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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Research Topic: So how do you feel about an open marriage?

I’m working on a special project and would like input from time to time and this is your chance to give me yours. In May, I posted a topic about love and romance. Today, I want to know your views on open marriage.

Can an open marriage work for a committed couple? And if so, what kind of commitment is found in an open marriage?

Since I write a lot of ménage romance, I’ve often thought about the concept of an open marriage. I wonder how well it actually works for the couples agreeing to such a liberal arrangement.

Personally, I believe that there must be something substantial missing from a relationship when two people reach an understanding for an open marriage. However, I'm not closed to the idea that a mutual understanding for an open marriage could potentially save a relationship. But once that line is crossed, the couple should understand they no longer have a textbook marriage but something else altogether.

Let’s consider the reasons for an open marriage too. Why do couples find an open marriage necessary? Are there valid reasons? I’m assuming there are often plenty. Maybe one partner didn’t offer the other what they needed behind closed doors. Maybe the other refused to give their partner the kind of love and compassion he or she needed. Perhaps the spice in life is gone and there’s nothing else to do but to move outside the marriage to find the excitement again. Could it be that the relationship is dead anyway and an arrangement is the last effort to save the relationship? And where does trust fit in?

Trust, I would think, isn’t in existence in an open marriage. Am I wrong? I’d love to know. I mean do those involved in an open marriage sit down and discuss their affairs? Do they compare notes? Or is it taboo for discussion?

When I was a teenager, there were some known ‘swingers’ in our hometown. On the outside looking in, I remember thinking these people were just like everyone else. Why? Well, they were just like everyone else. Believe it or not, they also seemed to have better marriages than everyone else. How can that be? Is it possible?

Today, we’re a divorce-friendly society. It’s easy to walk away from a marriage. I’m not suggesting divorce is easy from the emotional standpoint but rather from the legal aspect. Our laws, by and large, have made it possible to end a marriage without a lot of red tape in many states. Sure, if children are involved, the process of finalizing a divorce may take longer but overall, if someone isn’t happy in a marriage, they can walk out, seek legal advice, file the papers, and start the process within a few hours.

So when two people are unhappy, they divorce. On the other hand, what if a man and woman can't love one another anymore but they love the idea of family? What if two people can’t live together in harmony but decide it’s too hurtful to live apart because of children or even financial reasons? If an arrangement is made to have an open marriage, is it possible that this understanding can actually save a marriage and a family?

My mother is a romantic. She’s always been Miss Romance. In her world, love is wonderful. Love is romance and romance is one of her main reasons for living. Now, keep in mind, her marriages haven’t been ideal by any stretch of the imagination. Notice the plural form. Her husband isn’t necessarily romantic—by her own confirmation and not my suspicions—but she’s still a hopeless romantic dedicating her life to a committed relationship. I wonder—can romance be found in an open marriage?

Give this topic some thought. Tell me your views. With the demand for polyamory books rising, we have a lot of possibilities for discussion on the subject. Polyamory—the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at one time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved—tops romance charts. These books sell like hotcakes. Why? What do you think readers are looking for when they purchase one polyamory book after another? Sure, it’s fantasy—or is it? Should it be?

I want to hear your opinions. Let’s talk real life. In my opinion, there must be something really wrong in a marriage for one or both partners to step outside the marriage on a search for romance, satisfaction, and maybe even love and/or acceptance. When a person communicates their desire for an open marriage, maybe they’re saying to their partner, “There’s something wrong with us. Fix us.”

Is that a sound assumption or are these couples so unhappy that they’ll do anything to find a little joy in their lives again? Is it possible that an open marriage is the only solution, outside of divorce? Can a discreet open marriage save a family and if so, there’s no harm done, or is there?

Tell me what’s on your mind! I want to hear from you! ;)

Love and hugs,
Destiny Blaine


Hales said...

Morning. In my opinion I believe anyone pondering on entering an open marriage or relationship as many are not quote married but have lived together for many years, must really be comfortable with themselves and their counterpart. I believe that open marriages result from many different types of occurances. Maybe the man or woman enjoys watching their love with another, maybe for medical reasons one is unable to give the intimacy that is needed. I don't care what anyone says, sex is a crucial part of the relationship. If one party is unable to fullfill needs but fullfills everyother aspect, and open relationship or marriage is the only viable solution to that one problem, I'd venture to say some couples will choose to go that route instead of divorce. There are still some cultures that will readily accept open marriages over divorcing.

Personally I don't believe we only have one soul mate in our entire lives. I believe people are put in our path for a divine purpose, some longer than others, some at the same time of others.

I'm not married yet. Next year but my fiance and I've talked about going to a swinger function. Am I comfortable with the idea yes. Would I participate, highly unlikely right now but there is always that possibility. Do I love my man. God yes we've been best friends for 13 yrs, there's nothing we haven't shared. Whatever the choice or decision for each action there's both a positive consquence and a negative one. The decision is choosing if it's acceptable or not before engaging in any act.


