That said, I liked this post on Balloon Juice talking about sex and marriage:
Any regular Dan Savage reader/listener knows that one of his most common caller/writer is one part of a married couple who’s sexually frustrated. Usually there are children involved. Often, this person knew that they were sexually incompatible when they married, but was hoping things would change. Usually, their marriage is under a sexual death penalty: if there’s an affair, there’s a divorce.
This kind of call or letter is pretty boring because there’s really no solution accepted by mainstream society. Most of these marriages would be a hell of a lot better if the sexually unsatisfied partner had a discreet affair, but that puts the other partner in a socially untenable situation. “Open marriage” is something for dirty hippies or sleazy swingers, not an upstanding member of society. And, since the first stop for marital therapy is often a pastor or priest, it’s very unlikely that the open option will even be broached.
So, instead of negotiating an outlet, these marriages move on to a badly executed affair, tears, recriminations and, usually, divorce. The cheated-on member of the pair has the moral and legal high ground, they’re under intense social pressure to make the cheater pay, and by the time the cheating happens, the cheater’s resentment over their lack of satisfaction has probably already poisoned the well.I often shock people when I say that adultery is not a dealbreaker in my marriage, and I think mistermix has explained why. It's not that I support "open marriages" per se. It's that I'd see adultery as a symptom of a problem that is not necessarily the problem of an inherently bad marriage. Obviously, adultery has potentially other bad consequences, especially these days (STDs, lack of privacy, effects on the children if the adultery is made public).
But I agree with mistermix that we spend a whole lot of time judging people for what they do in their marriages and making it impossible for their marriages to work, because for public figures, the public itself becomes a fourth "person" in the marriage (after the two spouses and the children, if any). But whereas children *do* have an investment in their parents' marriage, the public doesn't.