Open marriages

“So, Nim….do you believe in open marriages?”

The question exploded into the air as I froze…

My fork, balancing a much anticipated mouthful of seafood tortellini, stood suspended in mid-air, as I turned with  mounting disbelief and stared at the thin, bespectacled, modestly dressed woman next to me. I was at a charity dinner and had been chatting for about half an hour with Mrs Curious (I’ll call her that for want of a different name, and ‘curious’ she most certainly was, having asked me a whole host of questions in the limited amount of time I had known her). So far, she had asked me how long I had lived in Australia, how often I travelled to India, how old my children were, what subjects they were studying, was mine an arranged or love marriage, how long I had known my husband before I married him….and on and on and on….And so, let’s call her Mrs Curious for now.

The questions until then had seemed fairly ordinary. But ‘open marriages’???….cough!…splutter!….I mean, c’mon! As a romance writer, I do get asked all kinds of unexpected questions all the time. And because I wrote on the theme of adultery in my very first book, you can imagine the slant these questions often take. But ‘open marriages’???? I hadn’t seen that one coming.

I cleared my throat….’Err, no. I don’t’ I said, almost apologetically.

She frowned, took a delicate sip of champagne and arched an eyebrow as she stared back at me: ‘Oh, really? You don’t believe in open marriages?’

‘No, I don’t’ I said, firmly standing my ground. ‘Why? Do you?’

She nodded a smug little nod. ‘Yes, I do’

I nearly fell off my chair. An open admission on ‘open marriages’ was hardly what I had been expecting.

‘Really?’ I said in a choked voice. ‘Wow’

There was silence as I contemplated my seafood tortellini and she sipped her champagne, looking slightly affronted at my answer.

Something seemed to be bothering her. She hadn’t liked my response. Sure enough, she wouldn’t let go of the topic. She leaned forward. ‘So, you don’t like open marriages. So, does that mean you won’t let your son marry a girl who is not Indian when he grows up?’

There was a moment of complete confusion. What on earth was she talking about. It made no sense. FINALLY, IT DAWNED ON ME.

I giggled. ‘Oh, I get it now. Do you mean am I ‘OPEN’ to cross-cultural marriages? As in, will it be okay if my children marry foreigners? Is that what you mean?’

She nodded, looking confused. ‘Yes. Why?’

I burst out laughing. ‘Oh, darling lady, do you know what an open marriage really means?’

She shook her head, and I quickly enlightened her. We both laughed till we cried and continued laughing through the evening.

So, let me set the record straight…..Yessss, I certainly don’t mind my children someday marrying foreigners. But no! I don’t believe in open marriages’

As funny conversations go, this will certainly remain embedded in my memory forever 🙂

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