Are you willing to negotiate monogamy?
May 19th, 2011
10:56 AM ET

Are you willing to negotiate monogamy?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

When you take your marriage vows, you’re pretty much making the commitment to never have sex with anyone else ever again. Wow - just writing that is scary.

With the demise of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver’s 25-year marriage making headlines, it’s hard not to wonder if long-term monogamy is possible or even practical.

As a sex therapist, not a day goes by that I don’t see people who are stuck, feeling as if they have to give up on their marriage, or give up on sex - or cheat. My patients have taught me that sex - or a lack of it - is one of the major contributors to marital strife between longtime couples.

Many people don’t want to throw in the towel, however, which is why the idea of “negotiating monogamy” is becoming more popular. From open relationships, to disclosing affairs before they happen, to giving a partner a “free pass,” negotiated monogamy is a way for some couples to stay committed to each other without having to stay sexually faithful.

Such an approach may seem to fly in the face of the concept of marriage - I don’t blame you for raising your eyebrows or shaking your head at the suggestion. But hear me out.

We live in an age when we’re surrounded by countless arguments (or maybe just excuses) against monogamy: Men have a biological imperative to spread their seed and have always cheated (“boys will be boys”); humans are wired for serial monogamy, not one lifelong relationship; long-term relationships beget boredom; people are living longer and longer but half of all marriages fail… Whew.

When you consider what we’re up against, it may not be such a bad idea to give negotiated monogamy a chance before we dismiss it outright as a violation of the sanctity of marriage.

In my own practice, I often raise the option of negotiated monogamy with couples who have worked their way into permanently sexless marriages, or who feel starved for sex - but not with each other. The very concept of negotiated monogamy is a provocative and useful way for these couples to talk about sex and marriage, even if they choose not to practice it.

As with most issues, it’s better to talk about something and understand each other’s boundaries than to guess or cheat or commit to life of silent desperation. And you know what? It turns out that once couples start talking about what they would or wouldn’t allow - strippers, lap dances, flirty friendships, free passes, oral sex with other people, swinging, open relationships - they often tend to get turned on and end up going home and having sex with each other.

After all, the brain is the biggest of sex organ and, as I discussed in last week’s column about fantasies, even just talking about sex can get people interested in actually having sex.

So remember: Taking a marriage vow does not mean taking a vow of silence. If anything, being married should give you a level of trust where you feel like you can talk about anything. And if you actually want to try negotiated monogamy and your partner doesn’t (or vice versa)? Well, at least you’re having an adult conversation instead of acting like children - or former governors.

soundoff (2,204 Responses)
  1. you're garbage1

    What load of POS

    May 19, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melissa2

      it can't be both. It's either a load or a piece.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse |
  2. Rachell

    Humm ..interesting article. I guess I fall into the uptight, prude, frigid category and I'm proud of it. I would rather have one amazing person for the rest of my life than someone I love, but that I have to share. I'm not religious at all, so that doesn't factor into it and yes there are loads of attractive people out there...I'm only 8 years into my monogamous relationship, but not once have I ever wanted to do anything with anyone but him. To have the rest of my life to be with him and no one else actually feel great to write. Other people want to have their cake and eat it too, it's fine if they are both agreeing to it. It's just not my cup of tea.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thedude

      Rachelle if you are frigid and prude then trust me...your man has either already cheated or has thought about it a number of times.

      May 19, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
  3. Matt

    Wait. WHy bother getting married, then?

    I don't care what someone else decides they want to do, but I'm confused as to why someone that wants an open relationship would bother getting married in the first place, considering the point of it is to be dedicated emotionally and physically to one person. Why not just live together and not get married? If you're going to rebel against marriage, then go all the way, and discard the entire trappings of it.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nonamedave

      Two words: tax breaks.

      May 19, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • JQP

      "...but I'm confused as to why someone that wants an open relationship would bother getting married in the first place..."

      Do you actually think every person who might wish to consider this arrangement was thinking of it when they walked down the aisle. Some may be but for many no. When your are young and your eyes are filled with love (& yes lust as well) you cannot imagine for a second what life might be like in 10, 20, 30+ years. Are you the same person today that you were 10+ years ago. Just trying to answer the question of why someone who would consider this arrangement would get married in the first place.

      May 19, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      Why? Because marriage is about so much more than exclusive access to your partners gen1tals. It's amazing to me that something so amazing as marriage can be totally invalidated by letting someone else touch your *&^@!

