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The Pan African Film & Arts Festival Closing Night Premiere 'Blackbird'

Say the words “open marriage” and most Christians, conservatives, and married folks clutch their pearls and wave their church fans in disapproval:


via GIPHY

It’s a knee-jerk reaction seeded in years of tradition and hard-protected values. And it’s fair because marriage is one of the longest held and guarded institutions in the history of this planet, and people want to protect that.

Despite marriage having many different customs depending on the generation and culture (from underage virgins being forced into marriages with older men to polygamy to interracial unions being considered illegal to same-sex marriages, just to name a few), people still seem to believe their interpretation of marriage is the correct one.

But marriage vows don’t come one-size-fits-all.

Cue the outrage among fans and internet mobs when actress Mo’Nique announced she and her husband are in an open relationship.

Most people saw a desperate woman needing to keep a man so badly that she opened up her house to desecration.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Precious star recently sat down with The Preachers to discuss her marriage to actor Sidney Hicks. When the words open marriage were uttered, one of the hosts quipped, “Sidney, we know this was your idea,” a claim Mo’Nique quickly debunked:

“You automatically said, Sidney, I know this was your idea. Everybody said, ‘Oh, my God, how could Mo’Nique let that man do this to you,’” she explained. “It was my idea, because 10 years ago, I’m an entertainer, and this is my best friend ever. And what I didn’t want to do is be dishonest to my best friend. And my best friend said, I’ve loved you since the 10th grade, do you think you being with other men is going to stop me from loving you?”

The outrage to a decision between Mo’Nique and her husband, who married in 2006, puzzled me because, aren’t marriage vows between two people (and God, if they are religious)? You can’t really demand someone to follow the same agenda you have for partnering.

Part of the conversation seemed to revolve around Mo’Nique’s appearance, with men and women alike convinced that a plus-size Black woman couldn’t possibly have the agency (or sexual appetite) to ask for an open relationship.

Love without limitations and boundaries probably sounds like new-age fodder to traditionalists, but it’s a reality for some.

Among conservative circles, an open marriage appears as a threat to the system they so cherish. Perhaps it’s a fear that if other people start following this set of ideals, other men and women will “hop on the trend.” The old adage “one bad apple spoils the bunch” comes to mind.

But in the words of Beyoncé, “Nothing real can be threatened.”

Newsflash, your vows and your marriage cannot be diminished by someone else’s interpretation of marriage. If Mo’Nique made this decision uncoerced than who are we to judge the way she lives her life?

It comes as no surprise that an entire patriarchal system would be threatened by a woman standing by her sexual autonomy within her marriage. But hell, maybe it should be threatened, so people can understand that just because someone’s relationship looks different from yours, doesn’t mean it can’t be sacred.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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