Okay, maybe not “save your marriage,” obviously I was going for the shock factor in the tagline. Clearly if you feel like you’d have to have a threesome to “save” your marriage, it’s probably in need of more than sexual variety. But would you be willing to invite another person into your sex life to spice up your long term otherwise monogamous relationship?
I know it sounds extreme, but hear me out. The odds are simply not in your favor when it comes to true lifelong sexual monogamy with your partner. Even the people who sign up for traditionally monogamous relationships are doomed to some kind of affair or infidelity to affect their partnership. It is estimated that up to 80% of marriages will be affected by an indiscretion by one partner or the other… whether it is actually discovered or not, of course, is the question. When asked if people would cheat if they knew they wouldn’t get caught, 84% of men said YES along with 68% of women. These are big numbers people!!
The good news is that when an infidelity is discovered, that 30% of marriages affected by the affair would work through it. So clearly, for a majority of people, sexual non-monogamy is ultimately acceptable. So why not communicate this desire with your partner before the lying, cheating, and drama unfold?
Consider discussing your boundaries more clearly before you commit to lifelong sexual monogamy. What wouldn’t be acceptable to you? Would you be okay if your partner had an affair on a work trip as long as you didn’t know about it? Would you be into watching your partner with another person? Would you be okay if they simply flirted and sexted online, but didn’t ever physically connect with the person? These are valid questions! Especially when a huge majority of men don’t consider online flirtations cheating….?! what?…really.
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what is right for your relationship. If sex isn’t important to you, you may not feel the need to explore this concept further… but what if sex is important to your partner? Open the dialogue to discuss specifics. Then check in every year, or every 5 to 10 years if that’s more appropriate for your relationship.
Do you value honesty and communication? Do you value self-respect? These are things that should be clearly discussed. Many times people who discover an affair aren’t necessarily bothered by the sex, but by the opinion of others, should they find out. Would it devastate you to feel as though people knew you were disrespected by your partner? Would you be able to trust your partner again, after they had gone to great lengths to lie to you, or hide something from you for so long? 30% of affairs last an average of two years…. just saying…
Consider alternative forms of monogamy. We clearly understand the term sexual monogamy-having sex with only one person. But what about Social Monogamy? Serial Monogamy? Emotional Monogamy? These are actual terms and can be useful tools when navigating this conversation.
Social Monogamy-two people living together, having sex with one another, and basically forming a union to provide food, shelter, and comforts to each other. This is a great term for many American Marriages.
Serial Monogamy-the practice of exclusively having a relationship with one person, emotionally and sexually, until that relationship no longer benefits one or both. At which point one or both persons would create a similar relationship with the next compatible partner. Another great term for American marriages, given the divorce rate.
Emotional Monogamy-the intimate sharing of life with only one person. This term is used among Swingers and Polyamorist couples to ultimately highlight the differences between the two. Swingers generally are sexually non-monogamous and emotionally monogamous. Polys are know for being both sexually and emotionally non-monogamous, creating intimate bonds with multiple partners.
Did you even realize that all these detailed definitions of “marriage” existed? If you or your partner are in need of sexual or emotional attention outside of your marriage, it may be a conversation you might want to have. Many women, men, and couples have asked me for advice to get their partners to either pay more attention to them, or get them to enjoy sex more, or have sex more often. In other words, there’s a lack in these relationships! And my circle of influence is pretty small in comparison to the country, or the world.
Talk to each other. Understand that each of you has needs and desires that should be honored, celebrated, and hopefully met. Discuss boundaries, deal breakers, and personal limitations so that you can make decisions together about what you both want and need from your marriage. If you can’t even begin the conversation with your partner, consider couples therapy.
Thank you to Dr Samantha Rodman for her input and expert advice on my show “Have sex like you’re single again!” For married couples who want to spice things up in the bedroom.
And Kate Loree, LMFT who specializes in couples who are in the Swinging, Poly, Gay, Lesian, Porn, or other form of alternative lifestyles.