Open Marriage

Is the secret to a happy marriage having an open marriage? Carl and Kenya have been married for 17 years and share three beautiful children. They also have multiple lovers and believe monogamy leads to failure. Tune in and decide for yourself: Is open marriage the answer to ending infidelity and divorce, or does it lead to the ending of a marriage?

How Will Their Lifestyle Affect the Kids?



“I am disappointed that my son and my daughter-in-law are in an open marriage,” says Carl’s mother, Joann. “This was such a betrayal to their marriage. It’s unfaithful to have another partner — openly have another partner. I almost wish that they were discreet with it. Just to hear them even talking about it, it felt dirty. I don’t disagree with them being honest with each other, but again, should the children know every little [detail]? I don’t feel the children should be a part of that. I really have serious concerns that this open marriage might damage the children.”

“What about it bothers you?” Dr. Phil asks Joann.

“Well, I have to say first that I disapprove. I just don’t agree with having partners outside of the marriage,” she says. “And more than that, I’m concerned about my grandchildren. I want to say that my grandchildren are aware of this open marriage, and I don’t agree that they should be involved in it or that they should know about it. It’s to be at least discreet. That’s my opinion. I don’t think it should happen at all.”

“Would you say the same thing about children of divorce?” Kenya asks. “Would you say they are in a bad situation as well?”

“I do. I think any child that goes through any type of divorce also has some issues, and I can speak to it, and my son has spoken about it,” Joann says. She asks Dr. Phil what he knows about the experiences of children who are exposed to open marriage.

Dr. Phil explains his two rules when it comes to children: One, never involve children in things over which they have no control. And two, never ask children to deal with adult issues. He tells Kenya, “Their brains are not through growing yet. When you’re talking to an 11-year-old about these issues, you know what message you send, but it’s hard to know what message is received."
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