Is Open Marriage Worth the Risk?

When you blog twice a week for 10 years, you’re bound to run across the same topics. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less pertinent the fifth time around.

Take open marriage and polyamory.

I first wrote about it in a piece called “Polyamory: Intensifying the Living Experience”

Then I linked to a post called “Dan Savage on the Virtues of Polyamory.”

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

Later, I explored this topic in “Is Monogamy Biological?”

Finally, I read this open marriage piece in New York  that almost made my eyes bleed.

You’d think we covered all bases – but then the Times came out with a magazine cover story called “Is an Open Marriage Happier Than a Traditional Marriage?”

It’s an interesting read about couples who are in open marriages that provides a mainstream, non-judgmental look at their lifestyle.

Even after reading the entire worthwhile piece, I’m left with a niggling feeling that there’s a lot of rationalization going on here. It’s not that sex isn’t important (it is). It’s not that we’re wired to be monogamous for life (we’re not). It’s that taking another sexual partner inherently opens up a huge can of worms that can easily destabilize a marriage.

When you hear people in open relationships talk about  the virtues of communication, it’s because it requires a LOT of maintenance. Hours and hours of conversation to ensure that the destabilizing nature of polyamory  doesn’t destabilize the relationship.

Life is too good to potentially mess it up for  pleasures of another warm body.

“Monogamy is an approach  to relationships built on one bright-line rule: no sex with anyone else. Open relationships may sound like the more unfettered choice, but the first thing nonmonogamous couples often do is draw up a list of guidelines: rules about protection, about the number of days a week set aside for dates, about how much information to share. Some spouses do not want to know any details about the other spouse’s extramarital sex, while for others, those stories are a thrilling side benefit of the arrangement.


These rules are often designed to manage jealousy. Most monogamous couples labor to avoid that emotion at all costs; but for the philosophically polyamorous, jealousy presents an opportunity to examine the insecurities that opening a relationship  lays bare. Jealousy is not a primal impulse to be trusted because it feels so powerful; it is an emotion worth investigating.”

That just sounds exhausting to me. Lots of heavy conversations about “us.” You know how many conversations like this my wife and I have? None. We’re solid as a rock, and when you are, there’s not much to talk about.

Believe me, I can appreciate the thrill of a new partner – a thrill I miss as much as the next married person. I would never take the chance of hurting my marriage to pursue that thrill. Call it risk-aversion, but that risk is why I will never cheat  or stray.

Life is too good to potentially mess it up for the pleasures of another warm body.

What do you think? Your thoughts, below, are always appreciated.