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Open marriage

Discussion in 'Tilted Life and Sexuality' started by Grasshopper Green, Jun 14, 2014.

  1. Hi all. It's been quite awhile since I've posted anything but I'm looking for some unbiased advice and I think you folks fit the bill.

    My husband recently asked me to consider an open marriage. We have been married 14 years, together for 18. I have a much lower libido than he does and he is not satisfied. I recently started therapy - myself only, not couples - because of multiple issues I'm dealing with, including this one. I guess I'm just asking if any of you folks have had success in this area. Logically, I think humans are meant to be serial monogamists. Just my opinion. My heart is having a hell of a time accepting that. Hubby and I have been talking extensively about this so lack of communication isn't an issue, but perhaps lack of focused communication is. I don't know. All I do know is this is tearing me up because I can't see any good outcome regardless of what choice I make. Any perspective?
  2. Charlatan

    Charlatan sous les pav├ęs, la plage Donor

    Welcome back to posting!

    I am sure others will have a raft of experience on this front as we have some swingers as well as polyamourists on the board. My feeling on this is simple. Open marriages are only a good thing if BOTH parties are accepting of the idea. While I have not been party to an open marriage per se, I have seen many "open" marriages collapse because only one person in the relationship was truly interested in being open.

    The upside of your situation is that you two are communicating. Keep talking. It's also good that you are going to therapy, but perhaps you need couples therapy as the issue before you sounds like something that requires both of you to work on it.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    The Windy City
    I have to say that I tend to agree with you, @Grasshopper_Green. I think solid relationships are monogamous, and serious relationships are serially monogamous.

    To be perfectly fair, I have heard of people who profess to have stable and successful open relationships or polyamorous relationships. And while I confess skepticism, even granting that there are such stable and succeesful non-monogamous relationships, my supposition would be that they are the exceptions rather than the rule.

    Within the spectrum of non-monogamous relationships, I am more inclined to believe in the possibility of successful polyamorous relationships than successful open relationships. The couple that fucks around together stays together, or at least I could potentially believe such might be the case given particularly sterling and committed individuals; but "open relationships," while better than having affairs, since there is more honesty and direct communication involved, still strike me as having too much potential for secrecy, for jealousy to fester, for too many issues to come between the partners.

    My $0.02 of advice is to continue your personal therapy, but to add couples therapy with your husband. But I doubt very much that an open relationship is a good solution.

    Also, I don't know how you feel about your libido, or what your history in that regard is; but if-- and only if-- you feel it is a source of dissatisfaction or unhappiness for you, you might wish to consult your doctor to determine whether there are physiological factors involved that might potentially be remediable.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. We had another good long talk last night and couples therapy came up. We didn't come to an agreement about it but the topic has been introduced at least. He brought it up and I don't think he would be against it and I certainly am not. Levite, you are pretty much describing my feelings - one of my biggest hesitations is the complications I know will arise regardless of our feelings for each other. We do love each other very much but I sincerely doubt logic will win the day when those potent infatuation hormones crop up. Thank you for your responses.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Herculite

    Herculite Very Tilted


    Open marriages are at best difficult for couples who are 100% in sync with each other. I personally do not recommend them as they generally seem to end in divorce, including the couple who actually wrote the book on open marriages.

    What your husband is really saying, in my opinion at least, is that he is unhappy with his sex life, and is at a point where either he is thinking divorce and this is an easier step than divorce. Mind you he might even think it would fix the problem you guys have but it won't. Here are scenarios that can go down, and this is without me knowing you so I can't really be accurate.

    If you husband isn't exactly in the best of shape, he will become very frustrated as out of shape men play things are not in high demand. If you want to be a player, you have to look like one. Perhaps he will resort to prostitution, or if thats not his thing he will become more bitter towards your lack of sex drive.

    If your husband is in good shape, he may find some success. Sooner or later he will find someone who gives him what he is looking for sexually. Unless she is strictly into being a fuck buddy, and wants no part in a real relationship, she will take him from you. Not in a hostile take over way, but he will fall for her, she will be available, he sees no reason to stay with you sort of way.

    I've seen this a few times and read about it constantly. I've exchanged posts with people who were in "successful" open marriages which then suddenly just disappear, and honestly I assume they had issues.

    My wife and I have been swingers now for 10+ years and understand how all this works as well as anyone at this point. The issue with swinging is that its a hobby, we have fun, but we are together on the same page at all times. Our marriage is not open, which I think the concept of "open" being "vulnerable" really applies here.

    If I were you, I would (provided you haven't) acknowledge you have a libido problem, and face it as a problem. Many think of it as just what it is and want to work out other issues thinking that will make the libido one go away, and usually it does not. Don't just see a counselor, who's value varies dramatically, find a doctor, hopefully one that specializes in hormones. If you are not in shape, get in shape. Your body finds it has desire when its healthy a lot more than unhealthy. If you have to fake interest. Do NOT do obligatory sex where they know you don't want to but are being a good wife. This is a MAJOR turn off for most men, they want to be wanted by you. You might find its not so bad in the process.

