According to Madamenoire.com and Kenya Stevens, co-founder of Jujumama, a love-coaching company,there are abysmal divorce and out-of-wedlock rates in the black community. That is a serious problem that needs a solutions.
She and her husband Carl boldly put forth open marriage and sexual sharing as a viable option for both men and women, and on its face, give some convincing arguments for why some should consider it. The couple has recently gained traction in popularity–they’ve been featured in Essence magazine, the Michael Baisden Show,” and “The Mo’Nique Show” on BET. (Mo’Nique has also stated she and her husband are in an open marriage.)
Stevens essentially says that people have been brainwashed into thinking human beings were meant to be monogamous and that only four mammals in all creation are monogamous, which gives more credence to the human polyamorist ideal. She argues that Christianity and Islam are instrumental in shackling people into these rules and that believing in such things is for “peons.” Lastly, it’s “the government” that doesn’t want couples to share resources because it doesn’t present a cost-benefit.
Stevens freely admits that she and her husband are in an open, sexual marriage. “Not only do we tell the truth about who we are and what we feel and what we desire, we can act upon those things,” Stevens said. And in fairness, she also states that some people have non-sexual open marriages in which they tell the truth about what they desire, but don’t act upon them. “The can have emotional love relationships with others, but they just don’t get out of monogamy.”
The goal, she says, it not to pursue sexual relationships out of “lust,” but out of “love.” Stevens said her husband has “lots of women,” and she has “lots of men,” but they have love relationships with them–it’s not just lustful sex. “We want to have an authentic love relationship with our partners. We’re not looking to have short-term one night stands, swinging, sort of, dangerous affairs. We want to add individuals to our community. I know my husband’s love partners, he knows my love partners.”
Stevens claims that the current marriage paradigm in the African-American community is so broken, it’s time to think differently. “I do not own my husband. I do no own his penis,” she says. However, she does admit the idea of a polyamorist marriage didn’t come to mind when she and her husband made their wedding vows. It wasn’t until 11 years later that Stevens’ husband came to her with news that he was having “feelings of love” with a woman at work and was interested in acting out those feelings on a physical level. Initially upset by the idea, her husband tabled it until Kenya met a man at a convention that she felt “feelings of love” for and rushed to tell her husband. He encouraged her to pursue those feelings and ultimately the three of them planned for an opportunity for her to have a sexual encounter with her husband’s blessing.
It was through their personal experiences that they founded Jujumama, and together they counsel married couples about their newfound notion of “harmony.” I asked Stevens about what might happen if they counseled a couple where one partner desired to pursue an extramarital relationship and the other partner was resistant. I frankly asked, “Who wins? The “yes” or the no?” She told me that the “yes” partner must be patient and the “no” partner has to “go through a learning curve, and explore why they respond negatively.
Dr. Gilda Carle, a licensed educator,with a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from New York University, congratulates the Stevens couple on their ingenuity on how they have parlayed their open marriage into a money-making enterprise, yet she remains doubtful. “[Open marriage] may sound wonderful as a make-believe fantasy, but I have never seen it work in the real world.” Dr. Gilda has authored over 15 books, including 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity: Your Rx for Trust. ” You have to wonder about people who are willing to be so passive.”
I asked Stevens about the possibility of these relationships becoming complicated through pregnancy or STD’s. She mentioned the rigorous use of birth control to prevent such occurrences, but she said that if by chance she were to get pregnant by a love partner, she and her husband would welcome that child as a blessing and raise the child together with the involvement of the birth-father. But, Dr. Gilda sees a problem with this scenario: “Who do they identify as the mom and the dad?”
Dr. Gilda adds that the common problems with these arrangements is the aspect of jealousy, which she says is hard-wired into the brain. Stevens, however, believes that jealousy is a childish emotion that should be chided. I mentioned Stevens’ response to Dr. Gilda and here’s what she had to say: “Well she can proselytize that lifestyle all she wants to the people who follow her, and then they can come to me for therapy after they’ve given away their bodies along with their marriages.”