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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My wife and I have been dating for 12 years (since we were 16), and married for 5. We have a 1+yr old daughter, whom we adore. My wife recently came home and told me that, although she doesn't want one today, in the future (3 yrs, 5yrs, maybe 10yrs) she wants to have an open relationship.

My Wife and I were virgins when we met and have never had sex with anyone else. We are 28 and 29, and we are still trying to have kids. Realistically, I probably have 2 maybe 3 years at the most before she asks me to start the open relationship (after we have one more kid. do not want the mess of "whose my dad"). Also, I will start seeing a counselor about this in 2 weeks. She says (and I absolutely believe) she has never had an affair or cheated on me. She and I are best friends and have been in love almost as long as I can remember. She is not pushing me at all, and wants me to decide for myself what is best. Neither of us is religious or uses religion as arguments. Logic is our argumentative tool.

She believes there are two types of relationships, sexual and emotional. Put them together and you get love. Keep them apart, and, to her, they are just manageable relationships. Normal friends, and friends-only-for-the-benefits. She would treat the sexual partners like a toy, and cut them off at the first sign of love or affection. She would probably have repeat customers, because that's easier than finding new ones all the time. She would manage to only set up encounters when it did not impact our family or her and my life. If at any time we started falling apart, she and i would stop to heal. She also said she never has to be in an open relationship, and that I am the most important thing to her, period. But she wants to at least tell me she is interested in it now so that I can think about it and (hopefully for her) decide its okay with me. From my perspective, I cannot say I love her without giving the open relationship idea a total and complete workover and do my best to accept the idea.

It took me a couple weeks of asking her questions to get to this very distinct and logical (but earth shattering for me) point, which appears to be at the crux of it all. She thinks that loving sexual relationships are totally different from novel (brand new) sexual relationships.

Btw: by loving sex I mean sex between two people who respect and care for each other, and do not "use" each other for sexual satisfaction. I want to please her, she wants to please me, and we both benefit. in addition, we care immensely for each other due to the years of love and experience together, so sex has meaning between us, that it would never have with someone new who was totally detached.

I told her I feel like I am inadequate for her, and she said me feeling inadequate for not being able to have novel sex is like a fish feeling inadequate for not being able to fly. In her mind, it is practically speaking impossible for me to produce sexual experience of a new sexual partner, and vice versa.

The moment I grasped the concept was earth shattering. But I still stand. Still married. Still in love.

The ask:
What do you think about the concept of novel sex and loving sex as totally separate like flying and swimming? What are some positive arguments for adding the novel sex (with others) to our marriage? What are some arguments for never having novel sex again? How does having novel sex improve one's life, when combined with loving sex? How would you argue that novel sex and loving sex is unrealistic separation of sex?
 

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This is an interesting question. I have never had sex with someone else within my marriage. I am not sure. I think it all depends on the relationship. I think it would take a hell of a lot of honesty which doesn't generally occur in relationships let alone marriages. I think there is always someone who will be jealous of the other, or resentful. If you are contented sexually with your spouse/partner, then what is the purpose of seeking out other sexual experiences? I guess if you see sex as a purely physical satisfaction I can understand this, but not sure how it would function within a so called marriage or relationship with someone else.

I guess I can also understand wanting to experience sex with other people, I'm just not sure that this is possible within a committed relationship without animosity. Particularly if you both were virgins before meeting. Perhaps if you'd both had multiple partners and many sexual experiences before meeting it might be possible?
 

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For someone who has never had sex with anyone but you, your wife has a lot of opinions that she has no real idea how she will handle it.

If you go through with this.. is she the only one who gets to do this? Or will you also have sex with other women?

Few marriages can survive being open.

.
 

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I think this is dangerous to go down the road to an open marriage. Maybe your wife is just curious about what sex would be like with someone other than you. Most couples view sex as a physical expression of their love for one another and sharing that intimate act with others with emotional detachment is hard for most people. One can share one's physical body without emotions but rarely can you stop your heart from getting involved by self will.
 

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My wife and I have been dating for 12 years (since we were 16), and married for 5. We have a 1+yr old daughter, whom we adore. My wife recently came home and told me that, although she doesn't want one today, in the future (3 yrs, 5yrs, maybe 10yrs) she wants to have an open relationship.

My Wife and I were virgins when we met and have never had sex with anyone else. We are 28 and 29, and we are still trying to have kids. Realistically, I probably have 2 maybe 3 years at the most before she asks me to start the open relationship (after we have one more kid. do not want the mess of "whose my dad"). Also, I will start seeing a counselor about this in 2 weeks. She says (and I absolutely believe) she has never had an affair or cheated on me. She and I are best friends and have been in love almost as long as I can remember. She is not pushing me at all, and wants me to decide for myself what is best. Neither of us is religious or uses religion as arguments. Logic is our argumentative tool.