Jill James said...

I was in an open relationship for 5 years. They were not 5 happy years. I consider an open relationship to be cheating with consent. I think that is its attraction. You are cheating, but are you really if you have permission?

Anonymous said...

I am 46, married for 10 yrs and marriage to one person is hard enough, I can't imagine adding more people to the mix. What is an open marriage? just sexual/ a polygamous co-habitation, a once in a while escapade? In other cultures multiple wives are acceptable and necessary for one's survival- especially the women. Is in western society more of a sexual/lust thing? What is infidelity in these relationships? Does the concept even exist? how about children?
How do say porn stars married to one another deal with it or is infidelity subject to question/situation?
How about when love comes into play.Can one truly love several partners equally? I think the concept sounds more exciting and doable in writing. In real life, there must be a lot of pain/emptiness and insecurity involved- unless feelings don't play into it at all- none: jealousy/betrayal/love.
Or are we in more traditional relationships more limited?

Desmond Haas said...

There is an overall assumption I'm reading here, which says marriage is defined by only two individuals. Therefore, any 'third' party negates the idea of marriage. Also suggested is sex=marriage. (I'm being a straw man in this discussion).

What if, marriage is defined by love, aside from sex. There are happy people today living sexless lives for one reason or another.

If this were true and sex is a physical act used for procreation, showing affection and recreation; removing it from marriage; couldn't it be possible to experience sex (for the purposes of hypothetical discussion, contraception and disease free) without affecting marriage?

If this were true and both parties agreed, no one should be threatened by open marriage; a euphemism for sex with someone outside of the marriage.

Katie said...

What an interesting topic!

I know many married people fantasize about having an extra person in the bedroom, but from what I understand, usually this person is just for play. Some people have no problem inviting people to their marriage, like friends with benefits. Do I think these marriages are in trouble? No. I think it's just a matter of personal preference.

Also, I think polyamory can work. I believe it's completely possible for a person to love two or more people more than anything and want to spend their life with them. Does this person life become more complicated? Sure. But, if they are willing, I think it can work. A good example is from someone that does practice polyamory and she has a blog that I would suggest checking out: Mistress Matisse ( She doesn't always speak about it, but she is also a professional dominatrix. She has a lot of men in her life and everyone involved seems happy.

I think there is a caveat to everything I've just said, though. I don't believe an open marriage in that it is alright to simply pick up strangers on the street and invite them to bed is necessarily a healthy habit, especially if the spouse isn't involved. I believe there needs to be an agreement with both husband and wife and that an open marriage is something they both share, strangely enough, together.

Jaime Samms said...

I think... marriage=love=sex is a flawed equation. Marriage, if you enter into it, is entirely a social costruct, and entered into to make an open, public commitment to one another. So, for me, marriage is more equivelent to comitment than love or sex. I've been married almost 13 years. The composition of the love and sex within the marriage has changed. More than once. It hasn't always been romantic. Or easy. It's run the gammut from idylic romance to slogging through dirty diapers and weedy lawns to dreaming way bigger dreams than was ever practical, to firm resolve to stay whether we like it or not, to deep, connection, to romance again, way more realistic for all the shit, and way more idylic than the airy unreality it started out as. Emotionally, we haven't always been capable of offering one another everything we needed.

Would either of us go elsewere to find that? Sure. Would we be sneaky about it? No. I can't imagine not telling him everything, and I can't see him ever lying to me, even if he knows the truth will hurt. He's told me painful truths in the past.

I can and have loved others without ever loving him less, or wanting to leave, and without him ever asking me to choose. Patience, trust and communication are needed in any relationship, ad if you've got that, you can make anything work.

Also, just my opinion, but I don't think polyamoury and open mrriage are synonamous.

Anonymous said...

I have been married for 16 years, and most of them happy, however lately our realationship has been less fulfilling and more hostile, my wife seems to bitch about everything under the sun, sex has been rare, I really want to try something different, we have one child who we both love, I think I will first approach this as a don't ask, don't tell deal, and will spend a little less time under the porch, there's women, who I am attracted to that I know, my thinking is if we divorce, it's over ,and I think that if it lasted this, long, it may be worth saving, I am an middle aged gent but still sexually active and attractive, she would never consent to an open marrage, like I say, I'm gonna spend a little less time under the porch, and a lot more time out there, you can't get bitched at when your not home, and you may have some fun sex with the passion that is so thrilling, like it was before, I'm not gonna go Tiger
woods with this, just maybe three or four times a year, and no I don't feel guilty .PS I don't want to pay a lawyer JACK SHIT.

Carol Bruce Collett said...

Interesting thoughts here. @Desmond: I get what you're saying. But for me, I cannot separate sex and love in practice. For me, sex is only fulfilling if I have the emotional side to go with it.
I'm not going to postulate no one could be happy in polyamory. I just know myself well enough to know it's not for me.

Anonymous said...

