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Lopsided Open Marriage


Dear Annie: My husband and I have been happily married for 15 years and recently decided to try an open-marriage lifestyle. We are doing this with full honesty and respect for each other.

The main problem is that the dating success is not equal. I found it easier to get a date. Whereas, my husband is having a tremendous degree of difficulty. He has online dating profiles, but no luck. I am seeing someone who is a wonderful person, but I want my husband to experience new things along with me.

Open marriage is still considered taboo, and it is extremely important to my husband and me that we are honest about our marital status with any prospective date. Even though he is happy for me, I feel compelled to help him. But I'm not sure how to do it without overstepping unspoken boundaries. — Open but Lost

Dear Open: Are you sure your husband wants this as much as you do? He may have agreed to the arrangement only to please you. We think you need to have this discussion again and let your commitment to honesty lead the way. Ask your husband whether he is truly happy with the idea of an open marriage and, if so, what you can do to make things easier for him. Marriage, "open" or otherwise, requires the ability to communicate.

Dear Annie: Would you please address the distinction between "dinner" and "supper"? I've heard many people refer to the evening meal as dinner, but the definition of an evening meal is supper. I even heard a prominent newscaster refer to the president as sitting down with a guest at the White House for "dinner" tonight, but if they are sitting down at night, it is clearly supper. — Stickler in the South

Dear Stickler: In most parts of the U.S. and Canada, these words are used interchangeably. However, there are regional distinctions, which might explain why this bothers you so much.

According to most definitions, "dinner" refers to the main meal of the day. Back in the Middle Ages, people often ate the main meal at lunchtime. Now we tend to eat it much later, but it is still called "dinner" regardless of the time. "Supper" refers to a lighter meal taken later in the evening and is often used interchangeably with "tea." The word "dinner" also is used when referring to a formal meal or banquet (hence the president's dinners), and "supper" is always a less formal affair. We hope that answers your question. Thanks for the change of pace.

Dear Annie: In response to "Wife of the Plumber," I have only one thing to say: Get out while the gettin' is good!

Her husband is a total narcissist, and nothing is going to change him. Narcissists are superb at conning people, especially those who love them. We are the ones they treat the worst, because we have that unrealistic hope that given time things will improve.

After almost half a century, I can attest to the fact that no matter how many chances you give, no matter how many promises they make and no matter how much you love them or how hard you work, it will never change. They see nothing wrong with themselves. It is always the other person's fault. They will not seek help.

I urge her not to throw her life away on someone who will never be there for her. I hoped too much and loved too strongly, and although still legally married, I have finally reached the point of emotionally withdrawing from my self-made prison. If leaving is not feasible, she needs to protect herself and her children from the extreme damage that is done by living with this type of person. And get counseling. — Been There, Done That and Escaped

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



81 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 -

Did I write that letter?? It is true, it's a lot easier for a woman to find a guy. I could find ten guys tomorrow and I'm no Bettie Page; my husband, on the other hand, has had to work a lot harder. There's not that much you can do about it if he's making a decent effort to meet someone, looks decent, etc, other than time your rendezvous together. As in, you ony get to go out on a date if he does, too. It's not as taboo as you think it is, by the way. When my husband and I decided to do this, I told pretty much everyone because I have a big mouth and very few batted an eye. A close friend said she was momentarily concerned that I was having problems in my marriage, but once she realized that that wasn't the case, she was fine with it.

Another thought would be for you to try swinging or key parties. They aren't my jam, but you're both pretty much guaranteed to get laid. You could also try bringing a third person into your bedroom which, while not the same thing, is similarly fun.

Good luck!

LW2 -

Omg. Really? Look, you have to accept that language changes and evolves and is different regionally. I once had someone chastise me for using the word "dessert" to mean cake or pie or whatever sweet thing you eat after dinner (haha) - he felt I should have used "pudding" which is what would be used in the UK. It would be like saying that using "apartment" is wrong and you should say "flat" instead. He wasnt even from the UK. He was from doucheland.

LW3 -

God I love my husband. How some women marry, let alone stay with, these dirtbags is beyond me.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Zoe
Mon May 13, 2013 9:20 PM
LW1 -
I don't agree with the Annies that your husband's lack of succes may be the indication that he's not as enthusiastic as you think. It is e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y easy for any female, reasonably young and presentable, to get f*cked. Even the ones who are not (reasonably young and presentable) will have no trouble finding if they're not racist. Things are different with men, especially past the bloom of prime youth.

Join an exchangist club. But then, perhaps your husband WILL reconsider when he sees you with his own eyes in full action with another man.

LW2 -
I've got bad news for you, you are not the last word and testament on English usage, and your choice of vocabulary is not the universal standard.

Comment: #2
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon May 13, 2013 9:32 PM

LW3 refers to the first letter on 10 April 2013 (Wife of the Plumber with Leaky Pipes at Home).
Comment: #3
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Mon May 13, 2013 10:44 PM
LW2: Ever hear of lunch? It's what people eat in the middle of the day (although, as the Annies said, if it's the main mean it is sometimes called dinner). What happens afterward is called dinner or supper, depending on where you live. _Your_ definition_ is not _the_ definition.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Baldrz
Mon May 13, 2013 11:54 PM
LW1: Why are they encouraging an open marriage? The original Ann Lander would knock these two upside the head for printing the letter, and worse, their response.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Gerhardt
Tue May 14, 2013 1:10 AM
LW2 - I don't know why the LW thinks he/she (I'll use "she" for convenience) is an authority on language, but the normal usage of the terms "dinner" and "supper" is very simple. Dinner is the main meal of the day, whenever it's eaten. If dinner is eaten in the middle of the day, then the evening meal is supper. If the main meal is eaten in the evening, then it's dinner and the meal eaten at mid-day is lunch. It seems to be more prevalent in the south to call the evening meal "supper", but the word normally is defined as a light meal eaten in the evening, with the main meal being eaten in the middle of the day. In any event, the LW has apparently fashioned herself a linguistic expert, but she is far from it. The way the two terms are used is regional, and many more people who were originally from farming communities use "supper" as the evening meal and "dinner" as the noon meal. The terms have become interchangeable with time, and there really is no right or wrong any more.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Kitty
Tue May 14, 2013 1:49 AM
LW1 - I do not believe that your husband hasn't had any luck because he really doesn't want to do this, as the Annies suggested. No where in her letter does it state that she asked her husband for it and he agreed to it. It said they both decided to try it. There could be a million reasons why he can't get a date but we don't know him so we can't say why. But the others have had good suggestions. Try a swingers club or a swingers party. But if you're really bothered by this, then talk to him and ask him how he feels about it.

Gerhardt asked, "Why are they encouraging an open marriage?" I personally wouldn't want an open marriage but, IMO, if the spouses both agree to it and are open and honest about it, then that's their business. If people want an open marriage, I do not think less of them or think their "wrong" (as long as everything is consensual and there are no children or animals involved). I guess the Annies feel the same way.

LW2 - You know...they have these things called dictionaries. You could've looked it up. It says pretty much the same thing that the Annies said.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Michelle
Tue May 14, 2013 3:45 AM
Oh, Lord. I meant to say, "think THEY'RE wrong." Boy oh boy I made the mistake that I hate seeing myself, LOL!
Comment: #8
Posted by: Michelle
Tue May 14, 2013 3:50 AM
@Gerhardt, perhaps the "new" Annies realize that infidelity in this country is a serious problem, and that monogamy isn't a natural state, but rather a choice, and isn't the right choice for everyone -- and that throughout millennia adults have had different styles of relationships?

I know people whose open relationships have lasted longer and more successfully than most "regular" marriages... it's not my thing, but I'm not going to cast aspersions on anyone who is choosing something, openly and honestly, with their spouse.

I have a LOT more of a problem with cheating -- as in, dishonestly and secretively opening up your marriage WITHOUT discussing it with your partner.

