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. Bob Berbowski

    All of those so against it...

    How can you be so sure you aren't already in one of these relationships and your spose just hasn't told you yet?
    That happens every day.

    I'd rather have open honest discussions about it and deal with the facts of my personal situation, as this article thoughtfully suggests, rather than be suprised like Maria Shriver. (Arnold is a Christian btw, doesn't seem to have helped)

    May 19, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      If you don't know about it, you haven't negotiated anything. That's cheating. There's a huge difference between agreeing to something beforhand, and trying to get away with it when you have not.

      Although odds are good that one of the pople who has posted about how they would get a divorce if their partner has cheated on them, just doesn't know that they have. Just based on the numbers.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  2. steveo

    i want to be the first person on here to speak an opinion that is open and fair to both sides of the argument...

    My personal feeling is there's a lot of potential complications and some very possible bad situations to a non-monogamous marriage. I also happen to feel like it dilutes the social and moral fabric that somehow binds most of us together on SOME level. So personally, I feel like if you don't want to be in a monogamous marriage, why get married?! Just have the fun like you want to – you can even be in a polygamous relationship (non-marriage), and I think it's still all good.

    From the flip side, I can definitely see the appeal. As long as it's not contradictory to your beliefs, and you ultimately go to sleep at night feeling 100% ok with your decision, far be it from me to criticize you. I just personally feel like you could be in the same type of relationship without being married. Especially if you have kids – in almost every case I have a strong feeling that your kids are going to suffer the consequences at some point down the road.

    Anyways, my two cents...curious to see if others agree.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Roberto

    Lack of self-control leads to infidelity and thus makes selfishness the leading marriage break-up cause.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. keith

    This is ridiculous and sad...a lot of perverts out there who apparently aren't in love or attracted enough to their own spouse...apparently love is dead for a lot of people.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Everly


      May 19, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
    • Otto

      I agree, Keith. Also, people here need to learn discipline. There are literally billions of attractive people in the world. Are we going to sleep with them all? This argument for an "open" marriage, is just for people who are unable to exercise their faculty of self-discipline. Moreover, if they had true romantic love, this wouldn't even be an issue.

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

      Aren't in love? Not attracted enough to their spouse? Hey, I like the heck out of steak but if I had to eat it every night for a year I'd be pretty sick of it. The idea of people 'making love' is a fairytale I got over in my twenties

      May 19, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
    • Jim


      May 19, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
    • Exaclty

      That's exactly what I was going to say but you already said it, thank you. Whoever wrote this article has obviously never been in real love. So, please don't try to bring the rest of us down with you.... We know better.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      (“boys will be boys”); My goodness, how shallow and narrow minded this auther can be...Man are blamed one hundred percent for "spread their seed" and women are innocent for spread their legs. Sounds like this auther is an active member of "Lorena Bobbit chop and drop syndrome" club.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • Exaclty

      PS I'm in a relationship of 9 years. Why does this publication always try to brainwash us out of our natural, biological HUMANITY?

      May 19, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      I would love to eat steak every day...

      May 19, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • Exaclty

      "Moreover, if they had true romantic love, this wouldn't even be an issue." Otto, absolutely right. A non-issue! Again, stop trying to bring us true hearts down to the level of you people who are unable to love!

      May 19, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • VegasRage

      Perversion? How do you think you got here? You believe your mom and dad had biblical thoughts and then conceived you? I dare say their was some nasty perverted freak action going on.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
    • geoz

      While this negotiating monogamy isn't what I want in a relationship, I'm astonished that you, and other posters here, seem to think you know exactly what is right for everyone. I suggest that you own your own beliefs but keep the name calling out of it. Those who choose this – and it is clear from other posts that many do – don't need your permission nor your judgment.

      I could use a lot less judgmental commentary on this page.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • jas

      Go east and look why only here half of marriages fail....priorities just priorities

      May 19, 2011 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      Must be frustrating knowing everything and no one will listen to you.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
    • Willy

      Steak everyday! Awesome! It can be prepared so many different ways. Might be only 360 so maybe not one recipe for everyday of the year.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse |
    • The Negotiating Coach®

      Dear Ian: The interesting element to this idea of concept is not whether or not the idea is right or wrong – or whether or not it makes sense. The challenge is how do two people go about "negotiating". In our experience people have no clue how to actually go about the process of negotiating. People depend to much on instinct when negotiating. Like anything else – there is a process to follow – whereby both sides feel as though the arrived at at Win-Win outcome. If not – one side in this type of negotiation will inevitably feel exploited or taken advantage of.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:20 | Report abuse |
    • Miles

      What you people forget is that while the actual feeling of love that you get from the chemical dump is the same for everyone, the ideas and sentiments to go with it are not. As such, love is a subjective term. You cannot classify exactly what it is. Further, morality is subjective, and not everybody agrees with monogomy, or a closed relationship. Condemn all you want, just realise that your ideas and feelings are yours, and yours alone.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      Most people past 25 or so don't really want a variety of partners so much as a partner with variety. Best for most of us just to learn how to be good in bed.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
    • El Kababa

      You girls are mistaking your romance novels for reality. There is no such thing as "true love." You can't define it. You don't know it when you see it. You are living in a fairy tale and you are insisting that reality conform to your quirky notions of human behavior.