I blame Maya Banks, Lora Leigh, Leah Brooke, TOnya Ramagos and Destiny to certain extend for fueling our menage fantasies...LOL. I love these authors, have spent tons of money on them and yes, sexual fantasies are wonderful escapades. I am married to a very good man. I can't take more than one man, I swear...too aggravating at times...if I had say 3 men at my disposal, I would one to wash my car, do the laundry and cook.
Seriously, to each his/her own. I've friends who have had menage experiences and enjoy them. Some did not. All were single. I've met a couple of polyamerists and must confess that it was weird seeing them with one person one day, all amours, then being all chummy with someone else the next day.
Do I think an open marriage can work? I suppose for some. There is this porn reality show on the internet called "Please Bang my Wife" in which the husband/partner watches some dude bang his wife. Well, while it is exciting to watch it, I don't know how well this would work.
Sure we attracted to other people outside of marriage. We are married, not dead, bt this is all a very personal decision/situation. Not for me. I would rather read about it. Too complicated. Someone is bound to get hurt no matter what, even if it is other family members like children.

Tanya Hanson said...

I'm a fogey, been married happily and faithfully with the only lover (gasp) I've ever had. 36 years now. He's never strayed either and it's all still good. Maybe almost losing him to cancer two years ago makes my situation different. I wouldn't want to share him or be shared, and I don't think that's being selfish or submissive. It just works for us.

Kathryn said...

My wife and I have discussed this, because several of our friends have decided they want to be polyamorous, and we wanted to be sure we were on the same page if any of them raised the question. We agreed that neither of us really wanted to share. In our minds the paramount consideration was to do nothing that would hurt the other's feelings, or interfere in the trust between us. Being open and honest with each other is the most important thing - that's what keeps our relationship working.

On the other hand, we know a number of people who do have such marriages. One couple had an agreement that it was OK as long as they told their spouse first. That one ended badly when he spent a night with someone else without telling her - although I think that was more symptom of the failure than cause.

Another tried adding additional partners when their relationship was already in trouble. As you might guess, that failed miserably. (This one might reasonably be considered as an alternate form of the "Our marriage is on the rocks - let's get pregnant. That will fix it." fallacy.)

A third actually seems to be working. When the husband came and started telling us that they'd decided to try polyamory, my wife and I were absolutely sure that in six months we'd be hearing they were splitting up. That was 3 years ago, and as far as we can see, they are actually happier now. She has a steady boyfriend, who is regularly at their house. The husband dates occasionally, but hasn't hooked up with anyone steady. The three adults, their kids, and the boyfriend's daughter take family vacations together.

I think the key to this one working is twofold. First, one of her big motives is that she simply has a higher sex drive than he does. She's getting enough, he's not pressured about it. The second, is that he's by nature a competitive person. Now he feels the need to court his wife again, so he's working on maintaining their relationship, not assuming that now that they're married it's a steady state which can be ignored.

There are quite a lot of varieties of "open" out there. They range from both parties dating other people occasionally to having a 3rd person move in as a permanent part of the relationship. I've even heard of one that was a committed relationship, except for 2 weeks a year which they'd agreed didn't count. That one worked for many years, ending when the gentleman involved passed away.

Personally I think the key thing you need to make such a relationship work is absolute honesty with yourself, and with your primary partner. If you can manage that, and you're both in agreement about whatever arrangement you work out, it can be good. If you can't manage the honesty part, it's doomed to failure.

Starfox said...

On a first note let me say that from my point of view, a poly relationship and open marriage are not the same thing.

A open marriage, in my view, is more like a 'swinger'. Both parties are able to take multiple partners, with permission.

A poly relationship (in my humble opinion) is more along the lines of a committed relationship, a three-way or more-way marriage. But that's just me.

My wife (of now 27 years) has joked on more than one occasion that we need a second wife to take care of the house and me since she's disabled. We've never gone down that road since neither of us could think of anyone who would want to put up with me. :-)

It takes a special type of person to accept that their husband/wife could love another equally. Jealousy, possessiveness, envy are all corrosive factors that work to eat away the bonds of trust that make a poly relationship work.

Lena Austin said...

I am in an open polyamorous marriage. The two men in my life fulfill very different needs, and this has nothing to do with sex whatsoever. In fact, the new male in our lives is bisexual-leaning-to-gay and prefers "stepping out" for his sexual needs. This is a trio based on trust, friendship and love. We have shared the household expenses, cars, raising the children, and all other "family" issues. It's been that way for almost twenty years now.

Is there the occasional diplomatic dance worthy of Ginger Rogers dancing with not only Fred Astaire but also Gene Kelly? You betcha. That's human nature. When you live with another human, occasionally sparks fly. No one is perfect.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that wouldn't fly for me.

I married my husband for many reasons, including love, but we made a commitment to be faithful to one another. That includes not sharing ourselves intimately with anyone else.

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An award-winning, international bestselling erotic romance author, Destiny Blaine writes under several pen names. She lives in East Tennessee and spends a lot of time in Connecticut and Virginia, where her granddoll resides.