Other Couples Don’t Want To Hear About Our Open Marriage: Ask Ellie
Q: My wife of 16 years and I had an “open” relationship for three years. It works for us, without jealousy or worry, but some close friends are uncomfortable with our choice.
There is a context that explains why we chose this “addition” to our marriage of love and trust. We both had parents who got divorced…my dad cheated on my mom blatantly (I was 10) and then cheated on his next wife (I was 15).
My wife was also 15 when her mother suddenly left their home, with no explanation or further contact with her daughter.
When we met 17 years ago, we were both suspicious of marriage. We thought there had to be a better way to stay together.
Wary of the so-called “seven-year itch” sometimes referred to when a spouse begins to stray, we discussed alternatives. No polyamory — because while having sex with multiple others works for some, we both felt we couldn’t handle it.
We waited for one of us to feel that “going out” with someone else could test “openness”. If attracted to the personality and interests of others, we date without judgment or jealousy, and share some of the conversation, events, etc.
It worked for us. But two once close couples have moved away from us. One man said we were “playing with words” but it was still cheating. Another’s wife said if we mention it again, the friendship is over. Your thoughts?
“Open” and Secure
A:Coming from such emotional upheaval as children, it’s no surprise that you both sought security in your marriage.
You now claim great love and trust as a couple. So why do you two always react to the past tense?
You have already overcome the negative influence of your parents. You have what you have always wanted the most.
Now you have chosen “openness” — for what purpose? Knowing about another’s lifestyle, tastes, interests can make for great conversation to share at home, but adult “open dates” inevitably include sex.
How does this intimacy, with positions, levels of passion, etc. different enhance what you already have at home? After the surge of sexual arousal, and talking about it as part of being “open,” are you back to the same old “love and trust?” »
If so, then that’s your business. I respond to your awareness for my thoughts: your close friends have overreacted, perhaps fearing that they or their partner might want to try it. Don’t broach the subject with them again.
Q: Eight years ago, my oldest son and I did a botched interior paint job on our new neighbor’s house before he moved in.
I sincerely apologized for our mistakes, hired a carpet technician to remove the paint stains from his carpet, and agreed to take $500 off our fees.
Naturally, we were cold with them for several years, but the woman was determined to pursue a vendetta against us. All greetings were rebuffed.
Ours is a very friendly and comfortable community. We all chat in the street and we help each other. Two years ago, we delivered homemade Christmas treats to neighborhood children, including our distant neighbors. The woman wouldn’t open the door.
Months ago, upon meeting her, I asked if we could at least be cordial and exchange basic greetings. She furiously replied that “it’s not over”. I have resolved to consider her as a neighbour. Your answer?
A:You made a good sensitization, and it failed. Your work was admittedly slapdash, and she felt disrespected. You’d need a full apology acknowledging that feeling — which she deserved a long time ago — to end this.
Don’t “write it off”. Be polite.
Ellie’s tip of the day
If your relationship/marriage turned out to be one of love and trust, don’t let the bad experiences of the past haunt you.
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