How Our Open Marriage Works

A couple with an open marriage tells us why it works for them.
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‘How Our Open Marriage Works’

A couple with an open marriage tells us why it works for them.

-Libby Keatinge

Open Marriage

With couples like Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher rumored to have open marriages, many of us wonder: how exactly does this structure work? BettyConfidential sat down with “Sandy” and “Jon,” a good looking, seemingly normal couple who live in Pasadena with no children – and who have an open marriage. We asked them all the questions about open marriage that you have all been wondering. Find out how this couple feels about their partner having feelings for someone else and where the sexual encounters go down.

Read Ask Your Friend… Ask Your Shrink: Open Marriage

“Sandy,” a seemingly conservative blonde, who wore pearls and a sweater to the interview, kicked off giving us the general guidelines of an open relationship. “The most important thing to remember is that there are no universal rules,” she says as she holds her husband’s hand. She continues to outline that each open marriage has a unique structure and each couple needs to decide for themselves what their individual needs and desires are within the relationship, and what boundaries they are comfortable with. A few things you need to think about before entering into an arrangement like this are:

1. Is the “open” part of your relationship going to consist of bringing third, fourth, partners etc. into your sexual relationship together, or are you wanting the freedom to have sexual partners separate from your main partner?

2. Are you comfortable with your partner having romantic feelings and dates with someone else, or is this purely a sexual thing? 

3. Are you allowed to bring people home to your shared home? If so, do you have a separate bedroom? Is the new guest allowed to sleep over? 

4. Are you allowed to continue to sleep with the person, or is it only allowed one time?

“Jon,” who wears a polo shirt and has slick brown hair continues, “Because this issue deals with emotions so complicated and sometimes taboo, there can be no set rules that can apply across the board to everyone.”

BettyConfidential: What are the rules to your open relationship?
We each have separate bedrooms in our house, and truthfully we do not have that many rules about it. Of course protection is mandatory, as is regular testing.
I don’t have any problems with whatever Sandy wants to do. It turns me on knowing that she is excited and happy, which just strengthens our own bond.

Do “Sandy” and “John” tell each other about their different partners? Read on…

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22 thoughts on “How Our Open Marriage Works

  1. I give this couple credit. I don’t think I could ever handle hearing my guy in the next room with someone else, in a house that we shared together, and know that it’s because he needed someone “new” to have sex with besides me. I’d want to be enough.

  2. I’ve been with my bf for a year and a half, we live together and have an open relationship. We considered the threesome thing because I am bi and wanted to share that with him but after some experiences and a LOT of discussion (communication is KEY) we decided that it’s better each do our thing on our own. So right now I am allowed to play with girls alone, and I am open about the people I’m meeting however I wouldn’t bring them home with my bf there. Either I make an arrangement to hook up when he’s not there or we do it outside of the home. As for my bf, he has a few bisexual fantasies of his own he’d like to explore which he’s open about and I support. As far as him f*cking other girls we’ve discussed it but it’s not a main desire/need for him right now so it’s not something that needs to be figured out anytime soon. I do though feel that in the future, it would be in our best interests as a couple for him to be allowed to do it (purely sexual, one time thing only) but I wouldn’t want to hear about it. It definitely is a tricky subject but I think especially if one or both are bisexual that it’s something that needs to be discussed. I don’t feel that anyone should repress any natural part of themselves so there needs to be an open dialogue about how we can allow eachother to express ourselves while maintaining a healthy & strong relationship.

  3. What a bunch of B.S.! People will go to great lengths to justify destructive behaviours. I bet an entire years salary that one of these people isn’t nearly as comfortable with this arrangentment as the other. My money is on “Sandy” but you never know it could be “Jon”. This is a time bomb waiting to go off!

  4. I’m sorry, I don’t think that this makes you sophisticated or modern. This is primal, ancient behavior they’re partaking in, and blaming it on our “human nature,” just goes to prove that. How about taking responsibility for yourself and realizing that in order to be married, you have to make the loving sacrifice to commit to one person?

    What a load of crap.

