"Is an open marriage the secret to keeping love alive?" Eighty-year-olds' perspective.
People who say "Open marriage? Then why get married?!" are so utterly clueless. Next time you hear someone talk like that, make a point to send them this article. Bookmark it for this purpose. It's from the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Excerpts:
Is an open marriage the secret to keeping love alive?
Elana and David Wesley have been living together happily for 62 years while keeping the fires of passion — and sexual tension — burning.
Elana and David Wesley. 'She explained to me that when she loves someone, she never stops loving him.' Photo by Moti Milrod
By Shachar Kidron
I ran as hard as I could to catch the bus, and squeezed on at the last second. I found myself sitting opposite an elderly couple whom I couldn’t take my eyes off. They were holding hands. They spoke American-accented English in low tones, the tranquil conversation of a long-together couple. At one point, the man stroked the woman’s arm, then they went back to holding hands. It wasn’t the declaratory holding of hands of a new couple, but hidden, loose, relaxed, and therefore all the more secure. I was enthralled.
After a few minutes, fearing they would get off the bus before me, I mustered the courage to speak to them. I introduced myself briefly and asked if they’d been a couple for a long time. “Sixty-two years — is that a long time?” the woman chortled affably. We became instant friends....
Elana: “I had three serious boyfriends before him.”
Why didn’t things work out with them?
Elana: “Each of them is a different story, but along with their wives, they’re still friends of ours, the ones who are still alive. I still love them all.”
David: “She and I and her previous boyfriend went to a movie together. I sat on one side of her and he sat on the other, and the three of us held hands. She really liked that. I was simply in love with her....
...David: “She explained to me that when she loves someone, she never stops loving him, and in the end the penny dropped: If she loves them and doesn’t stop loving them, that means that she loves me, too — the person she lives with and who is the center of her life — and will not stop loving me. In other words, she won’t be able to allow me to not stay in her life.”
Elana: “You have no idea how many friends we have together.”
David: “For example, in 2009 we met a woman who’s 20 years younger than I am.... I was captivated by her and we started writing each other and things developed. One day she said she was going to come to visit me. Elana suggested to her: 'I would like to share David with you.' I reserved a room in a Jaffa hostel for the two of us at Elana's suggestion, and I was with her during her visit.”
At this point, I grasped what Elana meant when she told me on the bus that there are no secrets between them, and afterward when she talked about the continuing love for her exes. The delightful couple I am with has been living in an open relationship for decades, with pleasure and satisfaction.
You’re actually talking about polyamory. Have you had many relationships like that?
David: “Not many, and always with people we were attracted to. Elana told me that if I’m attracted to them they must be worth something.”
...Turning to me, he says, “You’re getting more than you expected, eh?” I respond with an embarrassed smile. “Why does love have to be confining? Every love is different,” says David. “Those liaisons nourish our relationship.”
What would the relations between you look like if you’d maintained exclusivity?
Elana: “That would not have happened. I can't imagine that. I wouldn’t have married him if he didn’t have an open mind.”
David: “Even at the beginning, we went to that movie, two guys, and a girl in the middle, at 2 A.M.”
What would you say your secret is, besides the open relationship?
Elana: “That there are no secrets.”...
Here's the link to the whole article (July 26, 2015). Update the next day: Now they've put it behind a paywall ($1).