Opening a relationship can create an opportunity for growth and discovery, but it can also expose the relationship rot that hasn't been healed.
In a popular post on the Relationship Advice subreddit, a man shared the story of his open marriage troubles.
Two and a half years ago my wife "Sarah" (36F) asked me to open our marriage, she strongly implied the alternative was divorce. After thinking it through I said yes, primarily because we do have two children, I worked long hours and divorce sounded horrible. So I set up some ground rules.
Not bringing dates into our house, no dating mutual friends, acquaintances, family members, collages, keeping things private. For the next two years I focused on my job and on my kids. I worked long hours, little free time I had I devoted to my kids. I didn't had the time for dating so I wasn't even trying.
I moved to another room because the thought of Sarah having sex with another man, then sleeping in my bed felt horrible, our relationship became purely transactional, we became partners at raising kids. I didn't want to know anything about her sex life.
This summer I managed to fulfill my financial goals. I do not have any debt whatsoever, both of my kids have enough money in their college fund, and all I have to do is to keep adding some savings every month into the fund I made for their first home deposits. So I did some math and decided to cut my work from 74 hours to just 30 per week.
Sarah wanted to get indebted again to buy another house and a new car, I said no. I used my free time to finally have a vacation I really needed, took older son with me to tour US together. Did some renovation work on our house, turned basement into man cave. Started working out play sports, leading a healthier life. Then I actually started trying to land a date.
For me just having s*x with somebody is...not my thing. I want to at least be a friend before that. To go out together, watch movies, have fun AND have s*x. So I dated a couple of women and found a "Jane" with whom I clicked. With Jane I was going out to concerts, art galleries, comic cons, movies...AND we would "boink" too. Sarah wanted to talk about my dates. I said no.
Then I caught Sarah snooping through my phone and we had a very strongly worded argument. Now Sarah wants to update the terms of our open marriage. She wants us repair our marriage by going to the counselor, she wants us to sleep in the same room, to go outside and have fun together. Our outside of marriage relationships are to be strictly s*xual and nothing else.
And we are to talk about our s*xual partners. I told her that I am content with the situation as it is, and I don't mind if she finds a partner to go out with. I encouraged her to. And I don't want to talk about our partners. She is holding her ground. At this point I'm split between trying to fix our marriage and handing her the divorce papers. I need an advice guys.
TL;DR - After opening our marriage and me starting to date wife wants to change the rules.
You were working 74 hours per week, and spending your free time with the kids. What space was there for your relationship with your wife? Was the open relationship because she wanted "an excuse to cheat" or was it because she wasn't seeing you at all? If my husband was away that much, and spent his free time only with the kids, I'd be incredibly lonely.
From your comments the 74 hours wasn't about survival either, it was to set up college funds, which you achieved in 2.5 years and can now work 30 hours.
Why didn't you work fewer hours, take 5 years to build the college funds, and make time for your family? Now that you have the free time, you're still choosing not to see your wife. Get a divorce. You obviously don't like her, and you both deserve to be in healthy & loving relationships. Your kids deserve to see healthy role models too.
"But man you were working 74 hours per week, and spending your free time with the kids."
After she decided to open our marriage. At which point I pretty much focused on completing financial goals as soon as possible. I was working longer hours before that, but not that long. And I was finding time to spend with Sarah.
"Now that you have the free time, you're still choosing not to see your wife."
I actually left her to initiate that, if she wished to. She didn't.
This is so tough because on on end, you worked so much at one point and most likely were not available to be a intimate partner for Sarah. However, you both agreed to terms of an open marriage and had been living like that for a while.
It seems you are 50/50 but in all circumstances, I'd hope my husband would choose me and working on us first rather than jumping to divorce. It sounds like you are a free, more relaxed and healthier version of yourself. Sarah notices this too and wants intimacy with you. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide if this is worth fixing. I wish you and your family all the best.
Well after I stopped working so hard Sarah had a couple of months to initiate.
But ultimately another woman made me a better version of myself.
Watch out for the effort that may be about to come from your wife. It's either going to be more jealousy, or it's going to be sexual advances, rubbing your shoulders, and bringing you your morning coffee. Keep it close in your thoughts that whatever effort she puts in will end once she's out-competed your other partners. Once that happens she'll have no need to do it anymore.