      Till death do us part, unless someone else gives you pleasure, or shows any signs of love towards you. If that happens, I'm outta here."

      May 19, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
  4. DJ


    Nobody is getting murdered or Lynched here. Simmer down. To compare Polyamory to racism and killings is just ludicrous.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • B=Dog

      I wonder what would come out cheaper. 10 years of marriage, or 10 years of staying single but hiring a house keeper who cooks to come everyday?

      May 19, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
  5. Tony

    This is where the arabs are doing well. They can have multiple wifes so no need for extra marital affairs.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cmc

      No one is talking about marrying more than one person in this article. Marriage could make things a little stickier than just fooling around. And the Arab world also doesn't allow women to marry more than one man, so there are many flaws in their system.

      May 19, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      No need for the men to have extramarital affairs, you mean. Probably an extra incentive for the women to have them.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • BlueCollarChick

      Yeah. The RICH Arabs can afford multiple wives. The poor ones have no marriage prospects. All that testosterone with no release + religious brainwashing + a promise of 70-something virgins in the afterlife = modern day suicide bombers. Yeah, polygamy has worked out really well in the Arab world.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
    • Loreeebeeee

      Except that it should work both ways. not all women want to sleep with their men, you know. They should be able to have just as many men as the men do women, if that is what they want.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
  6. Alison

    Rbnlegend101, after reading through this discussion, I think your arguments contain the best logic. Even if couples decide to maintain monogamy as crucial to their relationship, refusing to discuss it does more harm than good. A zero tolerance to even mentioning this topic may lead you to feel distance from your partner. If you can't discuss your fears or desires, how is a marriage even healthy? And if you don't have any fears or desires, you must be dead.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mdn

      You can't negotiate MONOgamy. You are either monogamous or not.

      May 19, 2011 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
    • CJD

      You can't negotiate monogamy but you can negotiate fidelity.

      May 19, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • sumday

      I'd love to hear the arrangement for when a partner comes home with a STD or becomes/gets someone pregnant- it's funny I never hear those things mentioned in these type of articles or discussions.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      I guess I used a forbidden word.

      People who actually do this stuff talk about STDs and pregnancy. STDs happen. That's why we practice safe s3x (I bet that's what I said wrong). It's not perfect, but it's good enough. You have a much higher chance of death due to the flu or pneumonia than from an STD. Do you wash your hands 5 times a day? Probably not. Do you wash your hands after touching someone else's cell phone, or the restroom door? Probably not. But you go to great lengths to avoid an STD. Or, you use that fear as an excuse.

      Pregnancy happens. I have talked to my wife about it. Childbirth was hard enough on her last time that I doubt she would be willing to go through that again. But if someone else did that part, well, she loves babies. We'd probably need a bigger house.

      If you are really interested, talk to someone who is doing this sort of thing. We are all over the place. And you have access to the internet. We are easy to find, on line. A little research won't hurt you.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse |
  7. polyimperfect

    I find it really interesting that most (though not all) of the hateful and nasty responses are coming from those who advocate that marriage must equal monogamy, and most (though not all) of the level headed, easygoing, courteous responses are from those who recognize individuals' rights to do as they please with their lives. No one is telling you to cheat on your spouse if you don't want to, and no one is calling you nasty names for your choice to be monogamous. Why can't you extend the same courtesy in return?

    May 19, 2011 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      Very astute. Some people just get it, others don't yet. Everyone is in a different stage of learning, no matter age.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Thats because some of the responses are from women and some are from men.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:27 | Report abuse |
  8. NoPrudesAllowed

    Wow. I love how closed-minded people can be. You make judgments about people who live different lives than you and assumptions about what you would do if you were in that same situation.

    I've been in the same relationship for 10 years (married for 8), and I could not be happier. About three years into our relationship, we got more and more brave in our discussions and sharing of things in the bedroom. It turns out that we BOTH wanted the same things. It wasn't my manly husband pressuring me into something, and no, I don't need my head checked. It just turned out that we both wanted to explore different things. We weren't bored in the bedroom. We were (and still are) very madly in love with each other. We just like to have fun. What harm is there in that?

    I can honestly say that letting go of the jealousy and self-esteem issues is the most liberating thing a woman can do. To see my husband with another woman or hear what he has done while he's been out really heats things up. And to know that he's still coming back to me? That just knocks it out of the park for me. Rather than seeing it as my husband wants other women because he isn't satisfied, I see it as it's just harmless fun, and even after all that, I'm still good enough for him to want more and more. It's a total confidence booster.

