I was inspired to write this post after reading Actress/Comedian Mo’Nique’s remarks about her marriage in Essence Magazine. (A link to an excerpt of this article can be found here.) In this article, Mo’Nique says:
I married my best friend. Sid and I don’t put a label on what works for us because it’s ours. But some people might say that we have an open relationship. Some people consider sex outside of marriage to be cheating, but I think you’re cheating when you lie and keep secrets. We’re honest with each other.
Now I’m not trying to judge Mo’Nique or anyone else, but I have to admit her words took me by surprise. Why? Because I don’t understand why a person would enter a traditional institution (marriage) just to have a totally unconventional outlook (an open relationship).
Which makes me wonder how people define ‘marriage’ nowadays. A marriage (for believers) is a covenant between two people that is ordained by God. Where two people become one. Where a husband is admonished to love his wife like Christ loved the church and the wife is advised to submit and obey. And, where adultery is forbidden.
Now I know we live in 2006 (and not 1006) and that people cheat all the time. And, yes, I understand that people often have sex before marriage, get divorced and re-marry and that we have many forms of non-traditional ‘unions’ and blended families. I understand that we live in a modern world.
But does that mean we can marry someone, have an open relationship and expect that relationship to work? I don’t believe such a relationship lends itself to success. A relationship should be built on openness, honesty and commitment. How committed can you be when your partner is entering into that same type of relationship with other people? Would that increase your faith in him or her or decrease it?
You know what I really think about people who are in ‘open’ relationships? That it’s just easier to have an ‘open door’ policy because you just assume (nowadays) that your spouse will cheat. Better instead to just allow him or her that freedom than to set yourself up for the inevitable pain of unfaithfulness. Or, conversely, that it’s easier to excuse your own unfaithfulness if you go into the relationship with the understanding that you are still ‘free’ to pursue other interests.
What it seems to come down to for people in these types of relationships is an unwillingness to try and make it work in a one-on-one, monogamous relationship. And again, if you feel that way – why get married at all?
I hear a lot of celebrities (and non-celebrities) say that traditional marriage doesn’t work. That men are by nature unfaithful and everyone has a natural curiousity about having other sexual partners. And that no one can reasonably expect to be with the same person for 20, 30 or 40 years. We’re living longer, I hear them all say – we should have more partners and more options during those longer lifespans.
We are unwilling to accept that such an old-fashioned institution such as marriage can stand up to the pressures of a modern society. So why even try?
I don’t know about you, but I still think the institution of marriage still has merit. God intended that a couple should marry, raise children in a Godly way, and that families become the building blocks for a healthy, God-fearing society. That marriage imitate the relationship Christ has with the church – one of eternal love, sacrifice and sanctification.
I don’t think having an open relationship can even begin to capture God’s idea of marriage. What do you think?