And I think she feels resentment because of that. She most likely isn't getting the full experience from other men. The most common fantasy entering non-monogamy are passionate, quality partners who are enthralled and sexy, but also value the women they're with. It's someone who has sex well and makes her feel wanted, but also connects emotionally sometimes.
The reality is a whole lot of men in non-monogamous dating just use women for sex, dump them more easily, with lots of liars out there, and lots of low effort. It's hard for most women to actually find a non-monogamous man who meets her fantasy and who's consistent enough to satisfy her. There's a learning curve to it.
Successful non-monogamous women who are happy with it tend have a lot of skills in filtering and vetting partners, as well as a lot of skills in keeping compatible partners. Your wife likely lacks those skills, and even if she had them she'd drive quality partners away by presenting the lack of ethics she showed in your marriage in those connections too.
Well yeah. I'm spending more time in our house, I'm free for the entirety of weekend. I told her she can spend the vacation with her guy. She said she would...then she stayed home and sulked because me and my older son had a great vacation on our own.
I told her she can spend entire weekend with her guy, while I stay home and take care of our kids. She said she would, made plans, stayed home. Relationship in which I have to take care of her emotional needs, while some guy is taking care of her sexual need doesn't interest me.
It sounds like you were working so much that your wife was essentially alone. Did you ever consider working less and taking your wife on dates before she asked to see other people? Is it possible that now that you have time, and are in a better mood from working less, that she just wants to see more of you? Maybe I'm way off, but it looks like you're giving Jane all the things you never gave your wife.
Wasn't working that hard before she decided to open our marriage. I'd still find time to, leave the kids with family and spend a day with my wife. After she decided to open our marriage, I started grinding my work. Once I completed financial goals and switched to working 30 hours...it felt too humiliating to take my wife out, considering she is screwing around.
Me and my wife Sarah had two sessions with couple counselor. Counselor was being very dedicated and professional, however Sarah kept making demands which felt very unreasonable and unfair. She wants to keep an open relationship which is only about sex, she doesn't want to find a job and keep working, she wants "us" to buy a new house.
In every variation she stubbornly wasn't willing to have 2/3 of these things. Today during the counseling she threatened divorce. After counseling she said counselor was taking my side and wanted to change to another counselor. Although I think counselor was just trying to be fair and find a compromise. I had a talk with the lawyer, and started divorce proceedings. She will get the papers in a couple of days.
I will give her 2 months to start earning on her own, after that I'm not giving any money whatsoever to her anymore.
P.S. I just wanted to add that I only started working 74 hours a week after she decided to open our marriage. Before that I was working around 50 hours a week. Wasn't spending my time at bars and clubs either, helped with chores as much as I could and I was being home and available every weekend.
Divorce is definitely your best option. Good luck.
How do you figure that you're not giving her any money anymore after 2 months?
Kids and school?
I don't think they look at just your last few pay stubs when working out alimony or custody amounts.
Good for you in getting out but the math doesn't make sense. What did the lawyer say?
The relationship sounds pretty over. I'd go off the advice of your lawyer. Sounds like you are smart enough to not fall for these fake attempts of reconciling like buying a new house together (which just sounds like you buying a house). Again, go off your lawyers direction but I'm not sure staying with her any longer is the right move.
Perhaps she gets a job, proves she can work, then you divorce and that may help you. This situation sucks, her idea to open the marriage under threat of divorce. You finally found something and she got jealous because she probably didn't find anything like you found with Jane, or she did but was jealous of you, so she wants to lock you back down.
You are going to have to pay support for the situation it seems based on what you've shared. For your kids though, please go through with the divorce, sounds like your house has been broken ever since the open relationship started.
It sounds like she just wanted to cheat. Once you found someone else, she's panicked and realized you were actually going to find someone else. You aren't the go and get laid for the sake of sex type. She was counting on that and assumed you wouldn't bother looking. It became reality once you did. She also doesn't like the therapist because the therapist doesn't agree with her.
She wants one that will agree with her and not you. Your marriage was doomed the moment she requested an open marriage. I know divorce is hard, but she's the one who ended the marriage. Maybe you and Jane can find a better relationship than you and Sarah had.
Clearly, this marraige was headed for the end, hopefully it can resolve as quickly and peaceful as possible.