    By the way, being open does not mean sleeping with anyone who walks by. In the seven years we have been open, we can both count on one hand who we've been with.

    If being monogamous makes you happy, then I applaud you. But I know a lot of people who are in miserable, boring marriages that could actually benefit from a little fun outside of the marriage, but society tells them it's wrong. If they could just open up to each other, they'd be surprised at what they'd learn. Don't knock it til you try it.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • joe smith

      Well said! God forbid we be honest and assert that maybe the way of the bible is not the only way, nor even the best of ways. It took 3 failed marriages for me to figure this out.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
    • schnuptz

      I agree!!! Theres nothing wrong with it as long as both parties agrees its ok in their relationship. Ive been in a open relationship and it in no way invalidated my relationship in the least!

      May 19, 2011 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • Woman of Honor

      Ho, ho, ho!

      May 19, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse |
    • MG

      I call BS. Just because you are the exception doesn't make it a rule for everyone else. Write me in 40 years and let me know how things are still going. Write after you have passed and let me know how things are still going. Just because you are both OK with it, doesn't make it OK.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:27 | Report abuse |
    • schnuptz

      WOH..she didnt say she slept with everyone...GEEESH!!!!! Know what your talking about before you let your inner prude out!

      May 19, 2011 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
    • sumday

      well isn't it great that you know who your husband sleeps with- do you know who the other girl is sleeping with? In all this fun have you discussed what happens if you or him come back with an STD?- oh right that would never happen to you right? You guys are so careful and choose your partners wisely right. How about if he knocks up the other women and she decides to keep the kid have you talked about that? I've found it's always "fun" until you actualy find yourself facing something that you either thought would never happen or thought you could/would react a certain way just to find out that you had lied to yourself all those times. If your fine with it I don't really care- I'm just surprised at all the talk about this with so little mention of the health risks involved.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse |
    • MrEee

      That's funny, 'the way of the bible'. Last time I looked, there were people having wives as well as concubines and slave women in there, so they weren't really doing the monogamy thing there either.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse |
    • Al


      May 19, 2011 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
    • ZarGoth

      Thank you for you thoughtful contribution............

      May 19, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      We do talk about STDs and unintended pregnancy. I even know someone who has had the unintended pregnancy experience, despite him having a vasectomy. Seems that even years later, your body can repair the damage and you can start shooting live ammo again. His girlfriend came up pregnant, and both her husband and boyfriend were fixed. A quick medical test revealed that the BF was no longer fixed, and when the baby was born, DNA confirmed it. The kid is 8 years old, and it's all one big, happy, confusing, family.

      But I know, for most of you, the kid wouldn't matter, your ownership of your partner would be damaged and the lawyers would earn their pay.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Your use of the phrase "ownership of your partner" says volumes.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      It should speak volumes. Read what the people demanding monogamy are saying. They own their partner. If anyone else challenges that ownership, the goods are damaged and they have to go out and get a new one. They can't share, they can't consider what their partner may want, or feel, they just want to own their property.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:53 | Report abuse |
  9. P

    Intolerance will not be tolerated!

    May 19, 2011 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sumday

      want to bet?

      May 19, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
  10. Micheal

    No, the problem with this WORLD is religion. It served its purpose years ago as a means for in power to control the actions of the masses (**cough**Catholic Church**cough**). In the time since it was useful and modern day, religion has contributed to some of the greatest tragedies in human history: the Crusades, the Dark Ages, child abuse on a grand scale, extremist factions perpetrating terrorism (Islam AND Christianity alike)...

    So considering the true impact major religions have had on this world, be sure to carry your pulpit with you on the way out the door, thank you.

    As for the subject at hand, people who are too closed minded to address the topic in an honest, non-judgemental manner need to just stay out of the discussion.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • god

      I, as the lord, could not have said it better.

