An open marriage is a marriage in which the spouses are allowed to have sex with other people, without this being regarded as infidelity. The concept might seem strange for people who think that monogamy is essential in a committed relationship, but it actually works for some couples. However, this type of relationship has the potential to ruin a marriage so there are important things to consider before living in an open marriage.
Make sure you both really want this. To make an open marriage work, both partners must be on board. Sometimes one spouse wants an open relationship and the other agrees because they are afraid to lose their partner. Open marriage doesn't work like that. Both partners must be completely comfortable with the arrangement.
Relationship issues. You must resolve all your issues before entering into an open marriage. Having an open relationship won't make your problems magically go away, it will only aggravate them. An open marriage is your chance to start from scratch, so make sure all the past issues are resolved.
Choose the style. There are different styles of open marriage. Some couples have lovers on the side, some practice swinging, some have threesomes or foursomes. There are couples that choose a hybrid relationship, when one partner is monogamous but is OK with their spouse engaging in sexual activities with other people. Discuss all the options and choose the style that suits you the best. Remember that you can always renegotiate.
Set ground rules. Living in an open marriage doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. To make this work, you need to set ground rules and adhere to them no matter what. Each couple needs to work out its own set of rules, but there are some common rules followed by most couples. For example, they avoid sleeping with mutual friends and never bring their lovers home. Protection is a must, falling in love with you lover is a no-no, and so forth.
Remember that you're each other's priority. Even if you sleep with other people, your spouse is your number one priority. You must never ever give your lover first preference over your partner.
Can you cope with your jealousy? Even if you are OK with having an open marriage in theory, you might discover that you can't handle your jealousy in reality. Most couples in open marriage experience jealousy at one point or another. It is important that you and your partner are able to cope with it otherwise it can destroy your marriage.
Communication and trust. Open communication and trust are essential in any relationship, but they are especially important in open marriage. If you can't talk to your partner about important things and tell them how you feel, open marriage is not for you, at least for now. You don't have to exchange all the juicy details with them, but you need to be able to talk your partner about your lovers or tell them if something bothers you.
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