My wife of 16 years and I have had an “open” relationship for three years. It works for us, without jealousy or concern, but some close friends are uncomfortable with our choice.
There’s background to why we chose this “addition” to our loving and trusting marriage. We both had parents who divorced... my father cheated flagrantly on my mother (I was 10), then cheated on his next wife (I was 15).
My wife was also 15 when her mother suddenly left their home, without explanation or further contact with her daughter.
When we met 17 years ago, we were both wary of marriage. We felt that there must be a better way to stay together.
Wary of the so-called “seven-year itch” sometimes mentioned when a spouse starts to stray, we discussed alternatives. Not polyamory, because, though sex with several others works for some, we both felt we couldn’t handle it.
We waited till one of us felt that “dating” someone else could test “openness.” If attracted to another’s personality and interests, we date without judgement or jealousy, and share some of the conversation, events, etc.
It’s worked for us. But two once-close couples have distanced from us. One man said we were “playing with words” but it was still cheating. The wife of another said if we mention it again, the friendship’s over. Your thoughts?
“Open” and Secure
Coming from such emotional upheaval as children, it’s not surprising that you’ve both searched for security in your marriage.
You now claim great love and trust as a couple. So, why are you both still reacting to the past?
You’ve already surmounted your parents’ negative influence. You have what you always wanted most.
Now, you’ve chosen “openness,” for what purpose? Learning about another’s lifestyle, tastes, interests may make for good conversation to share back home, but adult “open dating” inevitably includes sex.
How does that intimacy, with differing positions, levels of passion, etc. improve what you already have at home? After the rush of sexual excitement, and talking about it as part of being “open,” are you back to same-old “love and trust?”
If yes, then it’s your business. I’m responding to your outreach for my thoughts: Your close friends have overreacted, perhaps fearing that their partner or themselves will want to try it. Don’t raise the topic with them again.
Eight years ago, my eldest son and I did a slap-dash interior paint job on our new neighbour’s house before they moved in.
I sincerely apologized for our errors, hired a carpet technician to remove paint stains on her rug and agreed to take five hundred dollars off our fee.
Understandably, we got the cold shoulder from them for several years, but the wife was determined to continue a vendetta against us. Any greetings were rebuffed.
Ours is a very friendly, comfortable community. We all chat on the street and help each other. Two years ago, we delivered homemade Christmas treats to the neighbourhood children including our estranged neighbours. The wife wouldn’t open the door.
Months ago, encountering her, I asked if we could at least be cordial and exchange basic greetings. She furiously replied that “this isn’t over.” I’ve resolved to write her off as neighbour. Your response?
You’ve made decent outreach, and it failed. Your work was admittedly “slap-dash,” she felt disrespected by it. You’d need a fulsome apology recognizing that feeling - which she deserved long ago - to end this.
Do not “write her off.” Be polite.
FEEDBACK Regarding the family wanting a dog but facing a “dog dilemma” over choosing the breed (March 28):
Reader – “When people are seeking “the right dog” for their family situation and tastes, there are many rescues and shelters with very knowledgeable staff who can guide prospective adopters into making the right choice for their particular circumstances.
“Going into a shelter provides people with an opportunity to see and interact with animals that need a home. It’s often said that “the dog will choose the owner” when you’re visiting.
“Shelters also look for “foster families” to take animals temporarily to relieve the pressure of overcrowding. As well, it’s a way for people to get to know the dog and vice versa. Many fosters turn into adoption if the fit is right.
“For this particular family it may provide a good test for them, before making a final long-term commitment.”
Tip of the day:
If your relationship/marriage has proven loving and trusting, don’t let past bad experiences haunt you.