      May 19, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • Debs

      Well said my friend! Couldn't agree with you more:)

      May 19, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
    • TDon

      So those of us who disagree should just stay out of the discussion huh? Doesn't seem like much of a discussion then. Oh well, guess I will take my closed mind and go home. Hope all you "tolerant" people have fun patting each other on the back. CYA

      May 19, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      I disagree. The problem is not religion. The problem is that there are bad people. Take religion out of the equation, and bad people will just find another reason to do bad things, whether it's for clan or country or other. And of course, you ignore the good that millions of people do in the name of religion.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      The people who disagree don't seem to be "discussing" they are "denouncing". In a discussion, you present your thoughts and feelings, maybe a few facts, possibly an anecdote or two. You listen to what the other person says, and you both think about the differences between what you are saying.
      "You could consider talking to your spouse about changing the rules of your marriage, and being intimate with more than just each other"
      "No! God says No! You will break your vow. That's cheating. I would divorce my husband if he even thought of it!"

      That's not a discussion, that's not the next step in a discussion. It's just a knee jerk reaction to a perfectly valid viewpoint. People have tried to discuss it, and have been met with more "NO! I would get a divorce, you will get an STD, and you are doomed"

      May 19, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse |
  11. godless_heathen_Blasphemer

    I'm thinking more men would be willing to negotiate monogamy than women. Women take this monogamy thing way to serious. Just sayin'...

    May 19, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mildred

      Not necessarily – it was I who was already poly when I found my now-fiance. He knew of it, but didn't experience it until I came along.

      May 19, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
    • schnuptz

      Actually, I was the one who brought it up in my relationship. Im a woman btw.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
    • godless_heathen_Blasphemer

      now if only my wife would go along. I've brought it up before but it's gone no where.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      My wife is free to play while I am content to stay faithful. We both love the arrangement. So, it goes either way.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
  12. P

    Isn't Jesus' bride the whole church??? Even God likes variety!

    May 19, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Billy

    Arnold was getting his freak on and got caught with his pants down

    May 19, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. mm

    Just ditch the marriage and have the kids. It's not just men who want multiple partners. There are many women who go through withdrawal after marriage.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Dana

    I'd be all for this in a instant.
    When I was in my 20's I would have been offended by this.
    In my 30's I could have easily been talked into it...now that Im 40 I'd just at the chance. It could be that Im bored and lacking something. Or it could be the need for something new and fresh.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • godless_heathen_Blasphemer

      me too. wish i could get your number...

      May 19, 2011 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
  16. CJD

    Jack2, when marriage as a concept was first introduced, it not about the partnership itself but the family connections that it creates. Women were married off at young ages, yes, because they wanted people to maximize their potential for reproducing, but also to ensure security for both the woman in question but the tribe she was connected to. The concept of Monogamy has always existed in order to ensure the bloodline and to attempt to prevent there being a number of children that did not have a stable household. Men were always excused from this because they had authority but it was still supposed to be there for him.

    In today's society, however, we've allowed for a certain amount of promiscuity. I don't think it unreasonable that the concept of marriage should change with the times. I think the couple should decide what fidelity is for them.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sumday

      I disagree- marriage was first started as a way to 1 protect the women, 2 protect the kids, 3 to protect the tribe society. IE if a man got a women pregnant and left that was almost a death sentence back then. There would be no way a women could give birth, work/farm, and provide for the kid on her own (this is back before stores, welfare, ect- think hunter-gather days), 2nd the kid if they did survive would be very likely to be abused by the "next" guy bc it wasn't his kid- this happens all the time today were the man doesn't accept someone else kid as their own, and 3 for society sake bc if a man knocked up a women and left the tribe/society would have to either provide for the women/kid or watch them wither and die (marraige was to prevent welfare were the tribe has to take care of the women/kid bc the father isn't around). Things are different these days but that is were marraige first came from- it protected the women, the kid, and the tribe- IE it made the man accountable for his actions instead of allowing them to condem a women to at best utter hardship and at worse death by running out on them and spared the tribe from having to witness that being done to a women and child.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      That's a lovely spin on the truth of the matter. The man purchased the woman from her father, and in order to obtain full value for his purchase, he didn't let anyone else use his property. We no longer view the woman as property, overtly, but we still hold onto many of the traditions.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
  17. abda

    ... this may be a good time to revisit the origins of what we call marriage.


