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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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We wrote the above paragraph and invitation for discussion. And then 12 hours later Iwe read the rules for this forum:

"Hitched Media, Inc. intends for this forum to be a free exchange of ideas, advice and entertainment for married individuals. This is not a dating site, nor a place that endorses open marriage or the solicitation of infidelity..."

We hope our post doesn't get deleted. We are not endorsing open marriage or soliciting infidelity. But we do see this subject as a growing issue facing married couples and a choice that apparently many are considering; including us. If people share their experiences then this discussion could easily be the exact opposite of an endorsement of open marriage. Then again... maybe not.
Bad idea. I am a marriage therapist and have been working with couples for 20 years. I have seen dozens of couples who thought that an open relationship could add to their marriage and their marriages were destroyed. I believe we can only be attached to one person at a time. So as soon as you allow this kind of open marriage to take place the attachments become confused and it creates a disconnect from the primary relationship. No one has sex with someone else and then comes back to their relationship feeling like they have even more love for their spouse. "I love you so much more because I just screwed someone else." It does not work that way.

In 1972 Nena O'Neill and George O'Neill publication of their book Open Marriage, which sold over 1.5 million copies, popularized the idea swinging. But in 1977 O'Neill published a second book The Marriage Premise, in which Nena advocated sexual fidelity.

It does not work!
Hi Mrs Childress.
I'm curious. I've heard of marriage counseling, but never divorce counseling. Is this something new that we should know about? My mom was a marriage counselor for seven years, and she's never heard of divorce counseling either - she said that divorce counseling is a bit like closing the gate after the horse has bolted.
Thank you Brett Williams and Mrs. Childress for responding. We especially appreciate the suggested book "The Marriage Premise". We'll check it out. It could carry a lot of weight with us since they were actually doing that and changed their minds about it all. It isn't that your years as a marriage therapist and even your experience with open marriage couples don't matter to us, (they do), but as a counselor you pretty much deal with people who have troubles in their marriage that could come from many sources in their relationship. Freud who developed his psychoanalytic views and methods and views from examining only mentally sick people and superimposed his views on healthy people in ways that were accurate for the sick but distorted when applied to the healthy. In all the couples you've helped, dozens also happened to be in open marriages. Perhaps that group chose that route because they were already in trouble maritally and the extra-marital activities were a multiplying factor on something that was already bad. Maybe it's a distortion to take your findings with sick marriages and superimpose them on all relationships. I think to answer that fairly we'd need a large sample where we could determine the health of the relationship prior to their considering swinging and after as well. We've looked at some of the swinger site forums and advice columns and they seem to have thousands of couples who are happy with their choices. But they maybe just haven't yet reaped what they've sown either. Who knows?

Now we are on this site looking for people who are not necessarily trying to sell or justify their lifestyle choice but who can comment and add useful logical arguments and answers one way or the other.

In the meantime allow us to carry arguments back and forth. We took your argument:

I believe we can only be attached to one person at a time. So as soon as you allow this kind of open marriage to take place the attachments become confused and it creates a disconnect from the primary relationship. No one has sex with someone else and then comes back to their relationship feeling like they have even more love for their spouse. "I love you so much more because I just screwed someone else." It does not work that way.

and used it on our friends who have talked to us about swinging. They came back with two arguments. First they pointed out that we have more than one child and asked if we loved one more or less that the others. We had to admit we love them equally; sometimes differently from each other, but it isn't a zero sum game where loving another child subtracts from the rest. In fact their many differences and their various interactions with each other and us do create more opportunities to love them more and in distinctive ways. And having multiple children certainly makes all our lives more interesting.
On similar lines, our discussion also included fear, jealousy and insecurity. Their point to us was that while children may experience all these emotions, they are just confused or immature. But loving parents talk to them, explain things and reassure them of their love. "Mommy and Daddy love you and enjoy you so much and you make us so happy that we wanted you to have a little brother or sister to love you and for you to love too, and us too." Parents encourage their children to not be angry, insecure or jealous but to be happy for each when the other one gets something special or extra. They also teach them to identify when those feelings come up and to talk about them; not to ignore, stuff, stew or act on them in a negative way.
We said marital love is different from sibling or parent child love. They asked "How?" We haven't come up with a good answer yet. We are open to suggestions from readers here.

The second thing they argued back was that having sex and being in love are not the same thing. When they got us to agree with that statement, they reframed it as recreational sex. They talked about relationships between spouses, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. But they differentiated relationships from activities such as conversation, eating, playing, working, or having sex. They said, the relationship is the relationship. The activities are the activities. You can do what ever activities you want inside any of the relationships you want so long as all parties concerned are able to honestly and willingly consent. We said that sex was sacred, but they said, no, marriage is sacred. Sex is fun.

