Last weekend I went away with a group of friends and, because it rained every single minute of our trip, we often found ourselves in odd little couplings talking about anything and everything. During one of these moments, the subject of open marriages came up and I found myself listening to my friends, half of whom know I am in one but didn’t disclose that, discuss them as if they thought participants were just crazy swingers having sex at every minute. It was funny in many ways, but it also made me think about what the inside of my open marriage looks like, so I decided to write about it.
The following is what I wrote and it is very unusual in that I did not assume that the reader knew anything about me as I wanted this to stand alone, even though I doubt it would ever be forwarded or posted elsewhere. Also, as those of you who have followed me will actually know the names, you will actually also see that I combined the Scotts into one person, as Axel really does think of them as one unit and, well, it was just easier to write.
So, feel free to fill in the blanks with the names you know.
I have a closed open marriage. It’s not about sex because it’s simply about so much more.
I thought about this topic last weekend when I confided in an old friend that my marriage was open and that each of us have someone on the side. His immediate reaction was not one of judgement as I expected, but one of jealousy, in a sense, when he said, “wow, so much sex. I can’t even imagine” which was followed by “must be so nice to just blow a little steam and then go home, but doesn’t that make it weird when it’s time to fuck (insert husband’s name here)?” I think I smiled or did something else to acknowledge that I heard him, but I remember specifically not saying out loud what I wanted to say, because, at least in my openness, he could not have been more wrong.
To back up, my husband are in our eighteenth year together and our third as a married same sex couple. To the world, we are the stereotypical white collared Ward and Ward Cleaver gay male couple as we live in a recently gentrified neighborhood on the edge of both the hood and the multi million dollar homes, have two German SUV’s in the driveway with the pretty tags versus the standard ones, and a dog with a human name who wears sweaters when it’s chilly. We have a great sex life together, enjoy our time together immensely, and, to this day, find it surprising that we actually do love each other more every single day than we did the day before. What we don’t show, is that each of us have a boyfriend on the side who provide us with something we could not get from the other. The specifics of what we were seeking is not of importance at the moment, but in many ways, he and I have given each other a gift that, when translated, boils down to a proven level of trust, admiration, and respect for each other and our particular needs. This gift, is something I could never get from anyone except the man I married and I thank him, at least in my head, every single day for it.
For us, the openness started about six years ago when my husband brought up the idea and we discussed, analyzed, and dissected the concept before finally thinking we could make it work. We negotiated what each of us expected from the side relationship, what information we wanted to share and not share, and how we proposed going about cultivating, soliciting, and engaging said “boyfriend on the side”. Like many things before and tons of things after it, he and I had very different thoughts on each of those points which caused us to find a middle ground that worked for us in theory, since said boyfriend was only hypothetical at that moment. The one thing we both immediately agreed upon was that, for us, we wanted a “closed open marriage”, a term we defined on our own, because there would be no random encounters allowed, no side sex for sexes sake, and that, no matter what, we would always be the first in each other’s lives. We were professional negotiators at the drafting of this deed and soon it was signed, sealed, and then sat on for about five years. Then, actually a year ago this week, I met my boyfriend, a bisexual married to a woman man who has turned out to be everything I didn’t expect in a very good way. Then, about two months ago, he met his soon to be boyfriend, a monosexual man married to a man, who I can honestly say is nothing like we ever thought he’d be either, also in a very good way.
Life is good and it’s working well, but to get back to the original point of this post, I can’t say any of us are having more sex because of our open marriages. In fact, right now, I’m having less sex because of my open marriage as the wonderful newness of the dating while aligning existing rules and making sure feelings are not getting stepped on has stressed out my husband to the point that neither his boyfriend or myself are getting much action. It’s no big deal as we know that stress in forty something men often sends the blood flowing to the brain versus the penis, which I have always assumed is just nature’s way of getting back to us for all the stupid things we did when blood flowed directly from the brain to the penis in our 20’s. This lack of sex and the over complication of emotions in my head is something I went through a year ago as well, so I am certain beyond a doubt that they and we will be back in action really soon as the newness settles and the reality that this is working sets in.
That said, at first, it’s an odd feeling watching your husband date and, in many ways, it’s cute seeing the man you have come to see as your rock get all weird and nervous because he didn’t understand the tone of a text or doesn’t know if it’s his turn to call or propose a next date or already worry about whether he should buy him a present for Christmas. Yes, it hurt a bit at first in unexpected ways that I still can’t believe, but we were very open about this as we each discovered that the hypothetical rulebook did not exactly overlay reality 100 percent. While it stung at first, that stinging was also balanced by a happiness for him as he was finally getting what he wanted as well and, for the first time, I really saw and felt what he had seen and felt a year before. Our “others” have become just part of our life, which was unexpected, I think, but there is not a night that goes by that he does not ask me “how is (insert his name here) today?” and, even more funny, is I know he truly means it and enjoys hearing about him as a person, as a boyfriend, as a father, and, even, as a husband to his wife. In turn, I always ask about his, though in truth we – – he, his husband, and I – have actually become friends, so I most always already know. We have found that it’s those little gestures that are just needed as way to continually remind each other that we indeed are still okay with exactly how it is and these gestures, like when my husband bought my boyfriend a small piece of art because it reminded him of him on our third month together, mean everything at the occasional time when you just need a check in to make sure the train is still on the track.
Surprisingly, I had never realized, nor thought about, how deep the level of intimacy in allowing the love of your life to go get naked elsewhere can actually feel. It’s the intense bond of trust and feeling of security at the very moment conventional logic tells you that you should be most insecure all coming together in a twisted way that just works in such an unconventional manner. It’s this intimacy, along with the communication that is absolutely essential in this situation, that frankly, has made my marriage and our “married sex” better, stronger, and more intense than it had ever been before and that was with just me having the other. Now, I hope, and feel, that it should only continue to excel as the giddy dater husband becomes the stable boyfriend husband, but time will tell that tale soon.
Finally, I don’t recommend this for everyone because all relationships are as different as they are bizarre. However, for anyone thinking about cracking open that door, my advice is to crack it slowly and with purpose and lay everything on the table before even peering around to the other side. Our way works for the hexagonal box that contains the six of us (spouses included) and we feel safe, secure, and happy in that box, but that does not guarantee success for anyone else ever.
So, for met friend, the reality us that it’s not the orgy you expected as it really is all about the trust, the communication, and the intimacy.
(and, well, yeah, the sex is pretty awesome too)