  5. Wasn’t there just an article about this? If couples want to do this, fine, but what annoys me is when “others” are judgemental but they then see themselves as evolved and partaking in the natural human way. Who’s judgemental now? Also, who said that monogamy isn’t natural for humans? Interestingly, in cultures where polygamy is allowed, a large number of individuals decide to be monogomous anyway (yes, including men). That would speak to the contrary. Also, Sandy, I hate to break it to you girl, but not all monogomous relationships end in deceit. Many couples focus on their Friendship together and other lives (professional/family/etc) and the sex is even better because of it and secondary. Sex isn’t the end all be all of human existence. BECAUSE it is 2010 we’ve kind of evolved past that. Besides, we are in trouble with overpopulation right now anyway, so some of these primal desires to spread our seed are probably best ignored for that reason alone. Sex is important, but so is deeper connection, friendship, family, home, work – at the end of a multi-focused day choosing between having sex with my best friend and the person I’m in love with or a stranger is a no brainer for me. It has nothing to do with insecurity or jealousy. Going after other relationships and other sexual partners just seems like a lot of wasted energy that I would like to put towards my partner or my career. I also just prefer the depth of a monogomous relationship. Open marriages seem shallow in my opinion. You can spout about transcension and elevation all you want, but I stick by my opinion. Because I’m judgemental? No, do whatever you want, I don’t care. From personal experience though having had a more promiscuous time in my life – nothing beats the depth, commitment and subsequent learned lessons about love, yourself, and others and the spirituality of monogomy. The hormones slow down after a while, but then the better stuff kicks in. You get to travel up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and explore new dimensions to yourself and life, free from a sex crazed existence. There are still plenty of experimentation options available that don’t involve other people too! I also have to say, and maybe this is a little snarky and judgemental – the day I laugh at hearing my boyfriend have sex with someone else is the day I will want to watch my parents have sex, listen to my brother go into detail about his conquests and favorite positions and get down at a donkey show. Do any of those things make me insecure or jealous? Of course not, but some things are best kept sacred and special – or we aren’t humans, we’re animals.

  6. I agree with Anon123. . . very well said! Sandy & Jon need to explore a new dimension to life! I actually feel bad for them that they are stuck, maybe stagnating, in a single type of life experience.

  7. I CAN PROMISE YOU THIS DOES NOT WORK LONG TERM!!!!!! Been there, done that. Jealousy, falling in love with someone else are the same things that can happen to regular marriages. A faith based, committed marriage between two people with solid core values is much better. Don’t ever let your guy talk you into to that #$%@. It is just cheating in front of your face.

  8. Thanks Jill – Just thought I’d stand up for all us close-minded, insecure, judgemental, jealous people. There is a method to our madness in thinking that isn’t always mental weakness or religious brainwashing :) I would also love to hear back from these two in like five years. A lot of these arrangements end in one or the other wanting more or falling in love with one of their partners and leaving the open marriage or giving very little to it, and then only out of obligation. There are many ways couples can “cheat” on each other – and these arrangements aren’t immune to them.

  9. I know these people think they’re very cool and “modern” but open marriage has been done before. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. Why? Because no matter how much fun they are having, how evolved their “advanced” communication skills are and how hard they try to justify the experimentation, one of them will fall in love with someone else. It always happens. It’s our biology. It’s not an if – it’s a when.

  10. We are so uptight in the United States when it comes to sex! This is why their are so many perverts out there! The Europeans are smart enough to treat sex for what it is, natural!

  11. We are so uptight in the United States when it comes to sex! This is why their are so many perverts out there! The Europeans are smart enough to treat sex for what it is, natural!

  12. We are so uptight in the United States when it comes to sex! This is why their are so many perverts out there! The Europeans are smart enough to treat sex for what it is, natural!

  13. When my husband and I first met, we were both in the “lifestyle”. We stayed that way for about 3 years. At first, I was fine with it. After all, I had been in the lifestyle for 4 years prior to meeting him. However, at that time I was single and did not have to deal with sharing someone I loved. Over time, I became insecure (I thought possibly he may like another woman’s body, etc. better than mine.). It began causing little small problems here and there. Eventually, I fessed up to him. He told me that if I wanted to stop, then we would both stop and have a traditional marriage. That he loved me very much and wanted me to be happy. That the other women weren’t important to him like that – it was merely physical. (Please note that I had also been with other men.) We never saw each other on our own – always together as a couple inviting another couple into our bed. Anyway, we agreed to stop and it took a little time before in insecurities went away, but I can say now they are just about there. I never knew I was the jealous/insecure type, but when it is with something that I love dearly and afraid of possibly losing due to my own irresponsible behavior — I found out I was. Now I do know and am still friends with people in the Lifestyle who have been married for years and years and have no issues that I can see – at least from the outside looking in. So my final thought is whatever people want to do in their personal life and makes them happy – go for it. No one else but the people in the marriage should be making those kinds of decisions for themselves.

  14. These people are lucky because they can live the way the rest of population can not….

    Famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy who is considered an expert in understanding human feelings and relationships between people in general and man and woman in specific, in his novella

  15. Yes, open marriages do seem shallow. What is the purpose of seeking other partners? Why not just stay single?

    Some things should just remain fantasies. Reality is often very different.

    And yes, people do fall in love with others. This is a ticking timebomb, as one noter said. Or one partner wants to stop, and the other doesn’t!

  16. This coming week, my DH and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. For 18 of those years, our marriage has been open, and we’ve been involved with other people.