      Case in point: My sister-in-law is a passionate believer in "true love." Once we were watching a movie on TV. During the commercial, my sister-in-law commented that the characters were obviously not in "true love."

      "A REAL woman knows when she has met 'the one,'" she commented. "I knew that Bruce (her husband) was 'the one' the moment that I saw him."

      I replied, "But Bruce is your THIRD husband."

      She threw me out of the house.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
    • Zach

      @Michelle "men will cheat, they were born to do that" That is what makes marriage so awesome and special. We are putting aside our natural inclinations to cheat to follow a vow we made to one person!! DUHH

      May 19, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
    • shelly

      I didn't really get from this article that he was suggesting infidelity. I got that he was suggesting open dialogue. And I'm all for it. My husband was cheating and left me because he just didn't want to settle down. I'm a big believer in life-long manogomy (although not a big believer in "romantic" love. I think it takes a hell of a lot of work.). Although I don't agree with infidelity, I wish that my husband had actually talked to me about what he needed and wanted to do instead of me finding out about the affair later and etc. We could have decided together what path to take, even if it was the one he ultimately took. It would have created far fewer problems for our kids.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:46 | Report abuse |
    • Bob The Builder

      i abuse midgets.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:59 | Report abuse |
    • hi

      I wouldn't mind slugging the author of this article in the face for spreading this kind of poison to the public.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:03 | Report abuse |
    • Sardukar

      if 2 are good you should try 4some...you will literally go up in Heavens and then slowly come back to Earth...its incredible.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:05 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Historically speaking marriage has very little to do with ‘love’. From the oldest text to modern times (40s, 50s) marriage was used for financial, political and security reasons.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      I think those who condemn this are closed-minded. It won't work for everyone, and it might be a TERRIBLE idea for your marriage. But what sort of arrogant busy-body do you have to be to decide that what is "right" for YOUR marriage MUST be the only morally correct thing for other marriages, too?

      I would never try this in my marriage. It kind of seems shallow. But if it works for some other people, then that's great for them - I wish them all the luck with their marriage.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:29 | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      El Kababa: studies have conclusively shown that those who believe in true love and believe they have found have happier, richer relationships than those who do not believe in true love. Those who believe but have not found it tend to have the worst relationships.

      In a sense, ALL emotions are myths - chemical responses created in the brain to condition us to certain actions. Why are fear and happiness somehow valid feelings, but true love is not?

      May 19, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
    • blue

      All you have to do is look at the statistics. Lifetime monogamy does not work for everyone. In fact, it doesn't work for many people. People like you who see everything in black and white are out of touch with reality. Pontificate all you want about all the "perverts" out there – your so-called "perverts" are apparently the norm.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
    • abz2000 dot com

      The Hellfire Club was a name for several exclusive clubs for high society rakes established in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century, and was more formally or cautiously known as the "Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe". These clubs were rumoured to be the meeting places of "persons of quality" who wished to take part in immoral acts, and the members were often very involved in politics. Neither the activities nor membership of the club are easy to ascertain.
      The very first Hellfire Club was founded in London in 1719,
      by Philip, Duke of Wharton and a handful of other high society friends.

      The club motto was Fais ce que tu voudras (Do what thou wilt),

      a philosophy of life associated with François Rabelais' fictional abbey at Thélème and later used by Aleister Crowley – A prominent Satanist.

      Lord Wharton, made a Duke by George I, was a prominent politician with two separate lives: the first, "a...man of letters" and the second, "...a drunkard, a rioter, an infidel and a rake"
      Wharton's club came to an end in 1721 when George I put forward a Bill "against 'horrid impieties'" (or immorality), aimed at the Hellfire Club. and removing him from parliament.
      After his Club was disbanded, Wharton became a Freemason,

      and in 1722 he became the Grandmaster of England.

      The first Freemasonic Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of England (GLE),
      was founded on 24 June 1717,

      Sir Francis's club was never originally known as a Hellfire Club; it was given this name much later. His club in fact used a number of other names, such as
      the Brotherhood of St. Francis of Wycombe,
      Order of Knights of West Wycombe,
      The Order of the Friars of St Francis of Wycombe.

      other persons of "prominent" status also belong to clubs of these types of name
      Order of Demolay – Willy Clinton & Walt Disney
      Order of Skull and bones – george h w bush, george bush, john kerry
      At the Republican National Convention in 1988, he was asked by a Hartford Courant reporter about what he and his father talked about when they weren't talking about politics.

      "P*ssy," Bush replied.

      find more here:
      h t t p : / / abz2000 . c o m / Babylon . a s p x

      May 19, 2011 at 18:45 | Report abuse |
    • Maja

      Wow. So people who have the intelligence and decency to talk openly about their desires within the confines of a committed relationship are all perverts? There is nothing illegal or immoral with having physical relationships with people other than your partner if your partner has agreed to it. In fact, I'd say it's far preferable to people having affairs. Are they all perverts too?