She believes there are two types of relationships, sexual and emotional. Put them together and you get love. Keep them apart, and, to her, they are just manageable relationships. Normal friends, and friends-only-for-the-benefits. She would treat the sexual partners like a toy, and cut them off at the first sign of love or affection. She would probably have repeat customers, because that's easier than finding new ones all the time. She would manage to only set up encounters when it did not impact our family or her and my life. If at any time we started falling apart, she and i would stop to heal. She also said she never has to be in an open relationship, and that I am the most important thing to her, period. But she wants to at least tell me she is interested in it now so that I can think about it and (hopefully for her) decide its okay with me. From my perspective, I cannot say I love her without giving the open relationship idea a total and complete workover and do my best to accept the idea.

It took me a couple weeks of asking her questions to get to this very distinct and logical (but earth shattering for me) point, which appears to be at the crux of it all. She thinks that loving sexual relationships are totally different from novel (brand new) sexual relationships.

Btw: by loving sex I mean sex between two people who respect and care for each other, and do not "use" each other for sexual satisfaction. I want to please her, she wants to please me, and we both benefit. in addition, we care immensely for each other due to the years of love and experience together, so sex has meaning between us, that it would never have with someone new who was totally detached.

I told her I feel like I am inadequate for her, and she said me feeling inadequate for not being able to have novel sex is like a fish feeling inadequate for not being able to fly. In her mind, it is practically speaking impossible for me to produce sexual experience of a new sexual partner, and vice versa.

The moment I grasped the concept was earth shattering. But I still stand. Still married. Still in love.

The ask:
What do you think about the concept of novel sex and loving sex as totally separate like flying and swimming? What are some positive arguments for adding the novel sex (with others) to our marriage? What are some arguments for never having novel sex again? How does having novel sex improve one's life, when combined with loving sex? How would you argue that novel sex and loving sex is unrealistic separation of sex?
The whole point of marriage is to be there for one another (not open to relationships, sexual or otherwise with others while still married). This kind of thing will probably destroy your marriage. You have to tell her, if that is what she wants, she can have all the sexual relationships she wants but after you divorce her as you will not be sharing her with anyone else, period. Sorry but your wife needs a reality check.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hello Keenwa and elegirl, thanks for responding!

Ive been out of town for the past week and havent been able to get a full explanation of why she wants sex with others (these phone calls can be tough with no facial expressions or reassuring touch), except that its a different type of experience that she would enjoy having in her life. She has mentioned one other reasons also: she says sex is great with me, but she would like to find new ways to please me. She says we can learn sexual skill from others and make our sex life even better. ill try to find oyt more this week. we plan on spending a lot of time discussing this.

learning more about sex through others makes sense to me, because ive always been the type of person to want to be great at what i do. And i too want to be better for her, but my approach would be different. Id prefer reading books, watching videos, and maybe even going to sex shows before even considering sex with another person.

Im also concerned about the risks of losing her and my marraige. When i ask her about this, she says she is a strong person and it will not change her love for me. She says im her one love. she believes in our ability to work through anything difficult that will come our way.

Yes, i would get to have sex with other women. Im not sure that i would though. I mean, i think other women are attractive. But I think my wife is the hottest woman i know. I love her body and i couldnt imagine needing more. To her benefit, my wife also said she doesnt need more and is very happy with our sex life. To her, sex with a person she does not have emotional attachment to is totally different and separate from than sex with someone she loves. They are like basketball and football. Both are great physical games but you can play football and still love basketball. Why would someone not play football, just because they love basketball. Even more to the point, why would someone need to play basketball and football with the same people? It seems more than reasonable to have totally different friends for playing each. Yet when applied to sex, this logic feels strange
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the reply imperfect world.

She works with a young group of very sexually active people where cheating and open relationships are discussed openly. for example, her coworkers dont hide their extra marrital affairs and discuss them openly. She told me she talked with multiple people about this before coming to thus conclusion, but hasnt told anyone her stance on it. She does not want to tell others because she doesnt want the sexual attention from her coworkers. To her, this only works if she can keep it neat and tidy. Only sex with people who have nothing to do with us, and never have sex with people you have emotional relationshionship or work with. Open rel stays private and is very discrete, and never affects the home life or it is put to an end.
 

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Well, OLFL, you have some research and thinking to do. An open relationship is only one of many possible approaches to get what she wants, and of the various options, I think it's the hardest to implement without problems. We have an open relationship, and it's been that way (on and off) for 15 years. The biggest issues that typically arise are jealousy, and concerns that if you're both participating (which is only fair), one will be far more successful than the other, which leads to envy. These can be overcome, but with significant time and effort in many cases.

