Does Open Marriage Actually Work? Well…

This article made my eyes bleed.

In it, Michael Sonmore, a married man and a stay-at-home-husband, wrestles publicly with what it’s like to be in an “open marriage.”

His  half-hearted conclusion: he really wants to be cool with it and to claim he’s a  feminist who doesn’t control his wife’s sexuality, but, boy, is he struggling.

Open marriage is like communism. It makes a lot more sense in theory than in practice.

“For  my  wife, the choice between honoring our vows and fulfilling her desires was a false choice, another trap. She knew how deep our love was, and knew that her wanting a variety of sexual experiences as we traveled through life together would not diminish or disrupt that love. It took me about six months – many long, intense conversations, and an ocean of red wine – before I knew it, too.

When  my  wife  told me she wanted to open our marriage and take other lovers, she wasn’t rejecting me, she was embracing herself. When I understood that, I finally became a feminist.”

Hoo boy.

I don’t think I have the patience to unpack all of the convoluted messages in Sonmore’s message, but I will say this:

Open marriage is like communism. It makes a lot more sense in theory than in practice.

I think it’s great that his wife is honest about her desires to be with other men.

I think it’s great that Sonmore didn’t judge her and was willing to discuss something that can be potentially destructive.

I even think it’s great that they decided to give it a chance – to say, “To hell with convention! It’s just sex! Our love runs deeper! This shouldn’t effect anything!”

Because, really, if you can pull off a happy, healthy marriage and STILL scratch that itch that desires other people, you’re the big winner.

Problem is that Sonmore doesn’t sound all that happy with this compromise.

“There are of course moments of jealousy, resentment, and insecurity. Recently,  my  wife  went on a date and fell asleep at his apartment. I hadn’t heard from her since 10 p.m., she still wasn’t home at  6 a.m.  My  texts went unanswered and  my  calls went to voicemail. A tight knot of dread lodged in  my  stomach as I imagined all kinds of dire scenarios and realized that I not only didn’t know where she was, I had no idea whom she was with. I pictured myself going to the police saying, “I think she’s in Red Hook with a guy named Ryan. I don’t know his last name, but I think he’s a graphic designer?”

Or, “I don’t want her to fall in love with anyone else, and every time she goes on a date, I confront the possibility that she might. It happened at the beginning: The first person she dated after we opened up fell hard in love with her, and my wife, overwhelmed by his ardor, tried to love him back. Watching it happen, I was confused, angry, and terrified that she wanted to leave me. She assured me she didn’t, and whatever feelings she had for him didn’t lessen what she felt for me.”


Or, “As I write this,  my  children are asleep in their room, Loretta Lynn is on the stereo, and  my  wife  is out on a date with a man named Paulo. It’s her second date this week; her fourth this month so far. If it goes like the others, she’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Paulo had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a feminist.”

If your marriage isn’t making you happy, what exactly is the point?

I’m a feminist, too. I believe in full equality and that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The issue I have with open marriage – specifically this man’s choice to participate in one – is not a moral one. It’s a practical one:

He doesn’t sound happy.

And if your marriage isn’t making you happy, what exactly is the point?

In other words, the author sounds more like a cuckold who is trying to convince himself that his open marriage is working than a guy who has really embraced open marriage.

Do  you know of any successful long-term open marriages? Do you know how they survive emotionally when their partner is out on a “date”? Because, as much as I can rationally separate sex from emotion, I can’t bear the thought of my wife fucking Paulo for the fourth time this month, while I’m at home bathing the kids before bed.