Should we open our marriage?

Q: We have been seriously talking about opening up our marriage and I think I’m ok with it now. At 40 and having been out of the dating scene for 20+ years, I’m not even sure how to go about finding someone. I’ve been talking to a friend of a friend that may be interested and we have sexted once, but I’m not sure if he’s really down or not. Do you know other people that have open marriages? I’ve been hearing that the younger generation is more ok with open relationships. What are your thoughts?

A: Consensual non-monogamy seems to be getting quite the press lately, and I think a lot has to do with the internet. Although the idea of having multiple partners has been around for ages (think concubines, harems, etc.), it’s becoming less taboo because of the ability to connect virtually with so many others who are curious as well. I also believe that as we evolve, we are always looking to better “adapt” to new knowledge that we acquire.

A brief history lesson, shall we?

The truth, whether it’s easy to hear or not, is that sexual monogamy is not a biological “thing”. It’s a cultural and religious construct that many are content to align with. Marriage was more of a business/logistical decision to protect and preserve property and assets – it did not begin for love and sexual pleasure. Sexual monogamy was born out of wanting to control who women slept with so there was never a question as to who the child belonged to – again – this was important in terms of lineage and the passing down of assets.

Bored yet?

So, here’s my own take on what’s happened to monogamous relationships…

The main reasons for creating marriage and monogamy have sort of gone away for most of us, yet the expectations have remained. If someone is royalty or insanely wealthy and they want to know who their biological child is, we have paternity tests now. So….there’s that.

Now, we have monogamous couples who are married and wondering where lust and passion have gone, or why they are struggling to be satisfied with one person for a lifetime. Humans are not designed to be sexually monogamous. As a matter of fact, there’s only about 3%-5% of mammal species (humans included!) that are monogamous for life.

The urge to stray will be there because of human nature, but what we choose to do with that urge is what makes the difference. I speak to so many people who are riddled with guilt over lusting after someone else, and I have to explain to them that I would actually be MORE surprised if they weren’t! So, what do we do?

We make a choice. Sexual monogamy is a daily choice that we make – oftentimes without thinking. The truth is, we all have the free will to walk out and be sexual with someone else. So, what keeps us from doing it? Well, we already know that there are many who DO choose to act on the urges, and the consequences can be devastating to the relationship. Some may remain sexually monogamous but feel bored and resentful, and others may not have any issues with being sexually monogamous at all! Then there’s the rest…

If you haven’t watched the Ted Talk by Dr. Jess O’Reilly, titled “Monogamish”, do yourself a favor and watch it. This is where I believe most people fall in terms of monogamy. Research has found that very few relationships THRIVE in 100% monogamous relationships, and very few THRIVE in 100% open relationships. The majority of us actually exist somewhere along the spectrum. Now, before you take that the wrong way, let’s talk about what I actually mean by “spectrum”. Relationships aren’t always black and white in terms of sexual behavior.

So, what sort of behaviors can be found on this spectrum? Mind you, these would all have to be CONSENSUAL and AGREED UPON or else you’re risking betrayal, infidelity, and ultimately, the end of a relationship. To give you some examples (from more vanilla to less vanilla):

  • Flirting with other people (with your partner knowing)
  • Discussing people that you both find sexy, and maybe using it as fuel in the bedroom
  • Going to a strip club together and watching your partner get a lap dance
  • Sexting a third party (again, with your partner either participating or knowing that you’re doing it)
  • Exchanging videos or pictures with another couple online (there are safety tips to this, so please don’t do this if you haven’t thought it through. The internet can be amazing, but also very dangerous.)
  • Going to sex clubs to watch others have sex
  • Occasional make-out sessions with a mutually agreed-upon third person
  • Agreeing on specific parameters for consensual non-monogamy (i.e. must be in a different state or certain distance away, certain sexual behaviors being off-limits, not engaging in sexual behaviors with the same person more than once, no exchanging of contact information, etc.)

To answer the other questions – yes, I do know people who have open relationships. Does it work for them? Yes. Does it work for everyone? Nope. The younger generation seems to be more open to it, but they are also more open to other non-traditional lifestyle choices as well. So, I think as a general rule, younger folks seem to be likely to challenge the status quo, rather than roll with it.