      May 19, 2011 at 18:46 | Report abuse |
  5. catalina

    I am a fan of negotiated monogamy. I think it can save marriages that would otherwise fail. I think if both partners are open and honest with each other, it can work out quite well. I have been the "other woman" in a negotiated monogamy situation. The husband was bored and the wife did not want to indulge his fantasies or change her habits. This lead to arguments and neither were happy. She suggested he find someone to spend time with outside the marriage, as long as it was just physical. She suggested me, the "ex girlfriend." At first I was very hesitant... I thought it was a trap. But after discussing it with them I found that she was really supportive and trusts me with her husband. I see him every couple of months and I think it keeps their marriage afloat. She also has the freedom to have someone on the side but chooses not to. The three of us can hang out as friends and it is never awkward. I know that won't work for everyone, but it is something to consider.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Edsr

      Catalina..............you need a couch and a psych...................why get married at all if you are going to make a negotiation like this? This simply makes marriage look cheap and gaudy................better to stay single than to be bound with a legal contract such as marriage only to cheapen it with this type of arrangement..............ESPECIALLY if you have children who are aware of waht is gling on and as they grow they too will become misfits............

      May 19, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
    • catalina

      Let me elaborate a little more...
      I'm a "fan" of negotiated monogamy if the married couple thinks it is right for them. I think that many people get married because they think they are in love, but after a a few years the newness fades away and they are left in a miserable marriage. They care about their spouse but may not be attracted to them anymore. I absolutely support separating or getting a divorce in that situation. BUT if the couple wants to try to make it work, and one method is by introducing a new partner for one or both spouses, then let them do what they want. As long as both parties agree and it is physical only, let them try it out. If emotions get involved, then a divorce is definitely in order. I do agree that if the coupld has kids it would be extremely risky to try something like this. Most people that try open marriages keep it quiet. It doesn't make their marriage look "cheap" because no one knows. The couple I am involved with operate as normal adults with jobs, a home, pets, friends, close family, etc. And no one knows. I operate as a single adult with a job, home, friends, and family... and no one knows. I'm not into dating right now, so I'm not sleeping with multiple people. It's safe and everyone has agreed to the terms. Like I said, it's not for everyone. I don't think it makes us misfits, just different. You might be surprised how many people have arrangements like this.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
    • abrown

      What do you get out of it? Men may be programmed to spread their seed but I think women are programmed to take care of their children and themselves. I think you either still care for the man or he's financially secure and you want a part of that.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • bronxgal

      ..I think you're getting a raw deal.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • catalina

      The notion that women are programmed to want to take care of a family is no longer 100% true. In the past hundred years women have really changed their roles in the world. We work away from the home and have become self-sustaining and independent. I'm in my mid-twenties with a college degree. My job pays very well. I maintain my own home and pay my own bills. At this point in my life, I have no desire to have children (that might change as I get older). I am independent and busy and currently have no interest in dating. The opportunity to be intimate with someone I trust with "no strings attached" is appealing to me because of everything I have listed. LIke I said, we only meet up every 2 months or so and I am not compensated by money or gifts. It's just two adults responding to their natural urges. I don't expect everyone to "get" that... and that's ok.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
    • geoz

      As I said above, this isn't for me, but it seems, from her writing, that Catalina is a rational person. If this works for her, and no one else is objecting (as she reports) what is it to me? Good luck Catalina.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Thanks for the story. This is a great example.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:08 | Report abuse |
    • fran glass

      catalina – i am too jealous to handle the kind of relationship you and your guy (and his wife) have, but i want to say more power to you. Ignore these s3x-phobic haters. If you all consent to the arrangement and no one is getting hurt then i think it's great. I wish i could talk myself in to being that open minded.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • jim

      you sound pretty selfish catalina, i dont know why someone would want kids or a relationship with someone who will never be happy with just one, like a fat kid with candy. and as for natural urges and primal instinct as some may refer to just gives an excuse to people to be weak. i agree with people have the right to do what they want though, i dont have to have any part in it. but i just want you to think about things before you think you can just go jumping in the adult pool if you think you want a relationship or kids later.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
    • catalina

      @Jim - Let me make it clear (again)... I am SINGLE. I am not the selfish fat kid in a candy store (as you said). I only have one partner. If I am selfish for knowing what I want and what I don't want, well.. then that is your opinion. People that ignore their natural urges in favor of forced monogamy are the ones that end up miserable and usually end up cheating behind their spouse's back. Everyones urges are different. Some people are always and forever more attracted to one person, and I think that is awesome. Some people are not. It's how we deal with those urges that determine if we are weak. If I feel like I need some attention from a man and I decide to go meet a stranger at a bar, I run the risk of contracting an STD or ending up alone with a stranger than may not treat me very well. But if I sleep with someone that I know and trust, then it is a much better situation. And for the "down time" between those meetups... well... there are always batteries. Sorry if that was crude, but hey, it's life. 🙂

      May 19, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      Time for that marriage to be over!

