From Monogamy To Open Marriage is a weekly column devoted to the discussion of pursuing sex and love outside marriage.
When we first started exploring non-monogamy, we spent about $700 a month on hotels. We used these hotels just for sex. Sometimes, it was for both of us and another person(s). Other times, it was for just one of us and another person. Sometimes, it was for just the two of us (we have older children and a house with thin walls).
Sometimes, I think that money was very well spent. Sometimes, I ponder all the other things we could do with $700.
I can hear the gasps full of judgment and concern. Sometimes, our kids would have leftovers for dinner so we could go out and meet people and have sex. Our housekeeping responsibilities took a backseat for awhile. Sometimes, I’d skip an event or meeting at school so I could be home to try out new sex toys or bondage gear with my husband while the house was empty. We would decline old friends’ invitations to dinner or happy hour so we could have sex with new friends instead. Our exercise routines became slack. We lost interest in other hobbies, too. Our favorite waiters and bartenders at our usual spots wondered if we moved out of state.
Without realizing it, we started using all of our free time to focus on sex.
Most of the time, I felt okay about our extreme shift in interests. Submerging yourself in something exciting and unfamiliar is normal. As a teen, whenever I discovered a new band that I loved, I’d listen to their music, and nothing else, for months. When I first became a parent, I was obsessed with reading, watching, and attending everything related to babies. When I started a new job, I’d research everything about my position and get obsessed with my projects. When I first started cycling with a group, I would ride three-four days a week. So is spending all of your free time in pursuit of (or having) “new” sex any different? I want to say no emphatically, but sometimes, I feel like it is.
When it got to the point when there was hardly any time to talk about anything else but sex, I started feeling guilty.
When our conversations would always center around who we met (or who we wanted to meet) and what we wanted to do, I would sometimes think back to the times when these topics weren’t available for us to discuss at all. We used to talk a lot about the kids and their futures. We’d spend time discussing a new home improvement project or something we wanted to build. We’d talk about plans for our future and our long-term career goals. These conversations became sparse, and our main topic became our adventurous sex life. We stopped trying to convince the kids to go on weekend day trips with us — instead, we’d see these trips as opportunities to meet new people or speak openly about any issues we needed to work out that we couldn’t talk about while the kids were around.
Everything centered around finding time for our new open sex life.
At that point, I was having so much sex that even when I didn’t allow it to get in the way of higher priorities in my life, it did. Planning casual sex takes time. Talking about casual sex with people you haven’t had sex with takes up mental and emotional energy. Driving to the destinations to have sex, getting it on, showering and redressing, then driving back takes a lot of time. I’ve been late to pick up kids for school. I’ve been too sore to give to my husband 100% sexually when he wanted me. I’ve canceled workouts, gone to bed early out of pure exhaustion, slept in, and called out of work when I'd overdone it.
I want to say that this is a regular part of the first phase of a sexually open marriage. I want to say that there was nothing to worry about and we knew we could reel back at any time.
We convinced ourselves that we always maintained control, but there were times when I felt like I couldn’t focus on anything but sex.
There were times when all I did was wait for the right moment to tell my husband that I had a “date” planned, or that I had booked a room for us to host another couple. I’d answer messages from strangers and send sexually graphic photos of myself while I was at my son’s baseball game or piano recital. I was way too focused on more, more, more. I have convinced myself that it was okay to be like that for a few months, but why did I need to convince myself? Now that this phase has passed, I’m a bit afraid and a bit excited for when it comes around again. I wonder if that’s normal, too.