the more unfettered choice, but the first thing nonmonogamous couples often do is draw up a list of guidelines: rules about protection, about the number of days a week set aside for dates, about how much information to share. Some spouses do not want to know any details about the other spouse’s extramarital sex, while for others, those stories are a thrilling side benefit of the arrangement.
These rules are often designed to manage jealousy. Most monogamous couples labor to avoid that emotion at all costs; but for the philosophically polyamorous, jealousy presents an opportunity to examine the insecurities that opening a relationship lays bare. Jealousy is not a primal impulse to be trusted because it feels so powerful; it is an emotion worth investigating.”
As mediators, we see the opportunity for the kind of interest-based, honest, transparent conversations we conduct regularly, in order to arrive at these guidelines. These conversations are opportunities to explore expectations, concerns and boundaries. Just as couples separating have to navigate the balance between independence and connectedness in their lives going forward, so too these couples are making seismic shifts and may benefit from a mediated conversation — marked with sensitive thoughtful support.