      May 19, 2011 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
    • catalina

      Ok ok. I am a fat kid. HAPPY!?!?! I hate it. I think I'll commit suicide now.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:22 | Report abuse |
    • HawaiianCane

      hahaha catalina you're awesome.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:32 | Report abuse |
    • Sean


      You have my full support. And I applaud these people for doing what they feel they need to do to keep their marriage going.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:37 | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      catalina: while it can work out for some, it is not good for others. I knew a couple once who wanted to try this. Well, HE wanted HER to try it; she was skeptical. It destroyed their marriage.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
    • blue

      People fear what they don't understand. What I find interesting, even troubling, is that some people seem to think divorce is a better solution? Even given that the married couple may be otherwise very happy together, have children together, etc. Too many people seem to think they are experts in how other people should live their lives, but to say that divorce is the better option in this situation is just plain stupid.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:52 | Report abuse |
    • scott

      Wake up people, true love is dead. Im not sure it ever lived to tell you the truth. As humans we are incapable of giving unconditional love. The closest anything comes to it is our pets. Not even our parents can give us that kind of love, although im sure most would argue that they can. I know a LOT of people and couples and none of them are happy. Ive tried for 25 years to find a mate that takes marriage seriously and have yet to find anyone even close. It really is just a fairy tale until we die and go with God, then we will feel and know REAL love.

      May 19, 2011 at 19:01 | Report abuse |
    • catalina

      Just wanted to say that the suicide comment was not me... and several other comments made under the name "catalina." BOO to people trying to make others look bad.

      I agree with Scott... true love may not exist anyway, except for in fairy tales. It's all about having realistic expectations and making it work for you. It's different for everyone.

      May 19, 2011 at 23:55 | Report abuse |
  6. ChristoInferno

    Why do all of you people care what other folks do in their marriages?

    If you need a hobby, or something real to complain about, just let me know and I can get you a very long list of either.

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


      May 19, 2011 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      I applaud your sentiment.

      But honestly, America is founded on the notion that those who are socially popular or financially wealthy have the moral right to tell everyone else how to live their lives. The idea that we should let other people just live their own lives is preposterous.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:58 | Report abuse |
  7. Cass

    I don't believe in monogomy. Never have, never will. My husband and I have been together almost six years now and we have never been monogomous, and it works just fine for us! I'd never tell another person that monogomy is a bad option, it just isn't the option I choose. Relationship styles aren't one size fits all.

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

      whats the point in being married then? hope you guys get tested regularly

      May 19, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • IAMGOD1014

      She said she doesn't believe in monogomy, so why would you ask those two ridiculous questions? Unnecessary.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      I'm sure your STD's are one size fits all too!

      May 19, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
    • fran glass

      yeah because there is no way people can be non-monogamous and safe, right? idiots.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:55 | Report abuse |
    • Born this way...

      Love it Cass! One of my great friends told me that she started having an affair 2 days after her marriage and hasn't stopped having them for her 15+ years of marriage! She seems VERY happy to me...I'm a man, and I've done the marriage routine twice (4 kids) and would have been much happier to have spent those 17 years in an open relationship, the ones I've had since then have been wonderful.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse |
  8. sicksickworld

    pretty sad state of affairs if you have to "negotiate" faithfulness. if you are willing to throw your family and marriage away for a half hour in the sack with someone else then you obviously lack any kind of moral backbone and probably shouldn't have been married in the first place. don't want to commit to someone, DONT GET MARRIED!

    May 19, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      If you negotiate it, and it's agreeable to both people in the marriage, you aren't throwing anything away. It's the people who object to talking about it, and prefer to cheat that are throwing it all away.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
    • Sean



      May 19, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
  9. John

    There is a lot of FAKE John's on here there is only one John and that's me just like there is only ONE GOD. Do what ever you want to do just remember GOD will punish all. You laugh at him now and will beg soon to be forgiven however it will be to late then. Do your Civil Unions and shut up about Marriages. This guys a fake and loser. Save your MARRIAGE by not sleeping around this dude is stupid.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • fran glass

      what on earth are you talking about?

      May 19, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • youdontknowme

      Haven't you grown up and figured it out already? Or are you still living in some rose color lensed fantasy land? Those wonderful tales are just supposed to make you into a more caring person in general, and make it easier for you when your kin die. Quit being judgemental, lest ye be judged, John.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:50 | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      John: if God is so petty that he can't forgive, He seems less compassionate than many humans I know. Pretty sad that you pray to a deity that prefers punishing supposedly lesser beings for making wrong choices.

      May 19, 2011 at 19:02 | Report abuse |
  10. What are we coming to

    Wow. thats pretty much all I can say. Negotiated monogomy? Thats like undecietful fruad, or a lowcarb all bread diet. I'll take the divorce papers thank you. I cant believe this guy counsels anyone on relationships.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Exaclty


      May 19, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse |
    • hi

      I'm pretty sure marriage won't exist one day if people like this author keep spreading this garbage.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
  11. nofx9766

    This makes me sad... WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!?!?!? This is not OK. Where are the people with morals residing at nowadays?!?!?!?!

