The Trend of the Hall Pass Could Spell Divorce


  • A recent trend has surfaced where spouses are allotting one another a hall pass, an allowance for sexual intimacy with others.
  • This concept requires communication, which is not always present and can fuel the aggression necessary to pursue a divorce.
  • Spouses employing a hall pass often believe that this will lead to a healthier marriage and this will get it "out of their system."

"The logic is that if a spouse is given the opportunity to pursue sexual intimacy on some level with someone outside of their marriage, they get that thrill out of their system and can bring something new into the marital sexual relationship."

While a relationship can sometimes include the flexibility of several partners, the social construct tends to imply exclusivity between two individuals. Being married can often help define that exclusivity and make the terms and conditions of the union more clear to the individuals involved and any outside parties looking in.

However, there is a recent trend that couples are adapting, in an effort to spice up their marriages, and that is offering what is referred to as a “hall pass” to their partners. This entails a one-time only chance to pursue sexual intimacy with another individual outside of the marital dynamic.

Understanding the hall pass

In order to understand the concept of a hall pass, you have to understand when it is typically discussed. It generally applies to spouses who have been married or have been together for an extended period of time and are looking to “spice up” their marriage. The logic is that if a spouse is given the opportunity to pursue sexual intimacy on some level with someone outside of their marriage, they get that thrill out of their system and can bring something new into the marital sexual relationship.

According to forensic and clinical psychologist Jeremy Clyman of Psychology Today, this type of arrangement does not always include the healthiest line of communication. In order for the concept of a hall pass to exist within a relationship, one has to acknowledge that their sexual needs are not being met to their satisfaction. For some spouses, men and women alike, that would cause them to either look outside of the marriage without their spouse’s approval or seek a divorce, acknowledging that the union has not given them what they desire in meeting their needs.

Communication issues

The communication issues plague couples, regardless of whether or not they are discussing the concept of a hall pass. The Huffington Post highlighted a survey from lifestyle website, YourTango, which polled 100 mental health professionals that found that communication problems were cited as the most common factor that leads to divorce at 65 percent.

This type of barrier within relationships is part of the reason that individuals turn to social constructs like a hall pass, in an attempt to resolve tension within marriages. Unfortunately, it can often spark additional conflict, which lends itself to divorce.

The case

This type of situation was highlighted on season two of Bravo’s “Untying the Knot”. Reality star and ex-wife of Lil Wayne, Toya Wright, gave her then-husband, Mickey Wright (also known as Memphitz), an eight-day hall pass, in an attempt to help their marriage.

This eventually led to their divorce, amid allegations of cheating.

The film

This concept also was dissected during the 2011 film, “Hall Pass,” where actors Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play two husbands, whose wives (played by Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) give them a hall pass to explore whatever they want for one week. The wives also possess the same hall passes as the husbands, and the narrative explores different ways in which the spouses handle having that level of freedom and how it interacts with their conscious and emotions.

The film also highlights the relationship of a married couple and how their history can often be forgotten, in favor of what is going wrong in here and now. Many couples find themselves unable to communicate their needs properly, resulting in an internal build-up of aggression that can result in the combustion of the marriage entirely.

Invitation for issues

The concept of a hall pass does not negate the communication issues of the present, nor the things building up in the here and now. In seeking sexual intimacy outside of the marriage through a socially-constructed system authorized by a spouse, you, as a spouse, are inviting the baggage of another individual, who may be a peripheral figure in your life, into the confines of your marriage. Whether it is a co-worker, your bank teller, or a movie theater usher, you are bringing their emotional history, sexual history, health, relationship history, and relationship with the concept of marriage all into this situation.

In creating this situation, a married couple has to realize the potential for infidelity outside of this construct may rise. Like the Wrights, allowing this type of behavior can encourage additional sexual activities outside of the hall pass and regardless of gender. It can cause the emotions necessary to shut down communication and to fuel aggressive behavior during the divorce process.

Even if a divorce is on the horizon, there still are plenty of reasons to improve communication with a soon-to-be ex-spouse. If there are children in the picture, there is ample reason to focus on making the transition as comfortable as possible for them. Additionally, there are a number of assets that need to be considered with rationality, and that can often be difficult when anger and raw emotion is fueling the decision-making during the divorce process.

In making the decision to employ the idea of the hall pass, you, as a spouse are rolling the dice and hoping it does not result in a divorce. You are hoping that it helps get any sort of lust out of your or your spouse’s system, so that you can return to the marriage healthier and more committed. However, the risk of continuing the marriage after the hall pass can be too much for spouses to handle.

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