Within the mixed orientation marriage community, couples have many different marriage arrangements, e.g., monogamy, open on one side, open on both sides, and fluidity over time between open and monogamous. Each couple must find their own best path for a successful MOM.   This requires honesty, transparency, constant & ongoing communication, flexibility, understanding, compassion—shall I continue? Initially, it’s just plain hard work.  But it can be good work that must begin with a foundation of mutual love and respect for each other.  If a couple decides to open their marriage for one or both partners, there can be potential issues surrounding dating and reconnecting.  In this two part blog, Alternate Paths members offer suggestions for navigating these potentially touchy and sensitive situations.

 Preparing for Dates and Time Away

When couples mutually decide to open their marriages on one or both sides, they must discover what is useful and doable for them.  This is a unique process that requires trial and error and may potentially change and evolve over time. The only way to experiment effectively with open marriage is to engage in honest, robust, non-judgmental, and non-defensive communication.  Here are a few helpful suggestions:

Spend time together talking and preparing for upcoming dates. The partner at home may need some structure to feel safe, reassured, and emotionally secure.  Schedule regular planning meetings to discuss your agreements about dating—time, frequency, activities, location, week days vs. weekends, overnights, reconnecting, etc.

Discuss potential emotional triggers connected to dating activities. For example, is there a restaurant that has special meaning for you as a couple? Would the spouse at home feel upset or resentful if the date occurred at this restaurant?  It is helpful to consider these kinds of issues.

For the partner at home, talk about your plans for keeping busy during your partner’s dates or time away. Do not necessarily stay home to fold laundry, clean closets, mow the grass, or pay bills.   This could lead to feelings of resentment that your partner is out having fun and you are home being “productive” or doing mundane tasks.

If possible, make plans for getting out of the house and doing something while your spouse is on a date. If you have younger children at home, consider getting a sitter.

Plan an activity that you enjoy doing without your partner whether you are home or out and about.   Catch up on episodes of your favorite television series. Spend time with friends, head to the gym, take a walk or bike ride, go shopping, or schedule a massage—any activity that will give you enjoyment.

You might consider heading out to your activity before your partner leaves for his/her date. You will then not be home to experience the pre-date excitement, primping, and preparation.

One spouse leaves a handwritten “love note” for his wife to find after he leaves.

For over nights or weekends away, staying in touch with the spouse at home can be important. Leave a phone message or send a text upon arriving at your destination for the weekend.

Call your spouse at some point to check in and chat about neutral topics. Text or email a good morning and good night.

Call or text again when heading home from your time away.

 

The second part of this blog will discuss reconnection rituals after dates.

 

 

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