In most ways, James* and I are a typical married couple with two preschoolers. He works full-time. We make a lot of sacrifices so I can be a stay-at-home mom. Our day-in, day-out focus revolves around our kids: their accomplishments, challenges, and overall adorableness. But there is one aspect of our marriage that is not so typical.
As goofy as this sounds, I'm going to start our story with a Katy Perry song.
Several years ago, "I Kissed a Girl" came out. It was the year James and I got married. I mentioned to him that I liked the song, and that I had once made out with a girl in college. Yes, it might have involved a few drinks, and, I have to admit, we might have been looking to get a reaction from other people at the party. We were young and having fun. But the truth was, I did like it.
This, not surprisingly, sparked his interest. From that point on, our dirty talk turned from involving just us to including a third, anonymous "her." What would we do with another woman in our bedroom? What would she do with us? Over the next couple of years, this "she" became more and more a part of our fantasies. It was fun.
Then, James switched jobs and started to come into regular contact with a woman named Natalie*. He told me how attractive she was, and said that although Natalie knew he was married, she seemed to be flirting with him at times. At this point, we were all but certain she would never officially become our "her," but we enjoyed playing with the idea. Just for fun, I encouraged him to return the flirting and see what happened.
What happened was she invited him over to her place.
We discussed this new and exciting development. How could we turn her just liking him to her having a threesome with us? We had fun plotting our little scheme. We got excited just talking about it! Were we evil? What was wrong with us? We cracked up over our ridiculousness. At the same time, the more we discussed it, the more far-fetched it seemed. What were the chances she liked other women? And even if she did, what were the chances she'd be into a threesome?
We finally decided that our chances were slim to none. If he went to her house, I figured, the two of them would mess around and that would be the end of the story.
Then suddenly, something occurred to me: I don't think I mind that story. In fact, the more I thought about it, I liked that story. And after some careful consideration, I realized that story is a huge turn-on.
At the same time, I felt so wrong for entertaining the idea. Was I a bad wife for wanting him to sleep with someone else? A bad person?
It took several days for me to work up the courage to tell James what I was thinking. He seemed surprised, but then carefully admitted that he had fantasized about me with another man.
We considered what this could mean for us. For our marriage. For other sexual partners. After several days, some deep discussions, and plenty of "Are you sure?" we decided we should try it.
The night of Natalie's invitation arrived. I gave him my blessing on anything that happened that night as long as a) she understood that he was happily married, b) she knew that I was OK with him being there, and c) they were safe. He agreed. We were doing this. I kissed him goodbye, smiled, and yelled out the door, "Have fun!"
When he got home, I could not wait to discuss what happened. He and Natalie had slept together. He recounted each moment. I soaked up every last detail. I experienced a rush of all kinds of emotions: excitement for him, excitement for me, even excitement for Natalie. I felt a strange kind of jealousy that was not negative, but actually positive. It made me want James even more.
But something more important happened: I felt closer to him. I trusted him even more than I ever had.
In the past several years, James and I have each had a few experiences with other people. We do it responsibly and honestly. Personally, it has been exciting, liberating, and just plain fun. As far as my relationship with James, our marriage is stronger than ever. I am certain a lot of it has to do with the sexual freedom that we have granted each other, and how we've bonded through sharing those experiences.
I didn't always think that the idea of an open marriage was acceptable. Quite the opposite. While we were dating, the thought of James being with someone else made me feel sick. I would get jealous if I thought he was flirting with another woman. It would make me feel terribly insecure, and I would get angry with him. I still remember those feelings. But it has been so liberating to let go of them.
Now, there is no thought or desire that we can't share with each other. We support and encourage one another in all things, not just up to a point that makes us feel jealous or insecure. It's great if other couples choose to remain completely monogamous, but now I can't imagine living any other way.