Is It Time To Look at A New Monogamy?

Is It Time To Look at A New Monogamy? Is It Time To Move Your Relationship Into A New Monogamy? We’re in the 21st Century.  We don’t have the marriages our parents or our grandparents had.  There are less people married now than the past 30 years.  Many people are marrying later in life and 40% of Americans think marriage is obsolete.  70 years ago people married much younger and had a shorter life expectancy.  Longevity of marriages in the 20th Century averaged 10 – 15 years.  The average life span for men about 75 years ago was 60 and 65 for women.  Today everyone is living much longer into their 80’s and 90’s.  The divorce rate is at 50% for first marriages, 67% for second marriages, and 73% for third marriages.  About 45 – 60% of partners will cheat – women 45% and men 60% (Atwood and Schwartz 2002).

Love triangle in Vilnius town Bernardinu garden on autumn. Lithuania.

As a Marriage Counselor working in Affair Recovery, affairs affect 1 out of 2.7 couples (Janis Spring “After the Affair”). There’s definitely a shift that continues to lean toward making marriage more appealing as people are still wired to pair and bond.  Which leads to the question is monogamy even possible for the average person?  According to Tammy Nelson, author of The New Monogamy, most material on affair recovery assumes infidelity is a symptom of some fundamental problem in the marriage or committed relationship.  Infidelity as devastating as it may be for relationships doesn’t necessarily have to end in divorce.

As a Marriage Counselor, people typically come into see me after about 10 years of marriage and again after about 16 – 20 years.  Becoming parents and raising a family can create distance between couples that cause sexual energy to become lost or mundane.  Libido can change for individuals in relationships that are not always conducive to meeting each other’s needs.  Situational circumstances can come up and the sexual connection may or may not exist for whatever period of time.  That doesn’t always mean you want to end your relationship.  Perhaps having the discussion about opening it up may be a viable option.  Most relationships work in that couples still love one another, enjoy their family time and other activities they share in common.  It’s just the emotional and sexual connection can get lost throughout the process of living life as we know it.  Familiarity can breed into a comfort zone that makes sex and romance not so hot and exciting.  And after all who doesn’t want to feel those butterflies in your stomach every now and then instead of feeling like you’re just roommates and even worse, bad roommates.

In Marriage Counseling I help my couples look at several options.

Option 1:  Status Quo – do nothing live life the way you know it and have mediocre to ok sex.  Sometimes that includes bad sex and no sex.

Option 2: Open up your marriage – talk about what that would look like, what are the feelings associated with that idea and talk about possibly developing a New Monogamy agreement that works for both you and your spouse. Whether you act out the possibilities or not will change the relationship’s status quo.

Option 3:  Separate/Divorce – losing all the positives the relationship has to offer.

It’s never that black and white.  Of course, there are pros and cons to any of the options but being able to have a dialogue about your feelings is the important part of the process. Whether you open up your marriage or not, having a discussion about it shows you both trust one another enough to take into consideration how the other feels.


If you want to start a conversation with your spouse about possibly opening up your marriage please contact me at (858) 735-1139.



Non-Monogamy.  How to do Non-monogamy.  What is Non-monogamy?  Let’s start with what Non-monogamy is not.  It is not cheating and it does not mean constant orgies.  Non-monogamy is an occasional and carefully negotiated break from the primary couple’s ordinary (sexual routine) which is based on full disclosure, mutual consent, and safe sex.  According to Sexolgist Michael Castleman the U.S. has 60 million couples where 1 to 3 percent play with Non-monogamy.  That makes 600,000 – 1.8 million couples.

Couples play with occasional Non-monogamy because it keeps their relationship sexually exciting and fresh.

If you are interested in occasional Non-monogamy here are tips to guide you through the process:

1.  There should be Mutuality of Consent:  Both partners should agree to participate in it.  If not, couples usually try it once, discuss and come to a consensus.

2.  Set up some Ground Rules:  Discuss what exactly you want to do and what you and your partner will tolerate.  Talk about the “what-ifs” beforehand.  These kinds of conversations deepen the couples’ emotional intimacy therefore be specific as possible and work to prevent anxieties that may come about.

3.  Spousal Presence:  Some couples want same-room play so they can keep an eye on one another as insecurities do arise.  Remember the goal is to draw couples closer not drive them apart, however, experiencing nakedness with strangers can create a lot of anxiety and insecurities.

4.  Develop a Safe Word:  When engaging in non-monogamous play in the same room it would be good to develop a “safe word” or some kind of discomfort signal indicating the other person immediately stops everything and meets their own partner’s concerns.

If you’re interested in non-monogamy it’s important to initially a have a dialogue with your partner about it.  Talk about what interests you and what about the topic you would like to elaborate on.  Incorporate into the discussion fantasies, how it might enhance your sex life, and the what-if’s.  If you’re curious but a bit nervous, a good start could be to visit a club or watch others play while touching only your partner.  If watching becomes more comfortable with each visit you may be inclined to participate and become more adventurous.

If you would like to introduce the subject of non-monogamy to your partner and need help with the process please contact me at (858) 735-1139.  No subject should be embarrassing to talk about with your significant other.