    May 19, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • michael smith

      It might not be "OK" with you because of your limited values, but, it's OK with others. So, keep your values to yourself and stop trying to make everyone comform to your values via the Bible and Jesus.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
    • nofx9766

      uH I dont believe in Jesus.. But I do believe in humility... Sometimes you have to do whats right... Not only what feels good

      May 19, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Do you think "what is right" is some sort of universal aspect? Do you understand the concept of subjectivity?

      May 19, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • nofx9766

      Absolutely. More than understand.

      Perhaps your either too young and naive to respect the vows of marriage or too old and burnt out to care. If you want to sleep with multiple people, then do not get married.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      "If you want to sleep with multiple people, then do not get married."
      Why not? Not only is it a ludicrous statement, but you don't even support it. If you want to be taken seriously, back it up cowboy.

      Or...wait a minute...you're not trolling, are you?

      May 19, 2011 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      My guess is my vows and your vows were very different. Like faiths and fingerprints.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • HawaiianCane

      nofx – as long as we're being judgemental, did you get your strong sense of morality from the *really good* band your moniker is taken from?

      May 19, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • Ibangedagirl

      I agree with nofx. A marriage is between a man and woman, not between a man and woman and 4 other negotiated people. Don't want to commit? Don't get married. Use the money you were going to use on the wedding to wine and dine your negotiated biaaaatches.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse |
    • fran glass

      i wish this was FB and i could like Patrick. 🙂 🙂 🙂 agree.completely.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse |
  12. Michael W. Michelsen, Jr.

    As far as I am concerned, all negotiations stopped when my wife and I said "I do." No more negotiating needed. I love my wife. It's been going on 28 years now.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • abrown

      Thank God there are still people like you who have integrity and morals.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • Exaclty

      There are many more moral people out there than the media would have us believe. Notice how they always publish articles that try to corrupt our humanity.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      There were two lines, one had a long line of men, and the other had just one guy. The passing stranger wondered what the lines were for so he walked up to the front. The long line had a sign that said "hen-pecked men". The other had no sign, so the stranger asked 'what is this line?' The man standing there said "I don't know, my wife told me to stand here".

      Negotiation is difficult, but the alternative is worse.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
  13. John

    LOL so many of you will be in hell. Guess what unlike so many I don't care. You have made fun of GOD long enough. I am John the one and only true John

    May 19, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Patrick

      "Will be...?" Sir, I am already there.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
    • SoS

      Every day a zealot like yourself tries to push their religion on someone is another day in hell for everyone.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
  14. Simple

    I would suggest there are two issues here:
    (1) Is it OK to be physically intimate outside of marriage, including before?
    (2) Is marriage primarily about physical intimacy?

    Depending on how you answer these questions says a lot about what you think marriage and will determine what you think of the author’s proposal.

    Personally I believe marriage is about a man and a woman becoming one, and not just in flesh but in all aspects of their lives to the greatest extent possible. This precludes physical intimacy outside marriage, because it will reduce the maximum closeness of a man and a woman (you can't be as close if you know something else). Further it necessarily indicates that physical intimacy is but one part of a greater whole.

    I realize there are a lot of people that don’t see it this way, but which one of us will live a better life? In other words is maximizing fleshly pleasure the same as living the best life possible? I would suggest NO.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      Which of us will live a better life? I suppose that depends on how you measure. You place a high value on that exclusivity. If that works for you, that's great. If you find that rewarding, that's great. But consider that what you find rewarding, may not be what others find rewarding. I love apple pie, but I wouldn't force my wife to eat it, she doesn't share my taste for it. To me, it's one of the finest foods out there, and while I am inclined to give her some, it wouldn't be a kindness. Her taste is different. Your version of closeness and intimacy, doesn't appeal to me. I appreciate that you wish to share something you find good, but i've tried it, and it's not appealing to me. Thank you very much.

      p.s. My wife has celiac, if she eats the pie, she will have 2-4 days of stomache discomfort.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
  15. Jake

    (“boys will be boys”); My goodness, how shallow and narrow minded this auther can be...Man are blamed one hundred percent for "spread their seed" and women are innicent for spread their legs. Sounds like this auther is an active member of "Lorena Bobbit chop and drop syndrome" club.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Mia

    Been swinging for 10 years... and we have never been happier! Try it, you'll like it!!

    May 19, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Lana

    I love my husband but three minutes doesn't cut it for me. I haven't got off in four months and that's just sad.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yazhol

      What are you doing Friday night? 😉

      May 19, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
  18. or have multiple wifes

    Have multiple wives and the problem is solved, after all it is men who desire polygomy.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Remy730

    Are there any financial benefits to being married? Because that's the only way this could work. If you still receive the tax breaks of being married and and still live life as a single.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. phatfly

    My opinion is that people are lazy and self centered to the point that this is the $#@% they come up with. Good luck spinning this to the reasonable and intelligent people that don't fall for humans aren't suppose to be monogamous crap. After studying Anthropology and seeing monogamy in other species ... YES, it is real and it's natural. I guess if you are not capable of it ... well, that speaks volumes of YOUR nature.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Riz

    That woman in the picture does not like variety . . . so what's the point

    May 19, 2011 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. ADiff

    Actually the way is to re-structure marriage from a romantic ideal, to a hard cold business proposition. The arrangement includes the possibility of infidelity, at all levels, and provides arrangements allowing the marriage, and family, to continue at least operationally intact, whatever emotional damage may be done. A marriage may envision and even urge fidelity, without making fidelity an absolute requirement for maintaining a relationship. One need not even 'love' one's wife or husband for such a marriage, and such families, to work perfect well from a social, material and even emotional perspective. If it could work for the aristocracy, it would seem equally workable for everyone else, too.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Don

    If you want to sleep around stay single and don't get married. What's the point of marriage if you want to still sleep around?

