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Open Marriage: One Woman's Experience

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Open Marriage: One Woman's Experience

Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage © Courtesy of Pricegrabber

In Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage (Seal Press, 2008), author Jenny Block shares the journey that brought her to the realization that a polyamorous lifestyle was right for her – and her husband of 11 years. Polyamory is defined by Merriam-Webster Online as "the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time." Block says more married couples are considering such lifestyles – and creating their own version of happily ever after.

Block and Christopher, her husband of 11 years, agreed to date and have sexual relations with other people after Block had an affair and her husband was hurt that she lied to him but not that she had been with someone else. Her husband has dated one other woman, a friend of Block's and Block herself is in love with another woman, who is now the only other person with whom she has a relationship besides her husband.

Although Block was more or less the one who initiated the open marriage discussion, her husband is happy with the decision. In the book, Christopher writes the following: "My love for [Jenny] has grown exponentially...A marriage is a bond between two individuals. When it's successful, each person plays an equal and instrumental part in creating something that neither could even aspire to on their own. What we have is ours, something that we have created together."

Block and her husband have a 9-year-old daughter who knows Block's female lover as mom's best friend. At nine, she does not need to know about mom and dad's sex life, says Block. She adds that her daughter asked if she loves this woman as much she loves daddy. Block responded, "Yes." That’s about all her daughter knows at this point, says Block.

Some people, says Block, thank her for sharing her experiences with polyamory and open marriage. Others think that Block and proponents of open marriage are wrong. But having an open marriage works for Block, who says she respects those who say this kind of relationship wouldn't work for them.

Couples who are most fit for open marriages, says Block, are those who talk honestly with each other. "If you don’t talk, you can’t do this," says Block. Once you've given open marriage some serious thought and have determined that it's a subject you'd like to bring up with your spouse, you should prepare to do so.

This was certainly the case for Block, who says she loves her husband. "The man cooks, cleans, helps with our child," she says. "I found someone who really wants to be a partner. I feel lucky." That's why she suggests starting the talk by stressing that you don't want to lose your spouse. She also recommends reading the experiences of others in open marriages.

As for the critics, Block is unfazed. She says the initial pangs of jealousy she had were only "imaginary." Now, she says seeing her husband's happiness when he's with someone else brings pleasure and joy to her. "If my husband wants to leave me, I don't want him to stay," says Block.

Arguing that about half of marriages end in divorce and many married people are online looking to have affairs, Block says that humans are not monogamous by nature. She adds that when looking at the high divorce rate, no one would accept such poor results as grades in school or performance on the job. "Why should we accept these results in our personal relationships?" she asks. That's why she challenges readers to re-consider their relationships and lifestyles and determine what works for them – and not be limited by societal norms or traditions.

What do you think? Can an open marriage work? Why or why not? Tell us on the Newlyweds Forum.

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