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Swingers, Swapers, Polygamy, Polyandry and Open Marriage

Be it on TV (e.g. Big Love, Swingtown), the internet, the newspapers, church, the park, at work, or Walmart, it seems everywhere we look these days we run into people who are experimenting with various sexual and relational extra marital activities within their marriages. People have been cheating and destroying their marriages by having affairs for as long as their have been marriages. In the last few years we've become increasingly aware of something else that has apparently been going on for at least a few decades as well. It seems that these are mutually agreed upon affairs in generally strongly committed and loving marriages. My wife has expressed openness to trying this. I have to admit to being a little curious about it myself...but not so much that I'd risk my marriage. We are curious what other people think. We are especially interested in knowing what people think of it who have actually tried or are currently doing this. What sort of experience (good or bad) have you had?

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What are you going to do if she decides the person she has the "affair" with is more desirable than you and wants to leave you? What if she brings home Herpes or one of the other 40 some STDs? Anytime you stray from a committed monogamous relationship you risk the chance of destroying what you have. The statistics say an "affair", even if agreed upon, does damage to your relationship. Yes, some people do fine with it, but they are definitely not the majority.

So ask yourself, do you feel lucky, punk?
I disagree I don't think its that cut and dry, relationships end for many different reasons and some bad relationships don't end when they should because they are are torture for all concered. Many people agree that swinging won't save a bad relationship but it can make a good one better. Either way i think it will speed up the demise of a bad relationship, so you might as well go out with a bang! I can't sight specific research or "studies" and an "affair" is a completely different prospect to anonymous sex. An "affair" suggests a level of intimacy and some sort of ongoing relationship, where as anonymous sex does not.. Whats the risk with having anonymous sex, "in the same room", with your partner. There are some pretty amazing swing clubs out there and,. for me, it beats the hell out of just about any other nights entertainment. It's a completely intense and fun experience, sometimes they have great food too. Perhaps there is an element of luck to it in that, I think guys are more comfortable with the idea of anonymous sex, while girls can be uncomfortable with the "idea" right up until they try it and realise straight away that its pretty good, in fact i think its kind of liberating experience for a lot of women. The problem can be that sometimes they can start liking it a bit too much, I mean you never know how she will react and how do you deal with that. Once again in a good relationship when there is good communication and love, loyalty, trust and understanding these things can generally be worked out.
Hi David. I'd agree with much that you say. As I've said elsewhere "Only with strangers", "Only once - no second events", and "safe sex" aka condoms. The first two will avoid getting into emotional relationships, and the thing will protect your health. And I'd add that while he might not initially like the idea - a husband watching his wife having sex with another guy will really turn him on. The last thing I'd mention is that while a guy invariably can have only one orgasm, a girl can have many - and believe me it will blow both the girl's mind as well as her husband's.
Totally agree with your last sentence.... as such, if all this occurs, a couple "may" be able to step outside the norm bounds of their relationship (i.e. be it swinging, or open-marriage, etc), yet... face little or no risk to this relationship.
I think that is a bit of a stretch. safe sex does prevent disease.
This is something I have thought about and my husband and I have actually discussed this. Not exactly doing it but more like how could it be done. It always seems very intriguing at first, but then I think I would always be competing with him to have another partner all the time. I get very jealous, so I know it couldn't work for our marriage.
Being jealous is surely a risk, and could undermine the success of one's relationship, in this case, we are referring to marriage. The question then, do you get jealous now? And if so, for what reason(s)? My point, your relationship could be at risk....once again, not going outside of the "norm" of the rules set forth. :)
You know, a marriage (like any relationship) can be subject to "risks" even if a couple stay within the bounds, and follow the rules that both society (and often the law) have imposed. Where you said you would not risk your marriage, which is your choice, I make no judgement; but... what I wanted to offer here for discussion is... if a couple do try - as you refer experimenting, does it really bring risk? Such "outside" activities, lets take open marriage for example, may actually help, or improve a couple's relationship?
Hi, This is Michael - the one who started this post last spring.
Here's an update on us and our experiment with swinging:

Our good times are over. At least that's how it seems for now. We aren't getting along great right now. We try and sometimes we can talk nicely together over a dinner date but by the time we get home, the "nicely" part often disintegrates into rude or mean talk. We're still talking a good deal. Lately the thing we've discussed more is - who is responsible for us doing each thing we've done. Our experiences are no longer the interesting and exciting things we do or have done. It is now about “blame” and whose “fault” it is for how we are with each other right now. Since a bunch of the things we've done were not in the basic value system that we’ve held for over 20 years of marriage, neither of us is eager to accept "blame".

