Yes, Newt Gingrich Is Really Icky — But Let’s Not Demonize Open Relationships

Marianne Gingrich, ex-wife of Republican presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich, will appear on “Nightline” tonight and dish the dirt on their marriage, which ended after Marianne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and he filed for divorce. Marianne Gingrich will reveal all sorts of unsavory things about what Newt wanted to do with his penis, including asking Marianne for an “open marriage” so he could sleep with Callista, who is now his wife. Marianne Gingrich said no: “And I just stared at him and he said, ‘Callista doesn’t care what I do.’ He wanted an open marriage and I refused.” So then Marianne said, Newt began sleeping with Callista — all the while trashing President Clinton for the infamous Lewinsky BJ. 

He’s icky. Yes. Newt is icky. And that is the problem — not that Newt asked for an open marriage, or that there is  something wrong with open relationship at all.   

Open relationships are not for everyone. I know this because I, briefly, dated someone who was in one. Over the summer, I dated a married man with a kid who has been happily married for years and enjoys an open marriage with his wife. Both of them date and have sexual relationships outside the marriage and his wife knew when he went out on dates with me. Having a child complicated the relationships with other partners, of course, because everything is conducted outside of their home so that the kid is kept in the dark.

I knew this man had an open marriage for years. When he asked me out after Ex-Mr. Jessica and I broke up, I wasn’t thrilled that he already had a wife and a child, but thought I’d give it a shot. He’s an extremely intelligent, caring and thoughtful man and I needed to get my sea legs back when it came to dating.  

We only went on maybe three dates with each other — and the brevity of our dating tenure was my decision. After a crushing heartbreak, I wasn’t getting my sea legs back so easily and I didn’t want to lead this guy (who was really into me) on.  I also really, really, really didn’t like the open relationship part. I felt jealous when we’d part after a date and he would go home to his wife and child; I felt extremely jealous when I saw pictures of him celebrating his wedding anniversary on Facebook. It also bothered me that one night when he came to my apartment, he could not spend the night because he had to be there the next day for his kid. It was responsible of him, but those existing familial responsibilities weren’t something that I, as an unmarried, childless 27-year-old, would have chosen. 

We parted amicably. We’re still friends, as we were before, and I’m happy he’s still happily with his wife and kid.  

My (admittedly brief) story is the way an open relationship can work: the primary relationship is a loving and committed one; the “open” part is mutually agreed upon; both partners are honest about what they are doing; and the responsibilities of the primary relationship are prioritized. That, Newt Gingrich, is the way to do it. No one was lying about anything, or sneaking around, or using the open relationship to get out of a marriage. It’s not sanctioned cheating.

Newt’s shamefully callous behavior in his marriages makes him a sucky person and it is up to Republican voters to decide whether they would hold that against him in the voting booth. Regardless of what happens to Newt’s political prospects, his mistress problem should not drag down open relationships, too. I would hate to see a relationship style that works for some couples be demonized.

[New York Daily News]

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