Study: Open Marriages May Be Stronger

Study of same-sex relationships may point way to stronger marriages all around

By Jackson West
|  Friday, Jan 29, 2010  |  Updated 1:47 PM PDT
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Study: Open Marriages May Be Stronger

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LONDON - NOVEMBER 28: (FILE PHOTO) Tiger Woods of the USA with his girlfriend Elin Nordegren on the 17th green after his defeat during the afternoon foursome matches on the first day of the 34th Ryder Cup at the De Vere Belfry in this September 27, 2002 file photo in Sutton Coldfield, England. A Swedish newspaper reported on November 28, 2003 that world number one golfer Woods is to marry his Swedish girlfriend Elin, a 23-year-old former model. (Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images)

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Could Tiger Woods have saved his marriage by learning something from gay couples?

The San Francisco Bay Area is a center for innovation, but not necessarily just in the field of technology -- it's also the center of a revolution in relationships.

With testimony now over in the Proposition 8 trial, marriage equality is the most mainstream front in the battle to redefine human love and understanding.

But even as marriage "traditionalists" describe marriage as fundamentally between one man and one woman, and express concern over marriage equality opening the door to polygamy (eliding the fact that polygamy is an ancient tradition honored in the Bible), a new study from San Francisco State University's Center for Research On Gender and Sexuality described in the New York Times finds that same-sex couples often enjoy long-lasting, open relationships.

But as the Times discovered, this open, honest vanguard which enjoys strong, long-lasting bonds and decide on clear rules for their non-monogamy is hesitant to "come out," worried that it will provide fodder to political opponents of marriage equality.

However, it's not like heterosexual couples are actually likely to remain exclusively monogamous over the course of their marriages, with affairs as often as not leading to divorce.

Just look at golf star Tiger Woods, or Oracle executive Charles Phillips.

Those who practice open relationships argue that the problem isn't polyamory, necessarily, but dishonesty. But by setting ground rules about who, when and how often partners enjoy extra-marital liaisons, subjects interviewed by the Times and described in the study actually had stronger relationships than couples wedded to a Victorian romantic ideal of permanent, exclusive relationships.

Suggesting that the key to saving marriage as an institution might be less about excluding same-sex couples, and more about jettisoning antiquated concepts privileging amorous exclusivity.

Photo by George Kelly.

Jackson West admits that getting over reactionary jealousy can be a struggle, but from examples set by friends, it sure seems worth it.

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