    May 19, 2011 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sumday

      1st it never says marriage in Gen. it says companion- and marriage didn't happen before sin but after it- for proof in order to be married you must have intercourse and that didn't happen until AFTER sin entered the world- bc the first time it is mentioned as adam "knowing" eve is after the fall. Also when it says the 2 become 1 flesh I personally think that means they make a kid as that kid is part of both parents. Many many ways to interpert things

      May 19, 2011 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
    • John

      To the couple of posts that say ancient marriage rights did not allow for adultry you are surely mistaken. We have 4th Century BCE ptolemaic papyri, which show marriage contracts with negotiated fedility inserted in them. MEN coule have concubines and mistresses as long as he did not bring another wife home to challenge the legitimacy of his estate. That is history folks. Look them up. Before you write what you think you know.
      Women could also divorce in Egypt/Greece as early as the 4th Century and still retained their dowry rights. SO to say they would be delivered a death sentence is an erroneous claim. Ultimately, its up to the couple. Do what you want to and be happy. It is better than a 50% divorce rate creating more and more broken homes IMO.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
  18. TDon

    AI has obviously not read the Bible. God did not change, but there is big difference in how he addresses his people in the old testimate and new. Theology aside, I would not try to control what people can and cannot do (neither does God) but it I do have a strong feeling on what is right. What a shame that commitment and fidelity has been replaced with a focus on physical pleasure. Lifelong commitment is such a wonderful thing to be given up on for short joy ride.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      TDon, the difference between you and me is that I've read it and reject it. You've not read it and accept it and think you know what it says.

      May 19, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • cmc

      "Lifelong committment is such a lovely thing to be given up on for a short joy ride". True. That is why the article is about NOT giving up your lifelong committment for a short joy ride. It's about NOT feeling the need to divorce and give up everything you've built together because a spouse did a physical act with someone else.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      The people defending monogamy here are calling for you to abandon your lifelong commitment rather than so much as discuss, as you put it, a short ride. Sometimes the alternative to monogamy is a short ride, sometimes it is an additional long term relationship, or a lot of flirting, or any number of other ideas. Life is full of possibilities, so why reduce it to marriage or a "quick ride"?

      The reaction to anything less than monogamy, in thought or deed, is to end that lifelong commitment. The people who are open to alternatives, are the ones staying with their spouses. We are just doing it in a way you don't like. Too bad. Soo sad. Not getting a divorce to make you happy.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
  19. r

    Maybe Mildred thought Arnold said "On your back!" instead of "I'll be back"!

    May 19, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Bobby Dick

    I just want to say to those Jack ass losers who look at the whole society or the world from an individual view points. We all know that the famous people ( Arnold, Clinton, Spitzer and so on) has huge tendency cheating or having affairs because of their fame. Anyways, those few individuals do not hold the core value of American society. We can't try to convince people become polygamist because some people's marriage is not working. It is the most stupid article ( lack of intellect) I have ever read). I have friends from different race and religions, they believe this is crap. This guy shouldn't even get published this piece of junk. I think America is becoming dumber day by day, and other country's like China and India are out competing us because guys like jack find nonsense is important to talk about rather how to develop our economy, expand human society to another planet or galaxy.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • schnuptz

      Well obviously it isnt for everyone Dick!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 15:19 | Report abuse |
    • Humbly...

      One minor pt.... it is NOT just Arnold, Spitzer, this IMF guy etc who are infidel... there is an equal rate among commoners as well... just that those commonors' stories do not get smeared all over the internet... as they are not newsworthy...so the problem IS there... in all classes...

      May 19, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • Voig Nederlander

      What a telling last name you have.

      You should try reading the article before spouting off. It does not advocate polygamy.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      Those men are cheating. This article is about negotiating an alternative to monogamy, without cheating. There are famous people who have done that, without cheating. Warren, Susie, and Astrid. Sandra, John, and Kay. Will and Jada, and we don't know who. Just to name a few.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
  21. CNN

    Great and unique topic... and some wonderful discussions. Please CALM down... some of oyu make xlnt points... but if you make inflamed responses, it dilutes the point you are making... lets have a civil discussion on this very, according to many, 'taboo' subject.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Deborah E.

    Seriously, if this is the best we can do then forget marriage entirely.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. CK1721

    "If anything, being married should give you a level of trust where you feel like you can talk about anything."-This is the key. If partners actually TALK about their wants and needs, they will know how to keep their marriage monogomous and successful. One of the best books I've ever read on marriage was "His Needs, Her Needs". If you each focus on each other rather than your self, you will foster happiness in your marriage.