For me it’s because of how I have always presented myself publicly and this is inconsistent with that "image". I guess I don't like being a hypocrite. And I REALLY don’t like being found out as a hypocrite. Someone pointed out above and criticized religion, state and society for conditioning us to believe certain things and so when we behave certain ways contrary to those beliefs it creates cognitive dissonance in our psyche. While I disagree with his basic criticism, I do have to admit, at least in my case, that he is right about the resulting cognitive dissonance. I suppose I could resolve the dissonance by changing my beliefs to match my behavior. But in the end my beliefs win out. So for me my conscience informs me I've violated my core beliefs. Further, it gives me internal turmoil in that the actions we have done, the actions I have done, are not only inconsistent with my public image, but they are also inconsistent with my deep beliefs, and yet I actually enjoyed them despite the fact that I'm opposed to them. I somewhat enjoyed having sex with other women. I enjoyed when three or four (or a few times more) of us were all having sex together. I especially enjoyed watching my wife have sex with other men (and sometimes women). Even now as I recall the scenes, it still arouses me. I loved watching her face and her body as she was getting into it. I loved her passionate kisses with me even as she was in the act with someone(s) else. I don't just mean hard, wild passion. I mean also soft passion; a kiss with her hand gently pulling the back of my neck toward her lips for an unrestrained and uninhibited kiss. It all felt really good. And I totally liked it without reservation (at the time). My dissonance is in that I think the action is wrong. I rationalized and talked my mind into handing over the reigns of personal control to my passions (which know nothing of self-control). I hate it in principal but love it in actuality. I love it, but I hate that I love it. And I'm not loving what we have going right now.

For my wife it is different. It seems for her, many old old hurts are surfacing through this issue. Some of those issues I was not aware of, some I thought we had dealt with long ago (but apparently not), some I was aware of and admitted by failures already and asked forgiveness, and some I was aware of and argued that though I was sorry she felt hurt by some things in our past, that never-the-less I didn't feel I was wrong to have done them. By the way nothing in this paragraph is about sex or swinging. It is the normal stuff couples experience over the years about work, kids, time, money etc.. She sees me as solely responsible for our swinging and for our current marital conditions because of 20 years of set-up with my mistress called work and my addiction called workaholism. And though parts of that are true, I just don't think it's that simple. Perhaps we are getting to the nitty-gritty of why swinging or opening our marriage appealed to us (for different but similar reasons). Maybe for as little as we like to admit it, we weren't meeting each others needs as well as we like to believe we were. I see other posters on this forum have addressed both of those thoughts. One person wrote, "We all know the reasons why people stray." And someone wrote about it being just a plain matter of fact that we CAN'T meet all of our partners needs and that is unfair to expect it to be so. I don't know if they were simply referring to needs for sexual variety and spice or if they meant our deeper needs for intimacy and respect, security and love etc.. I digress. For my wife it is different. She doesn't give a shit what ANYONE thinks about her. In that regard she is, I think, more healthy than I. She is who she is, and people will either like her for who she is or not. But she refuses to become someone else just so someone likes her. She is going to pursue her own happiness, and own her own desires and decisions (except it seems maybe some of the recent sexual ones which she puts on me). She had a breakthrough in that several years ago. She used to be the "dutiful spouse" or as she calls it a "Stepford Wife" (she even made me watch both the original and the new version of that movie to help me understand how she felt). [ I have to insert, I disagree with her assessment, at least as a blanket statement. ] Once she ruptured the wall of concern about what people think on one point it was pretty easy for her to abandon much of her previous restraint to the wind. So now she does what she wants, and doesn't do what she doesn't want. She owns her behavior and doesn't feel conflicted about it at all as far as I can tell. She doesn't suffer from the cognitive dissonance as I do. Even though we seem to have the same core values, and she doesn't seem to have changed her beliefs, she has somehow managed to integrate those with her continued solo sexual activity with others (and a host of other sexualized and non-sexual behaviors as well), in a way that works for her. I don't yet understand everything about how all the pieces fit together in her mind. I also don't understand why it's so important to her that I am responsible for so much in our distant and more recent history and for her to be "innocent" or even to be the "innocent victim" of my decision that I pushed on her as a Stepford Wife. For awhile I thought it might be so that she could feel justified in everything she is doing now, but that doesn't measure up in some other areas so, I don't know, at least not yet. But we'll keep talking I hope, and figure it out before it's too late.