Everyone who has ever been cheated on has essentially already been in an open relationship -- just without their knowledge or their consent. LW1's way is MUCH better.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Mike H
Tue May 14, 2013 4:09 AM
LW1's husband's problem is probably not for lack of interest or resistance to the idea of an open marriage -- it's just easier for women to find a date or a hookup than for straight men.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Mike H
Tue May 14, 2013 4:11 AM
LW1- I'm with those who said he's not as successful as the wife because it's easier for a woman to get laid verses a man. I don't think it's because he really doesn't want to do it. Also, siding with those that say to GERHARDT in that I don't think the Annie's are doing anything wrong by not printing his letter or giving him advice. Like others, an open marriage is not for me but it is how some people have successful marriages.

LW2- Really, you must be one bored woman (using woman because that's who I think wrote in) to have to ponder this to a degree that you needed to write the Annie's. I have always used the words interchangeably and would not even blink if someone used one instead of the other. IMO, only an uptight, black & white kind of person would make this an issue.
Comment: #11
Posted by: JustBecause
Tue May 14, 2013 4:31 AM
LW1--There could be myriad reasons why your husband isn't having as much luck in the dating pool as you are. Common sense tells me, however, that one strong reason is that there are many more guys out there who are willing to enter into a relationship with a married woman than there are women willing to do the same with a married man. Call it human nature. You don't say whether or not you're looking for full blown relationships or sex with no strings or friends-with-benefits. Your husband should ask himself what it is he's hoping to get out of your new open marriage and then peruse the proper web sites. Trust me, there is a "dating" site for every scenario, taste, persuasion and kink.

LW2--Dear Stickler. Why don't you get a life?
Comment: #12
Posted by: Chris
Tue May 14, 2013 4:45 AM
LW1, why don't you ask one of your boyfriends if he knows someone to fix your husband up with, and then you can all double-date? Seriously, the reason it's easier for you to find a date is because these guys do not care that you're married. They're not looking for a long-term relationship with you--you're just someone to hump for the price of dinner and a movie. Most of the women on dating sites, however, are looking for something longer term, so your husband gets filtered out. Stop worrying so much about him, because eventually he will find someone--but chances are good she will ask him to leave you, and he will.

LW2, you must be lots of fun to have over for dinner.

LW3, bitter much? Or she could simply pick up a wrench and learn to fix a leaky tap herself, instead of considering that to be "men's work".
Comment: #13
Posted by: Jane
Tue May 14, 2013 4:53 AM
Open marriage? Come on, why can't they just sneak around quietly like many other people?
I still don't think the real Ann would have approved by any stretch of the imagination. But who knows....she did thrive during the 60s.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Gerhardt
Tue May 14, 2013 5:40 AM
LW1 - You'll find in this type of relationship it is not always equal. However, things seem to swing back and forth. He's having a dry spell and your enjoying some rain. It'll go the other way. Don't know why this happens but it does. There are time when I swear I couldn't attract a starving dog with pork tied around my waist....I know, huh? ..but it's true. And then other times I'm beating them off with a stick (well, I don't actually use a stick.....). Stay calm, enjoy the ride and he'll be just fine.
LW2 - You're out to lunch ol' lady. And I mean lunch...not dinner or supper.
LW3 - got nothin'
Comment: #15
Posted by: Rick
Tue May 14, 2013 5:46 AM
LW1: Sorry, but I've got to agree with Gerhardt (#5) here – the problem is the open marriage. That's the elephant in the room here ... the fact that you're trying to have your cake and eat it, too.

Look, on your wedding day, you were probably asked by a minister – in front of a huge crowd – whether you vowed to (among many other things) FORESAKE ALL OTHERS until death parts you. I realize that at times, we're tempted by someone more desirable ... but it is rising above that temptation that is one of the many things that make a marriage work. (There's many other things, but that's just one.)

So sorry if I sound like this is a black and white issue, but for me, it is.

The solution I see is just get a divorce, go out with your Robert Redford, let him have his young woman and never shall your ships pass in the night again. And then, when you have your new marriage, be sure the hell to close it.

LW2: Yeah, whatever. Look, who cares? It's been mangled up in my youth so much I've lost track of what constitutes "lunch," "dinner" and "supper" ... I'm beyond caring at this point.

LW3: I'd also just get the divorce and be done with it. He's never gonna change.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Bobaloo
Tue May 14, 2013 6:16 AM
LW1 -- I agree with everyone else here that unless the Annies are privy to information we are not (which, as we know, is possible), the fact that your husband is having more trouble finding a date than you are likely has NOTHING to do with a lack of enthusiasm for the idea. HOWEVER, it wouldn't surprise me if, even if this was originally his idea, now that he's seeing you go off on dates with other men while he's unable to get a date himself, his enthusiasm for the idea is now waning. So, the Annies' advice isn't ENTIRELY off the mark. I think you do need to talk with your husband to make sure that he still thinks this is such a great idea.

LW2 -- I was going to say that I want your life, if this is the biggest problem you've got -- then I realized that actually, your two biggest problems would be an inability to get over yourself and, apparently, an ability to use a dictionary. So, never mind, you can keep your life -- or, better yet, as Chris suggested, you could try getting a real one.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Lisa
Tue May 14, 2013 6:28 AM
Re: Jane

Oh dear, I don't think you've been exposed to many real open marriages. Sometimes, indeed, an open marriage can be because one spouse wants to sleep with another person and it eventually leads to divorce, but frankly those relationships were doomed anyway.

Re: Gerhardt

Sneak around quietly? Where's the fun in that??

Ann Landers may have said something different - but she's dead, so...

Re: Bobaloo

Really, Bobaloo? REALLY? You're suggesting they get a divorce because YOU aren't comfortable with an open relationship? The number of stupid assumptions you've just made is staggering.

"That's the elephant in the room here" - I don't know you know what that means.
"whether you vowed to (among many other things) FORESAKE ALL OTHERS until death parts you." - Why would you assume they took those vows, and why would you assume that "forsake all others" means the same to everyone else as it does to you?
"we're tempted by someone more desirable" - Quite possibly, the person she's having sex with is NOT more desirable. It is the experience that is desirable.
"it is rising above that temptation that is one of the many things that make a marriage work." - Is it, though? Why? For some people the only think they want is for their partner to never look at another person. Others have other preferences and make other choices.
"The solution I see is just get a divorce," - haha, WHAT?
"And then, when you have your new marriage, be sure the hell to close it." - Who says she wants to marry her guy friend?

Look, I get that not everyone is comfortable with open relationships, but most people have the wherewithal to realize that not everyone functions exactly the same way that they do and that there is more than one version of "right". I am frankly shocked that you would suggest divorce to two people who, by all appearances, love each other, but have an "alternate" lifestyle (and frankly not a very shocking one).

I can tell you that opening up my marriage has brought me MUCH closer to my husband in MANY ways and I love it. But I guess maybe I should divorce him and marry my guy friend with whom I get along great but am not romantically compatible with in any way, and my husband should marry the hot but flaky mother of three (also in an open relationship) he is with these days.
Comment: #18
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 6:29 AM
Oh Boy! I can't wait. Not my thing - just a few questions. I know Zoe doesn't have kids - but does it make a difference if you do have children? What is the protocol for that? A baby-sitter or one stays home while the other goes out? Does the new partner meet with the family, introduced to the kids and the spouse? Are flowers appropriate? Are health certificates exchanged? Do all participants have permission- and how do you verify? Are these strictly sexual encounters? And most important WWBS.(what will bobaloo say)
Comment: #19
Posted by: Penny
Tue May 14, 2013 6:34 AM
Guess I was posting while B was too.
Comment: #20
Posted by: Penny
Tue May 14, 2013 6:38 AM
Re: Penny

Kids make it more difficult for sure. DH's girlfriend has three of them! Crazy. Logistics are a lot harder, and one of my "rules" is that no one neither of us knows in our bed. So she either needs to host the first time, or they need to go out a few times first before having sex. (DH's rule is no overnights). I don't know what everyone else with kids does, but for DH's GF, her husband stays with them while she goes out (just like any other activity I guess!)

