When Husband and I opened our marriage eight months ago, the first thing I did—the most immediate thing I did—was to sleep with a friend of mine I’ll call H.
We didn’t open our marriage because of my attraction to my friend, but I would call it a triggering factor. I befriended H at work only a few months prior, and reveled in the humorous distraction he brought to my otherwise dreadful office (he continues to be my only friend on the job). But then we took our friendship outside of work, and I began hanging out at his house. Every night. Husband jokingly called him my boyfriend, and I laughed, but I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with my budding sexual interest in him. By August of last year, my desire for H was threatening to tear me in two.
I was appalled with myself; I had always treated fidelity as the hallmark of marriage, and to have an affair was an unthinkable renunciation of every moral I’d ever held. It was even further disturbing to me in the light of my “amazing” marriage—if my marriage was so great, I thought, then how could I even consider straying? I knew I loved Husband more than my own life, and couldn’t believe I was attracted to someone else. The intensity of my feelings for Husband and my attraction to H were at war, and I spent weeks utterly depressed, refusing to talk to Husband about it, aghast at my callousness, yet not quite fighting it.
I made an appointment with a therapist. I’ve seen several therapists, on and off, for the past six years, so it wasn’t an unusual move; but the therapist was new to me, and she was much older, and her advice completely missed the boat. “I have the perfect marriage,” I told her, “and all I can think about is cheating on my husband.” She told me to try wearing more lingerie. I did not go back.
Husband asked me to confide in him, and I told him I couldn’t; the thought of telling him that I wanted someone else was agonizing. But he told me that he could handle whatever I needed to say, and that his role as my biggest supporter and emotional sounding board could never change. He saw that I was in trouble and he wanted to help me.
It was the first of many long talks we had about the direction of our marriage, and ultimately resulted in our decision to open up. We didn’t do it because I wanted to fuck H, but without that desire there to trigger our discussions, we wouldn’t have realized that an open marriage was a feasible structure to adopt. Without the conflict of my feelings, there was no reason to reexamine the way we were living our lives, to ask whether or not there was a better way. I think this is a better way for us. I think everything that makes Husband and I work—our complete honesty, communication, and trust—is everything that makes open marriage more than possible. It makes our marriage downright amazing.