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4 Ways An Open Marriage Saved The Relationship

4 True Life Stories From Couples in Open Marriages

Loneliness, boredom, and a yearning for physical and emotional intimacy: for many spouses, these are the reasons that they look for extra-marital affairs to satisfy the needs their significant other can't (or won’t) provide any longer. But, for many couples, opening their marriage is not only completely different from seeking an “extra-marital” affair, per se, it was also the key change they made in their lives that allowed them to form a deeper connection with each other.

lonely wife with her lover in bed
'Having dirty nothings whispered into your ear by a new lover is always seductive and exciting'

On the surface, this sounds completely counterintuitive: openly pursuing other relationships to save your marriage, with an intention to stay with each other but enjoy picking “on the side”? What’s the point? These are the cries of serial monogamists everywhere.

But, as these four couples and their stories will show you, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. While the initial transition was not without its messy or ugly moments, it’s the act of being so open that actually allowed these couples to solidify their otherwise meaningless marriages.

1. Safety & Seduction

Jamie and Tara were a couple that started off with a bang and, over time, their spark dwindled to a completely comfortable dual existence. While their friends envied and even coveted their obvious closeness and camaraderie, Jamie and Tara would later admit to a sex therapist that they didn’t feel sexually connected anymore.

When Tara suggested opening the marriage, she faced some obvious resistance from Jamie who thought that his parents’ marriage – one person for life – was the only “right” model. Tara urged him to keep an open mind. The safety of a relationship like Tara and Jamie’s, while an excellent space for things like nurturing and caring in a relationship, are also the same things that ended up killing desire, excitement, and the chance for seduction. An open marriage, they later confessed to their therapist, and as they share here, changed the course of their relationship and their connection.

It allowed Jamie and Tara to each enjoy the safety and familiarity of a loving marriage while still balancing a sense of excitement, adventure and the “hunt” of seducer and being seduced with people who were different than what they were used to.

2. No Need To Eat Where You Sleep

For Blake and Sinead, both agreed that love and sex were two separate things. Because Blake was traveling so much and Sinead was home with the kids, there was a definite distance that child-rearing was only further broadening.

They found they could come together for parenting but when it came to stepping it up in the bedroom, their interest (and imagination) was flagging. Often, Sinead recalls feeling like an incredibly lonely wife of an absent husband. She had plenty of love from her family, friends, and even her kids – but the one thing none of them could give her was the feeling of sexual desire she craved.

Opening their marriage, Sinead says now, is what saved it but she was very resistant to it at first. It seemed to be selfish and violate the sanctity of their marriage vows. She had never considered herself and old-fashioned woman but rather forward-thinking and modern. Yet this was the sticking point – at first. Sinead advises that for couples looking to opening their marriage as a way to save the connection, you drop all preconceived notions and understand that love and sex are two separate things. The important thing is communicating with your partner and making sure that they understand where you are, emotionally.

There’s no need to have one person be everything – and Blake and Sinead led their mutual decision with this idea in mind.

3. Re-Discovering Ourselves...And Each Other

Because so much of an open marriage is not even about the “outside” partner you seek it with but the way it changes your existing relationship, Sarah and Sean say that communication is absolutely key. For their open marriage, frequently talking to one another about their “outside” partners gave them a chance to not only explore and discover their own desires but their spouse’s as well.

An open marriage, according to Sean, redefined and rejuvenated their desire and lust for another. When they have sex now, it’s always bookended by amazing conversation that lasts hours after the experience is over.

Sean and Sarah opened up their marriage only to realize that they were actually opening themselves up... to each other. They share their sexual escapades that happen outside of their relationships, like friends would. This, says Sean, turns him on immensely. Rekindling the fire between each other was an unforeseen benefit that came with the necessity of communication.

4. Removing Possession From The Equation

The term “open marriage” seems to suggest there is at least some degree of consent that comes with the arrangement. Instead of one partner going behind the other’s back or keeping secrets from each other (and, ironically, only driving a further wedge between the two), an open marriage encourages – even requires trust, honesty and communication.

But without both partners fully being on board and agreeing to “open” the marriage, there would be no open marriage. In many cases, not opening the marriage would have meant that there would not have been a marriage there to save eventually. Helen and Peter say that this sense of a mutual decision is ultimately what allowed them to deepen their love for each other. There was a certain freedom that came with the idea that they could remain together, as man and wife, and yet still be the master of their own ships.

The freedom was its own aphrodisiac, of course – having dirty nothings whispered into your ear by a new lover is always seductive and exciting, as Helen fondly recalls. But both of them had to consciously rewire their brains and their expectations of each other. In freeing each other, they realized that their love was a choice, not about obligation or possession. Now, says Helen, they are together because they truly want to be.

Marriage is NOT "One Size Fits All"

Every one of these four couples had varying experiences but they all agreed on one point: a marriage is an act of consent between two adult people. As such, an open marriage is no different in that sense. It requires consent and communication. And, best of all, no one gets to judge.

For these couples, and many others who have chosen to open their marriages to save the relationship, it's not only no one else's business, it has also been the linchpin that has changed the way they see each other.

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Image sourcesImage - gpointstudio