Sammy Nickalls
March 10, 2016 1:05 pm
Brent N. Clarke / Getty Images

Polyamorous couples face a lot of stigma, and comedian and actress Mo’Nique and her husband, Sidney Hicks, are no exception. The married pair of 11 years have each been intimate with other people for years, and they have dealt with a lot of scrutiny in the media. However, Mo’Nique says that, although others think their open marriage is crumbling, she’d say quite the contrary.

Mo’Nique and Sidney, who have a podcast through CBS called “Mo’Nique and Sidney’s Open Relationship,” have spoke openly about their open marriage for a decade after she initially discussed it in a 2006 Essence article. The article received an extensive amount of backlash. “People didn’t understand,” Mo’Nique, 48, told the New York Times in a recent piece. “They thought it was about swinging and orgies, and then there were individuals who are vehement about God, and they were bringing God into their opinions. People lost their minds, and the criticism has never let up.”

At the start of the marriage, they laid down ground rules. “Sidney had this one thing he had to teach me, and that was reciprocity,” Mo’Nique told the Times. “He said, ‘If you can have that, it’s only fair that I can have that, too.’ I wanted to continue to see the gentlemen that I was seeing, and I felt comfortable telling my best friend [Hicks]. I’m grateful he taught me I had to play fair.”

Their open marriage, Hicks told the Times, is all about honesty. “We got into this knowing that we both wanted to be with someone who’s going to allow you to be who you are,” he said. “I think one of the most romantic things you can do as a couple is be honest with each other. And we are.”

Some experts quoted by the Times doubted that open relationships aren’t ultimately harmful. Sidney pointed out, however, that the health of a relationship is subjective and highly dependent on the individuals involved in it. “Defining what makes a marriage work is like asking one’s interpretation of success,” Hicks told the Times. “It’s defined a different way by every person you ask.”

The ultimate secret to an open marriage, Mo’Nique explained, is effective communication. (And really, that’s the secret to any marriage, right?) “For us, it’s defined by openness and not fear,” she said. “If one of us feels jealous, we talk our way through it. What we have is real and honest. It’s changed my life and saved my life.”

It’s easy to judge other people’s choices, especially when they go against deeply ingrained cultural norms, but the only people who can *truly* know what’s healthy in a relationship are those within it. Total props to Mo’Nique and Sidney Hicks for staying strong through all the judgment.

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