How do non-monogamous relationships work?
Most couples I see in therapy are very happy with their relationships, but they are concerned that the sexual spark is not as strong as it once was and they are looking for ways to solve this issue that doesn’t result in cheating or divorce. They don’t want to give up a good thing. For some couples non-monogamy is one of those options. And it comes in many different forms.
More and more people are talking about different ways to do relationships, ways that help people keep long-lasting bonds with their partner while remaining fulfilled as individuals.
I do non-judgemental therapy with couples where we look to find the option that works best for BOTH people in the couple. While the default in our culture is monogamy, my motto is “whatever works,” rather than what we think we “should” do. That might be monogamy, non-monogamy or something in between. The goal is to keep the relationship solid — secure and fulfilling for both parties.
Is an open-marriage right for you?
The process involved to have an open-marriage can start as an initial conversation where both people talk about what is important to them — what they hope to get out of their relationship and they can share their concerns in a warm and accepting environment.
We discuss the realities (upsides and pitfalls) of all of the different options and define which conversations that need to happen in order to create the safety that every relationship needs as it is moving in this open direction.
Opening up a marriage or relationship is a slow process that takes time and communication to do properly. Often it happens in stages, in order to create safety at every step.
Many people who open up their relationship find it more fulfilling than they imagined, for themselves as well as their existing relationship. But it is not for everyone. You get to decide. And both parties need to be fully on-board for any openness to work.
If you are considering opening up your relationship therapy is not necessarily needed at every step. Books, conversation and practice can be your guide. Just be sure to arm yourself with all of the most accurate and realistic information.
There are some great resources available. A few are:
- Opening Up by Tristan Taormino: This warm and non-judgemental book goes through all of the options from swinging to polyamory. It gives helpful tips and exercises to help you navigate each option.
- The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton: The bible of open relationships (polyamoury)
- Open Relationship Contract: Less of a contract, more of a checklist of the most important things to talk about when opening up any relationship.