Debate as Couple State They're Better Parents After Opening Marriage

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A couple have shared online how their open marriage has "against all odds" strengthened their relationship.

The wife shared on Mumsnet her surprise at how polyamory had improved both her romantic relationship and her and her husband's approach to parenting.

Family law expert Laura Wasser told Newsweek that an open marriage means that both partners agree to have sexual and romantic relationships outside of their marriage. "It varies from couple to couple," she added.

Stock image of three people dancing together and having fun. A doctoral researcher in psychology told Newsweek the pros and cons to pursuing an open relationship. Getty Images

A 2021 YouGov poll of more than 23,000 Americans discovered that about 25 percent of Americans would be interested in pursuing an open relationship. Men were more likely than women to opt for such a relationship dynamic.

"After three months of discussions [my husband and I] decided to embark on an open marriage. My husband now sleeps in the spare room and meets up with someone for sex a few times a week," the woman wrote in a now-viral Mumsnet post.

"Weirdly, our relationship has improved massively since we started this arrangement. We are better co-parents, we have a lot more fun together and are strangely more loving and affectionate," the wife added.

The woman explained that the pair now spend more time together too, and that they do a lot more both as a family and as a couple.

"I feel a weight has been lifted and he is now sexually satisfied and much happier," she explained.

The wife wrote: "Is it strange that it seems to be working so well for us? I am obviously under no illusions about what the future holds, but for now, we are the strongest we've ever been. I am surprised by how much things have improved between us.

"We made love for the first time in months the other day and it was apparent that this area of our relationship has fizzled out, but we are still very much a couple in every other way, and I know my husband has no emotional ties to this other woman," she added.

Since it was shared to Mumsnet on February 8 by @PumpkinSpicedMum, the post has been commented upon by 175 users.

"Well, I guess it must work for some people. It sounds like it's working in particular for your husband," one user wrote. "I wonder if you might be in the honeymoon phase. He hasn't gotten attached to this woman (yet), and you aren't sick of it. I might be being old and grumpy about this, if you really are truly happy with it then that's great."

Another Mumsnet user commented: "I think my concerns would be his other relationship becoming more than sex. Also, if he is in a separate bedroom to you, does that mean you are now basically flat-mates? Is there no physical affection between you at all? I can get lack of sex drive, but would still need some affection."

Are Open Relationships Worth It?

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of the psychology website Psychreg and a doctoral researcher in clinical psychology at the University of Edinburgh.

"While open relationships have become more common and accepted in recent years, they are still often stigmatized or misunderstood," Relojo-Howell told Newsweek.

"Interestingly, research has shown that they can actually enhance the primary relationship. When both partners are secure in their bond and communicate openly and honestly about their desires, they can explore new experiences and expand their perspectives together.

"By allowing each other to have relationships with other people, they can learn more about themselves and their partner, and grow individually and as a couple," he added.

While Relojo-Howell sees the positives to pursuing an open relationship, the academic added that this sort of dynamic is quite simply just not for everyone, and that they can cause irrepairable emotional damage.

"Open relationships require a high level of trust, communication, and mutual respect. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of their partner being with someone else, and that's completely fair. It's important to have honest and open conversations with your partner about what you both want and need and to be respectful of each other's boundaries and feelings," he explained.

Relojo-Howell added: "Open relationships can be a valid and fulfiling choice for some couples, but it's important to approach them with honesty, respect, and clear communication. Ultimately, the key to any successful relationship is to prioritize the needs and feelings of both partners and to work together to build a strong bond."

Wasser agreed with Relojo-Howell. She said that "while it's true that open marriages are not for everyone, many couples find that they are able to make it work through honest communication, trust, and setting clear boundaries."

According to Wasser, research has shown that some couples who engage in consensual non-monogamy report higher levels of relationship satisfaction and intimacy.

"There are, however, also serious cons to open marriages. It can be difficult to manage jealousy and feelings of insecurity, and can lead to the breakdown of trust and communication if boundaries are not respected," Wasser concluded.

Relationship coach Carrie Jeroslow told Newsweek that, while there are pros and cons to open relationships, the nature of the relationship will depend on the couple's desires and needs.

Jeroslow added that there are typically four ways in which an open relationship can present itself.

How Open Relationships Differ, According to a Relationship Coach:

1. Open relationships that open up only to other sexual experiences together.

2. Open relationships that are open to outside sexual experiences but that are done separately from each other.

3. Polyamory, which is where each partner is open to other intimate relationships outside of the primary relationship, whether sexual or not.

4. Throuple, which is about bringing another person into the relationship with the intention of having more equality between the three people.

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