Do we really represent ‘open marriage’?

by Husband on August 25, 2009

I see that much of the traffic to this blog is from searches of the term “open marriage.” Not surprising, but I take a certain pleasure that, as of this writing, we come up on the second page of Google results of that term.
I’m pleased, but it also feels like responsibility. People clearly are looking for advice, and it’s been weeks since I last posted. We can’t let Google down! People need answers!

When we conceived of this blog, we thought we’d tell the story of how we’ve made 18 years of an open relationship work. It wasn’t intended to be a blog gossiping about our current love lives, but rather a reflection of our history and sharing some observations that may be useful to others interested in this unusual kind of relationship.

However, the last few months since we launched it have been rather tumultuous in our relationship, owing namely to one of my outside relationships. As you can see from some earlier posts, I let a secondary relationship get very intense very quickly, with a woman I’ve dubbed here “The Free Spirit.” A month or so ago, she dumped me, feeling overwhelmed by the emotional complications. It was an ugly breakup, and I didn’t rise above even using this blog as a back-channel of communication with her and her blog. (I did subsequently edit a post to remove some bitchiness directed at her.) Again, not how we’d originally intended this blog to read.

I’m happy to report that Free Spirit and I have reconciled, with Wife’s uneasy blessing. This relationship has been much more of a strain for Wife and me than any earlier ones, for reasons I’d rather not try to articulate on her behalf, but it’s been a real test. I’m confident we’ll pass the test in the long run. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Wife was hurt when I told her a couple of weeks back that her allowing me to be with Free Spirit made me love her (Wife) even more. I guess my point didn’t come across right, so at the risk of rubbing salt in the wound, I’ll try to re-articulate it here. I didn’t mean that I’d love Wife less were Free Spirit not in the picture. But Wife’s capacity to allow me to expand my emotional and sexual happiness by accepting (if not quite embracing) my relationship with Free Spirit makes me value the rareness of the love Wife and I share even more so.

I’m also convinced Wife will still someday post here. I suspect her reluctance has had something to do with the recent emotional tumult, that she doesn’t want to write from anger or pain. She did tell me that she’d written a draft of a post called “Boundaries.” That is a hint at how we’ve come to new compromise on my relationship with Free Spirit.

In the last 14 years (since we transitioned things from a “don’t ask/don’t tell” relationship to a fully open one), we’ve never really implemented strict rules for our open relationship, other than to always use condoms. We’ve observed the rules that other people in open relationships have instituted with a kind of bemusement. (The most striking examples of this were in an article a few years back in NY Magazine titled “The New Monogamy,” which described rules that seemed ridiculous to us, such as it’s okay to fool around with others, as long as it’s only above the waist. WTF?!? That sounds like a recipe for blue balls, worse than monogamy itself.)

Yet after all this time, we’re coming to decide that some rules may be necessary, e.g., a certain limit on the frequency of meeting other partners, to keep our trust in the primacy of our relationship sound.

Stay tuned. I didn’t want readers to think we’d dropped out on this blog. We’re just working through some technical difficulties.