She says it's too late already. But she hasn't divorced me yet, so I figure there is still a dim glimmer of hope shining from under the locked door. We have a lot of history together. And kids. And entanglements. And many good things that are, in my estimation, worth salvaging. I still believe in us and in fighting for our marriage. She and one of her boyfriends love each other and even think their relationship makes more sense on many levels than ours, but I don't see either of them making sudden moves to make that happen.

I don't blame our current troubles on swinging. But swinging has been a vehicle to show us (me especially it seems), where the cracks and crumbly areas in our marriage are. My current misery is only partially because of the unexpected (not that we weren't warned) fallout of swinging. I have to admit, swinging has been a catalyst for change for us; some of it good some not so good. Our swinging and our current half-open marriage have again brought us do discuss things that go way back and are very deep and difficult to think about let alone talk about. Even if what is left of our marriage should totally fail and we get divorced, I think that divorce if would be to occur, would already have had been set in motion years ago before we ever thought about swinging or about divorce. Swinging, odd as it seems, may well have accelerated our process and more quickly revealed flaws so that we could deal with them before it was too late. It's premature to say "swinging saved our marriage". But if we make it through this, I think I will have to say swinging was at least partially the reason.
HI Michael,

Once again I am very sorry to hear about your current situation. It must really be a mental and emotional torture for you. I'm really not qualified to give advice on saving your marriage. However this situation has a very familiar smell about it to me so I just want to say that unless you are made of stone surely this behavior of your wife is having a corrosive effect on your self-esteem. If you aren't careful after a time this can lead to some possibly permanent mental health issues. I think you need to be aware of that and regardless of all of the attachments you will need some help to navigate this without harming yourself. The situation has clearly gone very toxic and it sounds like your wife is using this newly found freedom to punish and hurt you. Regardless if this is actually in some way justifiable, what is clear is that she has done a good job of justifying it in her mind.
From my point of view this could be real or it could just be her way of justifying her behavior to herself.. The more she demonizes you the less she has to feel guilty and is free to really enjoy these new exciting sexual "affairs" because it sounds like its progressed beyond swinging to a kind of "open relationship" and that she is conducting numerous affairs. Which you clearly never signed up too and I think now that the situation has morphed into this kind of cruel, extremely selfish, destructive nonsense.. I really think for your own health you really need to re-evaluate this. It must be difficult with so many attachments to see a way out of this. Although perhaps if you separated at least until she gets this out of her system, maybe that would save your marriage. Maybe she would need to reevaluate things then, and then maybe not, maybe it will end in divorce but one thing for sure is that the longer you stay in the situation the worse it will get.
HI Again,

I was thinking about this you know it maybe very likely that she isn't "out to get you" but perhaps she just doesn't want to give up what she has got, so these accusations of hers are likely to be just a way of defending her new "lifestyle"... you could choose to take them with a grain of salt. I think its more logical that she is behaving this way now because its exciting and perhaps she hasn't had a lot of excitement in her life, as opposed to something you did 20 years ago, its far more logical.
I think i mentioned this in a previous post. Its easy to underestimate the amount of sexual repression women experience in this society and when the restraints are unshackled so to speak.. you know I think the experience can be an overwhelming sense of freedom and liberation.. and excitement..and its easy to confuse these feelings with something real and permanent. This is one of the fundamental tenants of Buddhist philosophy. The root of all human misery is mired in this very delusion.. the delusion of permanence when every action is karmic, there is nothing static, no permanence in life, only action and reaction, cause and effect.

Perhaps your wife considers that she has deluded herself into believing she has found a permanent state of happiness, but you have to understand that this is a delusion and nothing more. As you attack this so she will defend it and defend more as she feels it potentially slipping away, will she then blame that on you as well. I would that this sounds more than likely.

I would suggest that if you really want to save your marriage you need to reset some ground rules.. and I think you can start by not accepting this behavior of hers. Not by trying to control it, everyone has freewill and its kind of a fundamental violation of natural law to impose ones will on another.. but you certainly have the right to exercise yours.. why don't you leave her and rent an apartment somewhere.. you know once you change the dynamic she'll get pressure for every other direction than you.. family and friends will be asking questions..

