Polyamory and Marriage

From my observation, most people seem to be at least vaguely familiar with the idea of open relationships, but whenever I mention open marriages, they think that’s an abomination. They’ve heard of open relationships, usually within a more casual context, but do not understand why anyone would get married with the intent to be open. I do not know many people in open marriages, but I know that of poly marriages, only some began that way. People may open their relationship for a wide variety of reasons and motivations, any of which can be acceptable, with sufficient open communication. Couples may make the decision to open their relationship from the very beginning of the relationship anywhere to after 20 years of marriage! If nothing else, marriage provides tax and parental benefits for the couple. Many think the marriage vows are sacred and believe that the aspect of having outside relationships, even with full disclosure to the primary partner, are a breach of that sacred relationship. But if everything is consensual and honest, how is it not a life-long loving relationship? Cheating happens in somewhere around half of all marriages….if we assume that “cheating” is often inevitable, why don’t we at least be honest about it, and allow love to reign free?

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One Response to Polyamory and Marriage

  1. I really do have work to do, but reading your posts is more fun.
    Good comment here.
    My wife and I have been poly for 16 of our 26 years of marriage, so this is not a “fling” for us, it is how we live our life. And yes, we do have friends who got married explicitly stating that they were not to be monogamous. At a wedding we had a groom tell my wife it was fine with him is the bride and she continued being sexual.
    One thing to tell people first is this simple fact: Having an open marriage does not mean we are having sex with other people, it means we can if we choose to. It’s the fact the door is open that makes our marriage open not that we go through it. An overview of marriage research over the years, including DNA studies of family groups, will show that lifelong monogamy is very rare indeed. One DNA study showed it is not the norm even in women who claim they are monogamous. So you can say it is not having extramarital sex that makes for open marriage, but the partners agree extramarital sex is always a positive option. I said we have had an open marriage for 16 years, but in reality we have had an open marriage for several years longer that because I explicitly gave her my OK to take a lover several years before she actually had sex outside our marriage for the first time.
    Some men looked at me like I’m crazy when they found out my wife dates on her own (and has sex) but I did not. But she had a much higher social and sexual need than I did and by dating and having lovers she got that need met and I saw now threat to my manhood or our mutual love from her dating. Now we are older it is more egalitarian and I have been with people without her in the last year. This also points out another misconception many people have about open marriage; the popular idea is open marriage is about the man having permission to have a mistress.
    While it is true that does happen. None we know well has this type of arrangement. Men who want a mistress just have one, that’s not an open marriage. Some open marriages afford one or both spouses to have sex with people of their own sex. Other open marriages are about the sheer excitement of the chase, both individually and as a team. Poly type open marriages are about expanding ones circle of close intimate friends and sex is just a by-product of that. And one type that is particular common with older couples is that the husband is no longer capable of vigorous sex and they bring in younger men to act as the husbands surrogate, often holding and kissing his wife while another man fucks her in his stead.
    There are other reasons and arrangements and many couples we know (including us) are a blend of several of these.

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