AskDrO Sits Down With Couples To Find Out…Do Open Marriages Work?

Authors and open-marriage couple Carl & Kenya Stevens


Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee have tried it, as well as Naomi Campbell, and Will Smith & Jada Pinkett-Smith have been under the magnifying glass for it. They’re called open marriages, in which both spouses agree to explore their sexual or romantic needs outside of the partnership. In recent years, many couples have adopted this “neo” method of strengthening their marital bonds, but…does it actually help or hurt a marriage, and what is the secret to maintaining one? With today’s African-American marriages dwindling due to infidelity, insincerity, the “DL” movement, and other factors, AskDrO digs into its “Relationship 101” archives, and with the help of some local couples, we’ve tallied the opinions on why it can work, and why it will NEVER work.


  • Pro – open marriages can work solely from a dynamic of communication. As humans, we have a need to relate, or belong, and being in friendly, or even intimate relationships outside of the marriage is risky, but as long as effective and frequent communication is practiced, it can be a stress-free and seamless procedure.
  • Con – adjusting to the idea of your mate/spouse eloping or becoming intimate with another person is a HARD pill to swallow. Sharing unique qualities about your partner with someone else is a trait that little to no married couple wants to experience.
  • Pro – learning to trust in your partner’s character becomes key while dealing with open relationships. In it, you learn a new level of trust with your partner, and therefore strengthens the bond
  • Con – your partner could take that newfound trust and run rampant with it, which puts the marriage at further risk. This sensitive way of “trying something new” could backfire, and turn the relationship into something completely toxic.
  • Con – if you decide to have children, or already have children, the explanation of why Mom and Dad see other people may put the wrong ideas in their heads, rendering them unable to sustain a committed relationship. Their minds may be shaped to believe that the only way to truly love your spouse is to love someone else on the side.
  • Con – jealousy plays a minor, but important role in this “agreement”. Suppose your spouse wants to have a romantic evening with you, with sex to off the night. Let’s also say that you’ve been dating, or getting to know a separate person and are now sensitive to his/her needs, so much that you can’t focus your sexual energy on your own partner. This could also mean very bad news for you two, and this tainted relationship would only become more toxic.


We’ve discovered that tradition trumps the trend: open marriages, in this situation, aren’t beneficial to the success of both people. Now there are other couples who wholeheartedly disagree, and in fact, are thriving because of their methods of maintaining variety in their relationship. Kudos  to them; but for the rest of us, it DOESN’T pay to explore an open relationship, no matter how times change!

Do you agree with the interviewed couples? Have you considered open options at certain times of your relationship or marriage? Let’s hear your thoughts on the blog!

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