    My wife has had a libido problem now and then, its really pretty natural for a lot of people, especially women in a long term relationship. We have worked on it, together, had some long talks when needed, and shook things up. Do your own research, figure out what makes you horny and put the effort in.

    If not, I think you are on the path to divorce.
    • Like Like x 3
  6. ASU2003

    ASU2003 Very Tilted Donor

    Where ever I roam
    Do you have a IUD or are you taking hormonal birth control?

    I'm not sure how the other parts of your relationship are going, but sex therapy might be the way to go. Learn about pleasing each other, spending time massaging each other, and talking over your desires and how to make sex fun would go a long way I bet.
  7. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist Donor

    My ex and I decided to have an open marriage.
    As you can tell from the ex part,it didn't work out so well.
    It wasn't the open part that was the problem, it was the marriage.
    We had become very different people from who we were when we got married, we didn't really communicate about the personal parts of ourselves (talked a lot but really didn't say much).
    Our one attempt at couples counseling was so rancorous and loud the counselor couldn't get a word in edgewise. She looked shellshocked by the time we left and said we might want to find a different counselor.
    Open marriage only works if both people are in it for the same reason, usually political or philosophical.
    They have to be totally honest and share their relationships completely.
    There has to be a strength of character and lack of jealously that few people posses outside of Robert Heinlien novels.
    I have met one couple who could do it and they were old school anti-establihment revolutionies.
    somehow I don't think you fit that mold.
  8. I do currently have a hormonal IUD and I also take a low dosage of an SSRI for anxiety. One of the reasons I started therapy is wanting to develop healthy coping strategies in regards to my anxiety so I can quit taking the pills. I don't like they way they make me feel and they definitely kill my sex drive. I do think a talk with a doctor about potential biological factors is in order as well.

    I think a big part of the problem is we got married very young. Unlike a lot of couples in our situation though, we've grown together instead of apart. We are far more compatible and alike now than we were when we were first married. I do think that intimacy has dropped in recent years, he's been in school for quite some time and I've taken on the role of breadwinner and housekeeper to support him while he finishes his degree. Perhaps this is something we do need to bring to couples or a sex therapist. We are both devoted to the marriage and want to make it work, I don't think he is using this a stepping stone toward divorce. I really do appreciate all of the insight you all have given me. It means a lot.
  9. Herculite

    Herculite Very Tilted

    When my wife tried the unidose birth control pill it completely killed her sex drive. A female swing partner of mine had the same issue. Both were in their early 30's at the time. I've heard that from several other women on forums as well. I can't see how the IUD version would be any different in that respect.
  10. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member Donor

    The Mirena is a lower dose of localized progesterone. I have one and have no issues with my libido. My money would be on the SSRIs. The impact of SSRIs on the libido is well-known and well-established in the literature.

    Antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. [Ann Pharmacother. 2002] - PubMed - NCBI
  11. Herculite

    Herculite Very Tilted

    The anti-depressant effect is well described, I agree, but there are several reports of sex drive issues with hormonal IUD's as well. We looked into it carefully when my wife wanted an IUD due to her past issues with that form of birth control. She is the type that if there is a negative side effect she will get it, just one of these days I want the side effect to be "may greatly increase your sex drive" :p
    • Like Like x 1
  12. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member Donor

    Actually, I agree with a two-fold "attack" for a solution.

    First, I would definitely take a serious look into your drugs/meds
    ...while often doctors prescribe them...they are not fool-proof...and neither are the docs or the meds.
    Doctors are "professional guessers" and sometimes they are off.
    I encountered this quite a bit through our trials with my Ex's many meds when we were married. (this is not why we failed BTW...far from it)
    We had to say this worked, this didn't...we had to tweak this, and adjust that. It can fuck with you, in all different ways.

    Also to give docs the benefit of the doubt, they are not psychic,
    (if you lie, if you're in denial, if you hesitate, etc...all of which prevents them from knowing)
    You've got to let them know in detail how it may be affecting you.
    Sex can be VERY important too...feeling like a human is important. Do not discount it.
    Everything counts. Talk to them, see if you can adjust things a bit.

    Second, I would agree with a sex therapist...or at least a counselor that specializes in sex between couples.
    If you're describing your relationship accurately...then it sounds like you have it all together otherwise.
    Go to someone who can focus on that specific aspect...and they will also be more in tune to that concept and emphasis. That mindset.
    Sometimes a non-specialist gets distracted onto other non-issues ...if it's not their focus...they don't consider it as much. Or they discount it.
    (again, when I went thru the diagnosis part with my ex (30+ docs)
    ...each came up with a "issue" within their specialty. funny how that works... :rolleyes:)

    I actually think you can kick this thing in the ass and go back to kissing some (in a good way)
    But you're playing with some subtle shit...you've got to really make sure you're self-aware and don't deny anything. It all counts.
    Wish you the best.
    I really do, they don't have good "hand-books" for this stuff...it's a puzzle. You deserve the best outcome.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Spiritsoar

    Spiritsoar Slightly Tilted

    New York
    I was in a successful open marriage for a few years. Our divorce had nothing to do with that, even though everyone who hears open marriage and divorce assumes they must be. From what I've seen though, the couple who can do it successfully is very few and far between. Jealousy is just too much for most people. This isn't a lack of being open minded, or being closed to new ideas. Jealousy is normal, and my ex and I were just the odd example of a pair who didn't feel it as strongly as most people.

