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  What I mean is, while serial monogamy is popular, lifelong monogamy is obsolete and whether we like it or not, polyamory is catching on.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

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.

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