My personal thoughts…

  • I think it’s absolutely a viable option for long term relationships to keep the spice alive and satisfy the sexual and emotional urge for variety.
  • I think people sometimes jump into it way too quickly, and unfortunately, it’s not something that can be erased. Remember that fantasy is almost always better than reality.
  • There MUST be agreements and parameters along the way
  • Take it step-by-step, and don’t go from sexual monogamy directly into sex with others – try the smaller steps first (see the list of monogamy spectrum examples above) and build a foundation as you go.
  • Communication is non-negotiable. Jealousy is a human emotion and not to be ignored. Just talk about it.
  • Opening up a marriage should never be done to save a failing one.
  • To remotely begin to navigate an open marriage, your CURRENT relationship should be as foundationally sound as possible.

I urge you to do your research first. Check out online communities of others who have been in the lifestyle for a while, and pick their brain. Hire a coach who can be a resource guide (ahem, ahem!), and help you navigate the process. Sometimes, we get so excited about something sexual, that we neglect to think about what could go wrong. Having an unbiased person on your team can make a huge difference.

Foot Fetish

We check into a nice hotel and head to a suite on the top floor. I go get some ice and mix up some drinks. We step out onto the balcony to overlook the ocean and breathe in the salty air as we sip on our drinks. I reach over and put my hand on her hip and lean in to kiss the back of her neck. She squirms a little as the kiss is slightly ticklish to her. As I glance down after slowly pulling away from her neck, I notice she has just had a pedicure and the new color, something like a light magenta, looks amazing on her cute little toes. We sip some more and are already feeling the strong drinks.

My mind starts to wander about how soft her toes and soles of her feet must be right now. I begin to get hard and she leans in to kiss me as the sun is going down over the water. She tells me she’s getting a little tipsy and wants to rinse off in the shower before lying down in the bed to relax. I pour one more small glass of bourbon and sip on it as I take my clothes off and stretch out on the bed. Soon she returns from the shower and hops into the bed next to me. She stretches her legs out and lays her beautiful feet across my thighs. I comment on how pretty her feet and toes look and tell her I’m going to give her a great foot massage. I reach over and grab some lotion that has a sweet smell and is the edible kind. I place her feet on my lap and begin to lather her soles in the lotion and then move to the tops of her feet and in between each of her super cute toes. Her left foot is just a little bit ticklish so I apply a little extra pressure so she doesn’t squirm away. I then stand to face her so that I can lather my hands again and move up her legs and rub from her ankles all the way to her inner thighs.

I make sure my hands touch just close enough to her vagina that she takes a slow deep breath. As I lean over her and am touching her inner thighs, I am getting harder and my penis accidentally rubs against her toes. I immediately get an urge and I slide my fingers back down her legs and take her right foot in my hands. I ever so gently lift it up so that it is near my face and I give several kisses on the soles of her feet. I take my time to kiss the tips of each of her toes and I can taste the sweet lotion. I am very excited by now and a little more aggressively move in closer and run my tongue from the heel of her foot, up to the super soft soles and then move my tongue in and out between each toe. I then put her big toe in my mouth and suck back and forth and move along until I’ve tasted each perfectly pedicured toe. Next, I grab her left foot and make sure I enjoy kissing and licking this foot just as much as the right.

Just as I think I can’t get any harder, she lifts her other leg and rubs the sole of her foot over my penis. She then slides it under my balls and lightly tickles me with her toes and then massages back and forth which is driving me crazy. I don’t want to wait much longer now so I give one last suck on the sole of her foot and lick up the side of her leg and kiss each inner thigh and she’s getting wet. But I don’t go down on her yet. I grab a blindfold and cover her eyes and then bind her hands over her head.

