Of the Marriage Part of Open Marriage

In advocating for a sexually open model of marriage, sometimes it is possible to lose site of the fact that an open marriage is still a marriage.  To some in the polyamory community this will sound passé and even conservative, but I truly believe for most people the path to lifelong happiness is via the bonds of marriage and family.   Now, I’ll qualify that to say that marriage is not defined by the gender of the participants, nor on limit of two people; however, marriage is about commitment, lifelong commitment.

Why lifelong commitment? Isn’t that sort of old fashioned?

The traditional marriage vows said “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health to death do us part”. They were written as a commitment that way because in the history of mankind, the good times are the exception; pain and heart ache are the rule.  A relationship built on “what I get out of it at the moment” will not survive when the hard times come that eclipse the excitement and passion that brought lovers together. Yet, we all need someone(s) that will be there when we are in trouble. We all, by fate or by our own poor judgments, will come to a point where we are not as lovely and desirable as we once were. I know it will come to a shock to readers under 35 years old and healthy, but in your life you will spend a significant number of years over 60 years old where health issues impinge greatly on the recreational based lifestyle young people think will go on forever. 

Two years ago I watched as my father-in-law began to slip away after 62 years of marriage. He had someone there for him, several someones. His wife and his two daughters were right beside him to the end.  This is the kind of security marriage and family bring.

A few months ago in a polyamory blog I read one blogger who was right up front that polyamory is about getting his needs met and if a partner does not want to meet his needs, he has no intention to stick with that person.  That may be well and good when you are 29 years old, but that kind of selfishness will, in the end, bring many lonely years.   The whole loose tribal type of polyamory with people coming and going, will not bring the kind of security most people desire.   I am amused at the term “tribal” in these cases because in a real tribe, the bond is for life and the individual will sacrifice all, even life, for the tribe.  I the modern poly usage, tribalism does not convey this sort of deep comment at all.  This is why the commune movement of the late 60’s early 70’s didn’t last for a decade. Tribalism and marriage both require a level of commitment that requires everything you are to make it work and to gain the benefits of group solidarity.  There is no solidarity without commitment.

I am a follower of Emanuel Kant and an older philosopher by the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Both of these men taught that there is a moral imperative, a duty that supersedes our own personal wants; to treat others as having the same value as we hold for ourselves.  This value is sadly missing in much of what is called polyamory.  I find this vexing because the very definition of love is the commitment to treat someone else’s needs on par with your own. Hence, polyamory is just the idea of more than one person with this high level of commitment.

Back to open marriage.  Marriage is about total commitment to the welfare of my spouse. The same kind of total commitment I have for my children. It is within that framework of total commitment that we have the freedom to form other relationships, both sexual and not.  Just as I would never let an outside relationship come between me and my ability to be a good parent, I would never let a relationship come between me and my ability to be a good husband.   It would be morally wrong of me to maintain a relationship that hurt my wife because that would betray my first commitment to her welfare. The same would be true for her.

In an open-marriage, it is always necessary to keep an open line of communication as to your spouse’s current needs.  There are times when we each have different needs and it is imperative that we adjust our external relationships to meet those needs.  In our case, Paula has only recently become comfortable with me dating without her.  On the other hand, I have long been comfortable with her dating without me; however, there have been a few times when I have asked her to back off her dating, or let me join a relationship, or stop seeing a particular person all together.   It is the implicit agreement that we each will respond to the other’s needs that allows our security in marriage to flourish while she (and occasionally I) has a social/sexual life with other men and women.

When she is dating, or even falls in love with others, it is always with the explicit understanding that her family is and always will be, the center of her life. Though she can have a rich and rewarding relationship outside our marriage, she does not mislead her lovers by implying her commitment his (or her) needs will ever of the same magnitude of her commitment to her husband and children.  By this means, we maintain the ethical principles of love while still privileging the family unit.

As I said, there could indeed be room for more than two people in such a committed relationship, but the difficulty of doing so raises exponentially with each additional person.   I could see us at some point having a domestic arrangement with a man or woman someday in the future. But I can’t see a three way marriage-like arrangement happening, at least for us.

So, as I continue to blog about our life in an open marriage, it is predicated on the fact we do have a real and strong marriage. 



San Francisco, CA, May, 2013 –The “I masturbate…” photo project, originally a hugely popular online exhibit, bringing in over 250,000 views during May 2011, is now coming to The Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco in May of 2013. Never before has such a radically inclusive exhibition of photos of people masturbating been put together.

Reducing the stigma around masturbation is important because we are a culture of mixed messages – there is no unilateral message about masturbation, for some people there is a stigma about it, for others it is culturally accepted as a norm and even expected (as with heteronormative males, for example). Socially, we have multiple messages that change over time, and for the most part none of them really address the individual’s right to create a sexual practice and life that is right and true for them.

What infamous sex blogger, Violet Blue, has to say about the “I Masturbate” project: “It’s quite beautiful. It’s also a provocative combination of stillness, intensity, healing and total nastiness. And, there are a few local porn stars sprinkled throughout the days. Bravo.” tinynibbles.com/blogarchives/2011/05/the-sex-positive-photo-project-masturbation-month-daily-photos.html

McCabe has created an Indie Go-Go campaign to raise funds to support the month long solo exhibition. The campaign includes a video of the photographer describing the project as well as examples of the photos that will be on display: indiegogo.com/p/313097

The Morality Police are Loosing thier Power

Is it a sign that the morality police are losing their grip when Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina, wins his Republican congressional primary and brings his hot Argentinian mistress to the victory press conference?