    From what I've read, this seems like a bad idea for you. I understand your desire to consider it in the interest of your husband's happiness. The fact that you're having strong reservations is a big warning sign. I can almost guarantee that your reservations will only get worse if he starts sleeping with other women, not better. As others have pointed out, these types of relationships only work if both go into it openly and honestly and have a strong relationship from the start.

    I don't have the knowledge to comment on the hormonal problems, so I'll leave that to others. I do think that pursuing couples counseling would be a very good idea.
    • Like Like x 3
  14. pWf

    pWf Getting Tilted

    I think you have gotten some golden advice above. I find that the people here at the tfp, are usually very perceptive and spot on. I have been reading here for years, and generally don't say a lot, but I do read as much as I can here. Red what is posted above, and then reread it. Maybe have your husband read it with you as well. I know as much as he is frustrated with not having that sexual connection with you, your just as frustrated in being unable to fill it. I wish you both the best in getting this straightened out.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Lr262 New Member

    I can't comment on the 'Open marriage' part, but with regards to at least part of what seems to have prompted the entire line of thought... Not knowing your entire situation, it's impossible to say for sure, but based on my experience, the IUD (I assume a Mirena) could very easily be the cause of your lack of libido. My wife got one a few years after we got married because at the time, we didn't want kids and it seemed like a good, reliable way to prevent pregnancy. It did work quite well in two ways - it did prevent pregnancy on the occasions that we actually had intimacy, and it KILLED her sex drive. As in GONE. Any intimacy was literally a chore, and frankly, was somewhere between not pleasurable and unpleasant for her. Fast forward to it being in place for most of its 5 year estimated lifespan and things started to change - she became more and more interested and receptive, to the point where by the time it came out, it wasn't uncommon for her to about crawl out of her skin with desire if I just brushed her calf with my hand. There where quite a few times where it was all she could do not to jump me right then and there, and as soon as we got 'behind closed doors' at home, she was all over me. The difference from when she had the IUD to the time it wore off and then was removed was amazing. Everything about intimacy was so much more pleasurable for her. She became a totally different wearing woman, in a good way. The IUD off and coming out literally saved our marriage. My wife has also been on some form of anti-anxiety medication for quite a few years (I forget the exact medication) and was on it until she became pregnant.

    Needless to say, we won't be screwing with her hormones any more. When the IUD came out, we switched to NFP, which if done right, does work. We avoided pregnancy as long as we wanted to, and achieved it exactly when we wanted to. The best part is her body isn't being monkeyed with by artificial means.

  16. Street Pattern

    Street Pattern Very Tilted Donor

    My wife and I (married for more than 20 years) also had the libido-imbalance problem.

    Somehow, we have solved it. After years of frustration over her limited interest, it's now a bit of a challenge for me to keep up with her. I like this problem better!

    At our age (late 50s), birth control is not an issue. She does now have better HRT than before.

    I assume SSRI antidepressants were part of the problem; my wife has gradually reduced those to zero.

    More importantly: I got more fit, and have lost 40 pounds since January. This presumably made me more attractive, but it also convinced my wife of my seriousness in addressing our sex life.

    And finally, we became much more open with each other about what we wanted sexually. We are now closer than ever before, and doing things together that we never imagined were possible.
    • Like Like x 8
  17. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member Donor

    Your success story makes me smile. I'm glad for the both of you.
    • Like Like x 3
  18. OtherSyde

    OtherSyde Slightly Tilted

    San Diego, CA
    Kudos Street Pattern! Glad to hear it.

    And to the OP, I would avoid the open marriage thing, and instead, insist that both of you get aggressively fit, talk openly about your desires, and fix the medication/hormone problems - great sex actually prevents mild depression as I understand it anyway. Best of luck!
  19. Street Pattern

    Street Pattern Very Tilted Donor

    Or, at least, attend to your own relationship first!
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Shayla560

    Shayla560 Vertical

    Sedona Arizona
    It requires both of you to be onboard with it 100% and capable of getting past jealousy. It also requires both of you to be secure with yourselves and each other and trust each other.
    My husband and I have been open since day one. We know who each other is intimate with some we are both intimate with not always together and we voice concerns when we have them. If there is someone I don't trust that he is seeing or considering being with I will say something we will talk about it and if it's still a concern he ends it. It's the same both ways. Open means open in everything every aspect.
    • Agree Agree x 1