Are Open Marriages Happier Marriages?

Are Open Marriages Happier Marriages?  There’s an article in the New York Times that share the experiences of nonmonogamous couples and what they say about love and trust  I found the article very interesting and appreciated both the author’s perspective and the couples’ story about their marriages.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I utilize approaches used by author Tammy Nelson and various other Sex Therapists who work with couples who are in nontraditional relationships. The frequency in which I see more nonmonogamous couples whose ideas about fidelity are more open than when I started my practice 25 years ago have substantially increased.  Therefore, I have accommodated my work to help those who are in and want to be in consensual nonmonogamous relationships.

As a Marriage/Couples Counselor, I specialize in Infidelity and Affair Recovery.  I’m working with a particular couple where the wife is the Affair Partner, she cheated on her husband, and the Hurt Partner (the husband), is the one who got cheated on.  Both want to repair and move forward to try and make a better relationship as they have children.  For the most part, their family works nicely together in that they have similar parently styles and manage the household diplomatically.  Of course, there’s more to a relationship than being able to take care of tasks, intimacy is desired.

The wife, in this case, loves her husband but doesn’t believe she is “in love” with him anymore.  Having had the affair she has experienced a “sexual awakening” and her sexual desires have stretched to wanting more than what she was taught growing up.  Throughout the recovery process, she has stated she believes she wants to move forward in a nonmonogamous marriage.  He is still contemplating whether or not he wants this or can even do this.

They ask me if open marriages are happier marriages.  In my personal and professional opinion, I say, “not necessarily happier, as much as they are more functional and durable for the long haul.”  As people are living longer these days relationships can tend to experience ebbs and flows.  Some couples don’t want the option of divorce as their primary relationship works on a lot of levels.  Sometimes the excitement of continued heightened intimacy can wane as being together with the same partner can be familiar and familiarity sometimes brings about a lack of novelty that can diminish sexual excitement. Opening up the marriage to meeting new people, not just for sexual experiences but for emotional and intellectual stimulation can make all the difference in becoming more interested in life again and what life has to offer.  With that feeling the primary relationship can benefit and feel brand new again.  That’s what I believe makes a marriage happier with opening up the relationship.  Why give up on many years of developing a beautiful life together just because the sex component dried up.  Revive it by bringing something new into your lives.

For more information on doing just that please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

How To Have The “I’d Like To Open Up Our Marriage” Conversation?

How To Have The “I’d Like To Open Up Our Marriage” Conversation?  Have you been married for a couple of decades or been in a long-term relationship and your love life has flatlined?  You’ve heard of people “swinging” or even, worse, having affairs, to spice up their sex life.  Rather than cheat, having a conversation about possibly having an open marriage could be an alternative.  Typically one person in the relationship wants to open the door to outside connections and the other hasn’t ever even considered the possibility and is totally shocked by the idea.  A lot of people don’t even think about monogamy until they make a connection with someone and don’t necessarily want to give up their primary relationship (husband/wife) or get a divorce and split up the children and any other resources the couple has acquired.

As a Marriage Counselor who understands and works with non-traditional relationships, I help people who are experiencing a dry spell in their sexual connection who come in wanting to know how to reconnect or enhance what they once knew was an intense bond. They are conflicted as their relationship was established under conventional and need help with other ways of relating that require care, thought, practice and work.

Without threatening your primary relationship by acting out your fantasies with others through affairs with people you find interesting or sexually attractive, having the conversation with your partner is much more appropriate.  Betrayal and deceit are much more difficult to recover from than merely having a discussion about what it would look like to open up your marriage.  The mere fact that you are having a dialogue about the subject makes you both more vulnerable.  This risk-taking interaction can bring about an intimacy which creates a positive change in the way you interact emotionally and sexually. Feelings of closeness and preferring to be with your significant other can surprise you as a result of the conversation.  When you are free to “be” in a relationship rather than “obligated to,” or “have to” due to a sense of “duty,” the choice enables you to want to be with the individual who is ok with your choice.

Open Up Our Marriage

Case in point, As a Marriage Counselor, I work with non-traditional relationships that include LGBTQ and Polyamory relationships.  In my work helping this population, I have come to appreciate the many different ways in which people can develop caring and loving relationships.  In that I believe not one person can satisfy all our needs, perhaps it is necessary to open up our realm of how we get other needs met in good and thoughtful ways with other people while exercising ethical non-monogamy while in our primary relationships.  As those who believe and want to be in Monogamous relationships, I am reaching out to those who want something more than what has been handed down to us about Monogamy by its definition.

I don’t believe people are wired to be monogamous.  Monogamy is a choice that I respect. As with all choices, I respect and want to assist those who are looking for something as an alternative. If you believe in consensual nonmonogamy and a non-traditional relationship is what you are looking to develop, please contact me at (858) 735-1139.  I can help guide you to make thoughtful and informed decisions about how you want to live your life.



Is Polyamory For You?

Polyamory Personality Traits

polyamory8 20090729-poly2

Polyamory isn’t for everyone.  Most people never stop to ask themselves whether their personal characteristics make them better suited for monogamy or polyamory or for each at different stages of their life.  These days many young people have much more awareness than previous generations that they do have a conscious choice whether or not to practice monogamy.  Polyamory is not solely about having multiple partners as it is a fluid process of checking in with oneself to see what actually feels appropriate with each person in any given situation.  We tend to be influenced by the conditioning received in the families we grow up in or the current social norms.

While heterosexual monogamous marriage is still the ideal in much of the world, subcultures where polyamory, homosexuality or bisexuality are the norm are becoming more visible and gaining respectability.  More people are deciding to remain single or to live together without getting married.  This is especially true if they choose to not have children.  So is polyamory for you? Personality traits for polyamory lifestyles can be complex and demanding.  It requires a high level of self-awareness and interpersonal skills than with monogamy which according to “Deborah Anapol” include:

1.   A talent for intimate relating

2.   High self esteem

3.   Ability to multi-task

4.   A love for intensity

5.   Appreciation for diversity

6.   Communication skills

7.   An independent streak

8.   Team spirit

9.   Commitment to growth

10.  Sex positive

11.  Flexible, creative, and spontaneous

12.  High intelligence

13.  Accountability

14.  Eliminate power struggles


Polyamory means having simultaneous close emotional, and possibly sexual relationships with two or more other individuals with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned.  The growing practice of polyamory in the United States indicates a significant shift in the way marriage and intimate relationships have evolved over the past few decades.  Couples Couseling can be a venue in which to discuss whether polyamory is something you want to incorporate into your lifestyle.  If you are interested in more information about polyamory and if it may be a lovestyle choice for you, please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or email me at