If you want to save your marriage I think you really need to keep your nose clean, and step out of the situation because as your self-esteem erodes and it will, so will your standards of behavior and things will get ugly and you mention you have kids and all kinds of complicating factors.. I would personally take some timeout if I were you and try to connect with your higher self.. All of this lusty stuff really occurs on quite a low vibrational level it can be a kind of trap.. that is why only the most advanced tantra practitioner in the Tibetan Buddhist system actually practice with sexual contact because without true mastery of the mind it can be detrimental to their spiritual development. This is ancient knowledge and I think worthy of consideration, you can not use mind to solve a spiritual problem.

You mentioned that you are religious well in fact I would suggest that now would be a good time to reaffirm your faith and retreat within that, and also to remove yourself physically from the current situation with your wife. Otherwise you will be subject to continual psychic attacks and you won't have a chance to raise your vibrational awareness to a healing state.

good luck! and have confidence
Many of you have asked if we are religious, or Christian, or if we believe the Bible. Based on what we've done, you may be surprised to know the answer to the last two is yes, but to the first part, not so much. You may be even more surprised to know that we are not some fallen away nominal sort of believers. We really do take God, our faith, and the Bible seriously. We've even been pretty active in a few churches. So the comments from those of you who appeal to the Bible have been appreciated; as have the comments form those of you who don't believe the Bible.

Clearly, not everyone on this site appreciates a world view built on the the Bible, so what follows is for those who are religious, especially Jews and Christians. I'm not going to talk at this time about every aspect of my or our faith, but let me tell you it has always been a basically pretty conservative and typical Christian worldview.

I'm responding here to those of you with a particular religious argument, not all your arguments but just this one that;

your faith doesn't allow for you having intimacy with another person beside your spouse, or for your spouse to be intimate with another person beside you in the same way your spouse is with you;

I'm not trying to change your mind. I understand and had the same feelings and beliefs. But I think for me at least, many of those feelings I had were rooted not in selflessness, love and trust, but selfishness, insecurity, possessiveness, jealousy etc... What follows is part of what I used to rationalize doing what I did.
I think about what the Bible says and doesn't say compared to what we say and they don't always match. It isn't always so easy to build such a strong blanket case against having multiple sex partners, straight from the Bible as my teachers made it seem.
While I do think I sinned, at least against my own conscience, if not also against my wife, other men and women and God, I don't think being sexually intimate with more than one person is necessarily a sin as defined in the Bible. Here's why:

Yes God made Adam and Eve and said the two shall become one and so on. OK, but that isn't a prohibition on multiple wives, concubines or sex partners. For that matter it isn't even speaking about monogamy either. The phrase, "The two become one flesh" is not about limiting the quantity of partners. It's talking about promoting the ideal kind or quality of their relationship. It isn't about the number of partners but about the union of love between them. So this is still largely a Biblical argument against swinging in the ways that I've seen, and done, and have heard advocated on this site.
The rules we and so many have set up, are to separate the fun but physical part of sex from the emotional or spiritual aspects of it. So my rules were set up to try to prevent the quality of the relationship from developing into the very sort of multiple sex-parter context which the Bible might actually condone. Those rules failed and my wife and our friend grew to love each other in more than just a sexual way. Their relationship began to look more and more like "the two become one" on multiple levels. The strengthening of their relationship was in direct proportion to our conflict and and in apparent inverse proportion to the strength our our relationship. Did one of these cause the other? Probably both. The stronger they got, the more insecure I felt and so the more possessive and less trusting I became, which made me look more petty and him more attractive. Where would you want to spend your time: with someone who makes you feel good or bad? And so the decline perpetuates fueled at least in part by my insecurity. My fear pushes me to force her to make choices that fuel my fear. But what if I stop making her choose? What if I say, her love for him isn't a threat to her love for me.? What if I say I don't have to compete with him for her attention and affection? What if I looked at it like one of the co-wives in the Bible looked at their relationship with her husband and his other wife (wives)? He treats her well. Gives her things I can't. Isn't disrespectful to me (arguably). Isn't trying to take her away from me. My insecurity is based on a lot of assumptions that I've picked up from our modern world, and also from my beliefs about the teachings of the Bible as they was presented to me by people who may not have known what they were talking about. What if I base my assumptions on what I actually read in the Bible? I don't know. I'm still working on that.

