Earlier this week, there was much tabloid titillation about Mo'Nique's remarks to Barbara Walters about her own open marriage. The New York Daily News headline read 'Mo'Nique Says Her Husband is Allowed to Cheat.' That's not what she said, but that's how it's been widely interpreted. "Cheating" implies sneaking behind someone's back to carry on external affairs. But open marriages are, well, open, and therefore the word "cheating" isn't apropos. In fact, this isn't the first time Mo'Nique has publicly discussed the arrangement with her husband Sidney Hicks, but in this particular interview, scheduled to air this Sunday as part of Walter's annual Oscar special, she provides some clarity:
"Let me say this: I have not had sex outside my marriage with Sidney. Could (he) have sex outside of his marriage with me? Yes. That's not a deal-breaker. That's not something that would make us say, 'Pack your things and let's end the marriage.' We've been best friends for over 25 years, and we truly know who we are. Oftentimes, people get into marriages and they don't know who they're laying next to. I'm very comfortable and secure with my husband." And when asked, in a thinly veiled Tiger Woods reference, what if he 'stepped out' more than once, she simply said "no sweat".
Maybe Mo'Nique gets a pass because of who she is. Perhaps, we hear her comments and think to ourselves "she's so crazy". But what about the non-Hollywood types like a family member or a close friend? Could we handle such a revelation? After all, by and large, the average American is sexually repressed. We have a hard time warming up to ideas that stray from our conventional family values when it comes to sex and marriage. We're quick to judge. If it doesn't synchronize with our sensibilities, somebody's going to get talked about and looked at sideways.
We want everyone else and their relationships to confirm our values and to embrace
"It occurred to us, from observation and reasoning, that extramarital sex was not what really destroyed marriages, but rather the lies and deception that invariably accompanied it -- that was the culprit. So we decided to give ourselves permission to sleep with other partners if we wished -- as long as what we did was honest as well as private."
This is the point. While this type of marital arrangement is not desired by most people, there's a unique understanding and dynamic that exists with couples who choose to this lifestyle. Casting aspersions upon them and acting as the moral police only makes us look small. Just because our own marriages may not be open, doesn't mean that our minds can't be.
Mason Jamal writes about issues pertaining to the style, substance and sensibilities of men (and sometimes women). For more of his musings, you can visit www.MasonSays.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @masonsays and on Facebook.