By W. Bradford Wilcox
The Open Marriage by Nena and George O’Neill was published in 1972, as the sexual revolution gathered steam in America. The bestselling book encouraged spouses to “to strip marriage of its antiquated ideals” and, most famously in one chapter, to explore sexual partnerships outside their marriage, if they so desired.
Fortunately, the book has since come to be seen as an antiquated relic of the Me Decade, when all too many men and women put their own desires—in the sexual arena, as in so many other arenas—ahead of the needs of their spouse, their marriage, and their children. While swinging may have seemed reasonable to some at the height of the sexual revolution, many couples and the vast majority of Americans have since turned away from the idea.
In fact, notwithstanding the recent marital misbehavior of athletes, actors, and politicians, public tolerance for marital infidelity has fallen since the 1970s, with fully 79 percent of American adults now saying that infidelity is “always wrong.” Moreover, recent research from the National Marriage Project indicates that infidelity has also declined in recent years to the point where just 16 percent of married men and 10 percent of married women now report that they have been unfaithful. So, clearly, in contemporary America that vast majority of couples reject infidelity in theory and practice.