The terms “open marriage” and “consensual non-monogamy” have become popular in recent years. What they mean, basically, is swinging, or opening up your marriage to other partners. This is done with consent from both spouses, of course. Otherwise, it would be cheating.
Wedding vows tell us to be faithful to our spouse, but nowadays, it is becoming more and more common for a person to have a husband or wife, as well as a boyfriend or girlfriend (or two or three). But why? What is changing about marriage that causes people to want to open it up to more people?
Monotony. People just are not satisfied with their relationships anymore. They desire more. Their needs are not being met by one person, so they look for people who do meet their needs, whether this means sex or emotional intimacy.
But do open marriages work? They can if both spouses are in the right state of mind and both agree that monogamy is not working for the marriage, then an open marriage might work. However, keep the statistics in mind. One percent of marriages are open, and of those, the failure rate is 92%. That’s a high number. So what is the biggest issue in an open marriage? Jealousy.
And it makes sense. If your husband or wife spends more time with partners than they do with you — the person they are married to — then jealousy is bound to rear its ugly head. It is only natural. As humans, we are wired to be monogamous, although some are more likely to cheat than others.
However, an open marriage may not be the right long-term solution for your marital problems. If your marriage is rocky to begin with, opening it up to other partners is not going to make it work. This is something that you need to decide on before the marriage is teetering on the brink of divorce.
But if you truly want to try opening your marriage, it can work for you if you do it right. This means not jumping into it. This type of arrangement requires a lot of communication, a lot of listening, and a lot of agreement on boundaries. Speaking of boundaries, here are some rules you should set in an open marriage.
What are the rules for having sex with other people? Do you need to let your spouse know ahead of time? What types of sex are allowed? With whom can you have sex (are certain people off limits)? Will you engage in protected sex? What about birth control?
Is an open marriage just about sex? What about emotional connection? What if you develop feelings for the other person? This is where jealousy can occur.
How much time can you spend with other people? You and your spouse should set time limits so that you don’t ignore each other. After all, your marriage comes first.
Discuss Sleeping Arrangements
In open marriages, things can get messy when it comes to sleeping arrangements, especially if you have children at home. Obviously, you both cannot have partners over at your house at the same time, so you will need to plan and coordinate when and where you will be sleeping with your partners. It is probably best for you to have your rendezvous at the partner’s house or a neutral area, such as a hotel.
Check in Regularly
Do not just open up your marriage and leave it at that. Talk with your spouse often about what is working and what needs to be fixed. Be open and honest with each other. Aim for weekly or twice-weekly check-ins to ensure you are both on the same page.
Honor Your Agreement
Make sure you are abiding by the rules that you and your spouse have agreed upon. Remember that it is possible to cheat in an open marriage. People break their agreements all the time, but not always intentionally. If you want an open marriage to work, you have to be responsible. Many people think that those in open marriages do what they want with other people, but that’s not true. There are still boundaries and rules that they have to follow. They still have to be true to their word and honor their agreement. So it is still like being in a traditional monogamous marriage, in a sense.
Be Open to Changes
This is your marriage, and there are many variations of what an open marriage can be. You can create your own path, so to speak. Once you open up your marriage, the good thing is that you do not have to leave it open. If, after some time, you or your spouse decide it is not working, then you need to make changes. Take a step back. Maybe you need to renegotiate the rules or make some changes. In some cases, you may need to stop completely because it is too uncomfortable. Be flexible and prepare for the possibility that this may happen down the road.
Seek Legal Help
Open marriages can work for some couples, but in most cases, they fail. Sharing partners can lead to jealousy and other strong emotions that can ruin a marriage and lead to divorce.
If an open marriage has led to divorce, Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can guide you through the process and help you with all the emotional and legal aspects. Call (954) 346-6464 or fill out the online form to schedule a consultation.