Two other models to consider: swinging (you do this together, so you are both getting sexual variety - no one is left out or left behind); polyamory, where you each separately pursue other romantic relationships and combine them to some degree with your existing relationship. Swinging is the easiest transition with the fewest potential problems, and if you eventually agree to her request, may be the best place to start - and it's the easiest to end if it doesn't work, with the least chance of jealousy or envy interfering.

We've done all of these, in various combinations at different times. We had some early - moderate - problems and worked through them, and have enjoyed the results ever since.

We've also seen other people succeed. And fail. There have been few actual break ups because of it, but those that did were because there wasn't good communication before and during, or one person went along to get along (or were pushed or coerced into participating) rather than being fully on board and proactive. The main problem I see with what you wrote is your wife's expectation that it will be easy to stop seeing someone when any feelings develop - and they may. If she is good at self-control and compartmentalizing, this can and does work - but can you do the same? The ethical problem is that you are treating people like objects, which is also wrong - unless they know and agree to this, which some will since they are looking for the same thing.

You need to be at least a little curious and intrigued about the possibilities, else you won't give them honest consideration. And you don't have to have well-articulated reasons to decide it's not for you. You can just say No, but that doesn't show that you've at least tried to wrap you head around the idea even if you fail to do so.

Books and links:
The Ethical Slvt by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino

More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory by Franklin Veaux (also a web site by this name)

https://members.swinglifestyle.com/articles/ - articles about swinging (many others exist if you google)
 
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Thanks maritallonliness.

Im also worried that biology will pull her to another man, and cause our marraige to fall apart. Thats one reason im spending so much time thinking this through and getting counseling. She is the most important person in my life, abd i would never want to risk losing her. On the other hand, i also want her to have the best life possible. We only live once, a concept she is will aware of given her lifr experiences. i want both of us to experience and enjoy as much of life as we can
 

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Thank you for the reply married but happy! Your post was fantastic. your post was so detailed and experienced, that im going to give it some time to sink in and respond later tonight when i am sitting at my computer. I wanted to thank you though, because your response was great
 

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OneLoveforLife, I've had a lot of sex with a lot of different partners. I'm now married to a husband who loves me but doesn't want sex with me. From my experience, it's possible to have sex with somebody you're in love with with no emotions involved whatsoever (which is what happens between me and my H as he sees sex as a recreational activity) and you can have very tender, loving sex in a one night stand. Whether it's loving and emotional or just a quick shag depends entirely on the emotions of the two people involved at that particular time. Not sure whether or not this will help. One thing I will say is that when you got married your wife committed to have sex only with you for the duration of your marriage. That's the problem I'm facing right now, I'm married to a man who is not interested in having sex with me (or anybody else) and because of my marriage vows it's not morally permissible for me to get sex elsewhere.
 

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OLFL, if you tell her that you don't want to do this, do you think she'll respect and abide by that? Do you think this would cause her to have resentment toward you?

Conversely--if you agree to it, can you see yourself ending up resenting her for it, especially since it doesn't sound like you're comfortable with the idea.?

Some people are able to view sex as something completely separate from a loving relationship. I'm not one of those people. I'd be heartbroken if my wife ever suggested that.
 

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You really need to have deep and detailed conversations with your W before ever agreeing to open your M.

It strikes me odd that she is so certain about what sex with others would be like, considering that she has never experienced it.

Either she is very naive on the subject, or she has dabbled some already and is now looking to open the M up out of guilt.

You also need to find out if she already has a specific person in her mind...and you may need to investigate a little to check up on this.

She may have already developed at lest an emotional attachment to someone, probably a co-worker considering the work environment you say she has.

If there is a specific guy, you need to say no immediately....that situation will not just stay FWB.

I have been single most of my life....I have had many partners.

Most were fairly casual, FWB type situations where we both agreed we were free to see others....an open relationship works in these situations because there is no commitment....and many of them came to an end because my partners did finally make an emotional connection with one of their 'others'...no harm or foul IMO because we were not committed to each other, so the FWB relationships just ended with no bitterness.

I have also had 2 LT serious relationships....these relationships were committed and monogamous.

Personally, having been in both types, I think it is VERY dangerous to try to combine them....most people are not mature enough to put in the hard work and extra communication it takes to make open M work.

I know 2 couples who have managed to do it, and 7 who couldn't, and 5 of those 7 eventually were torn apart by the problems the lifestyle brought up.

From my experience, I also think Married but Happy is right about swinging, where both partners are present and playing together is the least dangerous of the options....especially if the couples have a rigid rule that there is no playing alone without the other partner present.

Both successful couples I know use this rule.
 

