Let’s consider the confines of an open marriage. Yes, an open marriage. Yes, the kind where you and your spouse can date and have sex with others, outside the marriage.
This past month, The Times Magazine published a challenging and intriguing article by Susan Dominus that explored marriages that were no longer monogamous, with both spouses’ agreement. For nearly a year, Dominus reported on couples engaged in consensual nonmonogamy (what some involved call polyamory), and returned with a collection of fascinating stories about jealousy, love, desire and trust, all within the loose confines of an open relationship.
In many ways, Dominus assumed the position of the average New York Times reader and approached the topic with skeptical curiosity: “The more I spoke to people in open relationships,” she wrote, “the more I wanted to know how they crossed a line into territory that seemed so thorny to their peers.” Many readers found the concept of an open marriage totally repellent and unrealistic. “I am pretty open, sexually speaking,” wrote one commenter who gave only his first name, David. “But this feels like a long, elaborate case to normalize relationship behavior that rings false to me.”
For a number of readers, however, the stories in Dominus’s article were familiar and true because they had lived those experiences as well. The New York Times asked people to share their stories of engaging in open marriages and relationships and received more than 300 submissions. A select group of their responses are shared>> here. They were edited for length and clarity. Thank you to Jeannie Choi for this follow-up piece.