My Son and His Wife Are Considering an Open Marriage | Ask the Rev. | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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My Son and His Wife Are Considering an Open Marriage

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Dear Reverend, 

My 38-year-old son has been married for nine years. He and his wife have a great relationship, other than sexually. By that I mean, they never have sex. About eight months ago, his wife suggested they try an open marriage, and he agreed. She now has a fairly steady "friend," but my son hasn't actively been trying to meet anyone. I think the whole thing is a recipe for disaster. Am I just being old-fashioned?

Disapproving Dad (man, 67)

Dear Disapproving Dad, 

If equating marriage with monogamy makes you old-fashioned, a wide swath of the population is in the same antiquated boat as you. While having a one-and-only may seem like the norm, in reality only about 17 percent of human cultures are strictly monogamous.

Deciding to have sex with other people is certainly no way to solve marital problems, but if a couple is solid in every other way, seeking sexual satisfaction outside of the marriage isn't necessarily a bad idea. However, before opening up the playing field, the couple needs to set rules and be sure to stick to them. Hopefully that's the case for your son and his wife.

I don't think it's very fair for one partner to actively partake in sextracurricular activities while the other doesn't. Perhaps your son is cool with the current situation, but jealousy can get the best of even the most open-minded person. Only time will tell.

You seem like a good dad who is just looking out for his son's best interests. The fact that he told you about any of this leads me to believe you two are very close. I'm sure that if things take a turn for the worse — or the better — he'll let you know.

Good luck and God bless,

The Reverend

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