**This post is based on a request
Open relationships, where the couple is allowed to seek a sexual partner or partners outside of their marriage, are amazing… if you’re a therapist like me. It’s like bad parents; they give me hope for future employment. The truth is open relationships are stupid. You don’t heal a relationship by making it open; you essentially delay the inevitable break up: (dumb spouse) “I think we should have an open relationship.” (smart spouse) “By open I agree if you mean divorce; that’s a very open relationship.” In a culture where time with your partner is already in short supply, it’s pretty stupid to think that less time for each other is going to help the situation.
Open relationships stem from one major problem: Someone(s) isn’t happy with his or her sexual relationship. If this is the case, it’s likely the person is taking all of his or her emotional problems and pegging it as one thing, sex, when it’s always so much more than that. If we’re not happy, it’s never just one thing that’s causing it. Happiness is a way of life.
I should point out I’m the first to say that sex is a gift from God, but it’s just sex. It’s pleasurable, but you won’t die without it and you shouldn’t be willing to die to get it; we’re not a prey mantis. I’m yet to hear of anyone on their deathbed saying: “My life was good, but the problem is I didn’t have enough sex.” If anything, you’re more likely to hear people say they wish they hadn’t had sex with certain people, especially if it ruined a marriage or friendships.
In my experience, open relationships are initiated by the guy wanting more sex than the woman is interested in or he’s wanting to do something she doesn’t want like having a threesome or anal, or doing something in the kink category. Some people will say an open relationship will “spice things up,” but it’s not spicing things up if you’re not doing it together. A team only bonds when the team plays together in the same game. An open relationship is making sex more important than the connection with their partner.
Here are the typical steps of an open relationship
- Woman is overworked and stressed running a house while keeping up with work and the social calendar. If you add to this feeling emotionally disconnected and neglected by her partner and there’s no way she’ll be interested in very much sex because women typically need their emotional needs met before they will care about their physical needs being met.
- Guy feels neglected and/or is unable to grow up enough to realize his new role is to be a loving dad and/or supportive husband and not just someone who wants sex.
- Guy constantly bugging his partner about sex leads to the idea of an open relationship.
- With permission for an open relationship, the guy becomes even less emotionally engaged in his family as he’s too busy seeking sex. The dumbest guys will try to vent their frustrations of their escapades to their partner.
- The woman starts to really resent being stuck at home and being ignored while he’s out having fun, which causes her to be meaner to him when he is around.
- The woman being resentful causes the guy to escape to his new world even more thereby further increasing her anger.
- The couple breaks up because he finds someone to replace her or she snaps and ends it.
Personally, I believe if a guy nags for sex he’s not a real man. A real man will try to woo his wife, do more chores to ease her load, and be willing to go to therapy to help address whatever issues are getting in the way of them connecting even if it’s the wife’s self imposed anxiety causing the problem. A real man will care more about her needs than getting sex. I’ll also add that if an exhausted/anxious woman gives in to a guy’s nagging and the guy has sex with his tired, non engaged wife that’s a sign his empathy side is broken and he’s not a safe person. Similarly, if a woman is worn out and the guy proposes sex with others his empathy is broken and he’s incredibly selfish because his first concern should be her and not sex. On the flipside to all of this, I maintain a real woman will want to address her needs and be willing to go to therapy in order to be able to have the healthy relationship all rational people want including a healthy sex life.
If the woman wants the open relationship, the guy needs to run. For one, if a woman wants sex she can just walk into a bar and say “Anyone want to have sex?” and most of the bar will put up their hands. If a guy did that? He’d be arrested. The unfair advantage of the woman finding sex will drive the guy crazy. Besides, men are wired to not want their wives to have sex with others no matter how big a philanderer they are. Legendary comedian Johnny Carson divorced his second wife when he found out that she had a boy toy on the side when he regularly had sex with other women in the stereotypical rock star kind of way with a new girl or two almost every day. Men may be okay hooking up with another woman, but we rarely want to share our wives, and if we do, there is something wrong in our brain because that’s not how a guy is supposed to think.
If there is a major difference in how much a man wants sex versus his partner no matter how healthy both people become this can be a situation where boundary driven masturbation becomes a safer alternative, but this has to be done very carefully. For instance, there needs to be limits on how much time is spent on this and how private it should be, and what he’s allowed to use as a stimulant. Guys tend to want aids in this department… I think you get what I mean. Please know I’m not recommending this per say, but I do know people who have found this helpful and the woman didn’t take it personally but more of a relief. A guy taking a five to fifteen minute break like a bathroom break was more acceptable than him spending all his time and energy trying to pick up other women.
This week may you not be in the position of the couple who inspired this topic (friend’s friend situation), and find ways to help your relationship that helps and doesn’t increase the likelihood of divorce.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people