Again I digress. Also in the Bible there are prohibitions against incest between a parent and child, or between siblings. But if you hold to a strictly literal view of the Bible that there were just the two people made on the 6th day of the creation, then at least one of those types of sexual relationships if not both, would have been necessary to populate the earth. And since to "be fruitful and multiply" was God's command, and since the only persons with whom obedience was possible were close relatives, then I think we are forced to say, at the foundation of the world, God didn't just tolerate incest but He commanded it. A similar, though lesser situation would have presented itself after the flood with Noah and his family. It wasn't until many centuries later that God tells Moses such relationships are, for what ever reasons, now off limits. Moses writes down all the laws God says. If there are changes, for whatever reasons, in what is legal or not, Moses would have recorded it, and presumably either obeyed it or have it pointed out that he didn't follow it. So before Moses writes the law of God, the "heros" of "fathers" of the faith, give several examples of the major players being other than monogamous. For what ever reason, Sarah invites Abraham to take her maid and have sex with her. He does. She and her son continue to live with Abraham and his wife and their son for many years. When Sarah dies, he gets remarried plus according to Genesis 25:6 he also had children through concubines which he also had on the side. Abraham's grandson Jacob had children by at least four women: his two wives (who were also sisters) and their two maids.
Jacob's kids are also recorded as having sex others besides their wives. One has sex with his daughter-in-law who was dressed like a prostitute. One, who is married, is ordered to have sex with his sister-in-law and get her pregnant on behalf of a dead brother. And on and on. The only one in all this who incurs God's anger is the one who is required by God's law to have sex with someone who isn't his wife, but always pulls out so he won't get her pregnant. God isn't mad about the sex but about the coitus interuptus.
Additionally Abraham and his son Isaac both offered up their wives as sex partners to other men when it worked to their advantage. However, God did express displeasure with this; as did the other men who had no idea the women were married.
But it seems the conditions of those arrangements had as much to do with God's displeasure as the actions in and of themselves.
I say this because God's law did make provision for a man having more than one wife. Deuteronomy 21:10-17 for one of many examples. Also God's law in the Bible lays out various forms of polygamy, and regulates some forms of it, but not all of it in general. It would have been easier to simply say it is ALL wrong in all from at all times. But He doesn't say that. He only prohibits it in certain situations.

Moses, the law giver, himself took a second (and inter-racial) wife who was an Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12:1). Moses had already married Zipporah (Exodus 2:21). When Moses' brother and sister Aaron and Miriam criticized him for taking this second wife, they were immediately punished by God for their criticism, making it plain that Moses had done no wrong in His sight (Numbers 12:1-15).

Later, King David, who God says is "A man after God's own heart," has a harem of wives already, has an affair with a married woman, gets her pregnant, murders her husband, and take her as his own wife. God confronts him in 2 Samuel 12:7-12 and says, "This is what the lord the God of Israel says: "I anointed you king over Israel...I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms... And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did yo despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah... took his wife to be your own... Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you , and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this ting in broad daylight..." God isn't just tolerating multiple wives. He says here, "I gave you all these wives." and if that weren't enough for you "I would have given you more." David's trouble is not in the taking many wives, but in taking someone else's wife and killing her husband. King David's son Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines. They did end up being his downfall though. But God had warned him about that. He wasn't forbidden to have multiple wives but was warned against multiplying a great many foreign wives, because they would lead his heart astray with their foreign religion.

It's the same in the new testament. There is only one circumstance of polygamy that is forbidden. That is that Paul tells Timothy the pastor or elder is to be the husband of but one wife. So the top church leaders were singled out as not being allowed to have more than one partner, but it almost by default then indicates that the rest of the folks were allowed multiple wives or concubine partners. At a minimum they were not prohibited from it by this passage; nor by any other passage in the New Testament. Jesus, Paul, the disciples, they never say a word about it.

Polygamy, and or concubines or having multiple sexual partners is never condemned in the New Testament. Sexual immorality is condemned and forbidden but polygamy and concubines are never included in the list of things that are considered immoral. Don't believe me? Look for yourself. If that sounds like too much work copy the following verses and paste them in the look up passage window at Biblegateway.com Matthew 15:19-20; Acts 15:29; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 6:9-11,13,18-20; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3-7; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Jude 7; Revelation 2:14,20-21; 9:21 .
The definition of adultery from the Bible is not necessarily the same as what we have in the modern English dictionary either. But I'm already over my word limit for one post. So next time.

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