    May 19, 2011 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Silent Majority

    Everything's negotiable, right? I suppose its just another contract, right? Might as well script it to favor whatever your "dic" tator demands to stave off boredom. Perish the thought you might experience monotony during your monogamy. I mean life is just one jump from mountaintop to mountaintop, isn't it? And what a fine example for the children on how to honor your word. Honor is not in the vocabulary of fools. Then again, neither is love, trust, security, and joy; those exasperatingly unattainable goal that only a self-sacrificing human can enjoy.

    May 19, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. IAMGOD1014

    For my 3 friends and I, out of our parents marriages, 1 survived.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. PN

    Always that statistic quoted, half of all marriages fail. Its not true, half of NEW marraiges maybe, but not ALL marraiges.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. jas

    If negotiated monogomy is a real thing, than marriages should not exist, there need not be any..If you marry you know you will hit that time when all pleasure is fantasy...so why bother

    May 19, 2011 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. A negotiator

    The author of this article is not promoting or dismissing non-monogamy. He's advocating opening the lines of communication, allowing for discussions of this sort to take place. I know exactly of what he writes–my husband of 20 years and I opened up our marriage in the last two years. We talked extensively first, set the ground rules for this type of marriage before acting on anything. We have better communication and a higher level of trust (and a deeper love, in my opinion) than we had before our conversations on the subject. This kind of arrangement isn't for any married couple–just as marriage is not a one-size-fits-all. The most important things to us are how we feel about each other and the safety and stability of our nuclear family. So far, so good.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Matty

    in this comment section: forever alone fatties who can't bear the thought of other people having more fun than them.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Help us all

    God is going to have a enough soon. You though Sodom and Gomorrah was bad.. Just wait and see. Reading this, iIm embarrassed to be a human being these days!!

    May 19, 2011 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rbnlegend101

      I understand this saturday is the big day. I am sure gawd will have a big cake for you, and presents. Congrats on your big win.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • youdontknowme

      So don't be

      May 19, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
  31. Robb

    Ian Kerner is a sick person.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Superman

    A very fun idea 🙂

    May 19, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Slob

      I love a three-input girl with my bone in the back door! Check your oil, maam?

      May 19, 2011 at 18:26 | Report abuse |
  33. Freelife

    I have two partners and we have an open relationship. We have 1 rule, we tell each other about our flings/escapades, that way no one is surprised if someone says something. Two of us have been together for almost 10 years and the three of us have been together for over 5 years. We each love each other very much and have make a commitment to each other, just the same as any marriage couple, the difference is we allow each other to have fun with others. It keeps our relationship fresh and exciting. Many people who meet us for the 1st time think we are a newly formed couple and are very suprised that we have been together for as long as we have.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Y. Rivera

    How completely absurd. What have we come to?

    May 19, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • youdontknowme

      The end of unrealizable idealism

      May 19, 2011 at 18:05 | Report abuse |
  35. nwatcher

    I'm going out on a limb here – I would put big money (if I had it) on this particular therapist having to counsel way more couples after damage by an affair, than the number of "saved" marriages through negotiated cheating. You cannot give yourself to someone else without – by definition -having less of you to give to your spouse. If you cheapen your relationship to that extent, it will eventually become worthless over time, not more precious and protection-worthy.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • youdontknowme

      Are you saying the more you give of your "self," the less you have of your "self" to give, therefore it "cheapens" relationship? Quit being so self ish. What you forget is that not any one person is all that special. Oh, you want to quote the church? Go right ahead, but as I recall, the Christian Bible calls people to let go of the concept of "self" by focusing on others. If you do away with the concept of "self," I bet you'll find freedom from much heartache and disappointment.

      May 19, 2011 at 19:39 | Report abuse |
  36. Alex

    Real "negotiated" monogamy is the marriage contract. By signing your marriage certificate you have negotiated a legally binding contract that you will share assets as one individual. The principle of fidelity to your spuse is generally part of that negotiation, and many people don't understand what they are getting into when they first say "I do." The point to consider is how much do you take your word and that of your spouse at face value. Can you follow through on a commitment most of the time? If not, marriage isn't for you and all these ambiguous technicalities are ways to justify a person's inability to live up to their own self imposed commitments. This is a societal failure in that the majority of wedded people did not understand what they were getting into and took the romanticized version of marriage at face value. It takes a lot of reflection and self assessment to determine if you are ready to marry, and parents should warn their children of what the joys, burdens, responsibilities and pleasures are before they make a decision.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • R.U. Serious

      Interesting statements. However, even the old-fashioned views of marriage in which you allude to (by saying don't get married if you can't handle the commitments) are not followed by the court systems any longer. In more than 70% of the states, divorce results in equal division of assets where fidelity becomes an irrelevant issue. Despite the "commitment" you sign with the state, you're not agreeing to be faithful – you're simply agreeing to be happy with eachother. And if that happiness ceases, you simply break the contract by getting a divorce.

