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Reconciliation to an open relationship?

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dcsnowlover posted 3/4/2020 17:20 PM

Background - Im the WS. My BS and I have been together for 32 years, married 28. We have three kids, run a business together, have lots of family and friends we love, and generally really enjoy each others company. One challenge, however, for the last +/-25 years, has been our sex lives. I lost interest fairly early on and it quickly went from occasional to very rarely. Despite that, Id consider us close and connected, until a few years ago.

Beginning about 5 years ago, I cheated repeatedly - multiple encounters, all of a sexual nature. My BS found out early on and we immediately went into MC. I had trouble stopping for a long time - its only been about a year since I fully stopped - and were now working with a different therapist whos experienced with and helping us R. Its hard as f#%^, but were both cautiously optimistic that despite the bruising, well come through stronger and better on the other side.

Prior to cheating, wed talked about opening our relationship as a way to possibly enhance our sex lives. Clearly I messed that up, but were both open to the idea going forward - just want to be sure its done in a healthy way and no more damage is caused.

Has anyone else experienced going from cheating to a healthy open/ENM relationship?

(And while I appreciate a constructive debate about the pros and cons of ENM, Im not looking to do that here. Id really like to hear from people whove actually experienced this situation, not just have opinions on it. Thank you!)

Skadu posted 3/4/2020 17:47 PM

This should probably be in the wayward forums because there is a whole cargo ships worth of baggage that needs to be unpacked here before any real reconciliation happens.

survrus posted 3/4/2020 17:57 PM


Most of us here have had open relationships, it's just our spouses or so didn't tell us. So please don't discount our voices.

SI Staff posted 3/4/2020 18:20 PM

   Moving to Wayward Side

Walkingthewire posted 3/4/2020 19:08 PM

First off Ill start by saying Im Bi and my fWS has always known. I was dating a woman when we first started dating 20 years ago. She and I separated amicably and are still best friends.

Last year (while we were starting R) a friend of my husbands friends basically said my wife has a crush on your wife
She and I started a fling that was husband approved. About 6 months in her husband felt neglected and not ok with it anymore. Which was rule number one. Either husband could call off our arrangements if they felt as if they were being forgotten or had a change of heart.
I backed off and tried to let her reconnect with her husband.
It ended badly for them and she ended up having an affair with another woman even after he asked her to focus on them.
H and I are fine and he never felt the same way her H did.

So in our case, it did not end well for them. FWS and I are still doing well and they are starting R.

nekonamida posted 3/4/2020 19:12 PM

DCS, I have a lot of experience with open relationships. I come from a community where they are common. Open relationships require MORE honesty, more trust, and more communication. There are still boundaries in an open marriage that can be crossed and cheating still happens.

You don't just have a problem with infidelity. You have a problem with honesty, communication, and respect for your BH. You are a terrible candidate for an open relationship because you haven't mastered these concepts. Opening your relationship up at any point in the new future is playing with fire and you will likely fall right back into infidelity. I'm guessing he will have rules that you will be tempted to break. And can you handle him being with other women? Are you sure you won't use that to justify elevating yourself back into infidelity? What if he meets someone who doesn't come with several years of baggage from cheating on him? If you want to enhance your sex life, rediscover each other. Don't take such a big risk for a temporary reward.

Are you being honest with yourself about your recovery? Have you explored sex addiction? Where is your IC? Aren't you grateful that your BH hasn't D'd you and why would you want to tempt that with an open relationship? I find it strange that at only 1 year of true R, your biggest concern is when you get to step outside your marriage again without all of those pesky consequences attached.

[This message edited by nekonamida at 7:15 PM, March 4th (Wednesday)]

dcsnowlover posted 3/4/2020 19:15 PM

Survrus - I dont want to debate linguistics. For the sake of my question, Im using the word open to mean ethical non-monogamy. Anyone whos cheated wasnt ethical about their non-monogamy, so lets not get hung up on that.

Thanksgiving2016 posted 3/4/2020 19:36 PM

Youve been in an open relationship most of your marriage and now you have the audacity to expect your BS to condone it mind boggling

dcsnowlover posted 3/4/2020 19:39 PM

Nekonamida - thank you for your comments. To be clear, I know were not ready for an open relationship - I was curious whether anyones made it work down the line, after reconciliation and time. That said, you ask good questions and make valid points - most of which weve already been factoring into our equation.

Im curious - as my message was moved to the WS forum and youre replying, I assume youre a WS? Are you open? Or just speaking from your observations and opinions of others?

dcsnowlover posted 3/4/2020 19:44 PM

Thanksgiving2016 - I think you read my post incorrectly. We were in a monogamous relationship with no cheating for 27 years. Then I cheated, which does NOT mean open, at least by the definition being used here. Then we tried being open, which means ethically non-monogamous, but realized we needed to fix the damage first.

For the record, my husband is on board with us being open. Were both clear on the various risks and both recognize were not ready for it yet.

Id really like to hear from people whove tried it, not just think Im being selfish for being interested in it.

HellFire posted 3/4/2020 19:54 PM

Your husband found out early on, yet you kept cheating for years afterwards?

That's not a bruising. That's abuse.

we needed to fix the damage first.

No. YOU need to fix the damage.

It takes 3 to 5 years to heal from infidelity. That doesn't start until the cheater is done cheating, and finds true remorse. There is no quick fix. You have been abusing your husband for years. What are you doing to become a safe partner for him?

