Open marriages are like Istanbul

The Valentine’s Day episode of the excellent This American Life program is well worth a listen: its theme is “people who have been in the same relationship for years” and it’s a welcome respite from the love is everything meme that soaks this season.

My favourite part of the episode is the essay Istanbul by Canadian writer and broadcaster Ian Brown. Here is Brown on “open marriage:”

That’s why monogamy has such a bad reputation: it’s boring. Monogamy is the habit of not acting on what you want. I even hate the word itself: it sounds so staid, so bourgeois. Monogamy. Like a board game. The approximation of excitement. Sometimes of course I hear about “open marriages.” Jung had one. Sartre had one. Henry Miller, Dickens, Freud. I hear about open marriages and they seem like some fabulous exotic city that I’ve always wanted to visit, but never seem to get to. Istanbul. Open marriages are like Istanbul: some ancient, mysterious place where there are minarets and strange music, where one entire civilization suddenly ends and a whole new stranger one begins. A whole new religion even. The mysterious east. I’ve always wanted to go to Istanbul.

You only have a few more days to grab the free MP3 of this episode — it’s oddly available only for a week after it’s first broadcast.

If you like what you hear on This American Life, here are three additional things you might want to check out:


oliver's picture
oliver on February 20, 2008 - 19:44 Permalink

Of course, the concept of the exotic destination presupposes a place to come home to. Being an expat or a foreign correspondent doesn’t seem romantic to me. I’d miss home. I think also exotic lifestyles presuppose exotic people—like James Bond. I don’t know that I’ve met any exotic people.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on February 20, 2008 - 20:35 Permalink

I met some exotic people on a commune in northeastern Ontario on a freezing cold New Years Eve many years ago. They slept in bunks and did not use toothpaste. There was a lot of bannock. It was not at all James Bond like.