Understanding Open Marriage

by Husband on August 22, 2011

It has been two years since our first major fight over hubby’s lover Free Spirit.  Since then, our relationship went steadily downhill.  Everything seemed so topsy turvy and we failed to work it out.  Eventually, talks of separation and divorce made matters worse.

It was the most trying phase of our relationship.  It was also that phase that made us and our bond much stronger than ever in the end.  After abandoning the idea of divorce, we worked our issues out and we let the lessons of our experiences guide us.

In retrospect, I can see clearly now where we went wrong.  Husband and I took the basics of a successful open marriage setup for granted.  We hope that the lessons we learned will help other couples experiencing similar challenges:

Never Underestimate The Importance Of Open And Honest Communication

Just like in any other kind of relationship, communication is very important for it to succeed; but more so in open marriages.  Given the nature of open marriages, open and honest communication is an important cornerstone.

In retrospect, one of the things that made our miscommunication worse is the fact that we have never talked extensively about any issues that arose.  Husband and I were also not able to talk about our issues with each other and each of us harbored mistaken notions of what the other meant about certain words and actions

Husband and I also realized that we need to always assess our wants and needs and to talk about it.  Constant introspection and communication bring about better understanding.  And the deeper your understanding of your partner, the deeper the relationship, emotions, and intimacy you will experience.

According to Jenny Block, author of Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage, couples who talk to each other honestly are the ones who are most fit for the open marriage setup.

Don’t Take The Importance Of Ground Rules For Granted

At first, Hubby and I did not have clear ground rules to follow.  Just like some other couples in an open marriage, we made the mistake of not setting rules on the onset of this kind of relationship.  In short, we took it all for granted.

As Husband wrote in this blog sometime in August 2009, we have never really strictly implemented the rules for our open relationship, other than to use condoms at all times.  It was only after 14 years when we decided that we need to set some ground rules to follow.  And I guess it was too late.

The little misgivings we both have added up without us noticing it.  It was only when it became so big when we chose to do something about it.  We decided, among others, to set a certain limit on how frequent we meet our other partners and to put primacy in our relationship.  But, by then, our conflict has already started to spiral out of control.

It was much later when we realized that aside from honest and open communication, ground rules are also important to guide our activities.  This way, we can coordinate our behavior and we can achieve our shared goals with fewer tension and conflict.  These rules can also help couples like us to manage romantic jealousy and rivalry.

The ground rules adapted by couples with open marriages usually tend to prohibit certain behaviors that can provoke jealousy.  This is one mistake we have committed and we are hoping that other couples can learn from our experience.

How To Deal With The Green-Eyed Monster

Couples with open marriages are exposed in situations that can provoke jealousy.  Just like other people, we have feelings and just like most couples with open marriages, we experienced firsthand how the green-eyed monster can break us.  Unchecked, the simple case of jealousy led to serious conflicts and it almost cost us our marriage.

In retrospect, I think we could have handled this problem effectively if we had clear ground rules to start with.  For 14 years, we just went through our open marriage lifestyle with the que sera sera mantra.  We unwittingly neglected the fact that these rules could have greatly helped us manage jealousy issues.

Meanwhile, ground rules alone are not sufficient in helping couples deal with jealousy.  Couples in open marriage setups can greatly benefit from the general understanding of the nature of jealousy and how to effectively deal with it.  And that brings us back to the importance of having clear ground rules and maintaining open communication lines.