    I don’t think we’re more evolved, or enlightened than anyone else. I fully support every person in the world in finding a loving, committed relationship that suits–regardless of it’s makeup. If monogamy works, do it. If polyamory works, do it. If a single-sex relationship works, do it. If group marriage works, do it.

    Whether anyone wants to acknowledge it, marriage is changing. Love matters. The form it takes really shouldn’t.

  17. Great article, I love their honesty.

    Americans need to realize marriage in this country is not working, figuring out a way to be with an individual on each of your own terms is the best path for success.

    Since non of you have been married for a life time-yet, I suggest you stop judging someone who is just trying something different then what you consider the norm.

    Monogamy stems from the catholic church, when it became a sin to pretty much be sexual. “Christians” killed anyone who didn’t want to follow “God’s path” which included life long marriage, faithfulness etc

    Don’t believe everything your told, some people can stay together forever and never have a problem, but some like the hunt, the feel of being attractive by the the opposite sex and don’t want to put their urges in the background. What you may consider “controlling your urges” may be you just suppressing yours.

    Think outside the box every now and then.

  18. I agree that there are many different people in the world and people want different things out of life and relationships. The tricky thing is, as one of the comments stated, that often one person wants something more than the other. It would be a truly rare thing to find someone who was truly “equally” O.K. with an open marriage as the other person.

    Plus, I must agree with the person who said,”Then why not just stay single?” Really if you want a marriage, have a marriage. If you want sex, have sex. Unless a person was brought up in a polygamist society and therefore considered that lifestyle “normal,” human nature would make it difficult to “share” a spouse with others.

    In the end, people will do what they want, but in this case, it’s hard to imagine that it would work out equally well for both parties, and why invite disaster?

  19. elysek: you say one of them will fall in love w/someone else…and that doesn’t happen to people who are in “normal” marriages… It can and does happen to people even when they are being monogamous. There are NO answers, humans are complex, love is even more complex. And what if you only do get to ‘go around one time’ and then it is all over…and you have denied yourself, or your love of something that would have made their existence an experience to cherish forever. Not saying it is for everyone,, but what if…no one really knows for sure.

  20. My point is a simple one and it’s at the end if you do not want to rad the backdrop that I feel needs to be created in oder to build my case – sorry it rambles a bit, but it would take hours to make perfect.

    People are amazing creatures because they believe ANYTHING they are told by church and state and then they believe they created the the idea and call it their own and they call it “objective fact, reality” when they are nothign than people who have been programmed with teh values of “convention”

    Convention says that “love and sex must inextricably tied”. Why? To keep people bound in a process whereby they do not create unwanted babies for this is the greatest threat of all that can, if unchecked, create social meltdown caused by dysfunctional children who grow up unloved and lawless.

    Yet, these “conventional thinkers” delude themselves into believing they think for themselves because no one likes to feel they don’t think for themselves. Well… here’s a newsflash for you: 99.9% of everyone in the world does NOT think for themselves; rather they think what they have been programmed to think in order to maintain social stability.

    It is astonishing how people’s minds have been programmed to believe things that are not true yet they believe they are little experts. They are too ignorant to understand that they have been taught to think they way they do for… if they were able to think for themselves, they are a danger to the state. And, anyone who truly thinks for themselves AND is dumb enough to think they can change anything IS truly a danger to the state. History proves my point.

    Governments maintain power by creating a moral framework that is unnatural and induces chaos compounded by eh chaos that government creates for there is NO OTHER WAY to keep power. People must NOT be allowed to explore or become truly enlightened.

    The only thing people are good at in life is justifying their own behaviour by believing they understand objective reality and then telling everyone, using the language of “right and Wrong” how “I know what’s right and others do NOT”. This behaviour is rooted in an unconscious personal insecurity – nothing more, nothing less – because they know in their heart that they really don’t know very much. They can’t! No one can. Who really has the right education, access to military intelligence findings about people or even the first-hand experience to truly know much of anything.

    So, people can ONLY develop a coping mechanism that uses hubris and arrogant to combat their personal insecurity. People lack of mental ability to think openly, critically, diligently, accurately, without self, objectively based on fact and NOT the fiction in their mind.

    In truth, few people in the world are qualified to comment on much of anything. This is not a criticism, but how can someone know what they do not know. How do we gather accurate information about ourselves and the universe around us. Few even know where to begin. So ,perhaps we can now silence the so-called “residents experts” who quote from their religion or present their own opinions as objective fact.

    The views people hold are the core of their identity so don’t expect them to give them to abandon these views anytime soon. If anyone fits into this category then I am afraud that your views do NOT count for anything. Everyone knows these views already because it is “convention” based on Judeo-Christian values.

    I read the responses above and see how few of the respondents are able t think or feel critically – no intellectual or emotional integrity and just a lot of lobbing of opinions presented as fact. This polarises everyone into 2 camps: the “conventional” that they have been programmed to believe is “right” and the “progressive” that says I have the personal confidence to think freely and I discovered a higher ground with my partner.