I grab two cups from the nightstand. One with ice and the other with hot water. I put an ice cube in my mouth and move slowly towards her lips. I ever so slowly lean in my lips on hers and I feel her shiver a bit from the cold. I slip my tongue in her mouth and we pass the ice back and forth. As it melts in her mouth, I pull away and take a mouthful of the hot water. I wait a few seconds for my mouth to really get hot and then passionately kiss with my warm lips. I move on to her neck and she moans as I kiss and suck on her warm skin. My tongue explores her nipples and stomach and then begin to kiss her vagina. She exhales deeply and after several kisses, each one getting wetter, my tongue enters her to another deep breath and moan. I use my tongue, in and out as I let my hands wander to behind her legs. I lift her up just enough to grab her butt with both hands and give it a squeeze. I continue with my tongue and squeezing her butt, sometimes lightly and sometimes with force for several more minutes. When she almost can’t take anymore, she pushes me back and says she wants me inside of her.

I untie her hands and she removes the blindfold, but before I can jump up on top of her, she tells me to lay down on my back. I lay down and my erect penis stands straight up. She grabs my hands and ties them above my head. She takes the edible lotion and applies some to her soft soles, which turns me on even more. She then puts her feet in my face and tells me to taste them. I lick them up and down and again suck each of her toes. After that, she quickly takes her feet away and places my penis between her soft lotioned soles. She moves up and down slowly and it feels so good I can’t even move. I can’t take anymore and I get my hands free and pull her up on top of me. I grab her amazing butt and slide inside of her. She moves up and down on me as I continue to squeeze her butt. We keep going and going….. seemingly forever, and finally let out a scream together as we climax and she falls on top of me. We lay there together, exhausted, in love and completely satisfied.

(heterosexual male)

When do the “Birds and Bees” have to make an appearance for my kids?

Q: As a mother yourself, what age do you think is appropriate to teach your kids about the birds and the bees? I’ve taught my son, who’s 6, that half the baby comes from Dad’s penis and the other half from mom. Daddies have to plant their half in the mommy’s vagina. My family thinks I’m crazy for teaching that to him. I remember (over 25 years ago) I learned from a friend in 2nd grade. I just wanted him to know the truth from me and not another kid in school. And where would you draw the line? My daughter is 4 and I’m teetering on the idea of telling her, too. What’s your opinion??

A: This is such an amazingly powerful topic, and I would be a millionaire if I had the exact age and method of explaining sex to children. But alas, I don’t. Nobody does. You will find an infinite amount of articles on this topic, and depending on the level of progressiveness of the author, you will be told something different each and every time. I am happy to give my opinion on the topic, but remember that my opinion is just that…my opinion. Here it goes…

I personally think you did great, and I’m proud of you. I believe you should explain sex to your kids at whatever age they ask. That, I’m pretty set on. The difficult part is WHAT we’re supposed to tell them. Let’s be honest – even though we have heard the research time and time again that talking about sex does NOT lead to kids HAVING sex, we still believe it does. I am a former health teacher, I should know better. However, when it comes to my kids, all bets are off and I lose my rational thinking capabilities.

I am FAR from a perfect Mother (newsflash: perfect Moms don’t exist), but here’s how I’ve handled it: I always ask them what THEY think it is first. Often times they have heard some bogus explanation from school kids and I want to be the first to correct that misinformation. Every now and then, they will actually present you with ACCURATE information that they’ve heard at school, and you can literally confirm it, and be on with your day!

If they ask for further information, I use this line: “I am happy you asked. These are great questions and your curiosity is 100% normal. My job as your parent is to explain things to you that make sense for someone your age. As you get older, I can explain it differently because you will be able to understand even better. Deal?”

To explain my reasoning even further, I use the analogy of driving. I say, “You’re 7 years old. If I told you that we were going to go to a parking lot and I was going to teach you how to drive and parallel park, what would you say?” They will inevitably respond with something along the lines of, “But, I’m too young! I can’t even drive yet!”.

BINGO! It makes no sense for me to bog their brain down with things that truly have nothing to do with their experiences at their age. I ask again, “Now, what if you were 15 years old and I told you we were going to practice driving?” They get it at that point. I explain that as they get older, I PROMISE to explain things to them in a way that is relevant to their age. What I DON’T want my kids to feel is that I am hiding some Holy Grail secret from them. The truth is, they will find out regardless (Hello, Internet. Ugh), and I’d rather it be from me.