We talked a lot more and they have more ideas we'd like to put out to have people challenge, but that's enough for now. If you or anyone wants to respond, we are eager to hear all sides of this issue.
I have to agree that swinging or involving others in our sex life from time to time has not destroyed my marriage. I don't think it solves pre-existing problems that you may have in the marriage but that may not be an issue for your relationship.

We have an open relationship to an extent. We have rules that we agreed on to keep ourselves happy and focused on our happiness together and not the other people we play with from time to time. We keep ourselves focused that we are doing this together to turn eachother on.

For us it is about exhibitionisum. The sex/kink parties we go to have many types of people.

More often we do not include others in our sex act but it turns me on to have someone watch. It helped us bring back the spark in our marriage to add the excitement. I think the change in the routine is also a big plus. The parties we go to are more kinky, not swinging so we do not have to worry about diseases as much.
The only thing I see as a potential hazard with poly sex is...sexual transmitted diesease.

STD's would be the main issue to be concerned with. Trust no one, check out potential people, get tested, use condoms, use dental dams, use gloves. If the couple is not willing to play safe they are not worth playing with. Having more people involved with your sex life can be a wonderful experience/experiment just be smart about it. Again it is also an experiment if it does not work for you stop.
My wife and I married with the agreement we could both have sex with other people after our marriage. We had both felt slighted in our past relationships and didn't want to get stuck in a passionless marriage again. Soon after our wedding we joined a swinger's club in our area. Big mistake on my part. Why? Several reasons. Number one, my wife could find guys on the internet on a daily basis to have sex with, and even with her help in making me profiles and trying to make me marketable, we have tried for a year and haven't found one woman interested in having sex with me. Within three weeks of our marriage my wife had sex with a guy she found on Yahoo. Several weeks later she had sex twice in a three-day period with the man next door. When I saw how much she was enjoying the penetration of another man, I instantly knew I couldn't compete with the pleasure she was getting from being with him. I knew in a heartbeat that every time I left the house, I would worry about who she might be having sex with that day. All security in our relationship was gone. Another big problem with joining a swinger group, as far as from a man's perspective: Most of the women in the swinging clubs I am familiar with advertise themselves as being bisexual. Often we see women go to swinger parties with their husbands, and soon after they arrive, the wives are off playing with other women, while their husbands are left all alone. So a word to the wise: If you are a man, you are going to quickly be left very far behind when you become a swinging couple. Then when your wife realizes how much more marketable she is than you are, since she is being pursued by bisexual women (even if your wife isn't bisexual) and also other men, she will soon realize her need for you is limited. Then the husbands have no bargaining power, because they don't have anything sexually to offer their wives. At that point the husbands dare not try to back away from swinging, because the wives like it, and they are the ones in demand. Yes, soon this marriage will be over, and hard lessons learned. I will just warn the men: You may love sex and want a lot of extra excitement, but it is a huge Pandaora's box, with a lot of supposed promise, but very little delivery.
Hello Greg,

What you have described here is a great description of how not to do swinging. First of all I am sorry for you troubles but it i also clear that you have done not even the molst basic research into "how to swing successfully".. I think that if you had even bothered to read the "rules" and tips or advice pages on most swinging sights and tried you wouldhave avoided most of these problems.. indeed if you had read many of the nlightened comments by experienced swingers on this blog you would have avoided the problems..

There is a common theme here though amongst the jilted, MALE, wannabee swingers posts who have now lost their marriages, through their own ignorance, stupidity and lack of any testosterone to speak of so.. I use the term Males loosely.. to describe anyone with a penis, although not nessasarily having any balls... get it!!!

I mean your next door neighbour, really?? did you even take 5 minutes to think that through before you gambled your marriage on it? do you really trust your neighbour that much to allow him access to your wife in that way? you clearly dont trust your wife enough, as yu mentioned you now are paranoid... whenever you leave the house.. this is a simple case of stupidity... on your part.. you asked for it.. you agreed to it and now you have a situation... and you have to deal with it but it sounds like you lack the balls to do it in an up front and decisive manner. Your one elses...

The other thing you say about Men vs Women.. in my experience.. if you have a good body as a man you get plenty of interest at swingers clubs where the majority of men are often in less than great shape.. you should never agree to allow another guy to hav sex with your wife unless it is a fiar swap.. in other words h should also offer his wife to you.. you should make sure that tyour partner understands the basic philosohpy of fair trading before you even enter into these clubs and if you arent comfortabl with watching your wif have sex with other men then dont agree to it.. she can play with other women you can even have group sex with other couples without going for a full swap that way...

most imp[ortabntly for the mental health of you and your partner never never ever agree to having sex with other people alone, or without involving eachother OK.. simple.. and never do ti with friends, neighbours, work colleagues, basically never do it with anyone you p[lan to see on a regular basis.. because then you run the risk of one or othr falling in love with that person and ruining your marriage..