      May 19, 2011 at 17:56 | Report abuse |
    • catalina

      @ R.U. Serious – You talk about the old fashioned ways of marriage. So are people today are to mentally retarded to stay faithful? Good luck with you marriage. I'm sure screwing other people with permission won't bite you in the ass later.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegend101

      You may have taken the standard contract on the standard terms, and that may make you happy. Good for you. I don't sign anything without reading it, and if I am entering a contract, I negotiate any terms I don't agree with.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse |
  37. fran glass

    I have been in a monogamous relationship with the same person for almost 6 years. For us being with just eachother works. What i DON'T understand is people on here judging what others do to make their own marriage last. Why do you care if people have an open or closed relationship? How does it affect you in any way?
    There is no such thing as "universal morality". If it doesn't hurt you and it is between consenting adults then LEAVE IT ALONE.
    I think couples being honest with eachother about what their needs are and what works for them is much more "moral" than lying and cheating.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Honestly

    Why does everything have to come back to the bible and why do all christians or bible believers think that they can impose their way of thinking upon everyone. You beliefs are yours but don't tell others what you should believe based on what you think. Everyone interpretes the bible differently, that is why there are so many different branches of chrisianity.
    Besides that point, read the article for what it says, not telling you to do it, just telling you to open your mind and open your lines of communication and not let every marriage and in divorce. I personally do not believe in an open marriage, but that does not mean that I will judge others for it. Everyone has a choice to make and they can make it.
    The good religious people out there, stop judging others, live your life by what you believe. And yes I do believe in GOD, that does not mean that I will tell others they will be going to hell if they do not believe like me. You should all be ashamed of yourselves....

    May 19, 2011 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sari in Vegas

    Fell in love with a mutual friend of mine and my husband's six years ago, my affection and love for my husband had not abated either. I was never going to act on my feelings, never planned to say anything. Went into a pretty gut-wrenching blue period, and my husband finally cornered me into telling him why all my paintings had turned into barren landscapes. So I laid it all out, as honestly as I could. I also told him that I loved him and never wanted to leave him. He surprised me with his reaction: go for it. I made him wait 24 hours and come tell me that again after we had both given it some thought. He still felt the same.
    Six years later, the three of us are in a very sedate and happy relationship- and I paint a lot of flowers.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • youdontknowme

      I envy you. Not every partner is this supportive. I think one of the hardest lessons in life is to know that love sometimes means letting go, or letting be.

      May 19, 2011 at 19:43 | Report abuse |
  40. albert

    Good thing this guy is not a real doctor. Why the pessimism? Why not state that half the marriages last? So if a doctor says you have a 50/50 chance of surviving a disease or a procedure we should just pull the plug?

    And let's forget about religion which has its own issues. There is a lot of benefit to marriage. Why doesn't this "counselor" mention the greater change of spreading STD's and other dangers?

    Here is the deal, if you believe this guy, then don't get married. But please don't push your garbage on those who love marriage.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • youdontknowme

      50/50 is greatly exaggerated. Do you count second, third marriages toward this 50%? If you do, then the failure percentage of first marriages is MUCH higher. What about those cases where a couple sleep separately in different rooms for years on end. Do you count these as successful marriages? They are WAY more common than you know.

      May 19, 2011 at 19:52 | Report abuse |
  41. Burbank

    The Governator's Latino maid was sooo fugly! Probably here illegally too and looking for someone to give her an anchor baby. I think it was she that probably chased after him with this little scheme in mind from the get go.

    Afterall, a person like Arnold can get gorgeous starlets, why would he want to mess with this ugly manipulating "thing" that probably smells like Comet?

    Looks like her scheming and scamming worked, she's set for life in that big mansion and anchor baby's college is probably paid for too! Looks like Meg Whitman's whining, snivelling, scheming maid could take a clue from her!

    May 19, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. El Kababa

    Expecting a man to be monogamous is like expecting a mother to only love her most recent child.

    I have told 7 women that I loved them. I did it because they expected it. However, my feelings for each of them did not resemble my feelings for any of the others.

    I still love all 7 of them, though I have lost touch with two. The other five I still know, still love, still see regularly on a social basis, and I would come to their aid if any of them was in a jam. I can't turn off my love for six of them because I am married to one of them – any more than a mother stops loving her first child when she has her second.

    I've had affairs with four of them when she or I or both of us were married to someone else. No one was hurt.

    If you want to live in a romance novel, go ahead. I personally cannot stand the confining boredom of such a life. Let's agree that you can live however you want to and so will I.

    You stop loving your kids and I'll stop loving my women.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • R.U. Serious

      Don't people like you get 30 virgins when you die?