No intros to the kids, no, and no flowers. We always go dutch if there is dinner or drinks or a cab involved or whatever. No health certificates but we always play it safe. I suppose if anyone wanted to start going bareback, health certificates would indeed need to be exchanged. I'm not getting 'pes, no thanks. We don't verify whether the partner has given his/her permission but if there is any indication that they haven't, no go (with DH's last girlfriend, her husband came home halfway through, and started watching tv... weird).

Not necessarily strictly sexual but not romantic. My guy was my friend before this started, so it's like hanging out with your friend platonically (no cuddling) that you can then have sex with after and then go home. DH does more dirty talk type of thing with his gfs, because I suck at it so he can get his kicks that way.

Oh, and DH and I always "do it" together after when we get home - it's kind of like a reset button. Not to "undo" what was done - but I don't know how else to explain it. It works for us, anyway.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 6:46 AM
@bobaloo -- I am hardly the great defender of open marriages. Personally, I would not be comfortable being in an open marriage -- to me, I got married because I was ready and WANTED to commit to just one person. If I didn't want that, I wouldn't have gotten married. I'd continue to date, perhaps be in an open relationship, but not an open marriage.

Moreover, I am rather skeptical of just how well open marriages really work. Zoe is the only person I know (and I don't even really know her!) who is in one. My concern with an open marriage is that the "lopsidedness" may not always be a simple matter of "it's easier for the woman to get laid." It's not just a question of whether both are getting as many "dates." It's also a question of both partners really and truly wanting it (and continuing to want it). And it's also a question of the other people they are dating really and truly being OK with it. I have said before, it's hard enough to get two people on the same page -- make that four or however many more, and it strikes me as darn near impossible. Finally, people's minds and feelings change, and what starts out as "just sex" doesn't always stay that way for everyone involved. It seems to me that with so many variables in play, it's unlikely that SOMEONE doesn't eventually end up getting hurt.

But see, having said all of that -- I am not the marriage police, nor am I so sage as to be the one authority on what constitutes a good marriage. While it's hard for me to imagine an open marriage truly going well, where everyone is happy with it, that doesn't mean it can't happen. It seems to work for Zoe and her husband. I don't get it, but I don't get to dictate the terms of other peoples' marriages. I can be as skeptical as I want (and clearly I am), but I'm not prepared to say "this can NEVER work, and they should just get divorced."

Moreover, regardless of what you think of open marriages, I don't see the open marriage as the "elephant in the room" -- that suggests that they never talk about it. Clearly, they had some conversation about it in order to come to an agreement about it. What MAY be the elephant in the room is whether the husband's feelings have changed now that he's seen his wife have dating success while he has not. It's not clear from the letter that they've had a follow-up conversation about how he's feeling about it now. Whereas it IS clear that there is at least some reluctance on her part to talk with him about it, since apparently when they set up the ground rules, there were some lines established that she is afraid of crossing if she "helps" him. It would help to know what those lines are. I suspect that they agreed to have an open relationship but that they weren't supposed to talk about their experiences (or lack thereof) thereafter. So, perhaps THAT is the elephant in the room, but not the fact of the open marriage itself.

Look, for all we know, hubby is totally happy for his wife and is content to continue with the open marriage despite his lack of luck thus far. Heck, for all we know, hubby never really wanted to date anyone else but is totally OK with his wife dating others, so his lack of success actually is due to his not wanting anyone else but not minding her need/desire to be with others occasionally. I certainly wouldn't be advising divorce to a couple that, for all intents and purposes is perfectly happy together. Now, the opposite is, of course, also true -- entirely possible he's miserable and jealous. We don't know -- because he didn't write in, and, frankly, it sounds like perhaps the LW doesn't know for sure herself due to her apparent reluctance to discuss this with him. But in that case, I'm not sure the immediate answer is divorce. The two of them need to have a frank discussion about how they are both feeling, and if they both still want an open marriage. If one of them does and the other doesn't, then MAYBE they end up getting divorced -- or maybe the one who wants an open marriage agrees to close it again. Or maybe they both agree to temporarily close it and try again another time. Or maybe they agree to try some of the other suggestions offered (swingers' clubs, etc.). Lots of options for them to consider before they head straight to divorce.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Lisa
Tue May 14, 2013 7:10 AM
Re: Zoe (#18)

"'(W)hether you vowed to (among many other things) FORESAKE ALL OTHERS until death parts you.' - Why would you assume they took those vows, and why would you assume that "forsake all others" means the same to everyone else as it does to you?"

I do not know what your situation is.

But speaking for myself only, there are some of us on this forum who believe that there was a time, regardless of what church you went to, what political party you belonged to, what your personal beliefs were – even if you didn't belong to a church – you at least agreed to some truths in life. There used to be a time when "foresake all others" (the stress was mine) meant exactly that ... that no matter how difficult it was, no matter how tempting someone was, you stayed loyal and true to your spouse, no matter what.

Nobody ever said it was easy, but goodness gracious, this trend of open marriages is troubling to me. It really is.

Now, getting a husband or a wife is like buying a sports car. Sure, the thrill is there when things are new ... but when the years pass and the performance (for lack of a better term) wanes as the engine ages and can no longer be the "mean machine" when you first bought the car, you just trade it in for the new, better looking model.

Same with having a husband or a wife.

I've interpreted this letter the way I think I see it. Sorry if you see it differently, but sometimes there are things such as black and white.

Again, the elephant in the room is the open marriage ... and (I will add) the fact that they are ignoring reality – no matter what they may say or claim, they just simply are not happy together, the thrill and marital lust is gone, and they should just go their separate ways. Plain and simple.
Comment: #23
Posted by: Bobaloo
Tue May 14, 2013 7:24 AM
LW1: I can't believe the Annie's are encouraging an open marriage! I think they are trying to change their image and be more cool and hip. Sorry, I'm not buying that...
Comment: #24
Posted by: Paige English
Tue May 14, 2013 7:24 AM
Dang. I wasn't aroused until now.
And only another 3 hours until I can go home for lunch.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Gerhardt
Tue May 14, 2013 7:25 AM
@ Rick Re: #15

"There are time when I swear I couldn't attract a starving dog with pork tied around my waist...."

Hubba hubba hubba. Clearly we don't run in the same circles... ;-P
Comment: #26
Posted by: Chris
Tue May 14, 2013 7:38 AM
Zoe, OK a few more. Did you know you wanted this life style before you married? If you did and knew you didn't want kids, what made you decide to marry? Why didn't you just live together? I know these are nosey questions but since you don't seem to mind answering them, I am curious. What was it about marriage that made you feel it was preferable to living together?
Comment: #27
Posted by: Penny
Tue May 14, 2013 7:49 AM
Re: Lisa

Good to hear your take on it as well! I just wanted to give y'all a bit more insight. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything - but I think some people are against it just because they are, and make moronic suggestions like getting a divorce! LOL.

Part of the reason we embarked on this is... well, let me start from the beginning. When I met my husband, he still had this v-card. I did not, but we started on this sort of "shy" path together. It wasn't like "leave the lights off and don't say anything" type of thing but it wasn't to the level of experimentation/enthusiasm we both seemed to want but were having difficulty making happen (it is so easy to revert back to "comfortable and customary"). You know how they say that the way you interact when you first meet someone dictates how you will interact with them forever? Like if you and another person speak a little bit of French, and you meet speaking French, you are more likely to speak French with that person (so if you are in a foreign country learning the language, don't greet anyone in English!) - well for us it was like that with sex too. This has afforded us the opportunity to learn new things and experiment with the safety of a stranger and then take that home. I realize that that makes NO sense, but you know how if you're going to make an ass of yourself, you'd rather that the person witnessing be someone you'll never see again? Kind of like that. Additionally, there are things the other isn't really into (like dirty talk, for example) - not to say that we won't make concessions for each other, but if he can get his dirty talk fix with someone else, he can be my guest. Without a doubt, our sex life is evolving and getting better.

