(Openly) Married with Children

Reader’s Question:

I’ve done a lot of reading lately about open marriages. I am considering this as an option in my own marriage. I love my wife and we are happy, but both want more. I am concerned because we have two teenage children and I am not sure how to explain to them our situation, should the need arise. Any thoughts on my unique issue? Have you worked with couples in our same situation?

I’ve worked with a few couples who were very comfortable and content with their open relationships. However, they either never had children or the children were in college before the relationship was “opened.” As I coached them over the years and really got to know them as individuals, and couples, I can honestly say their situation may not have worked had kids been involved. As in, living at home at the time.

Just like every relationship, all open marriages are different. Different couples seek different levels of commitment.

If you and your wife are just in this for the “hanky spanky,” and you find other couples looking for the same thing, then being discreet is an option that could work. You are adults and you can have your own lives away from your children.

Make sure to be respectful when kids are involved, growing up is hard enough without adding swinger parents to the mix.

Now, if you’re both looking for something deeper, like side relationships that would grow into loving commitments, this creates a very different scenario. Assuming your children are in high school, you are looking at up to four years of hiding a second life from your children. Or, you can choose to share your lifestyle choices and hope they are mature and understanding enough to accept this makes both of you happy and hurts no one…expect most likely your children!

What if one of you falls in love with a side partner and wants to spend quality time with them? Will you have weekends, overnights, vacation trips, or even a separate apartment with them?

There is a lot to think about when starting this type of new adventure, especially when kids are involved. I am assuming from your research, you have thought it out, communicated openly and honestly with one another, and know exactly what both of you are looking for.

As a parent, I feel like you are being selfish. Kids need stability -if at all possible- and it sounds like it is very possible for you.

Unless you are traveling for your new relationships, people in your community will find out. I’m not saying you two have anything to hide or be ashamed of. I am not discouraging open marriage. If you are both adults and you both want this, great. Who am I to define your relationship? BUT seriously, if you love each other and everything is fine, why can’t you just wait until the kids are in college? It can’t be more than a few years and it could save your relationship with your children, as well as their mental well-being as they move on into adulthood.

Right now, your kids don’t need to deal with your “shit.” Your kids still need you as mom and dad.

Parenting is a thankless and onerous job.  Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Think about what friends or other parents will say. Of course, we adults know it doesn’t matter how others judge us from afar, but your kids are not adults.

In general, teenagers act out. It’s a hard time for them in most aspects of their life. They are just now learning about the what’s, when’s, how’s, and why’s of relationships. There is simply no way for kids to have any sort of higher perspective on the matter. You should expect they will experience emotions like anger, embarrassment, and instability. Your home, your family and your relationship is their foundation… for now. You would effectively “turn their world upside down.”

I am happy to jump on a phone call with you and your partner to discuss your situation in more detail.

Please, handle this with care.

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