    So, who is RIGHT and who is WRONG. Is their an objective reality – a growth curve for human development.

    The only people who are even remotely able to pass meaningful comment on open relationships are people who practice it. No point shouting “I don’t need to experience it. I know it’s WRONG!” You can scream all you want, but it doesn’t make you RIGHT. I makes you loud and no one wants to listen to loud people especially when they have NO experience and nothing of value to contribute.

    There is a tiny minority that, for some reason, escaped the “conventional prison”. The people who had the courage to share the mechanics of their “open relationship” should be listened to for clues about things we have NOT thought about and certainly do not know anything about.

    We all have needs: spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical and well are share pretty much the same needs UNTIL church and state impose its prison on us. At bottom, we all want as much sex as possible – women and men. We all want to feel we are worthy of being loved and that someone values the love we have to give.

    Is the principle of polyamoury healthy or unhealthy. If a family unit that practices polyamoury fails and gets divorced, is this the fault of the principle of polyamoury or the fault of the family nit practicing it.

    Polyamoury can ONLY work between people who “know themselves” and who can “communicate complex emotions and ideas” and who are modest yet do NOT suffer a lack of self-confidence. Else destructive thoughts and emotions set in and then it IS truly only a matter of time.

    The example given by the couple in the article is an excellent example of the only way that polyamoury can work. BUT… it requires 100% honesty with oneself, one’s partners(s) by having enough self-knowledge, awareness, ability to reflect on oneself, discipline, sensitivity, tenderness, lack of misogyny,bigotry, insecurity.

    How many people do any of you know who can really do this? Not very many would be the honest answer.

    In my experience, the ability to be 100% open with my partner(s) about EVERY feeling, sexual fantasy, desire, dream and the rest binds my to my partner n a way that nothing else can. No Bible-reading, church-going or arm-chair ranting is going to replace absolute honesty in a relationship. Not only does this “strengthen our relationship” at a foundational level, it opens a new vista where we both see each other’s deeper spiritual nature. So, by decoupling love and sex (and NEVER confusing the 2), we discharge our obsessive feelings for flesh that prevent us seeing the higher nature of each by fulfilling them. Then, we find a stronger love and lust/sex sits at the core of the relationship without every corrupting our relationship.

    My personal feeling is that the default modus operandi is the my partner(s) never have sex or intimacy unless I am present and vice versa. After all, I am not her father wishing her “good luck” or her date. I am her biggest love and her sex partners so we should enjoy sex together

    The best way to control a nation is through sexual repression because the sexual feelings that people experience must be unfulfilled to keep them confused else they will experience a freedom of emotion that soon leads to a freedom of thought.

    So, by demonising polyamoiry, church and state maintain the control they MUST maintain in order to keep power. Church and state call it immoral and create peer pressure knowing that the people will do all the work of church and state by wagging a finger at everyone who is open-minded about sex.

    They couple in the article are right, they have found a “higher place” because they are 100% honest with each other which… is more than can be said for 99.9% of all marriages that are based on lies, private agendas and deep dark secrets that are left unsaid. And, women are by their very nature bisexual whether or not they wish to admit it (read the scientific reports) which is the key to polyamoury.

    Think about it. A woman’s body is amazing, it is art, it is music, it brings love, sex, comfort, safety. It is as loved by women as it is men. In the swinging scene, a high proportion of women are bisexual and a high proportion of men are NOT (indeed one almost NEVER sees 2 men having sex. I once asked my man to let a women penetrate him with a strapon and to let a man penetrate him. We both like anal sex so he was easy with it. My man is NOT into men per se, but he loves my and did it for me. I loved watching. We switch every which way. We love body art (porn) because it is honest and deeply sexually pleasing. And, every once in a while we see a couple who are so full of love and sensualitythat it is spellbinding to watch.

    We both understand that love is love and sex and lust are sex and lust. We get all the sex we want and our love is never threatened. Indeed, he has me fro life because I will never want another man. Why would I? I get great love and all the sex I want. What is another man going to give me that my man cannot. And, since my man gets all the sex he wants, he would never leave me as he will never find another women better at pleasing him than me. So, our love is complete. We “love” our playmates and some are even soul mates, but the idea of us leaving our partners is an absurd one. For what?

    So, before the “conventionalists” scream about about my, my man or the the couple in the article using your Judeo-Christian values inculcated by church and state, perhaps you should look at yourself and ask if you have 100% honesty inn your marriage. Think deeply about it before you condemn others. What are you protecting? Your life of lies or half-truths, even deceit with yourself and with your partner.

    The TEST? If you do not feel you can express ALL your feeling to your partner because you both have “no-go areas” that will lead to an “explosion”, then you have no right to comment until you can honestly say you have 100% honesty. Few can, so keep quiet until you can.

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