Through all this, we also make it very clear that the other is "#1" - fawn over each other, basically. It's kind of like getting to enjoy a really unhealthy food once in a while. Like that burger is so good but then you feel full after and you're relieved to eat fulfilling vegetables most of the time.

Some of our bfs/gfs do the "don't ask, don't tell" thing with their spouses but we do not. I mean I don't read his messages (although I could if I wanted to) but we are very involved in the other's affairs.

Lastly, it gives me hope for the future. I know that that sounds absurd, too! But I always knew I would eventually be PHYSICALLY tempted by someone else and that I would be bummed to not be able to act on it. So now I know I can, and it takes away that worry. Not that I ever felt trapped or bored, but in the future, I knew we would both feel that way at times and I know that for as long as I love my husband I will work for our happiness together (NOT just a divorce at the first sign of trouble - BOBALOO.)

Anyway, I know many people don't "get" it, but I'm very happy with this. I don't worry too much about the emotional side of it because I don't feel a lot of emotion, and because my husband is easy to read. I can tell when he's crushing on someone.

Re: Bobaloo

Every day it becomes clearer to me why you are single, Bobaloo.

"But speaking for myself only" - Right-o. For YOURSELF. So why advise two strangers to get a divorce because they are different?

"you at least agreed to some truths in life." - Sorry, but monogamy is not a "truth" in life and it never has been! You are kidding yourself if you think the 50's perfect nuclear family is how it should be - or even how it was! People cheated on their spouses a ton back then, and before, and still now. The sanctity of marriage is something ridiculous to use as an argument - with a divorce rate of over 50% and an infidelity rate of, what? I have no idea. Something high. THAT'S the real "truth in life"! I can't believe you'd suggest divorce, which is even more contradicting of those vows you take so literally, to a couple who you do not have any evidence is unhappy together.

"There used to be a time when "foresake all others" (the stress was mine) meant exactly that" - Exactly WHAT? Look up "forsake" in the dictionary. Does it mean you can't have any friends? It could. Who knows. Who says they even took those vows? I didn't.

"Nobody ever said it was easy, but goodness gracious, this trend of open marriages is troubling to me." - Fair enough. But why?

"you just trade it in for the new, better looking model." - Huh? So in your head, it's preferable to get a divorce than engage in consensual, unemotional extra-marital sex, even if everyone involved is happy about it? People are not cars... Especially if, as you get older, so do all the cars at the dealership! Haha. Why not put in the work to maintain your car that you've had, that you know inside and out? When you feel like going for a joyride, rent a Mustang for an afternoon. But you know you don't want a two-door car or the extra insurance costs associated with a sports car and really your 20 year old Volvo is your favourite car so you know if you have to pay a bit extra for gas or replace parts regularly, that's ok.

"Sorry if you see it differently, but sometimes there are things such as black and white." - Mhm. Black and white are colours. Open marriage is a preference and much truer to our caveman roots than the institution of marriage.

"Again, the elephant in the room is the open marriage" - Again, you aren't using that saying properly. The LW's letter is entirely about the open marriage, so it's not an "elephant in the room".

"they just simply are not happy together" - How do you know that? I can only speak for myself but I love my husband and am very happy with him. If he did not want to do the open thing, that would be fine. He's the only person in the world I love to be around every day and never get sick of. Bobaloo, you're an idiot if you think you know how everyone feels based on an anonymous letter to an advice columnist. It is like you are incapable of comprehending that physical/sexual attraction is different from emotional attraction (love) and that you can have one without the other.

And what is the funniest thing of all, is what your argument seems 100% based on defending the institution of marriage. You sound like someone trying to argue against gay marriage because marriage = man + woman. Marriage is a much more abstract concept than polyamory. Unless you're a cockatoo or something that instinctively mates for life.
Comment: #28
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 7:51 AM
@Rick #15 (inspired by Chris at #26) -- have you tried eclairs? Mmmm, mmmm good!
Comment: #29
Posted by: Lisa
Tue May 14, 2013 7:51 AM
Re: Penny

Haha, I feel like a zoo exhibit! :P I don't mind though!

Yes, I knew I wanted this before I married. I have been mentioning it to my husband practically since we met. Just as a like "heads up, just give this some thought" or "I might like to do this some day".

I wanted to get married because I love my husband and it seemed like the logical next step (get married, buy a house), not so I could have kids within wedlock. Marriage is not a requirement for children and vice versa, it is more about the partnership. IMO anyway.

As much as I don't want children, or monogamy, I am very protective of my marriage and it is one of the most important things in my life. It is probably also a bit "keeping up with the joneses". We got married to formalize our relationship for our friends and families as much as for ourselves. Married, in my country house, with all my pets - I am very happy!
Comment: #30
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 8:01 AM
Bobaloo, your time is past. Women can get jobs now, black people don't have to sit at the back of the bus, and, yes, the world is a more sexually liberated place. You think open marriages didn't exist back then? They sure as hell did! Sorry, buddy, but you need to get off the old rotary phone and pick up an iPhone. Open marriages are here to stay, and are much more likely to SAVE a marriage than resistance/forcing someone to be solely with one other person, when they are poly-inclined (now THAT will lead to divorce). Open marriages are all about trust, and honesty, and communication - like all best marriages should be. Rather than in your day, when the men just had the secretary on the side. But apparently you think that's what all people should be doing.
Comment: #31
Posted by: whattttt
Tue May 14, 2013 8:01 AM
@ Bobaloo: I have no idea what you're arguing here, aside from open marriages are inherently bad. You claim that marriage vows, specifically the whole “forsaking others” bit, are so important, but if the thrill is gone, spouses should go their separate ways. Marriage vows also include the phrase “until death due us part.” So not sleeping around, with both partners' consent, is more important than seeing the marriage through? You also state that there was a time that partners saw their marriages through until the end and that was just a universal truth. While I agree that was definitely true long ago (why divorce rates were so low), many partners cheated and many had open relationships. (Ever heard of a key party?) Open marriages have always been around, we're just hearing more about them now. I personally could never have an open marriage, but if two partners equally consent to it, I don't see what the problem is. It's finding an alternative to making it until death.
Comment: #32
Posted by: Casey
Tue May 14, 2013 8:24 AM
@Bobaloo, one thing you are completely ignoring in your post #23, "there was a time", is that "time" never really happened -- because in EVERY generation there were cheaters and "understandings" between spouses. In fairly large quantities, though it's impossible to measure for sure.

Every generation, Bobaloo. The 1950s. Victorian times. The Dark Ages. Ancient Rome. Those "forsaking all others" vows getting broken by a LOT of people LOTS of times, or adjusted.

And those marriages throughout history that were "understandings", mostly these favored the men taking mistresses and the wife putting up with it, but occasionally the tables could be turned -- these happen in every generation as well, Bobaloo. Usually more quietly than today, but still, they happened.

You're idealistic, and that's fine, but you're also unrealistic. You're ignoring huge swaths of history and of the real-life experiences of, well, countless millions of humans. Open marriages --when done honestly and cooperatively and mutually -- can work, and work well; and they avoid the problems of secret infidelity that creeps into far too many closed marriages. (And we're leaving out of the discussion all the cultures throughout history that organized their relationships in ways other than solely one man and one woman, too.)

No, it's not for everyone. And that's fine. The point is, why should your definition of a successful marriage be forced on people who have a different understanding? Isn't that how interracial marriages were outlawed for so many years?

And look at the statistics on cheating; understand that such cheating ISN'T new or modern, but has ALWAYS been a part of human relationships; and then think about whether or not it's better for a married couple who are in love and respect each other to CHOOSE to honestly and fairly open their marriage, or if it's better for one or both of them to clandestinely carry on an affair and lie to their partner?

