Ask Athena: I'd Like to Try Having an Open Marriage | Ask Athena | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Ask Athena: I'd Like to Try Having an Open Marriage 

Dear Athena,

I think I'd like to try having an open marriage. My husband and I have been talking about it for some time but never really thought we could do it. Now we think we would like to give it a try. What do you think? What could help us do this without breaking up? We love each other a lot.


Ready for More Than One Man

Dear Ready,

My word count isn't big enough to take on all the dynamics of an open marriage, but I love a good "adventures in wedlock" question. While nothing I say will guarantee you'll make it through this evolution intact, here are some points to consider before heading down the road.

1. No two open marriages are the same. You can read all about it, including my little nuggets of wisdom here, but only you and your hubby can define the terms of your marriage. Just like your marriage vows, you two must decide — together — what the rules of your new arrangement will be.

2. In an open marriage, you have to be open with one another. Easy to remember, right? Even if you decide to keep your extramarital experiences private with a "don't ask, don't tell" approach, you must always honor your relationship by being honest. If you're struggling with the terms you agreed upon, own up to it. This rule is key to any relationship, FYI.

3. While we're on the honesty train, be sure to apply a full-disclosure policy with your new partners, as well. Some relationships you enjoy may be casual flings; others may last longer. Regardless of your status, be up-front about your situation. Your new lovers may feel like they're part of an experiment, or they may have different expectations than you. Be clear with them. Put yourself in their shoes.

4. Lastly, an open marriage isn't about exclusion or distance from your spouse. It's about the potential to experience deeper love, connection and gratitude. Not everyone can handle this kind of arrangement. In addition to open communication, you and your husband must begin with a sturdy foundation of genuine respect. You may want to experience intimacy with someone new, but you have to want that for your partner, too.

Open marriage or not, a good relationship means maintaining your bond while never limiting your partner's growth. If, for you two, that means dipping your toes into uncharted waters, then proceed — carefully!



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