Ask Your Friend…Ask your Shrink: Open Marriage

One woman writes in to ask what to do about her open relationship, which shortly will turn into an open marriage.
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Ask Your Friend…Ask your Shrink: Open Marriage

One woman writes in to ask what to do about her open relationship, which shortly will turn into an open marriage.

-Libby Keatinge and Dr. Morris Halperin

Libby Keatinge and Dr. Morris Halperin

Dear Libby and Dr. Halperin,

I have been dating my boyfriend for three years and now we are engaged. We have definitely experimented sexually with threesomes and it has been something we have both enjoyed. Now that we are engaged, we have discussed that our marriage would be open and have set up some ground rules: no friends, and we are always each other’s priority – like if he has plans with another girl, but I feel I “need” him or have a function I need to go to with him, he drops those plans. I am comfortable with the idea of an open marriage, and I have several friends that it works for and I feel it is a better alternative than lying and cheating. My only concern is that, since we plan to have children one day, will we need to change things when the children arrive? I don’t want to do anything that would be potentially detrimental to my future children, and just want to anticipate what kinds of changes we would need to make.

                                                          -Happy but Open in Las Vegas

Read Ask Your Friend… Ask Your Shrink: Trying a Foreign Sexual Position

Libby says:
Hey Las Vegas, if there is anywhere this is going to work, I think the open minded capital of the world, Sin City, is the place. The most important thing in this situation is that you are comfortable, which you say you are. You mentioned some rules, but what about where all this openness is going down? Are you and your husband bringing people home? A home that is a revolving door of people could create an unstable feeling for a child, not to mention the safety issues involved in bringing people around who you do not know well. Are you going to bring home a one night stand or will that happen elsewhere?

I think location is the key here. If your activities are taking place outside the home, then I see this as no different then parents who like to leave the kids with a babysitter and go out and get a little tipsy sometimes. The kids don’t need to see their parents playing beer pong, and they certainly don’t need to see their outside affairs.

However, as your children get older, questions may arise as to why your family structure is non-traditional. I would recommend an honest and open conversation about the topic and emphasizing that this works for you, but your kids are free to choose the type of relationship that works best for them once they start dating. In any situations that arise, I would recommend always asking yourself if the safety and health of your children are being put first. If that’s not the case, it’s time to make some changes.

Read on to see what Dr. Halperin has to say…


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0 thoughts on “Ask Your Friend…Ask your Shrink: Open Marriage

  1. bobbimariah says:

    open marriage can work if there are rules. my friends had a girlfriend for years, now they are still together and have a baby

  2. uptowngirl says:

    What a tough situation. I can’t imagine trying to maintain an open relationship while raising kids.

  3. Marazzi246 says:

    A friend of mine recently told me (casually) that his parents used to go on “camping trips” with other couples that were basically swinger parties in the woods. They openly told their kids about it when they were older and my friend is stable and happy and has a close relationship with his parents. His parents are lovely people (very jovial Russians) and I think in marriage: to each their own.

    This couple, as far as anybody can tell, is inseparable. They don’t ‘have plans’ or go out separately. Their home life and sex life are one and they seek these sexual adventures together…that is the extent of their “openess” in marriage.

    So I can see the value of taking liberties with what is considered “traditional marriage”…to spice things up a bit.

    But I agree with Dr. Halperin that this Vegas couple do not seem to get the point of marriage. From what I see in the letter, they seem more like partners than a couple. “He’ll drop his plans” to escort you to an event??? Sounds like an arrangement, not an intimate relationship. Sexual openness can be a spice in marriage…but try eating a bottle of cayenne and then see where you are.

    Having said that, I’d just like to point out to Dr. Halperin that marriage is not all religion and roses either. There are over a thousand laws that protect and benefit legally married heterosexual couples. Tax cuts, health insurance, social standing, job security, promotions, immigration status and loans, adoption…all made easier through the institution of marriage. Why do you think people are fighting for marriage equality? It’s not all just understanding “intimacy and commitment”. If some people have less than romantic expectations of married life but enter into it anyway, for their own reasons, let’s not be too quick to label their marriage a “farce”. Who’s to say what works for them?

  4. Lokifan says:

    Wow. Way to fail, Dr Halperin. Loved Libby’s advice though.

  5. aroundtheblock says:

    Polygamy has been around for hundreds of years — a married man who has other sexual partners besides his main wife. This is natural and normal. It is not normal or natural for a woman to want simultaneous multiple sexual relationships. In every case where the woman has several partners, she is and has always been considered a whore. Why would any man want to marry an unreformed whore?

  6. icedidi says:

    wow ‘aroundtheblock’ what are you on? i think an open marriage is a recipe for disaster, but each to their own, and this goes for men and women.

  7. aroundtheblock says:

    icedidi — you misread me. I agree that an “open marriage” where BOTH husband and wife have other sexual partners is a disaster. However, its been the norm for thousands of years for powerful MEN to have additional wives, concubines or mistresses beside their primary squeeze, e.g., the Turkish Sultan, French President Mitterand. For current examples, look at the President of South Africa with five wives (and 1 girlfriend) and Hugh Hefner and his 3 concumbines (currently a hit TV show). Christianity was the main exception, but the US has rejected Christian sexual ethics, e.g.,no divorce or premarital sex, right?

  8. sparklegirl says:

    POLYAMORY is what is actually being discussed here.

    I was disappointed to see that polyamory was missing in the tags and disgusted to see that polygamy was included.

    Polyamory takes a lot of commitment, communication skills and courage to grow into a mature adult.

    The concepts of are best explained here at http://www.lovemore.com. Check out the suggested reading list too.

    Seems that most of the opinions presented so far are from a “there is not enough love in the world” place of lack.

    Unconditional love is a mature and rational kind of love. Try it. You might like it.

  9. sparklegirl says:

    for some odd reason the “www.” was replaced by silly symbols that represent words that are unprintable….

  10. sparklegirl says:

    ok.
    one more try.
    the web address is lovemore.com.
    please ignore the silly symbols.

  11. whammy says:

    i think polyamory is bs. I think the only way an open marriage truly work is random short sexual trysts, where the other person is considered nothing more than walking penis or vagina, followed by long periods of monogamy but what do i know? but it wouldnt work for me. I am the ONLY man in my entire universe there is NO WAY that I would ever let another man in my wife.

  12. Tedebare says:

    I seriously like the idea of an open marriage. I am older and hopefully a little wiser than I was years ago so I will throw in a few comments. Not many people remain true to one another throughout a long marriage, and that goes for both male and female. I told my wife many years ago if we could not have children because of me, I would want her to make love to one of my friends to complete the task of becoming pregnant. I would have raised the child as my own without regrets. I would have hated the thought of “Someone” unknown to us giving sperm and having a doctor place the fertilized egg in my wife. I would have much rather had her have the full enjoyment of making her own child and knowing everything possible about the father. Today, I feel just as strong about that, and in fact wish she would enjoy the company of another man so we could pleasure her together or separately as she wishes. It must be someone we know and a long term relationship and not a one night stand too many risks for health reasons. Sure I would not mind if I had another woman, but I would most certainly be happy if she had an additional lover. I love her dearly and hope to have many years more with her, just want to please and have her enjoy as much as possible out of life.

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