For me, honesty and openness trumps secrecy and lies. I'm not going to sit in judgement over two people who love each other working out their relationship in a way that differs from what I would do, as long as both are equal partners in the endeavor.
Comment: #33
Posted by: Mike H
Tue May 14, 2013 8:28 AM
@Zoe -- I appreciate your willingness to answer Penny's questions and offer other insights into your experience. The only thing I would point out as a concern (for me) is this line: "I don't worry too much about the emotional side of it because I don't feel a lot of emotion, and because my husband is easy to read." That's great, but what about the other people involved? See, for me, this is all part and parcel with my take on casual sex. It's not that I think there is anything morally wrong with it -- I don't buy into the various religions that demonize sex. It's that I think for casual sex to work (such that everyone is happy with it), everyone has to be totally open and honest about what they do and don't want and what it does and doesn't mean (and, of course, the sex has to be good!). Unfortunately, even when everyone has been totally open and honest (which, unfortunately, I think doesn't happen all that often -- in casual sex, not talking about open marriage just yet), it's not uncommon for sex to change things -- for it to change the way a person feels afterwards, so even if everyone goes in wanting the same thing, that doesn't mean everyone comes out feeling the same way. In other words, the odds that no one is going to get hurt aren't all that great, IMHO.

Now, one of the reasons I think this happens a lot in casual sex is that it's typically happening between people who don't necessarily know each other all that well and haven't really taken the time to talk about what they do and don't want, etc. So, at least with an open marriage, the odds are a whole lot better that the people involved actually HAVE talked about what they want and don't want, what sex does and doesn't mean, etc. But, on the other hand, as soon as you add more people into the mix, the possibilities for someone to not be totally honest and/or not be on the same page and/or not stay on the same page simply increase, thereby increasing the odds that someone is going to get hurt (again, IMHO).

And BTW, when I talk about people not being totally honest -- I'm not just talking about not being honest with the other person/people; I'm also talking about people not always being totally honest with themselves. I've known too many people who said they were OK with casual sex and, no doubt, they really believed that when they said it -- only to realize later that actually, they were NOT OK with it. They weren't being honest with themselves about what they really wanted and needed.

In any case, I'm glad that it's working for you and your husband and, apparently, your extramarital partners. I sincerely wish you the best and hope that you both (and your partners) remain on the same page. I applaud the degree to which you two clearly have thought it out and are able to be completely open and honest with each other about your experiences, needs, desires and expectations. I would say one of the things that is a potential red flag for the LW and her husband is that it sounds like they may not be quite as open with each other as you and your husband are. I can well imagine that not all couples in open relationships are as willing and able to "share" about their extramarital experiences with one another as you and your husband, and I don't think that automatically makes their chances of being happy with this choice less good than yours -- but I do suspect that in the case of the LW, part of the problem is that they've apparently drawn some lines in the sand that are keeping them from communicating, and closing off communication in ANY aspect of ANY marriage is almost always a bad thing.

P.S. -- apparently it's open marriage week at Creators -- check out Amy Alkon.
Comment: #34
Posted by: Lisa
Tue May 14, 2013 8:33 AM
LW1 - Annies, you must have had to answer this one holding your collective noses.
LW2 - Dinner and supper - why does it matter? My husband told me we were going to his house for dinner, so I planned to go that evening. Turned out he mean lunch-time. So, yes, terms matter. I live in Alabama. I was always told that it's breakfast-lunch-dinner Monday thru Saturday, but on Sunday it's breakfast-dinner-supper. I think that's because in an agrarian society men had a light meal (lunch) midday and then came home to a big dinner. Then on Sundays everybody went to church and the family sat down to Sunday dinner together. The remains of the dinner would then be covered (to keep the flies off) and sit out for the rest of the day and the family would finish the left overs at supper-time. My husband's family, from south Alabama, always referred to the 3 meals as breakfast - dinner -supper, making no distinctions about the size of the meal. So even regionally it can be confusing. Just be sure you get your signals straight when inviting people over for dinner!
Comment: #35
Posted by: Rozelle
Tue May 14, 2013 8:39 AM
@Mike H (33) -- my own misgivings about open marriages notwithstanding, I agree with everything you wrote here. You've said it beautifully.

The only thing (there's always something, isn't there?) is that part about how most of these "understandings" mostly favored the men and the wives simply putting up with it. Therein lies a whole other rub and a whole other discussion. Depending on what point in history, in a lot of cases the only "understanding" was that the wife didn't have a choice in the matter. She had no choice but to put up with her husband's infidelity, and woe to her if she decided to get some on the side herself. But certainly, there were exceptions to that rule. And like I said, that really is a different discussion and doesn't detract at all from my agreeing with the point you were trying to make (I just love a good digression...)
Comment: #36
Posted by: Lisa
Tue May 14, 2013 8:43 AM
Re: Lisa

"what about the other people involved?" - I didn't touch on it, but we are careful about the people we choose. DH tends to prefer married or attached women who are in the same situation as we are. My guy is single, but not emotionally attached to me - or if he is, he's hiding it well. He knows we are not compatible anyway (he wants kids). We did have an issue with one girl who wanted an open relationship because her boyfriend would not be intimate with her. When she asked my husband what kind of emotional fulfillment he was looking to get, he had to let her down. Ultimately, though, it's the choice of these people too and while I do my best to select my partners responsibly and operate openly and honestly, they are grownups and responsible for themselves.

People get hurt all the time - in casual relationships and in serious ones. Sure, something disastrous could happen down the line, but I really don't think so. At any rate, in the meantime, I'll live my life based on what I feel and think now.

I agree with you that LW1 is not communicating it enough with her husband. "How can I help" should be something she should be asking him, not the Annies.
Comment: #37
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 8:45 AM
@Zoe -- P.P.S. -- totally agree with you that some people are against open marriage simply because they are. I admit to being skeptical of it in part because I just can't imagine engaging in it myself, which is just a shade of gray away from being skeptical of it simply because I am -- but I do at least like to think that I have some logical reasons for my skepticism. And being skeptical of it isn't judging it or refusing to believe it could ever work, etc. I do hope I was clear about that! It's sort of like golf -- I don't like to play it and don't really enjoy watching others play it, but I understand other people do! ;)
Comment: #38
Posted by: Lisa
Tue May 14, 2013 8:49 AM
Re: Lisa

I understand! I actually do not think some people are capable of it, and I've seen too many people looking for "fall in love" under the guise of an open relationship (I maintain that these weren't healthy relationships to begin with, though).

I don't understand golf at all and I don't think anyone should play it and if they do they certainly shouldn't be permitted to play any other sports! ;)
Comment: #39
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 8:54 AM
@Zoe (37) -- fair enough! You are certainly correct that people get hurt all the time (and even when everyone is playing by the same rules, etc.), and I can't argue with the facts that 1) these other people are adults and are responsible for their own choices, feelings, etc. and 2) there is only so much you (and your husband) can do to ensure you're selecting appropriate partners who are being open and honest, etc.
Comment: #40
Posted by: Lisa
Tue May 14, 2013 9:05 AM
Really? Easier for women to get dates?? I'm 59 and it's impossible unless you are willing to put up with boring, arrogant, clueless men.
Comment: #41
Posted by: red
Tue May 14, 2013 9:06 AM
Re: Lisa


And, I'm not going to lie, there's a part of me that just wants to show off my husband. He's good, and I'm proud. And another part of me that kind of gets off on it...

