Thursday, May 9, 2013
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IN AN “OPEN” RELATIONSHIP?
What do I believe? How did I come to believe what it is that I believe? Does what I believe empower me? At some point, most of us have considered the first question, but have never stopped to ask ourselves the second or the third. Perhaps we should.
You see, when it comes down to it, the fact is that most of our beliefs have been established based on what others have taught us. The rest? Well, the rest is a hodge-podge of conclusions that we’ve arrived at based on life experience; some good, some bad. There are some beliefs that are so deeply ingrained in us that we are willing to fight, or even die for them. Others, while they may not be as sacred, are still familiar. They are what we know to be “true”, but what should we do when our “truth” does not serve us?
Recently, I found myself sitting in casual observation of all the brouhaha surrounding Jada Pinkett Smith and the allegations that she shares an open marriage with her husband, actor Will Smith. Whether open or closed, I had formed no real opinion about their relationship. It was none of my business and therefore required no debate, argument, or editorial on my part. At least that was how I felt up until Jada released a statement in response to the uproar. Then, I sat up and took notice.
"Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should 'behave'? Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of 'you better act right or else' keep one honest and true?...”
"Should we be married to individuals who can not be responsible for themselves and their families within their freedom? Should we be in relationships with individuals who we can not entrust to their own values, integrity, and LOVE...for us???"
When I read Jada’s statement, I felt a strong urge to rise to my feet and give her a standing ovation. It was out there. She said it-the thing that most of us don’t want to acknowledge. And I give her credit for being wise enough to recognize and speak the truth: believing that we can somehow control, threaten or guilt someone into honesty or fidelity is a delusion. In fact, believing that we should have to says even more about us than it does about the person that we are involved with. Ultimately, we must take responsibility for our own choices and we must allow others the freedom to do the same. And within that context, it really doesn’t matter how we choose to define our relationship. What matters is the quality of our experience. What matters is whether or not we are in a relationship that honors us.
Now, I’m sure that there are many who do not agree with Jada’s views on marriage or how she chooses to define her relationship (hence all the tongue-wagging). What do I believe? I believe that marriage is just like everything else in life-meant to show us who we are, not to create a false sense of security for ourselves. I believe that if we are in a relationship where we cannot trust ourselves and our partner enough to love freely and openly, then we are out of place. I believe that relationships help to expose all of our little insecurities so that we might be healed, not for us to make our partner responsible for managing our anxieties.
In the end, what each of us believes about marriage and relationships is a personal choice. If our beliefs empower us and allow us to grow, then we are in integrity with ourselves. But if they do not, we should find the courage to change them. So, what do you believe?