Wife Wants To Open Her Marriage After Her Husband’s Accident Has Temporarily Kept Them From Being Intimate

Everyone has their needs. But is it really this dire?

couple struggling because the wife wants to open her marriage Valery Sidelnykov / Shutterstock.com

The rise of open relationships and open marriages means people have far more options nowadays when it comes to rough patches with their partners. But these looser relationship structures can cause real problems if both partners aren't on board, as a story on Reddit recently revealed.

A woman wants to open her marriage after her husband's accident has kept them from being intimate.

Though Americans are quickly growing more accepting of open marriages, they have been found to be problematic.


There is no conclusive data on the matter, but some believe open marriages are more likely to end in divorce than monogamous ones — especially when the openness is not a mutual decision.

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For obvious reasons, both partners have to be on the same page — that's the "ethical" part of the phrase "ethical nonmonogamy" that is sometimes used to describe polyamory. Without it, an open marriage is just plain old cheating — or at least it feels that way to one-half of the relationship.

It seems a couple on Reddit have fallen into precisely this predicament. In his Reddit post, a 33-year-old man wrote that he had a debilitating accident eight months ago, and his long recovery has meant full-monty intimacy is a no-go.

They haven't been completely celibate. "I do try to still indulge in foreplay…n to make her feel good," he wrote, but anything beyond that is a "step too far for now," he said. "I'm still in a lot of pain and am unable to go through with it"

His wife told him she couldn't wait any longer but he worries what opening the marriage might lead to in the future.

"Yesterday, my wife said that she's had enough," he wrote. "She says she knows it's not my fault but also can't go so long without it." 


She then asked him if he'd be willing to "'open up our marriage temporarily' until I am able to 'perform' again."

He agreed to consider it. "I do see her point of view," he wrote. But they'd agreed to be monogamous, and the truth of the matter is that he's simply not on board. 

"I do not want to 'open it up' at all because I don't see it as being temporary," he wrote, "and there will potentially be no coming back from it for me."


"I am trying my best to get better as quick as I can," he went on to say, before asking his fellow Redditors if there was a way to "salvage" his marriage without agreeing to an open relationship.

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Therapists agree that open relationships only work when both partners are on board with the idea.

This wife's perspective is certainly understandable — everyone has needs. That's part of being human. But the consensus among experts is clear: If both partners aren't enthusiastically on the same page, it's likely to end in heartache or worse.

Legendary therapist Esther Perel told us in 2023 that she thinks open relationships, polyamory, and other non-monogamous variations on relationships are likely to become more common as time goes on and mores continue to loosen. 


But she says the motivation that underpins opening a relationship is the key to whether or not it succeeds. It must be done out of "hope and commitment," she said, "not disillusionment."



It's pretty hard to argue that disillusionment, even if only temporary, is the main thing at play for this couple. And especially given the circumstances — that the husband is dealing with a harrowing accident recovery and that, soon enough, their intimacy problems will be solved — that disillusionment seems likely to turn into full-on resentment down the road.

After all, is it reasonable that this man is now having to think about how he can heal faster and get well sooner so that he can keep his wife satisfied and not have to cross his own relationship boundaries? That seems unfair on a far greater scale than the deprivation his wife is being forced to suffer.


Friends of mine went through a similar dilemma in their marriage. Ben wanted to open the relationship because Mark wasn't interested in being intimate anymore, but Mark was dead-set against the move. Like this man, he was worried about the long-term ramifications.

Finally, after months of thinking about it, he came around. "If this is what you need, then go ahead," he told Ben. But Ben wasn't having it. "That's not you agreeing, Mark," he told him, "that's you conceding to what you still view as being cheated on." 

They went to therapy instead. It wasn't easy for them, and it took longer to resolve than either of them preferred. But they were able to get to the bottom of the actual problem, fix it, and move into a new phase where their bedroom life was better than it had ever been, even when they first met. 


The bottom line is that this couple's problem is temporary. Their dry spell due to his accident will eventually come to an end once he's recovered. But there's no going back once a boundary is crossed. Tread carefully.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.