Do You Think You Want An Open Marriage?

Do You Think You Want An Open Marriage?  Some people think open marriages are another form of affairs, infidelity or betrayal, that lead to the demise of the marriage.  Some people believe open marriages can be hurtful and damaging to relationships in general.  Open marriages and polyamory are being talked about more so than ever before as the subject is not so shocking to most as the terms have been normalized by experts in the field and mainstream media.  Monogamy or consensual nonmonogamy is becoming more a topic to discuss among people who are interested in alternatives to traditional lifestyles.

Whether you want a monogamous or nonmonogamous relationship it is important to talk with your partner about your boundaries if you’re considering opening it up.  Not everyone has the same idea of what “open” means.  As a Marriage Counselor, I work with couples who have open relationships and some who don’t.  I am currently working with a couple where the husband is in a polyamorous relationship and his wife is not.  What I mean is, while serial monogamy is popular, lifelong monogamy is obsolete and whether we like it or not, polyamory is catching on.  Author Deborah Anapol gives pertinent information from her book “Love Without Limits.” see blog article https://couplescounselorsandiego.com/relationships/polyamory-monogamy-one/

If you’re ready to explore an open marriage, here are 3 steps author Tammy Nelson (The New Monogamy agreement) suggests be taken before actually following through with the process:

Step one

Talk about what your definition is of open. Is an open marriage just an excuse to have an affair? Do you already have someone that you are interested in and you want to pursue the relationship, but you want permission from your partner?

If that’s the case, then you need to slow down the open relationship conversation and start talking about the affair that is either about to happen or is already going on. An open relationship isn’t about integrating a third party who is going to interfere with your marriage or your monogamy. An open marriage is something that you both agree will enhance your relationship, not hurt your intimate connection.

Step Two

What is your vision of what your open marriage will look like in a year? This is an important conversation for several reasons, it will help you get clear about where this open relationship idea might be going.

You might think, “Oh, we will be done with this little experiment in a year. I just want to try it, I think I can get it out of my system after a month or two, or after we have sex once or twice with other people.” But your partner may think, “I am hoping we will have outside partners that may be living with us and sharing our lives within a year.” When you share these two very different visions, you will soon realize that you have a problem. You will need to look more carefully at your ideas of an open relationship.

Is having an open relationship about finding casual sex and a little swinging on the weekends, or is it more about finding love and a polyamorous relationship where you can expand your emotional connection and integrate other partners as long-term relationships into your lives?

Step Three

Go over the rules. Be clear about what your boundaries are regarding sex, including what you define as safe touch, kissing, whether you agree to intercourse, if it is ok to be in the same room, or if you want to watch your partner be sexual or not, if you need to approve of each other’s outside partners, if there will be contact outside of the date nights, etc.

As a Marriage Counselor, I ask my clients who are considering opening up their marriage if they are able to comfortably talk about everything and anything when it comes to their relationship.   Being able to talk about sex and jealousy is certainly a good start when considering open marriage.  Open marriages survive the same way monogamous marriages do through good communication, love, mutual respect, and consideration.  Whereby in open marriages, the communication needs to be more intentional for obvious reasons.

For more information on initiating a conversation about Open Marriages please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

Polyamory Or Monogamy Which One Is For You?

Polyamory or Monogamy Which One Is For You?  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. For some individuals, monogamy could be a better choice and for others, polyamory may be a better fit.

How do you know which one is best for you?  If you’re not sure what would work for you, I highly suggest you find out sooner rather than later, especially before you get involved in a committed relationship since compatibility seems to be the name of the game.  Polyamory is a new language for alternatives to monogamous relating.  Consensual non-monogamy and the New Monogamy is the preferred term in the academic world and is being talked about in Marital Counseling in my office as well as other clinicians who provide counseling to non-traditional lifestylers throughout the country.  This cultural obsession with monogamy has headed in the same direction as the gold standard, slavery, and for the younger generation, dating in general.  What I mean is, while serial monogamy is more popular than ever, lifelong monogamy is obsolete and whether we like it or not, polyamory is catching on.  Here is the latest information from author Deborah Anapol from “Love Without Limits.”

1. There is no evidence that monogamy is better in terms of relationship longevity, health, sexual satisfaction, happiness or emotional intimacy. There is also no evidence that polyamory is better.  Given that information, individuals should go on what feels right to them and their partners.

2.  Gay men are more likely than heterosexual couples, lesbians, or bisexuals to practice consensual non-monogamy and still struggle with jealousy issues.

3.  Polyamory is not necessarily easy, especially if family of origin issues and personal issues are not addressed and still present as issues.

4.  Women are not necessarily in favor of monogamy.  They don’t appreciate being lied to or having to go along with a double standard.

5.  Children raised in consensually non-monogamous families have been shown to do as well on many measures of health and achievement as children in monogamous families.

It’s extremely rare these days to find someone who has had only one sexual partner or “significant other” throughout his or her life.  There are definitely some people who are far better off taking it one person at a time, and then there are those who can have multiple partners sequentially or at the same time.  There are those who practice polyamory with ingenuity and vulnerability and those who justify what they refer to as polyamory but is really self-deception and lack of integrity by indulging in multiple affairs as a means of hedonism.

What’s important is not so much the Glamour of multi-partner relating as it is allowing Love to dictate the form rather than attempting to force Love into whatever Mold the mind has decided is right.  Polyamory is less about how many people you are having sex with or feeling love for than it is about allowing love (not lust) to lead you into whatever form is appropriate.

As a Marriage Counselor, I see a diversity of relationship forms in Marriage Counseling.  Whether working with Monogamous Couples or Polyamorists I have no position on whether people, in general, should be monogamous or not.  That fact is that it is very rare to find anyone who has had only one sexual partner for his or her entire life.  Monogamy works for some people and does not for others.  It’s a matter of what works for you and your relationship.  Having a dialogue about what you want in your relationship is a start.

In Couples Counseling I help Couples initiate a conversation that may seem difficult and make them feel vulnerable, as talking about what you want sexually is unfamiliar and awkward to some.  As a Therapist, I characterize my position on polyamory as Pro-choice rather than anti-monogamy and have no position on whether people in general “should” be monogamous or not.  It is encouraged for people to do what is right for them.  There is no judgment or criticism in however you choose to relate to your relationship.  What works for one person may not be the same for all people or even for the same person in different stages in life.

For more information on polyamory and if it is suited for you and your relationship please give me a call at (858) 735-1139 or email me at [email protected]

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 http://nyti.ms/2q5fqrA  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.