I Was In An Open Marriage For 8 Years—Here’s Why I’ll Never Do It Again

I married my best friend because we believed we were soulmates. We were head over heels in love, but at one point, he confessed to being curious about being with other people. I agreed, but I’ve regretted it ever since.

It changed our entire dynamic.

We’d been together for what felt like forever. We were each other’s “first” and we’d never been with anyone else, which was probably why we were so eager to see what it was like to see other people. The problem is that we’d spent countless years as a happy, monogamous couple. Bringing other people into the mix caused such a huge shift in our dynamic that the marriage quickly devolved into something I no longer recognized.

You can’t cover everything.

I thought that coming up with rules for our open marriage would ensure that our relationship stayed happy and healthy because we had rules to play by. I was wrong. The problem is that it’s impossible to cover every single situation, and there are countless loopholes to weave through and gray areas that I didn’t realize were gray until they came up. Trust me on this: if you’re thinking about getting it on with someone and you can’t find a rule that applies to that situation, you’re going to assume it’s fine. I did and my husband did, but the excluded spouse was never fine with it in the moment.

It got awkward with friends.

When a friend of my husband’s found out we’d decided to open our marriage, he began to pursue me. Then the same happened with one of my friends asking my husband out. Suddenly, we couldn’t trust anyone. We wondered how long our friends had been sitting on these crushes. In hindsight, maybe we should have put up a “don’t sleep with friends” rule from the beginning, but by the time we did, it was too late. Hangouts were never quite as chill after that.

Maintaining relationships takes time.

Yes, of course, I’ve always known that a lot of time and effort goes into a relationship, but that’s just one relationship. Imagine trying to juggle multiple different dates and build brand new relationships while still putting enough time into your marriage. It was tough to maintain that balance with my husband. When he drifted away, I’d yell at him, which pushed him further away. The same happened in reverse as well. Things descended into chaos pretty quickly.

What I don’t know DOES hurt me.

They say ignorance is bliss, but I beg to differ. There’s nothing as powerful as the concoctions of thoughts that an untethered human brain can come up with. If I knew my husband spent the night with someone else, my mind raced. Was she prettier than me? Was she more fun? Was she better in bed than me? My mind was completely out of control. Not knowing what went on made me imagine the worst.

What I do know hurts me too.

When my husband told me about the fun he had with another woman, all it did was make me compare myself with what I heard. And heaven forbid he describe what happens with her in bed! I’d agonize over the details for weeks on end.

It awakened a jealous monster in me and I hated it.

A few months into our open marriage, a raging jealousy began to build in me. My husband spent so much time with other women—did he even love me anymore? I didn’t know it at the time, but my husband’s jealousy had started to mount too. We kept catching each other snooping through the other’s phone. This is something we fought over a lot. We screamed and screamed, hurling accusations, demanding more trust from the other while giving none in return. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that’s a recipe for disaster.

It’s never truly equal.

An open marriage sounds pretty fair in theory but it’s really not. Sometimes one of us would have more luck finding a date than the other, and one would go out to paint the town red while the other moped at home. Technically, I suppose it evened out in the end—there were equal dry spells for both of us—but that’s not the kind of equality either of us wanted. Resentment grew, and suddenly getting dates was more about revenge than fairness.

My confidence vanished.

I like to think that despite my bad days, I’m a person with a healthy level of self-esteem. Yet the longer my marriage dragged on, the less I liked myself. I struggled to be everything the other women in my husband’s life were. I expected myself to be perfect. I hoped that if I encompassed every woman my husband liked, it would be OK. Needless to say, that was an impossible goal and it fell apart every time as I stretched myself too thin. There came a point where I just hated myself, and that’s when I realized how unhealthy the marriage had become.

It’s just not for me.

Being in an open relationship was the worst thing I’ve ever done. It ruined a marriage that I think had a pretty decent shot at lasting. It brought out the absolute worst in me and brought insecurity, jealousy, and anger to the surface of a relationship that, once upon a time, was relatively healthy.

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