There have been ups and downs figuring this out, but I do not regret it!
Comment: #42
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 9:08 AM
Comment: #43
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 9:11 AM
@Lisa: Dear Prudie had an open marriage letter too this week! Must be something in the water... She got scorched though, because she equated gay marriage to open marriage.
Comment: #44
Posted by: Casey
Tue May 14, 2013 9:20 AM
Re: Casey

Well, I didn't read the letter, but I guess I could see that parallel (I made it myself with Bobaloo). Not that they are similar, but in "doubters" heads they are (as in, some people are against it just because they are, or because their religion says it's not cool). However, the only real comparison you could make would be that an open "gay" marriage would be like an open marriage. (God I hate using "gay" as an adjective!)
Comment: #45
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 9:24 AM
@Zoe: As soon as I read LW1, I knew you would be put in the spotlight. Thanks for answering all of our questions :) and thanks to everyone else for being open minded!
Comment: #46
Posted by: Casey
Tue May 14, 2013 9:24 AM
And btw, the distinction between supper (souper) and dinner (diner) comes from the French - and for the same reason the English language has both "mutton" and "lamb", "pork" and "pig".

@Kitty #6
"I don't know why the LW thinks he/she (I'll use "she" for convenience) is an authority on language"
Because she thinks whatever she says and does is the right way of it, period, end of discussion. There are a lot of people like that.

Not only have the two terms come to be quite interchangeable, but there will be regional differences. In Quebec, the morning meal is "dejeuner", the noon meal is "diner" and the evening meal is "souper". In France, the morning meal is "petit dejeuner", the noon meal, "dejeuner" and the evening meal "diner".

There is no right or wrong, although the French tend to think like LW2, many of them being firmly convinced that they hold the torch of civilisation, that their usage of French is the last word and Testament, and that we in Quebec are all a bunch of hicks. But then, Parisians also think that of everything and everybody outside of Paris, including the rest of France... ;-D

@Mike H #9
I agree with you. I see nothing wrong with two consenting adults doing what works for them openly and honestly and in a way that is fair to both.

However, considering the emergence of newly-untreatable strains of STDs (on top of Herpes and HIV, which were never curable), I would be very concerned about that, but that's me. Extensive research has demonstrated that, while possible, transmission of HIV through saliva *alone* is unlikely, but the same cannot be said of herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, which can ALL very easily be transmitted with saliva alone. All last three are starting to appear in antibiotic-resistant strains. That means that condoms are not enough to protect you, and that if you're to practice truly safe sex, there are a lot of things you can't do with multiple partners.

@Rick #15
"And then other times I'm beating them off with a stick (well, I don't actually use a stick....."
Yeah, you do... ;-D

@Zoe #18
An open marriage wouldn't be for me, but I'll not slam anyone for whom it is the answer. As long as all parties involved are in full knowledge of the facts, I see nothing wrong with it. Different strokes for different folks.

@Lisa #22
"it's hard enough to get two people on the same page -- make that four or however many more, and it strikes me as darn near impossible. Finally, people's minds and feelings change, and what starts out as "just sex" doesn't always stay that way for everyone involved. It seems to me that with so many variables in play, it's unlikely that SOMEONE doesn't eventually end up getting hurt."
While there is no certainty on how long such a marriage can last, there is also no certainty on how long ANY marriage can last. People in monogamous marriages change also and end up getting hurt... I would hazard to say that the chances are pretty even in either case, and have more to to the a finite shelf life of a specific relationship, rather than whether or not it was based on monogamy.

@Bobaloo #23
"but goodness gracious, this trend of open marriages is troubling to me. It really is."
If it's any consolation to you, this is no trend. You will find references to quite of few instances if you course through classic literature. This is hardly a recent phenomenon. What's new is that now we can discuss it openly. The exact opposite of the "elephant in the room". ;-D

Comment: #47
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue May 14, 2013 9:48 AM
Re: Lise B

I am really hoping that the cure for HIV is on the horizon. With Timothy Brown supposedly being cured, I don't want to get my hopes up, but I am so hopefully. A really close friend is dying of AIDS and I hope so much that they come up with something usable in the next few years.
Comment: #48
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 9:58 AM
LW1: It sounds like the LW is upset because "open marriage" is working out for her as advertised but not for her husband. She's concerned that the inequality will affect either his willingness to let her date or whatever it is she's doing OR that it will affect their marriage. But what they are doing may never be even steven. You can't just cast other people in your open marriage fantasy lives and expect it to happen that way, can you?

I briefly dated a man in an open marriage situation when I was in my 20s. The problem was that they both got attached to me and quickly wanted me to move in with them and turn it into more of a polygamous situation than an open situation. I wanted only to flee when they told me, and have sworn off married men (open or no) ever since.

Dating a married person had nowhere to go that I wanted to be once I got a look at it. Live and learn.
Comment: #49
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Tue May 14, 2013 10:01 AM
LW 1 It is called Polyamory and it is a lot more common that most people think. No one is cheating on anyone, everything is in the open and it is perfectly fine if both parties agree to it. And it is MUCH easier for married females to get casual sex than married men. Monogamy is not natural to some people, others are happy with one partner all their life.
LW 2 I ate supper at night when I was in the Midwest, now I eat dinner at night and I live in the south. Supper is a more rural term for dinner.
Comment: #50
Posted by: locake
Tue May 14, 2013 10:01 AM
@Zoe, #45, I understand. Or maybe I "gay understand".

@Rick, you need to post more frequently. I nominate yours for "Comment of the Day"!

@Lise, sure, there's always risks to weight, I agree. But that's true for dating, and for monogamous relationships (especially if one partner is less monogamous than the other!). Again, openness and honesty is the key, you can usually make better choices and assess the risks that way. But sure, that's why it's not for everyone -- they make different choices based on different risks and different comfort levels. Nothing wrong with that -- and nothing wrong with being aware of the concerns like yours, either.

(I guess I'm just saying let adults be adults, and let them be responsible for their own choices as long as they are doing so with eyes wide open, and with honest and fairness to those they are involved with).
Comment: #51
Posted by: Mike H
Tue May 14, 2013 10:16 AM
@Lisa, I don't mind digressions either -- and it is an important scenario to keep in mind. I don't necessarily see "sister-wives" as being the same kind of healthy open relationship Zoe describes, because generally speaking there are no options for "brother-husbands", and so there's a power imbalance that I think negates the honesty and openness that makes for a healthy open relationship.
Comment: #52
Posted by: Mike H
Tue May 14, 2013 10:17 AM
Re: Mike H

Hey man I'd love to have two husbands. Don't you gay agree that that could be awesome? 1/3 the housework and triple the income.
Comment: #53
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 10:20 AM
In all honesty I don't think I could have two husbands. I don't think there's another man out there willing to put up with nonsense.
Comment: #54
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 10:21 AM
@Zoe #30
"Haha, I feel like a zoo exhibit!"
No, you're a Zoe exhibit! ;-D

Re: red #41
In general, yes, it is much easier. But you have to define what you're looking for. A serious and rewarding relationship with an interesting man with a "normal" set of flaws? Past a certain age, it is very, very difficult. Casual sex with a one-night stand, not so much.

Some pointers, though:

1. Get yourself a light makeover, freshen-up your appearance. Get a different hairdo, update your wardrobe. You can BE old. You can't LOOK old.

2. On top of normal cleanliness, make sure you're always well-groomed:
a) A touch of eyeliner doesn't hurt, but don't plaster it over with a spatula. Go for a look that doesn't look worked on. There are a lot of products that boast of improving skin appearance these days, without looking "made-up".
b) Keep your hair trimmed and not with a two-inch gray root. If you do colour it, always a shade lighter than your natural at least. Past a certain age, raven black hair only looks good on people who were born that way. Not fair - but that's the way it is.
c) You can look comfortable, but you can't look sloppy. Your clothing doesn't have to be designer, but keep it well-fitting, well-coordinated and in good condition. Sloppy in youth look fashionably scruffy. Sloppy in old looks unkempt and insane. Not fair - but that's the way it is.
d) Unless you need orthopaedic shoes to even walk, try to stay away from "little old lady" styles. Don't wear any styles sported by Queen Elizabeth. Don't do the other extreme either - purple hair and tattoos won't make you look hip and cool, they will only emphasize the youth you no longer have. Not fair - but that's the way it is. It's a fine line. In general, a stylishly sportsy look works well for most people regardless of age and body type.

