When New York socialites Quentin Esme Brown and Peter Cary Peterson got hitched in Las Vegas over the weekend in front of a small group of friends — including Tiffany Trump, who acted as the flower girl — they knew that people would make some assumptions. Either they were madly in love or drunk, right? In reality, the best friends said they were neither. They’re planning to make theirs a sexless, open marriage, they explained, and this actually sounds like a pretty wise idea to relationship experts.
“He has always been my soulmate in every sense of the word and we felt mutually that Vegas was the place to finalize our commitment to partnership,” Brown explained on Instagram. “Peter and I are not romantically involved — in fact we are still dating others and will continue to seek love in all forms — we are just each other’s hearts and wish to begin our journey towards evolution, because the more we face reality, the more we can see that there is no right or wrong.”
A post shared by Quentin Esme Brown (@quentinesmebrown) on Jan 13, 2018 at 8:14pm PST
Susan Pease Gadoua, a licensed therapist and co-author of The New “I Do,” has yet to meet anyone else with this kind of marriage, but she says it fits in with the way she sees many people deciding to change the rules to suit their relationship needs.
“We don’t need to get married for any of the reasons we used to,” Gadoua tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Once you’ve got everything else in place, it is like the cherry on top.”
In her writing and her practice, Gadoua suggests that there are several different types of marriage that can work for people. A “parenting marriage,” for instance, can be between two people who aren’t romantically involved but who want to start a family together, or it can be the next step in a marriage that was once romantic but isn’t anymore.
“Basically, rather than being an emotion-based marriage, it’s a purpose-driven marriage, which is kind of a throwback to how we used to marry before the industrial revolution,” Gadoua explains.
A post shared by Peter Cary Peterson (@pcpnyc) on Jan 15, 2018 at 1:03pm PST
But Brown and Peterson don’t seem to have married for children. So why get married at all?
“We did this because we wanted to finalize our commitment to each other as life partners and best friends,” Peterson wrote on Instagram.
Brown also put a statement on Instagram, saying, “I am confident my husband and I will break some walls down,” she wrote.
A post shared by Quentin Esme Brown (@quentinesmebrown) on Jan 14, 2018 at 8:51pm PST
“To me it seems like they’re creating a family out of two people; it’s a family member you can always count on,” Maryland-based psychologist Samantha Rodman tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “A lot of these sorts of marriages are in response to society getting increasingly isolated, and people want to create a kinship model. You either have to be married or you have to be blood relatives; otherwise, you can walk away from each other.”
This kind of union may in fact last longer than a marriage based solely on intense romantic attraction, Gadoua surmises. The other advantage is that the friends can seek out those romances outside of this relationship. In this way, their setup resembles the kind of polyamorous arrangement that some couples have found to be a better alternative to divorce.
“Where the complications are going to come in is when people outside their relationship look at it like, ‘I don’t want to get involved in that,’” Gadoua says. “It’s going to make it a little bit more complicated for them to find partners who understand.”
Rodman also cautions that this won’t work if one partner isn’t being entirely honest about what he or she wants in this relationship.
“If one person was secretly hoping that this would turn into something romantic or sexual, then that would be quite the disappointment,” she says.
But if we’re to take Brown and Peterson at their word, they’re pretty happy with their decision so far.
“We have one life,” Brown wrote. “Free yourself!”
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