Can open marriages really work?
Leading an Open Relationship - How Does It Work?
Evelyn and Tom are in their early thirties and have two children. They have had an open marriage for ten years. They have no secrets from each other, they want to know everything. Over coffee and rhubarb spritzer, they told me what this kind of partnership means for them, what love and jealousy does to them. And above all: What others can learn from them.
Why have an open relationship?
We all carry a package full of past relationship experiences with us. For Evelyn it is marked by prohibitions. Before Tom, she was with a man who gave her no freedom. She says: “I wasn't even allowed to look at anyone else. It was absurd. Still, I went through it for five years. " After that she only wanted one thing: to be free. “I have to live it up now,” she said to Tom when she met him in her mid-twenties while studying. Even if she realized then that they had a special connection. Or just because of that.
I knew it was going to be. That was the man I wanted to have children with and build a house with.
Until Tom suggested to her: "Then let off steam with me too!" Said and done. Sex quickly turned into a relationship. Marriage two years later. But an open one. Tom says: “It took me a while to get used to the idea of having an open partnership. But love is not defined by compulsions. Neither is a good relationship. That you forbid yourself to do something in order to become happier - that's a paradox. And anyway: Why should one live the rules that others have made? Why shouldn't you question these rules and redefine them for yourself? "
As a symbol of mutual freedom, they released pigeons during their wedding ceremony instead of being enslaved by pinning the wedding rings, as the two would put it.
Everyday life in an open relationship: talking, talking, talking
What does everyday life in an open marriage look like? Evelyn reports: “At home with our children we live a very classic family model. It's not that we're constantly looking to make new sexual contacts. But if the opportunity arises and the chemistry is right, it won't be turned down. And that's exactly what it's about: giving each other these freedoms. But then also to speak openly about it. Our love is based on communication. "
Especially at the beginning, they had to keep balancing out what is okay for both of them and what is not. Together they have defined framework conditions and goals: “We have honestly admitted that each of us also finds other people attractive and wants to have sexual experiences outside of the partnership. We want to be open with our wishes instead of hiding them. We live it together instead of behind the partner's back. "
“So there are no details or information that are deliberately left out so as not to hurt the other?” I ask. Both shake their heads vehemently: “No, we are doing exactly the opposite. Our top rule is: Everything is told. Really everything. Even when we know that it hurts the other. Or these conversations spoil the evening. "
It still doesn't work without jealousy and rules
Is merciless openness the only way to get intimacy? Evelyn and Tom agree: Better to talk too much than too little. “When we meet someone alone, we talk about it in every detail afterwards. We analyze the meeting and evaluate it together. That doesn't always happen without jealousy. But that's no problem. The point is not that jealousy should no longer exist. Rather, we want to learn how to deal with it, ”explains Tom.
We consciously seek the pain that jealousy triggers in us. Because it's worth it for the relationship in the long run.
“But we often look for sexual adventures together,” he continues. “So you go to swingers clubs?” I ask. Evelyn shakes her head: “We tried swinging, but that's not our thing. I want to have a tingling stomach while getting to know each other. I want the other person to understand me. I miss that when I visit the swingers club. " Evelyn and Tom have a couple profile in the JOYclub. From time to time they date other couples here. Or they look for special events that they want to visit together.
Having strange butterflies in your stomach
“Has it ever happened that you fell in love with someone else?” I want to know. Evelyn blushes a bit and says: “Yes, that happens - the thing about falling in love. Why not? Butterflies in your stomach are a great feeling. It makes us happy. It is good for us. But it's just a phase. " I remember: Many scientists have known for a long time that this drug intoxication of being in love subsides after about two years. This either results in deep love or the couple go their separate ways.
Evelyn continues: “Tom and I have this deep love. We have a strong foundation. That is the reason why one or the other infatuation has never been able to harm us. Because: I know rationally that being in love will always pass. The love for Tom remains. I want and need that. But I don't think it's wrong to need more either. For me, this more ’is the attraction of the new. And now and then also to desire something that I will never own. "
I need that tingling sensation that you only feel when something is new and exciting.
“And hasn't that happened to you yet, Tom?” I ask. “Nope, I have the best woman I can have by my side,” he replies with a grin and adds: “Of course, there are one or two women I find attractive. But a woman would have to bring a lot for me to be on a par with Evelyn. " Now Evelyn is getting a little red again.
How openly carry the open relationship to the outside world?
I find it impressive how unconditionally honest the two of them treat each other. Is it the same with friends and family? “We once tried to talk to the family about our open relationship. That was interpreted very differently: From ‘that doesn't work’ to I don't care ’, everything was included. But that's okay too, and we accept that as well. It's not like we're running around with other partners all the time. At home we have classic family life. "
Evelyn and Tom open up their relationship from time to time. It often takes several weeks before they both feel like going to an event and getting closer to another couple. Because they are enough. Or because they know that the possibility is always there. Many may see this as a convenient back door - always one foot out of the marriage. The two simply regard it as an erotic game, which they sometimes play in twos, threes or fours.
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