Define your own marriage, says book The New 'I Do'
The New "I Do": Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels, by Vicki Larson and Susan Pease Gadoua. They urge couples to discuss and choose how to structure their marriages, rather than accept the standard assumptions about what marriage is.
This is exactly the mindset that upsets marriage traditionalists, even though the authors discuss a hyper-traditionalist contract as one option.
What if there was an alternative to the way most Americans define the way couples behave within a marriage?
After all, throughout history, the word “marriage” has been filled with implied meanings, while many couples never discuss what being married means to them before tying the knot....
The Partnership Marriage
...The authors liken a partnership marriage to two old friends who decide to get married because they enjoy each other’s company and because they simply want to be married.
Legal in three states, covenant marriages require couples to undergo premarital counseling before tying the knot and usually only allow divorce under limited circumstances (like domestic violence and abandonment) or after a long separation. Both say the chapter was hard to write. “I get very upset at this trend to make divorce harder,” says Larson. “But the people who chose [covenant marriages] went into it with open eyes.”
“When we think of nonmonogamy, we think of cheating,” says Larson. “But that’s not necessarily true.” She points out that one of the couples profiled in the book has a very successful open marriage. “Here is this couple and they have this happy, healthy relationship — and they are non-monogamous.”...
Read the whole (short) article (Sept. 25, 2014). The other four marriage models the book discusses are the "starter marriage," living separately, marrying in order to parent, and for financial security.
Larson has put up an article of her own at Huffington Post Divorce:
The Conversation All Would-Be Cheaters Should Have
...Married women looking to get some action from others are forgetting, or perhaps just ignoring, an important reality about infidelity -- it often ends marriages, painfully. Which is sad because, according to one study, 56 percent of cheating men and 34 percent of cheating women considered their marriage "happy" or "very happy."
So why risk it? ...when all you have to do is sit your husband down and say, "Honey, I think we are both aware that neither of us is enjoying sex all that much lately. Actually, we haven't enjoyed it for a long time. What do you think about opening up our marriage?"
After the shock -- or maybe relief -- you might actually be able to have the first honest discussion about monogamy you've ever had as a couple.
...Somewhere between 4.3 percent to 10.5 percent of all relationships identify as open, which can be anything from couples "in the lifestyle," to the occasional threesome to poly arrangements.
All the couples that decided to experiment with non-monogamy told us they were happy they did it, even though, yes, they sometimes struggled with jealousy, managing schedules and setting boundaries. Not only did it bring them closer, but they also were proud that they broke from the norm and forged a new path. It was "a badge of courage" they said....
The whole article (Aug. 22, 2014). This is the flip side to my last post, about a case of poly that made a poor marriage worse.
Gadoua posted an article of her own at HuffPost Weddings: Why It Might Be Good That Those Who Marry Are Getting More 'Self' Centered:
Putting the task of finding yourself before finding a mate generally makes you a happier and more balanced person. When you are happier and more balanced, you make a better partner. That's healthy.
...It's good news that the culture is trending toward questioning whether marriage is worth it and trying other lifestyle options on for size. That means there's a new consciousness about marriage that has been sorely lacking for several generations now.
The book's Facebook page. An interview with the authors.
Update: An excerpt from the book's open-marriage chapter is adapted for the Huffington Post.