      May 19, 2011 at 17:51 | Report abuse |
    • catalina

      you naive little boy. YOU NEVER LOVED ANY OF THEM!!!!! You just said you only said because you thought you were suppose to. CHILD!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 18:13 | Report abuse |
    • Slob

      I love a three-input girl!

      May 19, 2011 at 18:24 | Report abuse |
  43. Brian

    People would live a much happier life if they learned to lighten up. I just think of how many people who really care about each other end up as enemies over a simple slip up after many happy years, so instead of resorting to sneaking around, why not have fun together in the open?

    May 19, 2011 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. R.U. Serious

    Please stop interpreting the author's message as some anti-Christian "monogamy sucks" statement and read it for what it is. He's making a statement that some folks who are having tangible issues in the intimacy department of their marriage and whose individuals are considering divorce or cheating accordingly should sit down and have genuine discussions with eachother about the alternatives rather than simply let their marriage fall into the abyss.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • catalina

      I wouldn't mind it if the author died of AIDS. I might throw a party if he does.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
  45. Reed

    it's a silly debate. i've been married for 30 years to my first and only love and have never thought about being with or pursuing another woman. why would i? she's the best in every way.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sardukar

      and I really dont know what is to own a BMW never had one...I drive Saturn and it does to job just fine. Well it needs some fixing any now and then ..

      May 19, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse |
  46. Jon G

    Why does it seem that the moral unravelling of our country continues? Not only is it accepted by many that relationships are negotiated, but it has become common place in society in all aspects of our lives. Kids aren't doing well in school? Put pressure on the school until the limit is lowered so much that no one is pressured and everyone can pass. Don't like someone at work? Find a nitpicky reason and sue them, because if you are uncomfortable in any way, they must have done something wrong, right? If marriage becomes work, why, just find a selfish way to satisfy yourself and force the other person to adjust or just get a divorce because you really didn't mean it anyway.

    Come on people, grow up a little. When everything becomes easy, we no longer have anything we enjoy. You must work at something to find pleasure in it. A job, an education and a marriage are all applicable. When the going gets tough, buckle down and use it for a conversation. Don't just find a way to throw in the towel. There are lots of people doing that, and once again, keeping up with the Joneses (no offense to any real Jones families) can lead you to a life where you find yourself more and more unhappy and less and less satisfied. Stand up for something. You'll be glad as you look back on your life that you actually accomplished a few things really well instead of giving up on hundreds of things and never changing.

    It's not always fun, but it is always rewarding even if the rewards are slow in coming. Nearly every day I wake up and find another way to make the bride I married 15 years ago remember that she is a bride still and that I love her and think she is beautiful. In none of that am I important. When she is confident that she is beautiful then I am successful in my marriage. You do not get your way by always requesting your way. Give of yourself deeply and you will find that you are given to in return.

    May 19, 2011 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Kjas

    have to wonder if there really is a difference between bin laden and scharwnegger when it comes to women???

    May 19, 2011 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Edwin

      Kjas: one simple sentence shows how bizarre your mind is.

      May 19, 2011 at 18:52 | Report abuse |
  48. anise

    Why does non-monogamy somehow cancel out love? Love is more than posession, jealousy, or ownership after all.

    And marriage is far, far more than just physical. It is a relationship of mutual support and trust, yes, but monogamy isn't required for that. Honesty is.

    I am in a very long term open relationship. Just because my partner A sees another woman, D, and I see another man, M, does not mean he and I love each other any less. It means that we have mutually agreed to what's best for us. Everyone involved knows exactly what's going on and has consented to it. None of that changes the fact that he and I are togetjer because of love and mutual support, and should push come to shove, we each know the other will be there (coincidentally, probably backed up by our additional relationships because our relationship(s) are built first on friendship and mutual support.

    Love doesn't have to be a zero sum game. Caring for a second person does not make you love the first less, necessarily. It doesn't mean that what we have chosen is easy, or doesn't require discipline or communication. It's what is best for us. Ultimately, our relationship is not significantly different than that of a monogamous couple. Our scheduling is a little more complicated, and things like std checks come up more often, but fundamentally, those are the only real differences.

    Monogamous relationships can still end in sorrow, distrust, and dishonesty. No one in our arrangement thinks things are anything besides what they are. It's something we've all chosen. Not trhough perversion, lack of discipline, or a lack of love, but through a sense of "this is what fits best for me."

    May 19, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Nelson the Cat

    It fascinating to see how a topic like this gives us an opportunity to observe just how LITTLE agreement there is in exactly what a "marriage" is. We use the term as though it means something definite, but it's completely amorphous. For example: Arnold and Maria are Married, but are they still in a Marriage? My mother-in-law and father-in-law have shared their lives for 30 years, hold everything in common (including the kids) and refer to each other as husband and wife but have no license. Are they Married? My neighbor has a wife and her wife has a wife and the state of California says they're married but the courts may some day say they're not anymore, what's that all about?

    May 19, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Sardukar

    Please do not assume that everyone out there is infected..the chances are very remote..but still use the raincoats ..

    May 19, 2011 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
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