3. Make yourself interesting. Get a bunch of Internet newspaper subscriptions and find out what's going on in the world, so you're capable of holding a discussion. Take classes, volunteer, take up dance, a sport or a hobby. If all you can talk about is the weather, you'll attract nothing but the same.

4. Open up your mind: be prepared to date a younger man. or outside of your race, religion, ethnicity, language.

5. Make sure your expectations are realistic. You may NOT be able to attract a long-term, committed relationship.

If you do all that and it still doesn't work, well, you have to resign yourself that there isn't anyone both interesting and available in your neck of the wood. Move. ;-D

Comment: #55
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue May 14, 2013 10:34 AM
Re: Bobaloo
I read your comment "let him have his young woman and never shall your ships pass in the night again" as "never shall your hips pass in the night." You know, it worked that way too!
Comment: #56
Posted by: ClaudiaH
Tue May 14, 2013 10:46 AM
When I read LW1, my first thought was "Oh boy, waving a red flag for the morality police to start popping in the comments." I'm glad to see that, with a few exceptions, most of them here are practical, down-to-earth answers rather than automatically jumping to the conclusion that "your lifestyle choice is your problem, just go back to monogamy and you'll be fine".

Some people have suggested joining "swingers" groups to help the husband find a date. I don't really think this would help, because swinging is usually all about sex, and it's been my experience that the females who belong to such groups already have their plates full, relationship-wise, and aren't interested in actually "dating" anyone new. I have a better idea. Instead of swinging, look for POLYAMORY groups. They are less focused on sex and more focused on long-term relationships, and you are more likely to find someone to actually DATE, rather than just for a one-night fling.

And incidentally, Zoe, I live what some people might term an "open marriage", although it's more serious than that and more like an extended family. My wife and I live together with her boyfriend of six years (we've been married 11 years), whom I admire and respect as a solid, responsible guy. I also have a girlfriend of my own whom I've been seeing for nearly two years now. And I was dating others before I met her, with varying degrees of success, and never had a problem finding someone...but the fact that I was married was NEVER an issue with the women I chose to date; all knew of my other relationships and all went in with eyes wide open...and all had either already experienced open relationships or were in one themselves. In regards to now, ALL our relationships (me, wife, her boyfriend, and girlfriend) are stable and drama-free. Boyfriend's 17-year old daughter (from his previous marriage) also lives with us, and she doesn't have any more problems than any typical 17-year old girl fact, there are plenty of aspects of her that remind me of myself at that age.
Comment: #57
Posted by: Paul W
Tue May 14, 2013 10:51 AM
Bobaloo reminds me of Forrest Gump, a simple minded boy. He is probably troubled by this "new trend" of women working outside the home and owning their own property.
Comment: #58
Posted by: locake
Tue May 14, 2013 10:54 AM
Re: Paul W

I suggested swinging as an option for them because I am afraid the husband may get jealous if the LW is having all this fun and he's just struggling to find someone and being disappointed. I thought that, in the interim, swinging would be a way to ensure equal action until such a time as he finds someone compatible as a dating partner.

I also am not sure which or if either of us is interpreting "dating" correctly. In my earlier posts, I used terms like "dating" and "boyfriend/girlfriend" loosely but in retrospect they may not have been the best choice. I guess those imply some kind of romance or tie (emotional or otherwise) to other people, which is NOT what I have or seek (I just hate terms like "f---buddy" or fwb). Like if my guy fell off the face of the earth tomorrow and I wouldn't care (I mean, I'd care as much as if any other casual friend disappeared - but no more than that). If indeed the LW1 means "dating" more literally (as in a blossoming relationship) then your suggestion is right on target.

(BTW I am not arguing with you Paul, I think your advice is good!)
Comment: #59
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 11:02 AM
Alrighty, now that I've got the basics down...What about family? I need these questions answered in case this topic comes up at Thanksgiving this year. I want to be able to say, "Well my friend Zoe, she has an open marriage ya know, says that... ". Do parents and sibling know and how does that effect the relationship between them? I must say that if I had an open marriage I would be embarrassed if my family found out. That is only me feeling that my sexual antics are mine and not to be discussed at the dinner table. How does one address that issue? I really can't see any comparison with this and Gay marriage. I might be wrong but I always assumed homosexual couples wanted the same 'rules' that apply to heterosexual couples and it was not just the tax breaks and 'benefits' of being recognized as a married couple, ie insurance, death benefits, recognition as a family unit. As in Mike and Ike's coming nuptials, I assumed they wanted the same that others have and not just a civil union. Mike I read your post - but in my mind I am not thinking this is the type of marriage that you want. This is only my impression of who I 'think' you are. RI guess this goes back to the fact that I must equate marriage with fidelity otherwise you would simply live together. Well, I am certainly having to rethink what I believed. Now who is going to answer my "does family get to know about the open marriage?".
Comment: #60
Posted by: Penny
Tue May 14, 2013 11:03 AM
Re: Lise B

There will be a test and if you pass you will have completed your zoeology course!

Re: locake

Haha. I love you guys!
Comment: #61
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 11:03 AM
I don't have anything to add but I wanted to say that this is the best BTL discussion in a long time and KUDOS to Zoe for doing what works for her and her hubby. I also appreciate Zoe's candid and honest answers to all of the questions.
Comment: #62
Posted by: JustBecause
Tue May 14, 2013 11:11 AM
Re: Penny

Our parents and family don't know about it. They wouldn't get it. My grandmother is scandalized that I go dancing with just my girlfriends! I could tell my dad, but he lives in China and we don't talk often so it hasn't really come up. I would not be embarrassed if they knew, but I know they would not understand and although they wouldn't think I'm headed straight to hell or encourage me to get a divorce, I'd have to justify my actions to people that I know don't believe a word I'm saying. Similarly, my MIL doesn't get to know that DH is getting a vasectomy. It is his choice and I am not embarrassed about it, but she would not react well.

The only comparison with "gay" marriage I can make is how some people think they can dictate what others should do. Like people who don't think gays should get married because of the sanctity of marriage. Or people like Bobaloo who don't think people should engage in an open relationship because of the sanctity of marriage (divorce is much better! LOL!)

It is funny how different people interpret things in different ways. I never equated marriage to fidelity (I mean, in some ways yes, but it was never a compulsory pairing, nor was kids and marriage). I guess to me marriage is just something that people do when they've been together long enough. It's like a contract that you are now a team and obligated to work on keep the relationship strong. It's just a partnership, really, and one could do it just as well without a marriage certificate. But I wanted to call my husband, my husband, not my boyfriend or my partner.

Plus I mean you see people BTL reacting to girlfriend letters with "girl you aren't his wife you get no say" or "you're just his GIRLFRIEND, you get no say in how he raises his kids" etc etc.
Comment: #63
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 11:13 AM
OK, I have cats, and plants, and, let's see... way too many kitchen implements. And I like to read... OK, Zoe, now do you see why you're getting so much play? We're BORING!
Comment: #64
Posted by: Carla
Tue May 14, 2013 11:40 AM
Re: Carla

I know! Late 20's Zoe is a nut! In all seriousness, I like cats too, and sometimes I like to knit. And rabbits. Is there a lamer pet?
Comment: #65
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 11:56 AM
Hmm, I semi-opened a can of worms with bringing gay marriage into the mix. I blame Prudie. I personally don't see the comparison. Her point was people's definition and views on marriage are expanding and evolving. It doesn't necessarily mean “man and woman”, or monogamy, anymore. I also agree that I hate when people use gay as an adjective. Hopefully, one day we'll get to a point where “marriage” includes a mix of m/m, w/w, and m/w, but until then, the qualifier will most likely stick.
Anyway, again, thank you, Zoe, and now Paul for talking about your experiences. It's a subject I don't know much about, so I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I think it's gay-tastic!
Comment: #66
Posted by: Casey
Tue May 14, 2013 12:21 PM
Re: Lise Brouillette (#47)

Tis true WE can discuss the subject of "open marriage" openly. I don't see that necessarily as a problem, despite my opinion being different than others on here.