    May 19, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. BlueCollarChick

    Hey, whatever floats your boat I guess. I can't impose my values on anyone else and I wouldn't even try, but I thought marriage was a promise to stay committed to each other. I mean, why even bother getting married then? As a non-religious person, I don't put much stock in the "holiness" of matrimony, but I do believe that the promise to love and commit to one's partner should be taken seriously. Maybe I'm a Fatal Attraction-Bunny Boiler type of girl, but the thought of sharing my (future) husband with another woman makes me want to pull hair and claw faces. I watched my father and his second wife explore the whole open marriage thing. My father couldn't handle it after a while, but he couldn't put the genie back in the bottle once it was let out. My former stepmother was brazen enough to bring lovers back to the house. Things got out of control, and two years ago, my father took his own life. So, yeah ... I am pretty repelled by the whole "negotiated monogamy" scenario.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ralph

      I'm so sorry to hear that, my heart goes out to you. I completely agree with your post, the people who act like this is normal and are so happy, truly are putting up a front.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • Liquidfuse

      Keep in mind that Bin Laden came from a wealthy family, so that is not always the case. But he was involved in so much other stuff going on in that region the 10 year war with the former USSR, plenty of terrorist attacks against the US here and abroad; I do agree with you that most of the poor souls dont have any prospects of getting a wife or wives and if they cant even afford to put food on the table who is to say they cant be easily manipulated to give up their lives with the promise of 99 virgins.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
  25. wife

    I think my husband would be heartbroken if I brought this topic up. :\

    May 19, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      You might be surprised

      May 19, 2011 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
    • godless_heathen_Blasphemer

      I wish my wife would bring it up

      May 19, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • di

      I wish my husband would bring it up- I would be a total GO!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
    • Remy730

      so why not just not be married and go screw all you want? It would be like high school all over again just with condoms this time.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      You know what happens when you assume?

      One of the mistakes I see in marriage is that people think they know everything there is to know about their spouse. A few years of marriage may seem like a long time, but it's not nearly long enough for you to completely know another human being. You think you know them, you take them for granted, you stop talking, and start assuming. Once you hit that level, you have gone a long way towards a failed relationship. You just have to wait for enough wrong assumptions to pile up.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
  26. Tom

    meh,, to each their own. If going to be in a relationship with someone nothing but monogomy will suffice. Sleeping with other people is a deal breaker. If I wanted something else I would break up, get a divorce, etc. Everyone that says they they could work through a marraige where one or both partners was bedding down other people.... ya right. Give a shot and tell me how that works out for you.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • schnuptz

      It actually worked out quite well for me!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 15:21 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      Ten years, going strong. Works pretty well. Between us we have dated about 12 people over the years, shortest was about a month, longest was for almost 8 years. Working out pretty nicely.

      Does that help you somehow?

      May 19, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
  27. Tara CommitmentPhobe

    I have been single for a few years now, by choice. I have had a lof fun and learned a lot about myself. I have friends- male and female- who are either married or in a serious relationship that have told me how much they envy my freedom. I can say with great certainty that if I were to get married anytime soon (which I have no intention of, if ever) I would probably not remain faithful. I think this author is onto something. I just don't think that being with one person for the rest of your life, without ever stepping outside of it, seems almost impossible.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. John B

    "...people are living longer and longer but half of all marriages fail..." And yet, half of all marriages DON'T fail. If lifelong monogamy is such a supposedly alien concept to human beings, how is such a thing possible?

    May 19, 2011 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      Some of those marriages that don't fail, are not monogamous the way you think of monogamy.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
  29. TDon

    AI – I am not sure why you feel the need to tell us what we have done and not done. I have read the Bible – many times. If you don't believe it, that is certainly your right, but don't pretend to know me or what I have done. CMC, I appreciate your distinction, but to many of us marriage without fidelity is not much more than really good room mates. I would not claim people should not be allowed to to what they want, I am just personally disappointed that is what marriage has become.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      Whatever, TDon. I find it amusing that you're telling me to not assume I know things about you when, unprovoked, you opened with a salvo that I had never read your book of mythology.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:46 | Report abuse |
  30. ralph

    LOL @ all the self absorbed people who claim marriage can be whatever they want it to be. They're the same people who claim to be soooo tolerant of everybody, unless ofcourse that person disagrees with them. Marriage is a committment to be with somebody for the rest of your life, if you don't like it then don't get married.

    Yes I get it, the world would be soo peaceful with no religion and if everybody just did what they wanted to, human beings arent selfish, and especially not atheists.....look at all those atheist charities helping out people everyday.

