Your husband has asked you on more than one occasion if you have ever thought about anyone else.  He has now brought up the issue a few times and then he drops the bomb on you, " Would you ever consider an open marriage?"

What is an "open marriage"?

A marriage in which both spouses agree that each may have sexual relations with others.

Tell your spouse how you feel

Some may be shocked and hurt while others may feel equally interested in such an arrangement.  However, it is not uncommon for open marriages to result from a relationship that is already suffering in one way or another.  If you have any inhibitions about such an arrangement it is best to discuss them with your partner rather than hope that any decision to move forward will not affect your marriage.  It will likely continue to cause concern if you are not completely interested in such an arrangement.  In fact, you would not be alone with concerns about an open marriage.

Is open marriage common?

While the incidence of open marriage was incorrectly perceived to be on the rise in the 1970's due to general social interest; it is now generally assumed to be on the decline.  In fact, numerous surveys and publications report a general disapproval (9 out of 10 married couples) of extra marital sex and spouse swapping.  Most disapproval stems from religious, health and moral reasons.  Moreover, psychological concerns can be attributed to one or both partners having a difficult time managing a relationship that may have a high frequency of jealousy and resentment. 

Not good for marriage

While some open marriages report a great deal of success and happiness, many result in divorce or return to a closed marriage.  The issue itself can be a difficult one and can challenge any couple as it generates a great deal of legal, social and emotional havoc.  Before making any decision to reach outside the relationship to satisfy what is missing through extramarital sex, it would be reasonable to first seek marriage counseling to help you both determine the issues that have contributed to a request for such an arrangement. 

Whatever you do, it is important to make sure you determine the reason he may be asking for an open marriage.  Don't ignore it and hope he just forgets about it.  Chances are he won't.  And yes, it may lead to infidelity.  In many situations, the question may be a blessing in that your spouse is being honest about his current desires, thus giving you a chance to work through issues that have lead to the request. 

Keep the lines of communication open and be willing to work towards determining the deficit in the relationship rather than trying to patch them up with more potential rifts.  A professional therapist who has experience with open marriage may be the best interventionalist to assist both of you in determining the primary issue and how to resolve it.    

Find a local marriage counselor or therapist here.


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