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The way I see it is that this is all one sided for your wifes enjoyment and can be extremely dangerous for you. Not fair to an OM who she leads on to making him believe there are mutual feelings for each other. At this point he feels YOU may be the obstacle of having her 100% attention. People do crazy things for love and sex and there are countless stories of love triangle bad endings in which one or more of the participants have taken the eternal dirt nap. I would tell her that if she isn't happy with you the alternative is to be listed as single. This then takes you out of the equation and you part with integrity as good friends and parents
 

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My opinion is, don't have more kids with her if you are NOT willing to let her do this. I would have a hard time trusting that she would really be ok if you said no. And then you're stuck with child support for 2 kids.
 
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Be aware: she already has someone lined up. Very few married women ask their husband for permission to boink someone else as a pure hypothetical question. Almost always they already have someone they want to boink, and they are asking husband's permission so they can feel less guilty when they give in to their desire. You are being played. Get out of the game unless you have secretly been waiting to ask her the same question. And don't say "yes" until YOU have someone waiting in the wings.
 

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I have had both totally monogamous and poly relationships...and here's a bit of truth for your consideration...

While I do understand the appeal of having a poly or open marriage, the bottom line is that I only wanted that arrangement when I wasn't sexually satisfied with my main partner.

Now that I'm with my current husband? I never want another person to touch me again. No one else compares.

Again I understand the desire for variety, but when you are with certain partners you just don't care about variety anymore. So when people start talking about needing variety, I just assume they are not that fulfilled with what they have at home.

Another thing people forget to consider is that you may get up to bat with a new person and then find there's zero sexual compatibility. If your wife has never had horrible sex she's in for quite a shock. Just because you are physically attracted to someone doesn't automatically mean sex with them will be good for you.

My advice to you is to tell your wife if she wants this she's going to have to leave you. You clearly are not on board with it and you should not enter any agreement with her unless you want it for yourself, not just because she does.
 

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For someone who has never had sex with anyone but you, your wife has a lot of opinions that she has no real idea how she will handle it.

If you go through with this.. is she the only one who gets to do this? Or will you also have sex with other women?

Few marriages can survive being open.

.
Reposting thing because I feel there is a lot of truth here.
 
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Hello Keenwa and elegirl, thanks for responding!

Ive been out of town for the past week and havent been able to get a full explanation of why she wants sex with others (these phone calls can be tough with no facial expressions or reassuring touch), except that its a different type of experience that she would enjoy having in her life. She has mentioned one other reasons also: she says sex is great with me, but she would like to find new ways to please me. She says we can learn sexual skill from others and make our sex life even better. ill try to find oyt more this week. we plan on spending a lot of time discussing this.
I'm sorry, but this is a copout. There are plenty of ways to "learn" new sexual skills that don't require taking on new sexual partners. So, if I were you, I wouldn't buy this reason at all.

learning more about sex through others makes sense to me, because ive always been the type of person to want to be great at what i do. And i too want to be better for her, but my approach would be different. Id prefer reading books, watching videos, and maybe even going to sex shows before even considering sex with another person.
Precisely my point. Having sex with another person is no guarantee that you will learn anything new at all. In fact, it could cause issues in the bedroom rather than solve them.

Im also concerned about the risks of losing her and my marraige. When i ask her about this, she says she is a strong person and it will not change her love for me. She says im her one love. she believes in our ability to work through anything difficult that will come our way.
And she's saying this without any actual experience in an open relationship. It's easy to say, "I'll still love you. That won't change" when you're not yet in an open relationship. The reality could be very, very different.

Yes, i would get to have sex with other women. Im not sure that i would though. I mean, i think other women are attractive. But I think my wife is the hottest woman i know. I love her body and i couldnt imagine needing more. To her benefit, my wife also said she doesnt need more and is very happy with our sex life. To her, sex with a person she does not have emotional attachment to is totally different and separate from than sex with someone she loves. They are like basketball and football. Both are great physical games but you can play football and still love basketball. Why would someone not play football, just because they love basketball.
I get the point, hate the analogy. Marriage is a very...if not sacred, then at least emotional and delicate union. It's the most unique of any and all other relationships and it shouldn't be made light of. The sexual relationship between partners is one of the most important parts of the marriage, and can and does make or break the entire relationship.

On your wedding day you made a vow. People change, and that's understandable. Very few of us stay the same from the day we marry to the day we die. Your wife has, clearly, found something that appeals to her that perhaps never appealed to her before. However, that doesn't mean that she gets to dictate to you what does and doesn't happen in your relationship. There are so many risks going into this...I admire your willingness to consider it, but this is not something I would ever recommend to anyone. It takes a very unique couple to make an open relationship work.

Even more to the point, why would someone need to play basketball and football with the same people? It seems more than reasonable to have totally different friends for playing each. Yet when applied to sex, this logic feels strange
That's because it is strange for a lot of people. I'm not against open relationships, but only if both people are completely in agreement on it.
 
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