    I know a lot of atheists myself, and although there are certinaly selfish fake Christians, atheists are above and beyond more selfish than any of my other friends....and tbh it's bc they love themselves and cant stand the fact that they ever be criticized or have to face a higher power one day.....PS I'm far from perfect myself, but certain things in this life are WRONG whether you want them to be or not, this being one of them.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nemesis

      Did you even read your own post? Try going over that first paragraph again. Maybe you can make it a little less contradictory.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
  31. ralph

    LOL @ all the self absorbed people who claim marriage can be whatever they want it to be. They're the same people who claim to be soooo tolerant of everybody, unless ofcourse that person disagrees with them. Marriage is a committment to be with somebody for the rest of your life, if you don't like it then don't get married.

    Yes I get it, the world would be soo peaceful with no religion and if everybody just did what they wanted to, human beings arent selfish, and especially not atheists.....look at all those atheist charities helping out people everyday.

    I know a lot of atheists myself, and although there are certinaly selfish fake Christians, atheists are above and beyond more selfish than any of my other friends....and tbh it's bc they love themselves and cant stand the fact that they ever be criticized or have to face a higher power one day.....PS I'm far from perfect myself, but certain things in this life are WRONG whether you want them to be or not, this being one of them

    May 19, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. ummyeah

    Never a excuse for cheating. But nothing wrong with open relationships. Its the lies and deceptions that are what makes cheating wrong. If somebody is ok with their spouse being with another and they know about, I honestly see no wrong or immoral action. A marriage is what you make of it. It just silly when you hear cheaters whine and moan about their human needs, and how they couldnt help it. My question isnt why you felt like sleeping with someone else, but why you had to lie about it, when you have this grand philosophy about why you had to do it AFTER you got caught.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. angrysmell

    burn up all the resources, do all the drugs you can do and hump like rabbits all day long. reason, accountability and moderation are so 20th century.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Tammy

    What part of to clinge to one another and to forsake all others do you not understand when taking your vows and even years after taking your vows?

    May 19, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • schnuptz

      We wrote our own vows...those were not in there!

      May 19, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      I read my vows very carefully. Proofread them infact, because my wife and I wrote them. We didn't vow to cling only to each other.

      If you did recite the vows the minister told you to, you might want to think about your partner, your partnership, and your marriage, rather than meditating on those words. Exchange some new words with your spouse, rather than reciting old words in your mind. When your wedding is over and done with, you still have the marriage, every day. The wedding was lovely, the marriage, less so, but over time, you will get a lot more out of the marriage. It just takes a little more work.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
  35. Guest

    Doesn't work – I've seen two separate sets of close friends think this would be a good idea – their marriage lasted less than 6 months in both cases.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. joe

    More gay propaganda.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. ralph

    LMAO @ all the self absorbed people who claim marriage can be whatever they want it to be. They're the same people who claim to be soooo tolerant of everybody, unless ofcourse that person disagrees with them. Marriage is a committment to be with somebody for the rest of your life, if you don't like it then don't get married.

    Yes I get it, the world would be soo peaceful with no religion and if everybody just did what they wanted to, human beings arent selfish, and especially not atheists.....look at all those atheist charities helping out people everyday.

    I know a lot of atheists myself, and although there are certinaly selfish fake Christians, atheists are above and beyond more selfish than any of my other friends....and tbh it's bc they love themselves and cant stand the fact that they ever be criticized or have to face a higher power one day.....PS I'm far from perfect myself, but certain things in this life are WRONG whether you want them to be or not, this being one of them

    May 19, 2011 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Jason

    This is a wonderful time to post this article. My wife and I have this kind of arrangement, or rather I am content to stay faithful physically while she is free to play. It's a turn on to me, and I'm not jealous in the least. We love only each other. Physical attraction and emotional fondness are not mutually exclusive. Once you realize this, a whole new world opens up.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Kaylee

    If people want to do that in their marriage then they need to call it something other than marriage. Marriage has its own definition and that doesn't include sleeping with other people.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      You could learn a lesson from the dinosaurs – evolve or become extinct.

      May 19, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
  40. Tried this DIDN'T Work!

    I am an open minded person to begin with, so I don't have a problem with sharing. Long story short – when my marriage was on the rocks, I tried everything under the sun to make it work. I even suggested opening up the doors to others in our bedroom. What happened, however, my husband cheated on me instead. The trust never returned despite the year and a half I continued trying to make it work(after the fact). Therefore, my ten year marriage failed. So, it doesn't matter whether you agree to this or not. In ANY relationship, if you don't have open, honest communication with your partner, NOTHING you try will work.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      You have the key there. Open honest communication. Sorry to hear your husband wasn't capable of that, sounds like you did give it a good try. You can only go so far, and if he can't even meet you in the middle after you have tried all that, it just ain't gonna work. It's not the acts he performed when cheating that ended the relationship, it was the not communicating and cooperating.

