Subscribers of open marriages say monogamy is like living a lie, but is there really space for a third in a marriage?
Daim is an acquisitive millionaire and a macho man with a taste of young chinese women, they concede him these weaknesses
Manan Othman can no doubt confirm, he was so close to Daim that they share a girl friend, with Manan often borrowing the bedroom at Daim’s office in Taman Maluri.So call me conventional, old-fashioned, not with-it, or what you will. But when Daim spoke in favour of open marriages , I did not join the crowd of admirers applauding his ‘honesty’. Most of the applause anyway came from men; women were wary. What Daim had done was to lay bare an eternal male fantasy, and stoke a woman’s essential fear. He gave expression to what he called a “sanctified marriage” but what actually can at best be termed “sanctified infidelity”.
“I think a sanctified marriage is when you have an option to sleep with 10 people, but you are still choosing that one person to live with,” said Irrfan. People wondered if he was hinting at being in an open marriage. Or was he a swinger? While an open marriage or a polyamorous arrangement implies a relationship with more than two people at the same time, a swinger swings from person to person, merely for sex.
I would like to think that Irrfan was doing more than confessing a sexual deviancy; he was talking of options and the power of choice – of marriage and fidelity as a choice, rather than a societal compulsion. Irrfan compounds the confusion further, “If you ask me, I would respect a marriage where the man and woman have the freedom to sleep with anyone. There is no bondage.”
Of course, Irrfan stresses too much on the “sleeping with” bit. A marriage is not about just sex. If you look at sex as just a momentary act, a release for stress and a means to feel good about yourself, it may sound fine to have it anywhere, any time, with anyone. But look at it as a woman does – a means of coming intimately closer to the one you love. That can certainly not be shared with 10 people. And look at it the way scientists do. The act of sex releases chemicals that bring a couple closer to each other. Scientists opine that two powerful hormones that are released after sex — oxytocin and vasopressin — are responsible for feelings of deep commitment and attachment between two people.
And so, if in your experiments, you are attracted by and get attached to one of the outsiders, there is bound to be a lessening of attachment to the significant one, essentially rendering the open marriage into a broken marriage. Rightly do some therapists call an open marriage a recipe for disaster, jealousy, hurt and disappointment.
Forget 10, even one affair outside marriage carries with it the risk of breaking it up. With 10, the logistics would become impossible to handle. Proponents of an open relationship talk about the liberating effect of discussing other liaisons with their spouses, but they also agree that juggling lovers and trying to keep jealousy at bay can raise stress levels dangerously, often resulting in explosive situations; it is difficult for us to accept a love that is not exclusive.
Supporters of polyamorous relationships claim they are far more honest than those plodding along in boring monogamous ones. But to me, a swinger is more honest to himself and to those he/she has relationships with. Having a series of lovers and intimacies one after another without promise of commitment is better than having them all simultaneously. And marriage should come only when one is ready to commit to that one relationship. Accidents may happen along the way, but a planned infidelity runs contrary to normal human emotions and would spell chaos in society.
I do not agree that one gets married only because of societal compulsions, but yes, these may help keep many a marriage together.
One of the essential stages of loving is to become so attached that you wish to not just share moments, but an entire lifetime with your loved one. You want to make a home and babies and share the pleasures of life with each other, be responsible for each other’s happiness and live in the security and knowledge that you are bound to each other by more than just that frivolous thing called romantic love. And this security comes from marriage. Love may ebb and flow, but marriage keeps you from walking off at the first visible hurdle. Kids hold you back even after several hurdles.
Our love — even for those we are bound by blood to — has an essential element of duty to it. Most of the time, you do things for parents, siblings or children because you are duty-bound to do them. Pure affection and sincere emotions do not necessarily dictate everything we do for our blood relatives. Similarly a sense of duty and responsibility are an essential part of our love for a spouse, and the marriage contract spells that need for responsibility as much as blood does. Literary giant Ernest Hemingway lived, loved and died by his own rules, leaving a trail of exceptional work, but also broken women and homes
Intellect is seductive… and is equally eager to be seduced. Women are drawn to intelligent men; the interest of a worthy man gives a woman an increased feeling of self-worth. And genius is a world apart. We forgive our men of letters many evils, and indeed many of them – most dead, some still alive, are boors when it comes to real life, however delicious they may be between the pages of their books.