swinging can be fun, safe and simple.. if you just think about a few things in advance and take precaustins for the health of your marriage.. and grow some balls and go and sort this neighbour out if he is seeing your wif behind you back.. I find that nothing beat a broken jaw.. dont involve your wife.. you just go around there pinch his nose really raelly hard.. dont give him any warning.. adn when he opens his mouth to yell give him a sharp right hook on the lower jaw.. that will dislocate it and h will likely need it wired together for a few weeks.. so he wont be able to be mouthy and it will give him some time to think about things and tell him if he says anything to your wife or anyone else about it you will be back.. to finish the problem.. that will settle the matter for you and tell him to stay away from your wife.. it is a great psychological thing.. ther is a time for legal arguments when they become ineffective swifit and decisive punishment is best..

good luck!!
Beautiful and thank you so much for your priceless comentaries.

You are vastly mistaken.   My wife and I are lifestylers (swingers) and our marriage is a thousand times stronger than it ever could have been.  I think you don't understand it because you have never done it.  It's like explaining what ice cream tastes like to someone who has never had it.

From experience, I can say that it does not create a disconnect from the primary relationship as you stated.  For us, it caused a fortification around our relationship, opened lines of communication, allowed unfulfilled fantasies to become reality, caused life long friendships to develop over years and created trust in an area (sexual fidelity) riddled with distrust in today's marriages.

Many many years ago, my wife and I were the typical traditional marriage.  I loved my wife, but I was becoming more and more uninterested in her physically because we were in the same old routine, day in and day out. Our marriage was dying because there was no passion, adventure or excitement.  We tried to "manufacture" excitement (vacations, going to new places, games, etc...) but the problem was that we were suppressing all of our sexual fantasies - both of us.  One day, my wife opened up to me about one of her fantasies and it literally transformed our marriage.  Within a month from that day we had fulfilled her fantasy, and we went from grudgingly having sex 1-3 times per month, to a passionate 4-9 times per week (with each other), and 1-3 times per month with other couples.

Our most "happily married" friends are lifestylers (swingers) and our most "problematic marriage" friends are vanilla (straight), and we know hundreds of couples in both arenas.

We say: "It works better than traditional marriage! and just like traditional marriage, it is not for everyone and just like any human endeavor, it can fail."

The O'Neill's were at the forefront of "swinging" as you stated, and just like version 1.0 of the computer (remember the Commodore 64?), a LOT has changed since then (read: The Internet).


Dear Brett, monogamist relationships dont work at all (80% of Serial Monogamist) they are all SERIAL MONOGAMIST Sex is something between two adults and is highly individual.... 

We are very happy and love each other very, very much! We started to play (we are softswingers, everything is Ok except intercourse) with other couples and single girls (i proposed to play with a single guy but she says she can handle this) about one year ago. We had a lot of experiences and I enjoyed it a lot. From my point of view, my wife is enjoying most of the time during the experience (she is very active with everybody and we have fun for couple of hours), but the next day she is expressing remorse, shame, disgust and she feels like she did something wrong....

I love my wife very, very much and i love the live with here and all my sexual phantasies are always including her! She is 32 years old i am 42 years old. Sometimes i think it is to much for here... 

I am enjoying almost all experiences and happenings as inspiring, fun, creative and full of live. It touches me deep inside and feel super confortable, alive in this situations. I feel like i share everything with my wife and i always feel close and intimate with here. Actually i have the feeling it brings us extremely close..

My biggest fear is to end up like most (actually all of them) of our monogamist couple friends = divorced, cheating or they are in a brother / sister relationship.

We've been monitoring this post closely and appreciate the honest discussion. But as mentioned, there is to be no solicitation. All soliciting posts have and will continue to be deleted. If this becomes an ongoing issue, this post will be permanently deleted. Thank you for respecting the rules.
Dear Host,
Thank you for allowing this post. We are curious about what got deleted though. We understand about about your need to keep discussion within certain bounds for public posting on this site. If you are able, we would appreciate if sent the other deleted posts to us since we are honestly interested in hearing from many sources and viewpoints. We've checked out some of the swinger sites our friends suggested to us and read many of their forums, but they seem to be either designed to titillate or they are their attempts to justify their behavior or advise on how to do things "better" or some other such things. Sometimes there was honest discussion to educate and warn people when NOT to do it, but there wasn't as much of that. As we started saying above, we are seriously considering adding this to our marriage, but we have serious reservations as well. We thought a non-swinging site might be able to generate a more "balanced" in educational discussion. We don't want to shock, seduce, or drawn anyone into something (except maybe a discussion). It is helpful to us to listen to ideas be presented and to see what others have to say about those ideas. Back and forth. Argument and rebuttal. When we decide what we are going to do, we hope it is after being able to hear fair discussion that is challenged by other perspectives. This is important to us, and we imagine to others as well. We hope you allow this discussion to continue.


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