      I hope you find (or found) someone better, and I bet that he went on to cheat on his next wife as well.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
    • Tried this DIDN'T Work!

      Thanks, Rbnlegend10. You know the kick to it all is the woman I suggested to join in on the fun is the same woman he had been having an affair with all along. Pretty low. I really hope he doesn't do this to his new girlfriend, because she is an absolute GEM and super hot. No one deserves this. It turns people into bitter, scarred souls. But, I'm a true believer in "everything happens for a reason" because my new boyfriend is the world's best communicator, a life coach, and has an enormous you know what! 🙂 (heart, ya that's it!)

      May 20, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
  41. Jason

    It is not the strongest or the fastest that survive, but the most adaptable to change – Charles Darwin

    May 19, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. D-Iowa

    As a woman who grew up in a traditional church family but left that behind as I got older:

    Marriage is something that people who believe in their own fairy tale need and want (I applaud you)
    Having a "committed" relationship with nooky on the side are for those people that can tolerate such an agreement and be happy in the process (I applaud you)
    For the rest of us... I advocate for contracts between two couples. In reality we all get bored and can't/won't find a solution to the problem so we move on, but divorce is EXPENSIVE! I purpose contracts for how ever long is agreed upon between the parties in question and stipulations of the agreement be made prior to signing it (cheating/fidelity, money, children, etc). These agreements can be renewed at the end of the time of the agreement or the two parties can go their separate ways happily and with more money in their pockets.
    Children would complicate the issue, but as long as both parties are paying for them (like a divorced family if they decide to part later) should be just fine.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Lila

    Marriage is a deep friendship and it's OPTIONAL, no one has to do it. 99% of the time a marriage is about talking and doing things together. To keep making it about s3x cheapens it. If people don't want to keep their promise to be open, honest and trustworthy to another person, do them a favor and get lost. Free them up to find someone who is better suited for their needs.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Kevin

    This is absurd. People cheat on their spouses because they're bad at relationships. They shouldn't be allowed to be bad at multiple relationships to fix this. They should learn how to be better at relationships.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      Cnn didn't like my first try.

      It's a cliche. If your relationship is bad, you can't fix it by adding people. That just turns into drama. Which is why you see open relationships that fail, and don't see as much evidence of open relationships that work. No drama, so no one looks. But talking honestly about your wants and needs can help your relationship, even if your wants and needs are not monogamy. Fix the communication, and maybe the other stuff will work.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
  45. JB

    Lets maintain a little self control, maybe even a little integrity here. If you make the commitment to be faithful, then do it. If you can't keep that commitment, then don't make it in the first place. And let me make raise one more thought here: Expecting someone to stand by the promise/vow they made to you does not make you a prude (as suggested by earlier comments).

    May 19, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SoS

      Odd how you mention some comments and ignore others that are pertinent. For example, another person mentioned that not everyone makes the same vows. I have been to a great many weddings and not once were the vows identical.

      Also, no one said expecting someone to stand by their vows makes them a prude. You are mixing up your comments and clearly confusing yourself. Please stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and then try again.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:46 | Report abuse |
  46. JT

    No way this negotiation can turn out good. No friggin way. People in general are way too emotional.what happens when one person get to score and the other doesn't. Do they feel slighted and cheated then?

    May 19, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Khadijah

    The Gov owned up to it. It is over.

    As far as polygamy goes, yeah, sure fine, as long as everyone knows, no more than three women, and all are over 18. Multiple guys married to a woman... Not so much. Yuk !

    May 19, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Jay

    One man, one woman, within the context of marriage, for a lifetime. We can make all the excuses we want. No one ever said it would be easy. Only that it is right and proper.

    May 19, 2011 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Kev


    May 19, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. femfilly

    I love this article. I will be away from my husband for 5 months for a job. I've told him he can do as he pleases, as long as his interests gets tested for STDs and is on hormonal BC AND they use a condom. I've also asked him to get himself tested again before we start sleeping with one another.

    I seriously doubt he will take me up on the offer, as he seems terrified at the idea, but grateful about the gesture made.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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