Open Marriages on Oprah
A few weeks ago a buzz went around the poly online communities when staffers from the Oprah Winfrey Show the Godzilla of daytime TV went hunting for married couples in open marriages to put on the air. The show will be on this afternoon (Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007); check your local listings.
The open-marriage segment is only 1/4 of the show, which is titled "237 Reasons to Have Sex." There's an online article that goes with it:
By anyone's account, Hollie and Gregg are a typical couple.... But there's one thing about Hollie and Gregg's life together that's a little more unconventional. Like 7 percent of women and 14 percent of men who answered a poll on Oprah.com, Hollie and Gregg say they have an open marriage.
...During a long car trip Gregg asked Hollie who'd never had sex with anyone besides Gregg if she was curious about being with someone else. "And I said, 'Well, nothing's missing. I don't need it. I don't really think about it,'" Hollie says. "But sure, I mean, if you're curious, if you've only had one partner your whole life, I mean, sure, you'd wonder what it would be like with somebody else."
...Eventually Hollie started dating and eventually sleeping with one of their mutual friends. Gregg says he's flirted with other women but hasn't started an outside relationship of his own. Hollie stresses that their arrangement does not mean her marriage lacks something. "It's not like I get something from my sweetie that I don't get from Gregg," she says. "I mean, it's more a complement."
"She just has more love in her life," Gregg says. "It doesn't take anything away from what the two of us have."
A typical marriage doesn't work for everyone, says Dr. [Gail] Saltz [a psychiatrist with a specialty in sex therapy], and open marriages may be becoming increasingly common. "Monogamy is not hardwired, monogamy is a choice. And because of that the pendulum has swung back and forth at different times," she says. "There are some women, I think, who went to college, who were part of this sort of hookup culture, casual sex, splitting-off sex. And they're wives now, so I think there is a sort of surge of people exploring this. But that being said, what is hardwired is jealousy and envy and competition. These are normal human emotions and they're difficult to control.
"Only a third of marriages survive an affair and there's a reason for that," Dr. Saltz says. "It is very hard to get past those feelings of jealousy and hurt and betrayal. 'Do I really have all of you? Are you really mine?'"
Read the whole article. The open-marriage segment starts here. And add to the fast-growing list of comments!
Update: Didn't see the show, but those who did say the open-marriage couple was totally poly her secondary is a longtime friend of both of them, and they explained that she's in it for the love. (Unlike a lot of open marriages, which are open only to things like one-night stands). But no one said the word "polyamory," more's the pity. And the on-air "expert" was ignorant.
Update: Hollie, the woman in the couple, writes in:
Greg and I are poly. I just read your blip about us on Oprah. They didn't want to use the term "polyamorous" for various reasons, mainly because it was a whole other can of worms and they didn't want to take the time to explain it. We agreed to call our relationship an "open marriage" because while we've been married for 12 years, we've only been poly for 18 months, and we didn't feel like we should be labeled the poly spokespeople. However, looking back, I wish we'd have used the word and explained it.
I myself haven't seen the show yet, it's on our Tivo and I'm too chicken to watch.