What started as watching porn eventually turned into full-fledged couple swapping.
I have a confession. I'm a (gasp) swinger. My wife is, too (most of the time anyway).
My wife Dedra and I have been in the lifestyle for around 4 years. Before that, well, we were the typical monogamous happyish couple. We followed the typical American dream blueprint.
We were high school sweethearts who got married on our 10-year anniversary (hey, what's the rush?), bought a house, and got a dog. We worked our 9-5 jobs and had typical, repetitive, monogamous sex once a week or less.
Then it hit us. What the f*ck were we doing with our lives?
We knew Dedra had a slight interest in women from a few drunken college experiences she had (isn't that what college is for?), so we decided to take action to spice our life up.
What started as watching porn and discussing scenarios together eventually turned into full-fledged couple-swapping, threesomes, and the occasional group play. We took a risk and it paid off — we became swingers.
Fast forward a few years and our marriage is stronger than ever. We've survived most of the drama you hear about in the lifestyle, and are a more fulfilled couple because of it.
We outed ourselves to family and friends, had some wild and crazy experiences, and tested our marriage to the breaking point. We not only survived, but we thrived because of some crucial take home points.
Recently, we were even given the opportunity to share our story on a reality TV show called "Neighbors With Benefits". While the show is in TV limbo (canceled, might return), we've been given an incredible opportunity to mentor and guide some hopeful newbies and help them avoid the same mistakes we made, as well as learn some valuable lessons that swinging either taught us or reaffirmed after so many forgetful years.
Here are 7 things swinging taught me about marriage:
1. Open communication is vital.
Not just within marriage, but with all relationships. Set aside time and don't avoid the difficult topics. Talk about all potential problems and work towards resolutions.
2. Never lie, no matter what the consequence.
Brutal honesty builds trust, and false information leads to fake marriage. Self-reflection is important; know when you f*cked up and own it. Revealing the truth can lead to mental and emotional freedom; dishonesty leads to cheating, trust issues, and tears couples apart. Trust is earned and should be rewarded.
3. Don't forget the importance of appreciation.
The grass actually isn't greener on the other side, physically or emotionally. Fall in love all over again, and don't lose sight of the little things. Always have each other's best interests in mind. Be thankful for the opportunities provided by the lifestyle, no matter how infrequent they may or may not be.
4. Put your spouse before yourself in all things.
If they do the same you'll never be without. Take turns being selfish and know when to put yourself first and accept the opportunities and experiences afforded to you by the selflessness of your spouse. Strive to give more than you receive. Focus on producing and not consuming the greater joys in life.
5. Practice prioritization.
The lifestyle can be addicting, so make sure your marriage, family, friends (vanilla), and careers don't get put on the back burner. Never stop dating your spouse.
6. Don't get complacent with your appearance just because your spouse will always be there.
The lifestyle is a friendly reminder that you should strive to maintain a fit and attractive inward and outward self. Embrace and enjoy the attention you and your spouse receive. Never settle or let yourself go.
7. All marriages requires work.
Swinging isn't an excuse to stop trying in your marriage. Sex isn't a problem solver, especially when it's with other people. Don't use swinging as a crutch. The lifestyle only amplifies what you already bring to the table. A rocky marriage will become rockier, and a steadfast marriage will become unbreakable.