Is This Cheating Or An Open Relationship?

by Meghan Sara

“Give me another baby, and I’ll let you cheat on me.”

Well, crap, when you put it that way, it sounds like a soap opera plot. But according to the New York Post, many couples are pushing the boundaries of the contract of marriage in just this way. While open relationships are nothing new, the Post examines a few unusual examples of “infidelity clauses,” or, as they put it, women who “let their husbands cheat.”

Relationship coach Suzie Johnson recently counseled a couple through the very decision above, and says, “They agreed to a weekend amnesty, where the guy can do what he wants for just one weekend a year. In return, she gets the bigger family she craved.” That it does sound a bit unfair: a tit-for-tat agreement where each partner makes a sacrifice to keep the other happy. What dark ultimatum lurks behind this agreement, I have to wonder? Her: “I want another baby!” Him: “If you get pregnant, I’m going to cheat on you!”  Sheesh. Thank goodness Suzie Johnson stepped in to mediate this situation.

The Post names a few examples of couples who stick together after someone has “strayed,” but they completely confuse consensual open relationships with a couple choosing to stay together after somebody cheats. The New York Post is careful not to define these arrangements as “open marriages.” The infidelity agreements used as examples in the Post’s article are one-sided, but it’s not unheard of for an open-marriage to be one-sided. Couples may opt to permit a partner to stray when one has a higher libido than the other, or can no longer perform sexually, or — hey, wait a minute, that’s none of your business! Keep your judgements out of other people’s bedrooms, ya sneaky chicken!

What is marriage, if not a relationship defined by a contract? It only makes sense that couples want to customize that contract to fit their needs, including sleeping with other people. I’m a huge fan of the DTR — slang for “define the relationship.” So much agony is hashed out over brunch with friends, you know the old song: “I like this person a lot, but I don’t know what we’re doing.” Defining the relationship (#DTR, get it trending!) ensures that you know what your partner’s intentions are. Even if you aren’t on the same page, at least you’re communicating, right?

I guess the probing question here is, who knows what’s best for a couple’s relationship? Rigid societal traditions? Judgmental strangers? Or the couple themselves? Hmm, I thought so.

Featured image via Kim Siever on Flickr

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