A journalist for an international, reputable publication wants to write an intimate, thoughtful longform piece that follows a married couple as they start the process of opening up their marriage to ethical nonmonogamy. Ideally, this couple is in engaging in couples therapy as they navigate this new phase of their marriage; those conversations, recounted or recalled, would provide structure for the story and a way of clearly translating the complexity of the thought process of the couple. The couple could remain unidentifiable; ideally, the therapist would use his or her name, although that could possibly be discussed as well. This article would seek not to sensationalize this phase of the marriage, but explore it as an increasingly logical, even possibly conventional option, in a world in which the traditional family has already been reconceived and marriage itself has expanded its definitions. The piece, which could be part of a larger cultural reframing, has potential for high impact. If you're interested, please email asktristan [at] gmail.com and I'll connect you with the journalist.
“Strange arrangements” on 20/20
Despite its ominous title of "The New Sex: Strange Arrangements," last Friday's episode of 20/20 included a pretty reasonable 7-minute segment on a poly network. One of the interviewees was Sierra Black, a woman who has written several wonderful articles about parenting in an open marriage, for sites such as Salon and Babble.
You can watch the episode on ABC's site or on Hulu, and ABC's article about the open relationship segment is a fairly direct reflection of the segment.
The interviewees do a great job of dispelling the myths that are thrown at them, like that they're committing adultery and must have jealousy issues. And although the interviewer, Elizabeth Vargas, calls their open relationship a "marital merry-go-round" that's "a tad kooky," the tone of the segment is not especially judgmental -- and generally allows the folks speak for themselves. Especially touching was the moment when Vargas spoke to one of Sierra's daughters:
You might think Sierra and Martin's daughters think their parents' arrangement is unusual, but when "20/20" anchor Elizabeth Vargas asked their daughter, Rio, if she thought her family was different from other families, she replied, "Not really."
Rio's definition of an open marriage was fairly precise, for a 7-year-old: "Your parent or one of your parents is dating a different person that's not part of your family," she said.
Black was content with the outcome of the interview, writing on her blog:
I did this because I wanted to give mainstream America a peek at a healthy, happy, thriving circle of poly families. It's my hope that we’ve done just that, and that this is a step toward a future where news shows won't want to do segments on how "kooky" polyamory is, because it's just a thing some people do. I am fairly confident positive portrayals on TV can make a difference, and I'm grateful to ABC for their approach in this one.