I try not to use words that have a negative vibe to them because I don’t want anything about sex to be negative for my kids (although I’m certain I’ve already messed that up). I don’t want anything to seem wrong or taboo – I just focus on the TIMING and depth of information I share. I rarely, if ever, say, “You’re too young to understand.” I think that actually creates a dynamic that doesn’t lend itself to open communication. Your child will see you as doubting their ability to emotionally handle something. Although that may be true, it doesn’t feel so great to a kid.

Educate them on the basic biology when they ask – sperm meets egg, and a baby is made (sometimes). If they want to know how the sperm meets the egg (which is what happened with my child), I told her that when two adults who are in love want to make a baby, the penis goes into the vagina. Did I wanna die at that moment? Yup! Was I totally irrational and fear that she was going to go out the next day and get pregnant at 8 years old, even though it’s borderline impossible? Yup! I could barely sleep that night and feared she’d be the next star on “I’m a Teen Mom”. Welcome to parenthood.

Depending on their age, you can even go on to say that sometimes adults need Doctors to help make it happen, but that’s up to you. I’ve had to explain that to my kids because we have cousins who have two mommies, and we have cousins who have been pregnant many times, miscarried, and required reproductive medicine.

As they get older, I think it’s important to introduce pleasure education, because they won’t EVER get it here in the US unless they take a college course on it (mega eye roll). If you’re four-year-old is asking, go ahead and explain the basics about the sperm meeting the egg. Chances are, she will not be very interested in it and she’ll move on.

Again, it’s more about how well you know your children. You’re their mother and you will always be met with opposition – that’s just life. I think most of us are fighting more of a cultural war than anything else. The truth is, the less of a deal you make of it, the less intriguing it will be.

Good luck, Mama! You’re doing great =)

Extramarital Tickling

Q: I love tickling women in bondage. It’s a huge sexual fantasy for me. My wife isn’t into it at all. I’ve sat down with her and told her how much it means to me but she really doesn’t want to try it. If I tickle other women and just not tell her about it, am I justified?

A: Good for you for being open about what you want! The downside is, our partners are not always going to be game for what we want, and that’s ok. There are a plethora of fantasies that we have, and to expect our partners to entertain them all would just set us up for disappointment, right?

So, here’s where we make choices in relationships. In my personal opinion (and that’s all it is…an opinion), I would highly discourage engaging in behaviors behind your partner’s back. That rarely, if ever, ends well. It also starts to place a massive wedge between the two of you, and intimacy is about connection, not betrayal.

When I work with clients, I try to get to the psychological experience they are seeking. After all, sexuality is actually more about our psyche than anything else. So, what about tickling a woman in bondage gets you excited? What feeling does it create that is arousing? Often we can find several other activities that can elicit a similar response that your partner may be up for!

I would also be curious as to the reasons your partner is not comfortable doing it. Is it being tied up? Is it being tickled? Maybe there’s a middle ground that you can meet on. For example, let’s say she doesn’t like the idea of being tickled, but she is ok being tied up. Maybe you can use a feather on her to cause pleasure, but not tickle her. Maybe you can use temperature play and rub an ice cube on her body.

Often we are uncomfortable with what we don’t know. If this is something foreign to her, maybe show her what it looks like. Show her a clip of the fantasy you’re seeking. I’d also challenge you to think about how you would react if she wanted something sexual that you were not comfortable with. What sort of ways would you try to navigate the situation to try to satisfy her desires without doing something that makes you uncomfortable?

My first line of defense will always be honest and open communication with your partner. If she is adamantly against it, and you feel like this is a deal-breaker for your marriage, I would explain to her that your desire for this is strong, and you want to work together to figure out a way to experience this without jeopardizing your marriage.

If it’s something that isn’t a deal-breaker for your marriage, I would either try to find a happy medium, or you may just have to chalk it up to the fact that our partners aren’t always going to be up for what we want sexually! I’m pretty confident that if you can try to dig and figure out exactly the feeling you’re looking to experience, you’ll find a million other sexual things you can do to get that desired feeling – and who knows – she may be ready to explore it with you!

Good luck =)

Midnight Masturbation

I woke up in the middle of the night (~12am) and had this intense desire to masturbate. I’ve never done that with my spouse sleeping right next to me. I did it anyway!

(female, lesbian)