Carissima posted 3/4/2020 20:04 PM

Ok I'll be honest I'm a BS and I'm not in an open relationship so you may not have any interest in my post. I don't have anything against them as long as everyone involved is operating from the same balanced hymn sheet as it were.....and that's kind of my issue here. You freely admit you lost interest in sex with your husband years ago and then went looking for it with other men. I accet you went looking for physical affairs but what stopped you turning to your husband?
My concern is your husband is agreeing to opening the marriage because he believes it's the only way he can keep you. You may find he talks a good game but never can never have sex with another woman because he's a monogamous man who is trying to keep his wife. Will you be ok with that?

bluephoenix posted 3/5/2020 00:16 AM

I didn't realize this was a forum on open relationships. These WS's are talking about the trauma they caused their partners and to themselves.

To each their own but I think you kind of already had a few of your own without their permission. With their reaction to the past affairs your opening pandora's box. If you couldn't stick by the rules of fidelity. You certainly won't be able to play by the rules of an open marriage. Most likely BS will be the one to get hurt again.

[This message edited by bluephoenix at 11:10 AM, March 5th (Thursday)]

ChamomileTea posted 3/5/2020 00:43 AM

Not to t/j... but have you considered that once you open your marriage to others and your BH gets a chance to have sex with other people that he might not want R anymore? I mean, just looking at this rationally, he's been sexually starved for a long time now, your choice as you stated. But these past few years, even though he was going without, you were getting yours. I think there might be some cause for long-lasting resentment there. So, at that point, you could be dealing with a sex-starved resentful guy. What happens, really, when some woman comes along who's nice to him?.. when the post-coitus cuddle hormones are introduced?.. when he doesn't have a moral reason to say 'no' to any feelings which might develop?

Again, not to t/j, but I do think your situation is untenable, no matter what kind of ground rules you might establish. Your WH sounds like low-hanging fruit for any gal who might come along with LTR/matrimony in mind. I think, if you truly wish to save the marriage, you'd be wise to go back to the drawing board on this one.

oldtruck posted 3/5/2020 04:51 AM

I have seen more marriages ruined by opening them.
never seen any saved by it.

you put your BH on a sex staved diet for ages.
yet you found the desire to have lots of sex with
other men.

this screams that you do not find your BH attractive
maybe from the beginning. you just settled for your

yes your BH is open to the idea. you like the idea
because you will not have to have sex with a man
that you do not desire, your BH. you will then
be able to have all the hot sex want with your OM.

your BH will like the idea of hot women willing
to have sex with him.

then your BH will face reality that his WW will
be getting an unlimited of OM willing to his WW
while he will be struggling to get women to date
a MM and have sex with him.

then if he finds an attractive woman that will
give him more sex than he can handle, will not
cheat on him he will most likely divorce you
because he would rather go to bed every night and
wake up every morning with her than his WW.

nekonamida posted 3/5/2020 06:34 AM

DCS, not a WS. A former BGF and now happily married to a different partner. I chime in when people ask about polyamory because of my experiences. I even know a couple who runs a workshop on how to do it right.

I do know of one couple in the community whose relationship was born out of infidelity. They got married and had a kid but I have no idea how their relationship is now. It's been a few years. What I can say is they ostracized a lot of the community in part for giving the BW involved an STD and I don't ever see pictures of them together on FB so I've always wondered about them. I was good friends with the OW until it all went down but we don't talk anymore mostly because she's toxic in other ways as well. Her new WH, even less of a person I want to be friends with. I guess it's not impossible but I highly doubt it's a good idea to go from infidelity to an open marriage.

hdybrh posted 3/5/2020 08:18 AM

So there are lots of flavors of ENM... generally they fall into categories of either more poly or more swinging but in those categories there are many varieties.

If your relationship is broken, ENM will break it faster. If it's in a great place it potentially can enhance it.

I do know of a couple that went from infidelity to reconciliation to ENM, but you can't skip the reconciliation part. Until there is full trust it just can't work. If you indeed come out "stronger and better on the other side" only then is it worth exploring. And even then it could hurt rather than help.

dcsnowlover posted 3/5/2020 10:04 AM

Thank to everyone for your two cents. I appreciate that my question is very triggering and I apologize if I offended anyone. I know ethical non-monogamy isn't for everyone, even when not complicated by cheating.

I hear all your concerns about morphing into ENM - most are things we've already considered and discuss constantly, both with each other and our therapist. My husband, who's on this site, is not at all the doormat that some of you seem to assume he is, but I'll let him respond directly, as he sees fit.

In any case, I'm still really interested in hearing from people who've experienced this situation themselves. Feel free to send me a private message if posting publicly is too hard.

HellFire posted 3/5/2020 10:37 AM

I'm not offended, or triggered.

You won't get many,if any, people who are going to tell you they did this, and it worked.

For it to work, there has to be complete trust. Because of your serial cheating, before and after dday, there will never be complete trust.

You won't find a wayward on here who will tell you this has worked for them.

You are not the first cheating spouse to want to try an open marriage after being caught. Nothing unique there. And some BS may attempt to go along with it. But the lack of trust remains an issue,one that is insurmountable.

I don't see anyone calling your husband a doormat. Other than you. He is the faithful spouse. He deserves better. He is the prize. And he will find out this won't work. You have done nothing to fix whatever inside you told you cheating was ok. You have just found a way to keep having sex outside your marriage. You remain an unsafe partner.

HellFire posted 3/5/2020 10:41 AM

I highly suggest your husband start his own thread, in the general forum, asking other BS if they have opened their marriage after dday,and the results of doing so. I also suggest he ask for the pros and cons from all BS, not just the ones who opened their marriage.

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