In today's hyper-sexed environment which bombards our senses with sexual images, ideas and temptations, the concept of having an "open marriage" is one that is a growing issue. It isn't always a good OR bad thing, but rather a lifestyle choice -- and let's face it, everyone and every marriage is unique, so who are we to say what can or cannot work. When the concept of an open marriage is mentioned, it's usually greeted with scoffs and guffaws. It's true that it can be the opening of Pandora's box for some people, but not everyone. I believe that whether an open marriage can be successful relies on these very important variables.
BOTH husband and wife need to be in complete agreement to said proposed idea. If it's more one person's desire and the other is just agreeing out of sheer need to please the other, it's not going to work. Be honest with each other and talk about what it would mean for the future of your relationship.
The best way this type of marriage works is if it was someone that was understood BEFORE you even got married. If you went into the marriage with a firm belief in the whole "one penis for life" idea and now you're changing your tune, there is more likely a much bigger problem within your marriage that perhaps should be addressed first. What has changed?
If you have someone very specific in mind when the idea is proposed, this is a huge red flag. Basically, you're casually asking for an open marriage, but really what you want is permission to fuck that guy (or woman) that you've been fantasizing about for months. Ouch. This will only lead to affairs that involve emotional attachments and the inevitable end of your marriage.
If you have a tendency to be the jealous type (and don't be in denial, some are much more than others; be honest with yourself) then odds are in favor of this arrangement failing. If you are 100% comfortable with your spouse's unwavering devotion to you, in the emotional and commitment sense anyway, then you might have a try and see how things go. The moment that comfort level is lost, it's time to stop and focus on each other.
You need to be able to successfully separate love and sex. Again, this is not something everyone can do. You have to be a true blue hedonist that only seeks to gain maximum sexual pleasure in their life with a variety of people. This goes back to variable number two - if this is who you are, odds are in favor that you were like this prior to your wedding, and your spouse should have been fully aware of this before hand.
If you are proposing an open marriage because the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night is yearn, or even ache for some form of sexual gratification, odds are you might be bordering on a mild sexual addiction, (or severe case if you are needing to have sex with Rachel Uchitel or Mindy Lawton when you have a tall drink of Elin at home) and should probably be asking for help, rather than seeking permission.
If you and your spouse manage to tick all the right boxes and enjoy a successful marriage, whether it be open or monogamist, then rock on! Personally, marriage is tough enough as it is with just two participants.
And my husband knew full well what he was getting himself into; he had 4 years to back out.
Anyways, I don't claim to be Doctor Phil or anything, but these are my two cents; take it or leave it. I will be joining Talk2Q on his Talk Radio on Tuesday at 10pm EST. How exciting is that?! We will be addressing these issues and other juicy sex related debates. Come listen in and contribute, either by calling in or via live chatroom!
If you are reading this after Tuesday, March 13, 2012, you can still listen in to the archive.
(Future link inserted here. How fucking organized am I, seriously!)