Surprising Consequences Of An Open Marriage

November 6, 2018  |  
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open marriages do they work length shot of an affectionate young couple dancing in their kitchen at home

If you speak to a couple who is just embarking on the whole open marriage lifestyle, they’ll probably sound like they have everything under control. They’ve got this thing in the bag. They have their rules. They have their parameters. They really feel that they can predict and control how this all goes down. Here’s the thing: sex and love are two of the hardest things in the world to control. Emotions don’t care about your rules. Sex doesn’t care about your parameters. You can rarely tell your heart, body, or mind what to do which is exactly what you’d have to do to control how an open marriage affects your, well, marriage. That’s why many couples who try an open marriage wind up simply getting a divorce, or find themselves feeling completely emotionally battered and confused. To think anyone has any control over this type of lifestyle is to be quite naïve. Here are the unexpected consequences of an open marriage.


Not all parties want it

You may go to a new person you want to sleep with so excited to share the news, “Hey, we can have sex and my spouse is cool with it!” But that individual probably didn’t hope to just be an accessory to the sex game you’re playing with your spouse. That person probably wanted a real relationship. It’s harder to get outsiders involved than you may think.


So you’re almost forced to swing

You’re almost forced into being swingers because the only other people happy with a purely-sexual, unemotional interaction that has no potential for something serious are other couples in open marriages. Rarely do single individuals want to participate in this.


It makes extramarital sex less exciting

We are biologically designed to be excited by things that are forbidden. That’s why many couples suddenly feel that the idea of sleeping with other people is no longer exciting once their partner condones it.


Kids fear you’ll divorce

If you have children, they will be terrified that your open marriage is the first step to divorce. First off, they are probably right. But even if they aren’t right, can you blame them for feeling this way? If your parents had been in an open marriage, wouldn’t you have believed their relationship was falling apart?


It embarrasses your kids

Having parents in an open marriage can be very embarrassing for kids. Their friends bully and tease them about it. They feel like some sort of a giant mark has been cast on their home and family.


Your kids’ friends can’t come over

You may find that some of your kids’ friends are now forbidden to come over to your house. Their parents don’t want them around a couple in an open marriage, for fear that it exposes them to inappropriate behavior.


You can catch feelings

Surprise! Someone will catch feelings. Maybe you. Maybe the person with whom you’re sleeping. Maybe your partner, for the person he’s sleeping with. Somebody is bound to catch feelings. It’s just what happens when two people repeatedly have sex.


Others’ needs evolve

Though someone may say she’s fine with a certain arrangement at first, she may later find that she’s not fine with it. Peoples’ needs and desires change. Someone may want to join your marriage as a polyamorous thing. One outsider may request to be the only outside you’re sleeping with. People rarely stick to “the plan.”


One person may be more active

It’s very common for one person within the marriage to have more success finding extramarital sex than the other. This can lead to jealousy and insecurity on the part of the person who isn’t finding much outside action.


Friends don’t approve

Many of your friends won’t approve. They’ll try to talk you out of it. They’ll even be hesitant to spend time with you and your partner as a couple because they feel like they’re supporting something they don’t believe in.


So friends don’t want to hear about it

Part of the excitement of an open marriage is telling your friends all about your extramarital activities. But if they don’t agree with what you’re doing, they don’t really want to hear about it, either.


There may be no turning back

It can be very hard to just have an open marriage temporarily. There isn’t really any going back. If you try to become monogamous again, there are fears and concerns that either party secretly still wants to be with one of their extramarital relations.


You learn what’s off-limits too late

You can learn, too late, what’s off-limits. For example, one person may sleep with an ex, and that could seriously upset their spouse. There wasn’t any “no sleeping with exes” rule laid out before but now that it’s happened, it’s provoked feelings nobody can take back.


It’s a lifestyle that beckons

There are some couples in open marriages who are very into the lifestyle. They’re part of clubs and meetup groups of couples in open marriages. They host parties exclusively for those in open marriages. They always try to get you to join the club, even if you didn’t really want this to be a part of your social life.


You may feel you broke something

You may wind up feeling like you’ve broken something beyond repair. You just wanted to try an open marriage to see what it could do for you, but you just ended up reaching a point of no return, and breaking a bond or trust you cannot get back. In fact, you may just wind up in couples therapy.

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