Sure Silvio Berlusconi is a conservative and a hopeless lecher, but that’s in Italy not South Carolina.

I really do think it’s a sign the sexual monogamy litmus test for Republicans is fading.

Does anyone remember Barach Obama came to run virtually unopposed for US Senate because someone in Obama’s campaign uncovered a document that said that his Republican opponent had once asked his wife to go to a swing club while on a trip to Holland?   That was enough to force the Republican out of the race and give Obama a walk to the US Senate.   

Now Sanford who ran off with is mistress while Governor of South Carolina, has won a Republican primary in the heart of the Bible belt.

 Yes things are changing.

Swing Date Ideas

Swing Date Ideas

This a nice little article and very timely for us.  Just this morning as I was off to work I spoke to my lovely spouse about her plan to set up a second date with the gentleman she and I went out with last week and liked at lot.

The dynamic is always different when we go out with a self-professed bisexual guy rather than a straight guy in that it is not “her” date with me coming along, but it becomes “our” date with the sexual tension going in all directions.  

Perhaps this article will guide us on our date for Friday night.

Of Nude Photography, Body Size and Beauty

A good friend of mine complained several times that the photos on the Tumlbr blog I ran for over two years showed very few fine art or glamour nudes of “full figured” women.

To that charge I had to plead guilty, but, of implied charge that larger women are inherently unsexy I vehemently rejected.

As far as the reason photos on my blog were disproportionally of fit, thin, younger women the reason is simple.  Most photographers shoot that type of women exclusively.    This is not too complicated.  Our innate attraction is to young healthy sexual partners.  Young fit women speak subconsciously a language of fertility, the ability to bear many healthy babies. This is no different than the message that fit and physically powerful men will make better sires and protectors for children. Most photographers use models that are as near to the physical ideal as possible.  Pornographers do this to allow the viewer to imagine this idea girl (guy) wants to have sex with the less than ideal viewer.  Glamour and fashion photographers use this ideal to make their image or the clothing to look better than it really is. Even most fine art photographers use fit young models as an uncluttered canvas for their art.  As a photographer, I will admit, the young fit professional models I have shot make me look good as a photographer.

Larger and/or older models can be used very successfully for glamour, fashion and fine art photography; however, it takes more photographic skill to do so.  Most of my clients are over 40 and over size 10.  Most commercial photographers are in the business of making money, it makes good sense to shoot models that take the least effort to make an acceptable image. Unlike moving life, still photos magnify the slightest imperfections and make that imperfection the center of the image. Why do you think that the larger women were very popular models during the age realistic painting, but are no longer so?  Simple, the painter painted what he saw desirable in the woman.  Even very big women in paintings had no cellulite or stretch marks.  Within one generation of the advent of photography as the primary medium of pin-up, the size of models shrank considerably.  One need only compare the erotic photos of the 1890’s to those of the 1920’s.

Because of this, photos of less than fit male or female models are usually relegated to two categories, portraiture and fetish.  For the fetish photographer, the point is to accentuate the size of the model as this is what arouses the fetish viewer.  That leaves the photographing of the “normal” sized woman almost exclusively to the portraitist.  For me, there is more artistic satisfaction in shooting a 45 year old housewife in a way that brings her inner beauty and sexuality than in shooting a 20 year old professional model to evoke beauty and sexuality.  And, for the house wife, I know the images I make will be treasured for decades and that brings its own satisfaction.

The average size woman in the US has been noted to be anywhere from size 12 to size 16. That means for every woman who is an 8, 6, 4, 2, or 0 there is an equal number of women who are sized 17, 18, 20 or larger.  Do only the smallest 20% of women want to look attractive? Do only size 4 women want a sexy photo of themselves for their lover?  Of course not.  I can tell you that I have yet to have one of these “normal” sized women not love the photos I shoot of them. However, if you just stand the same woman against a wall naked and shoot a photo they will likely hate it.  What I am paid for is my skill at using poses, angles and lighting to emphasize what I want to emphasize and de-emphasize what I wish to de-emphasize.  Then, like the painters of old, I use post production methods (read Photoshop) to further conform the image of the sexual and desirable woman I know my client to be.

I once had a couple from France want glamorous and erotic photos of both her solo and of the two of them making love (I’ve done this a good deal). The challenge was while the husband was very pale and perhaps 5’ 6” and 110 lbs., the wife, who was of Haitian heritage, was very dark complicated and 5’10” and over 300 lbs.  The couple was clearly in love and it was my task to give them finished images that reflected their love and passion for one another.  I used my skills of designing poses and camera angles and my studio lighting to narrow the differences in their sizes and to bring the focus to their faces, both in the nude portraits and of their love making.   In post-production, I unapologetically smoothed over stretch marks and other skin issues; while I also adjusted his skin tone darker and hers to a rich coco brown.  The photos were still very much “them”, but I moved the focus from their visual differences to their united love and passion.  They loved the photos.

 But… does that mean they would sign off so I can use their photos in advertising? No. Even if they  were not a professional couple that simply could not share their images.  My clients may love their photos, and be in a position that they could let sell their photos, but most women are afraid of the cruel things other women might say, so it is the rare size 14 woman, no matter how attractive, that lets her image be published. 

So that is why you don’t see many large women in glamour photography or fine art blogs and websites.