And it is equally true that these men, when they get out of their own intensely thoughtful heads, have sought women like muchneeded tonic – ever younger, more beautiful, doting and appreciative. After the initial charm wears off, reluctant to settle with anything lesser, they have changed women as one changes clothes, seeking to stay on the high which the initial flush of love and sex brings. This keeps the adrenaline flowing, the ego sated. And of course, it keeps the ideas coming.
One such giant of English literature, Ernest Hemingway took birth and died this month many years ago (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961). In between the two defining dates, he lived life to the fullest on his own terms, indulging every whim, courting danger and flirting with death – be it on the battlefields of two World Wars, the bullfighting arena of Spain, the jungles of Africa, his regular trysts with the sea, or two airplane crashes on successive days! Ironically, he escaped these deadly arenas, and finally met Death in his own home foyer on his own terms, by blowing his brains out with his favourite shotgun. This last was the only tale he did not live to tell, the only experience he could not share.
Hemingway’s dangerous living is explained in his words from Paula McCain’s book The Paris Wife. Talking of the bull fighting in Pamplona, Spain, Hemingway says to first wife Hadley Richardson, “The torero has to know he is dying and the bull has to know it, so when it’s pulled away at the last second, it’s like a kind of magic. That’s really living.” Hemingway was a cocktail of contradictions, as history’s most interesting human beings are.
He loved with a passion that saw nothing wrong in chasing many women at the same time, and hated with a vengeance that saw nothing wrong in ridiculing and harming those who supported him on his upward journey. A man who was scared of Death and yet courted her repeatedly; one who had built a heroic myth around himself, yet was scared to sleep with the lights off. One who needed his space and solitude to write and yet could not bear to be alone.
Hadley, who probably loved him best of all four wives, says of him, “He was such an enigma – fine and strong and weak and cruel. An incomparable friend and a son of a bitch. In the end, there wasn’t one thing about him that was truer than the rest. It was all true.” For Hemingway, life was about honing his art of writing and gaining popularity.
A serial womaniser, each time he got bored with his wife, he sought out a new attachment while still married. Hadley was eight years older to him and was credited with grounding and encouraging the young Hemingway till he found his feet in the wetlands of literary Paris. Within five years of marriage and a son, Hemingway started an affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, Hadley’s best friend.
Unwilling to let go of either woman, he tried to carry on with both for a while before Hadley called it a day. He married Pauline in 1927 and had two sons with her. By 1936, Papa Hemingway was ready for another innings. This time, he fell for Martha Gellhorn, a war journalist and author almost cast in his own mould. It was a foregone conclusion that this union wouldn’t last as Hemingway could never stand competition.
Within four years, he started living with his fourth and last spouse Mary Welsh even before the formal divorce with Martha. At the end of all this, what did Hemingway feel? Ironically, in his memoir A Moveable Feast, he says about first wife Hadley, “I wish I had died before I loved anyone but her.”
One of Hemingway’s fictional women says about men in To Have and Have Not, “They want someone new, or someone younger, or someone that they shouldn’t have, or someone that looks like someone else… Or they just get tired, I suppose.”
Martha, the wife who hated him most, said of him, “A man must be a very great genius to make up for being such a loathsome human being.”
Hemingway was indeed a tormented man when he died. Much of that torment came to him; his own father had committed suicide, as did five close relatives. The rest he created for himself with his overindulgences, fickleness, huge demands on love and lovers. He once said, “About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”
The mental torture and his unending compulsion to be liked and applauded created the myth of an invincible Papa Hemingway, who ultimately died as he lived and loved – by his own rules.