In our open marriage my husband and I have been together for 12 years. After we met in college and became fast friends, our relationship grew quickly and easily. I trusted him implicitly; he was open, cared deeply about doing the right thing, and listened to me when I expressed my thoughts and feelings.
We started our relationship without any expectations of exclusivity, and as our relationship evolved, it became more non monogamous. Neither of us believed that a deep commitment to the other should include sexual or emotional exclusivity.
After 12 years together, we are still in a happy, loving, and open marriage. It's a marriage built on trust.
Nonmonogamy always made sense to us for our open marriage
Our early relationship days were defined by experimentation and fun. We traveled together and apart, lived together, changed jobs, and tried to work out who we were as individuals and as a couple.
Trusting each other as human beings — not just because we were boyfriend and girlfriend — was how we approached our connection. We gave each other the freedom to have sex and date people outside our relationship.
When we decided to get married, we still didn't want to be monogamous. To us, getting married meant that we agreed to support each other, to love each other, and to live our lives in a partnership that worked for us. Getting married meant: "I love you, I've got your back, and I'm on your side through thick and thin."
When we got married, we made out with other people
On our wedding night, we were out partying with our friends at a string of local bars. At one bar, my friend and I decided we wanted to kiss each other. We asked her boyfriend and my husband whether they wanted to make out with us, and they said yes. All of us were kissing and laughing, and we had a good time.
Making out with other people while we celebrated our relationship felt expansive. We loved each other and trusted each other. It was a marker of open-mindedness that was there from the start.
Our friends at the wedding were along for the ride. They accepted us fully and enjoyed being there with us to celebrate — no matter what direction the night took.
This approach to experimentation and joy has been a part of our relationship from the start
It's been a decade since our wedding night, and we still practice nonmonogamy. We're parents now and have learned what works for us in this new situation.
For instance, we have some rules. Our children come first, and we have a shared commitment to raise them as best as we can. This means we don't overload our days with appointments, including work meetings, hobbies, or dates; we aim for balance. We also check in with each other regularly about how we're feeling.
We are also honest with other partners about the fact that we have children because it keeps expectations clear. Our children don't tend to meet our partners, though — unless the relationship is more serious. On those occasions, we've found that our children have simply gained more people who love and care about them.
We also have rules about how we treat other people who are involved with either of us. It's unfair to "outside" partners to treat them as lesser simply because they're not in the marriage. We also keep our personal sex lives private from each other out of respect for our other partners. We advocate for regular sexual-health testing for all.
Trust is a big part of how our open marriage works
If my husband makes out with someone else in a bar or has sex with another person, I make an active choice to trust him and his word. I trust that when my husband says he wants to be with me, he means it.
I want him to be happy because I love him, and he feels the same about me. Part of that means that I want him to live his life in a way that resonates with him. Neither of us wants to hold each other back or restrict each other.
Most importantly, our shared life matters to us deeply. The commitments we have made to each other guide our connection. It's important to my husband and me that we model for our children a relationship of trust, openness, mutual support, and loving care — as well as the freedom to make choices about how to live as individuals.