Are open marriages for men only?

In a recent article, a subscriber was requesting advice from Stoya regarding open marriages. The question was never answered to my satisfaction, so I will help to answer this question. The real question centers around the concept of the allowance of multiple relationships at one time which in many cases are termed open marriages.

Open marriage typically refers to a marriage in which the partners agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded as infidelity. There are many different styles of open marriage (such as swinging and polyamory), each with the partners having varying levels of input on their spouse’s activities.

An open marriage essentially means to have permission to have multiple relationships. It seems that people who agree to exist in an open marriage are really agreeing to remain single with benefits. Those benefits could be sexual – the normal case – , financial, or for the sake of children.

As a single person, you can become accustomed to having multiple relationships before you marry. According to The Daily Mail, men and women have multiple relationships tendencies. Before a woman gets married, she will have four disastrous dates, be stood up at least once, have fallen in love twice, and participated in four one-night stands. On the other hand, men will be stood up twice and will have participated in six one-night stands. From a single perspective, multiple relationships are devastating with an empty end.

Even though both partners may consent to multiple sexual relationships, it allows an atmosphere of promiscuity which can have devastating effects in an open marriage. Promiscuity is the practice of having casual sex frequently with different partners or being indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners. The term can carry a moral judgment if viewed in the context of a mainstream social ideal for sexual activity to occur only within exclusive committed relationships. A common example of behavior viewed as promiscuous within the mainstream social ideals of many cultures is a one-night stand.

According to Deirdre Lee Fitzgerald, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, ” “Promiscuity is one example of a class of high-risk behaviors”. Having a large number of sexual partners has been linked to poor sexual health and decreased longevity. Why? The more sexual partners you have, the greater your risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening conditions like prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and oral cancer. As people consider having an open marriage, also consider how it will impact your health.

The concept of open marriages does not exist in the animal kingdom. However, several species have harems. The term harem is used in zoology to characterize a social organization consisting of a group of females, their offspring, and one to two males. The single male is called the “dominant” male that may be accompanied by another young male, called a “follower” male. Females that more closely associate with the dominant male are called “central females,” while females who associate less frequently with the dominant male are called “peripheral females.”

Species that form harems include, but are not limited to:

  • Hamadryas baboon
  • Gelada baboon
  • Golden snub-nosed monkey
  • Guinea baboon
  • Gray langurs
  • Red deer
  • Elephant seal
  • Bengal tiger
  • Greater short-nosed fruit bat
  • Jamaican fruit bat
  • Common pheasant
  • Greater rhea
  • Bark beetle
  • Tree weta
  • Hogfish
  • Several species of Cichlid
  • California sheephead

Male dominant harems also exist in the bible too. The bible list several polygamist. A polygamist is a person who practices or favors polygamy. Polygamy exists in three specific forms: polygyny – wherein a man has multiple simultaneous wives; polyandry – wherein a woman has multiple simultaneous husbands; or group marriage – wherein the family unit consists of multiple husbands and multiple wives. The forms other than polygyny are non existent in the Holy Bible.

The Old Testament includes specific regulations on the practice of polygamy (Exodus 21:10 and (Deuteronomy 21: 15-17). The first polygamist mentioned in the Bible is Lamech, whose two wives were Adah and Zillah (Genesis 4:19). Many important figures had more than one wife, such as Esau (Genesis 26:34; Genesis 28:6-9), Abraham (Genesis 16:3, Genesis 21:1-13, Genesis 25:1, Genesis 25:6), Moses (Exodus 2:21; Exodus 18:1-6, Numbers 12:1), Jacob (Genesis 29:15-28), Gideon (Judges 8:29-32), Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:1-8), David (1 Samuel 25:39-44; 2 Samuel 3:2-5; 2 Samuel 5:13-16) and Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3).

There is much controversy that surrounds polygamy. However, Matthew 19: 3-9 and Genesis 2:24 state that a man should have only on wife. Open marriage is neither meant for the man or the woman.

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Dr. Derrick and Mrs. Sheila Campbell

PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

(856) 566-3267


Published books – Leading Your Marriage into the Promised Land -Leading Your Marriage into the Promised Land (Workbook for husbands & Wives) – Advanced Marriage Training for Singles

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Samaritan Baptist Church

Trenton, NJ “I would highly recommend you to any church or organization desiring to provide their people with timely marital wisdom and practical application skills”.


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El Shaddia Christian Assembly

Philadelphia, PA

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