I'll admit I didn't wake up today thinking about this topic, and now at least my thoughts are on the table. The majority disagree – so for me, today is a "so be it." But for locake (#58) to call me Forrest Gump ... please don't. I've not got a lot of chocolates.

The question is, now ... can the LW and her husband discuss their problems in their marriage – to what extent we don't know (nor should we really care) – openly?
Comment: #67
Posted by: Bobaloo
Tue May 14, 2013 1:04 PM
I think this was one of the most enlightening BTL comment sections we've seen in a long time! Thanks Zoe for sharing your life with us and explaining things. Whether or not we agree with open marriage or would consider it, I think today's discussion was great!
BTW - as an aside. How else would you use "gay" other than as an adjective? Unless you're using it as a noun to refer to a homosexual man as "a gay", then it IS an adjective.
Comment: #68
Posted by: Kitty
Tue May 14, 2013 1:19 PM
@Kitty, I think the issue with using "gay" as an adjective is when it describes something that doesn't need the adjective in the first place. Like, "he's that gay actor", or "they're getting a gay marriage". He's an actor. We're getting married, not gay married. Sometimes gay-as-an-adjective does indeed make sense; other times it seems superfluous, or even subtly bigoted. (Like people who think that a "gay marriage" isn't a real marriage)

@Penny, Ike and are indeed planning a monogamous commitment (in fact, have already had one for the past 8 years). We don't really see any difference in what we want out of our marriage than any of our straight couple friends.

I will say, though, that Ike and I have had the discussion about monogamy. As in, are we both sure that is what we want? And after some heartfelt and fairly deep conversation, we reached the conclusion that yes, we do indeed want our relationship to be "closed". But... we also agreed that either of us could re-open the topic without recriminations at a future date. So far, though, it really doesn't seem to be something either of us is terribly interested in.

@Bobaloo, let me offer you some virtual chocolates, you have earned them. And I think your last question is in fact the right answer -- the LW needs to discuss this latest issue openly with her husband, not the Annies. And help out and offer support.
Comment: #69
Posted by: Mike H
Tue May 14, 2013 1:43 PM
Re: Mike H
I agree that the word "gay" shouldn't even be used in the instances you mentioned. I was just curious about the comment that it shouldn't be used as an adjective, when that's what it is. I got the intent of the comments, but I just thought it was an odd way to phrase them, and I wanted to make sure I was interpreting what was being said correctly (I did - and I agree).
Comment: #70
Posted by: Kitty
Tue May 14, 2013 1:53 PM
re: Jane, Oh dear, I don't think you've been exposed to many real open marriages. Sometimes, indeed, an open marriage can be because one spouse wants to sleep with another person and it eventually leads to divorce, but frankly those relationships were doomed anyway.
Um, no, sweetie-pie, contrary to popular belief, the concept of open marriage is not new, they've been around since humankind began, and I've known at least five in my lifetime (two gay, one bi and two straight). And yeah, you can go online and find all kinds of people who want to date someone in this arrangement and they're all humping happily ever after. But that's NOT what this couple is doing.
LW (who has only recently begun playing on these monkey bars) says: "it is extremely important to my husband and me that we are HONEST about our MARITAL STATUS with any prospective date..." If they were frequenting dating sites that ALREADY cater to the open marriage crowd and their dates, there would be NO NEED to even state this. Those prospects would already KNOW.
Therefore, it sounds like they're instead finding (or attempting to find) open-marriage dates via a more Little House on the Prairie network--traditional online dating sites, meeting people at the grocery store, the bowling alley, etc and THEN telling them they're married (or listing it in their profile).
As I pointed out, most men on the Little House network won't care about that new detail (a hump is a hump), but most women who are on the Little House network will be looking for someone single and longer-term. Still, eventually, some ladies on the Little House network will get to know hubby, but they won't be interested in the whole open marriage thing. (If they were, they'd be on the open marriage networks already.) So they'll ask him to change the game, leave his wife and open marriage to be with her/him. It's an age-old story.
One thing the LW and her spouse could do is actually join dating sites that cater to the open marriage crowd. But maybe they haven't figured that out yet.
Comment: #71
Posted by: Jane
Tue May 14, 2013 2:34 PM

If anyone is interested in another perspective on open marriages, Dear Prudence counsels a woman who had an affair and now her husband wants to make their marriage open as a condition of reconciliation. Check it out over on Slate.
Comment: #72
Posted by: Chris
Tue May 14, 2013 2:45 PM
Re: Zoe #63
"I never equated marriage to fidelity (I mean, in some ways yes, but it was never a compulsory pairing,"
Loyalty is not the same as sexual exclusivity. And it's only when you truly understand the nature of either that you make the difference.

@Bobaloo #67
Hey, I'm presently eating CHOCOLATE, which I got as a Mother's Day present from the food bank I volunteer at. Here, have some of mine!

Comment: #73
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue May 14, 2013 3:50 PM
@chris #72- I read that first thing this morning and I loved Prudies advice on the subject
Comment: #74
Posted by: JustBecause
Tue May 14, 2013 4:52 PM
To bobaloo, re: " to call me Forrest Gump ... please don't. I've not got a lot of chocolates."
That was the re-set button that made you adorable again, to me. Peace.
Comment: #75
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Tue May 14, 2013 5:36 PM
Re: Jane

Oh, it's not as obvious as that to convey your marital status! We don't know which sites he is on for starters. Around here, there are many sites with "intimate encounters" categories, but the person could be in a relationship, single or married. He may also be trying other venues. DH is in a coupe dating sites, and he indicates it in his profile and reiterates it in his conversations. Most women in that same category are not looking for romantic relationships as there are categories specifically for that, but it is still important for us that our partners have all the details.

Some open relationship partners are not in open relationships themselves - they are single, looking for no-strings-attached sex.

At any rate, even if he meets a woman on a site that is not exclusively for open relationship couples, it's hardly a given that she will ask him to leave the LW. And even if she does, it's certainly not a probability that he will agree.
Comment: #76
Posted by: Zoe
Tue May 14, 2013 5:50 PM
All invitations I accept for chocolate.
Comment: #77
Posted by: Bobaloo
Tue May 14, 2013 6:24 PM
BTW Mandy I left you a message on the May 8th thread.

Comment: #78
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue May 14, 2013 8:49 PM
I read you column daily. I have never been compelled to write in. To this "open marriage" woman: YOU ARE AN IDDIOTT YOU BOTH MADE VOWS 15 YEARS AGO
Comment: #79
Posted by: juliette sabo
Wed May 15, 2013 3:52 AM
Ahhhhh and THERE'S the morality police who finally charged the red flag...LOL.
Comment: #80
Posted by: Paul W
Wed May 15, 2013 4:01 PM
I could have written letter #1. The Annies were sadly no help at all here! Of COURSE he wants to find someone, too! Do you know how hard it is? Apparently the Annies don't. It's hard to find someone to date in the first place without having to explain that you're married, first. It was super easy for me to find someone. Tons of someones if I'd wanted (I don't.) It's hard to help a sad hubby in this situation. I've helped him create dating profiles, I've helped him write and respond to letters. I'm always on the lookout for potential women he could date. My recommendation -- see if there is a poly support group in your area. If not, create a meetup and see if you can find like-mindeds for socials or potlucks. Be supportive and patient. My BF waited two years without someone until we got together. (His wife had had someone for all that time.) It's hard.
Comment: #81
Posted by: rws0042
Fri May 17, 2013 12:44 PM
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