I feel anxious and worried (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
My wife has kindly suggested that we consider opening our marriage.
She has a higher libido than I do, but overall we have a happy marriage and family, even though we have been slow to communicate over the years.
This prospect both excites and terrifies me – I don’t want to stir up resentment and jealousy in our home, but the idea naturally worries me.
The candor of our recent conversations is also refreshing. We’re much friendlier and we’ve even had sex. What do you recommend?
Two aspects must always be taken into account when calculating risk.
First: What are the chances of something going wrong? Second: How can it go wrong? Opening a marriage is a pretty high risk either way, but only you know how high, says James McConnachie.
Your next step therefore requires a full, detailed and written risk assessment.
There’s also confirmation bias, where we tend to minimize the downsides of what we’re about to do and exaggerate the potential benefits, McConnachie said. It’s also called thinking with your dick.
The openness and vulnerability that comes with such a life-changing proposal naturally creates a sense of expansion within your union, but beware, this is only a honeymoon period.
By saying she needs more sexual partners, your wife has made you realize that you may not be enough for you, says Dr. Angarad Rudkin. This freedom and lack of critical judgment has brought you closer together.
But once your dialogue has reached the practical side, things may be a little less rosy.
Having other people directly involved in your life is going to create all kinds of insecurities, Rudkin says. It won’t be the same kind of trip. You find people, happiness and disappointment at different times.
People also have a bad habit of falling in love with people they have sex with, so you need to include some important considerations in your risk assessment.
What happens when one of you feels like your lover is becoming a little more important? How does your relationship fit in? asks Rupert Smith. My other concern is for your children. How do you reconcile this new situation with your parental responsibilities?
In many ways, this is a very positive way to deal with the perceived numbness of a long-term relationship, because it saves you from both having affairs and living in secrecy and shame.
But you need bright eyes and an open heart, McConnachie says, and those are very rare qualities.
- Dr. Angarad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist and co-author of the psychology guide What’s My Teen Thinking Now.
- James McConnachie is the author of Sex (A Rough Guide).
- Rupert Smith is an author and consultant.
Do you have a dilemma with sex and dating?
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