My Husband and I Opened Our Marriage — It Failed Miserably

Elle Silver

How could our open marriage work? We only opened our relationship because my husband cheated on me.

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About six months after we opened our marriage, my husband stopped me at the door as I was going out. I was on my way out to see the guy I was dating — Randy.

“You and Randy are like boyfriend and girlfriend, huh?” my husband said to me, a shocked expression on his face.

He was surprised? Why? We had agreed to open our marriage, hadn’t we?

This was bound to happen. I’d get serious with someone else. Randy and I were very close. We were boyfriend and girlfriend.

He lived nearby and so every night after I put our kids to bed, I went to see Randy. My husband knew this. He just didn’t realize how serious our relationship had become.

Now that he’d figured it out, he didn’t like it. But as you can see, this describes exactly why our open marriage ended up failing. I wasn’t totally honest with my husband about my feelings and the fact I’d fallen for someone else.

But then again, we’d only opened up our marriage because my husband had cheated on me.

What’s an open marriage?

Before I go on, I should define what an open marriage is. It’s when a couple decides to forgo monogamy. Two partners decide to date people outside their marriage.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t still rules. They might not want their partner to date anyone else seriously. Or they might only want their partner to have serious relationships with others.

Some people are polyamorous, meaning they can love more than one person at a time. These are the kind of couples who have several serious relationships going at once.

Polyamory — or ethical non-monogamy — is gaining in popularity these days. Some couples swear by it. As long as they’re honest with their partner, an open marriage works.

In our case, a lack of honesty is why our open marriage failed.

My husband didn’t want me to have a serious relationship with anyone else.

Let’s face it — my now EX-husband and I aren’t polyamorous. He didn’t want me to have serious feelings for anyone but him.

He didn’t care about me dating other men as long as I didn’t have a “relationship” with any of them.

My husband was also dating other women — but only casually. He still loved me and only wanted an emotional bond with me.

But I developed an emotional bond with Randy. When my husband found out about it, he wasn't very happy.

Why did we open our marriage if my husband didn’t want me getting serious with anyone else?

It might seem strange that we decided to open our marriage if my husband was so steadfast about me not falling in love with anyone else.

We opened our marriage as this was my requirement for getting back together with my husband after our separation.

I had left him a year earlier when I found out he was cheating on me. We tried to live apart but had reconciled because of our children.

We didn’t want to break up the family. But I couldn’t commit to my husband again.

Not after he’d cheated on me.

My husband didn’t want me to have a boyfriend.

Though my husband was fine with me casually dating other men, I think I always knew he didn’t want me getting serious with anyone else.

No, we never talked about this rule. That’s the problem: we didn’t set proper boundaries.

Because I knew my husband wouldn’t like the fact I’d gotten serious with Randy, I concealed this information from him. Bizarrely, I was trying to save him from hurt.

Yes, even after he cheated on me.

But in trying not to hurt my husband, that’s exactly what I did.

My husband started dating a new woman but didn’t love her.

My husband started seeing another woman regularly but told me he didn’t love her. Her name was Candace and my husband didn’t consider her his girlfriend.

This caused arguments between him and Candace. She wanted my husband to leave me for her.

Our open marriage wasn’t working for Candace either.

My relationship with Randy ended because I was still married.

Our open marriage wasn't working for Randy either. If at first he was cool that I was married, my arrangement with my husband started to bug him.

He said he wanted to find a girlfriend who didn’t have the baggage I did. Oh, I had baggage. I was dragging suitcases around with me, filled with all my problems. I couldn’t dump this extra luggage until I left my husband. I couldn’t begin to unpack my issues unless we divorced.

Yes, I understand that some people have successful open marriages. Dating other people deepens their relationship. But for me, it was ridiculous to try to have another relationship while I was married.

Truthfully, I didn’t want to be married to my husband. I only got back together with him for the children. Now I was stuck in this purgatory.

Randy finally got sick of it and broke up with me. I didn’t blame him. My life was messy at that point.

Still, it broke my heart that he dumped me.

I stupidly looked to my husband to console me when Randy broke up with me.

My husband wasn’t home when Randy called to say it was over. He was with Candace. Immediately after getting off the phone with Randy, I called my husband.

“Randy said he didn’t want to see me anymore,” I wailed into the phone.

“I’m busy right now,” my husband said. “I’m on a date with Candace.”

Reality struck. I wanted to cry about my breakup on my husband’s shoulder while he was on a date with another woman? This was so dysfunctional!

I knew then we had to end our marriage, open or not.

My husband and I finally divorced.

Soon after Randy broke up with me, I told my husband I was leaving him, this time for good. No getting back together. No reconciling — not even for the kids.

Yes, it was hard to make a go at life on my own. I moved into a tiny apartment with our children. I spent a terrifying year, wondering if I could handle all my bills on my own.

It was very difficult, but I made it.

No matter how hard it was to divorce my husband, at least I wasn’t lying to myself anymore, pretending that I could stay in my marriage by opening it when I just wanted to move on.

Some people can have happy, successful open marriages. We couldn’t.

Open marriages aren’t for everyone, and they’re definitely not for me.

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I'm a relationships expert with a focus on post-divorce dating and family. Everything I've learned about love, I've learned the hard way. You can learn from my mistakes.

Los Angeles, CA
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