Q. Hi Meredith,
I recently fell hard for someone outside of my marriage. An old flame reconnected and within days we were texting day and night, within weeks the texts turned into “I want you.”
My husband of 20 years is one of my best friends. As I hurtled toward cheating, I asked him for permission to have sex outside our marriage. He’s content with our meager sex life; I haven’t been for years. Nothing has increased the frequency or the fun of it, including talk therapy.
After a long and painful talk, he said OK; if what I wanted was to keep our relationship/finances/parenting/living arrangements intact, and add this other relationship to my life, he wouldn’t pretend he hadn’t thought about it himself, and couldn’t imagine wanting it this badly.
I imagine there will be consequences. There’s permission and there’s reality. We have teenage kids and jobs and friends.
What do you think could be the fallout? It feels so good to be desired, to hear that I’m sexy and beautiful and have a great laugh (we’ve talked on the phone). Am I kidding myself that it’s possible to have a happy marriage and a lover?
— The Proposal
A. It sounds like you haven’t done enough talking with your husband about what an open marriage would entail, specifically what boundaries you’d both like to set to make this work. Does he want to know when you see this man? What are the rules about sex and protection? Does either of you plan to tell people in your shared community?
There are a lot of ways to do this with consent. A wonderful sex writer told me how to use the language of sexual boundaries for staying safe in a pandemic. She said to ask someone who invited me to come over, “What would that look like?” Because it was so confusing! Would I bring my own food? Would everyone wear masks? I used those simple words to get people to consider every detail. You can ask the same question of each other, about how this new relationship would affect your marriage.
You ask about fallout, and all I can do is guess. It’s possible it won’t be as fun/easy as it sounds. You might decide you no longer want to be married to your best friend. You might want everything to change.
But for now, who knows? All you can do is make sure you and your husband understand and agree to the plan.
I don’t get it. Personally I’d just get a divorce. BOSTONSWEETS21
You’re OK if he takes a lover, right? VALENTINO—
The embarrassment you’ll feel if your children or friends find out will be a major buzz kill. LUPELOVE
If you are seriously considering an open marriage, you both should be on board with it 100 percent, and lay down some ground rules up front. If you then move forward with it, check in with each other on a regular basis. Good luck. JNEWCOMER27
The “fun” you seek may not be worth the price. SELDOMSOBERBAND
Catch Season 5 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen.