Of the Marriage Part of Open Marriage


In advocating for a sexually open model of marriage, sometimes it is possible to lose site of the fact that an open marriage is still a marriage.  To some in the polyamory community this will sound passé and even conservative, but I truly believe for most people the path to lifelong happiness is via the bonds of marriage and family.   Now, I’ll qualify that to say that marriage is not defined by the gender of the participants, nor on limit of two people; however, marriage is about commitment, lifelong commitment.

Why lifelong commitment? Isn’t that sort of old fashioned?

The traditional marriage vows said “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health to death do us part”. They were written as a commitment that way because in the history of mankind, the good times are the exception; pain and heart ache are the rule.  A relationship built on “what I get out of it at the moment” will not survive when the hard times come that eclipse the excitement and passion that brought lovers together. Yet, we all need someone(s) that will be there when we are in trouble. We all, by fate or by our own poor judgments, will come to a point where we are not as lovely and desirable as we once were. I know it will come to a shock to readers under 35 years old and healthy, but in your life you will spend a significant number of years over 60 years old where health issues impinge greatly on the recreational based lifestyle young people think will go on forever. 

Two years ago I watched as my father-in-law began to slip away after 62 years of marriage. He had someone there for him, several someones. His wife and his two daughters were right beside him to the end.  This is the kind of security marriage and family bring.

A few months ago in a polyamory blog I read one blogger who was right up front that polyamory is about getting his needs met and if a partner does not want to meet his needs, he has no intention to stick with that person.  That may be well and good when you are 29 years old, but that kind of selfishness will, in the end, bring many lonely years.   The whole loose tribal type of polyamory with people coming and going, will not bring the kind of security most people desire.   I am amused at the term “tribal” in these cases because in a real tribe, the bond is for life and the individual will sacrifice all, even life, for the tribe.  I the modern poly usage, tribalism does not convey this sort of deep comment at all.  This is why the commune movement of the late 60’s early 70’s didn’t last for a decade. Tribalism and marriage both require a level of commitment that requires everything you are to make it work and to gain the benefits of group solidarity.  There is no solidarity without commitment.

I am a follower of Emanuel Kant and an older philosopher by the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Both of these men taught that there is a moral imperative, a duty that supersedes our own personal wants; to treat others as having the same value as we hold for ourselves.  This value is sadly missing in much of what is called polyamory.  I find this vexing because the very definition of love is the commitment to treat someone else’s needs on par with your own. Hence, polyamory is just the idea of more than one person with this high level of commitment.

Back to open marriage.  Marriage is about total commitment to the welfare of my spouse. The same kind of total commitment I have for my children. It is within that framework of total commitment that we have the freedom to form other relationships, both sexual and not.  Just as I would never let an outside relationship come between me and my ability to be a good parent, I would never let a relationship come between me and my ability to be a good husband.   It would be morally wrong of me to maintain a relationship that hurt my wife because that would betray my first commitment to her welfare. The same would be true for her.

In an open-marriage, it is always necessary to keep an open line of communication as to your spouse’s current needs.  There are times when we each have different needs and it is imperative that we adjust our external relationships to meet those needs.  In our case, Paula has only recently become comfortable with me dating without her.  On the other hand, I have long been comfortable with her dating without me; however, there have been a few times when I have asked her to back off her dating, or let me join a relationship, or stop seeing a particular person all together.   It is the implicit agreement that we each will respond to the other’s needs that allows our security in marriage to flourish while she (and occasionally I) has a social/sexual life with other men and women.

When she is dating, or even falls in love with others, it is always with the explicit understanding that her family is and always will be, the center of her life. Though she can have a rich and rewarding relationship outside our marriage, she does not mislead her lovers by implying her commitment his (or her) needs will ever of the same magnitude of her commitment to her husband and children.  By this means, we maintain the ethical principles of love while still privileging the family unit.

As I said, there could indeed be room for more than two people in such a committed relationship, but the difficulty of doing so raises exponentially with each additional person.   I could see us at some point having a domestic arrangement with a man or woman someday in the future. But I can’t see a three way marriage-like arrangement happening, at least for us.

So, as I continue to blog about our life in an open marriage, it is predicated on the fact we do have a real and strong marriage. 

Swing Date Ideas


Swing Date Ideas

This a nice little article and very timely for us.  Just this morning as I was off to work I spoke to my lovely spouse about her plan to set up a second date with the gentleman she and I went out with last week and liked at lot.

The dynamic is always different when we go out with a self-professed bisexual guy rather than a straight guy in that it is not “her” date with me coming along, but it becomes “our” date with the sexual tension going in all directions.  

Perhaps this article will guide us on our date for Friday night.

Short Update on Life in an Open Marriage


My wife Paula just called me. I’m working today and so is she. 

It seems one of the guy’s she’s dating came up to her store (she works for Victoria’s Secret) and brought coffee and muffins for the whole staff.   I asked her if she had to explain who he was since they all know me. She said no.  All who know her well are aware that she has an open marriage. One of the new girls asked if that was her secret admirer and Paula just said “not so secret anymore.”

Updates on the Life and Love in an Open-Polyamorous Marriage


This is the first of what will be many posts about Mr. & Mrs. Barbarian’s Polyamorous life.

First, I’ll give a brief background.    Mrs. Barbarian and I were married in 1986, long before we became open barbarian heretics.  We had not had premarital sex because we believed that to be morally wrong.  What we found quickly after our marriage was that we had very different expectations of sex in marriage.   She wanted quantity. Daily was her expected minimum and several times daily was preferred. Though some men would think this was heaven, I wasn’t made that way. I’ve always been more about the quality rather than quaintly.  For just routine sex, a few times a week has always been fine for me, even in my 20’s.  She didn’t (doesn’t) care about variety or surroundings; she just liked the services of a stiff penis and/or soft tongue as often as she could get it.   This created tension with in the first week.  In retrospect, had we believed that sex was a normal and wholesome part of the courtship (as we do now), it is likely we would not have gotten married due to this fundamental incompatibility.

It took me almost 5 years to come to the answer that, for her to be happily married to me, she needed the freedom to get sexual satisfaction from people other than me.   So, in the early 90’s I told her she was free to take a lover.  It took until 1996 before she was both ready and had the right opportunity. In the intervening time, nearly 17 years, she has had sex with around 100 men and women. Some were just “flings” others were deeply loving relationships, lasting for years.   Although at first glance, 100 sexual partners may seem a lot, if you work that out over 17 years it is not so many, a hand full a year. Over the same period of time I have has less than half as many sexual partners, and until the past year, they were almost always part of her relationships, with me just joining in.  Things have changed in the last year or so, but that is another story.

The key concept about our open marriage has not been that she does have sex with other people all the time, it is that she can have sex with other people whenever she chooses to.   That distinction is important, because over 17 years there is a lot of life. There are a number of years when we were not sexual with anyone but each other and more than one year in which she had more than two dozen sexual partners.  We were raising family, pursing education, caring for aging parents and just living our life. So there have been hot times and cold times, but in the background there was never a time when if she met a man (or woman) who hit her in just the right way that excited her libido, she couldn’t have sex with them if she choose.  That is the true nature of an open marriage.

There are many fun and erotic stories over those years, and and few stories of difficulty, that I will be sharing on this blog as time goes by. But today I just want to make an update on what happened this week.

We are in the mitst of a “hot period”.  In the last month she’s been out with 3 different men. We had a terrific threesome with one man and it was going great till we found out that his claim that his wife was cool with him having sex with us was not true and we got some hostile threats. So that relationship ended. She’s had hot make out sessions in her car with one guy 3 times in three weeks, where though she’s gotten practically naked and he’s brought her to over a dozen orgasms with his fingers, they have not had intercourse yet.   And last night we met with yet a third guy.

Mrs. Barbarian was so sweet.  Yesterday she calls me at work and asked me to meet with her a man she was meeting for dinner; a middle-aged divorced MBA.   So we have dinner, he was very polite…a grandfather perhaps in his mid-late 50’s.  Just dinner was not big deal, pleasant, but I wasn’t turned off or impressed. As always it would be her call whether this went forward to another date, or more. The vast majority of men, women or couples that she or we initially meet with never materialize into a friendship or sexual relationship.   

Since we’d both come from work to meet and my “creep detector” had not gone off, I was able to leave them to have someone on one time after dinner.    She arrived back at our home perhaps 30 minutes after I had and asked what I thought.  I told her that he was nice. Then she surprised me when she asks if I thought he’d be a good playmate for me.

Now, she’s known I was interested sexually in men for over a decade, and she’s been very encouraging for me to explore that interest; after all she is a full bisexual who is equally happy in relationships or in bed with women or men.  It has only been in the past year I have had a series of 3-somes where I’ve had oral sex with the man as well as the woman that has led me to self-identify as bisexual. So, last night, she told me that she had specifically set up the date because he was bisexual and thought I might like him.  Now how sweet is that of her.   How could I ask for a nicer wife?

This is the way we live.  It’s not a one off experiment, but a way of life. We wouldn’t want to live any other way.

Of a New Definition of Casual Sex


captions (347)My wife and I have both come to the conclusion that we are not real fans of having casual sex by the conventional definition, i.e., sex with persons with whom we have no ongoing relationship.  Now, that’s not saying we haven’t done that once or twice in the past year, because we have. But, those times were “just one of those things”.  The point is, we don’t go looking for that kind of sexual encounter.  I’m sure part of that is that we are both over 50 and neither of us have that burning imperative, when we go to a swing club or party, that we must have sex with someone new. And it’s not that we think such casual sex is wrong or as some put it empty. It’s just not for us.

On the other hand we certainly don’t believe that sex should be reserved for relationships that are deeply committed either.  I am quite sure the myth of the specialness of sex is an outgrowth of property based monogamy (with women being the property). It became codified into nearly every religion that has a professional clergy as a way to maintain social stability and thus the clergy’s social position.  Even though this myth is still perpetuated via self-identified secularists in psychology, it does not derive from real science but from the desire to justify what they already believe by using unjustified cause-effect statements.

The position that my wife and I are comfortable taking is the proposition (that I’ve made before) that sex is a normal and positive part of adult social relationships. In other words, sex is for friends. In our post tribal world, most of us have precious few people to whom we can go to when we have a joy to share or need comforting in our sorrow. I don’t mean the new “Facebook” meaning of friendship, but a real relationship of trust and caring.  A friend is the person that you don’t need to put on for and don’t expect them to put on for you.  Perhaps the best definition of friendship for me is that person for whom I don’t have to clean the house if they come over.

Friendship is all about shared experiences and mutual support.  As humans one of the best ways to do both is through physical touch, skin touching skin.  Sexual touch is the most complete version of touch, which makes it a natural activity for friends. Sexual sharing is all about skin on skin touching, full body skin on skin touching.

One may counter that sex is mostly about erotic passion and release. I would disagree. Perhaps my age is showing again, but the most important thing about sex is not the erotic passion and release of orgasm. The most important thing about sex, it is skin on skin touching. If orgasm is all someone wants, masturbation is a more sure way to gain orgasm than any other, but no one can get the deep pleasure and sense of serenity that full body skin on skin contact provides via masturbation.  When I’ve taught about sexuality, I use the analogy that a full sexual experience is like a symphony. It has multiple parts including an opening (often with surprises), and a slow building section that can be either sensuous or relaxed, a rhythmic center, a climax then a quiet reflective post climatic refrain.  Sure it is possible to listen to the climactic three minutes of the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture over and over, but by doing that you rob the music of its real power. Or perhaps more accessible to some readers, if you  just watch saw the last scene of the Les Misérables, it would have nice music but it wouldn’t bring forth tears because there was not the preceding build up.

I’ll offer two recent examples in our life.  My wife has a very good friend who has been in a relationship for years. They have talked about having sex on and off and have yet to actually have penetrative sex, though they have done many other things.  Last night she met him for drinks and they again discuss having sex, this time she’s concerned about his very large penis…and a little excited. My guess is she and he will do it soon. That won’t change their relationship; they are good friends now and will be afterword.   A second example is a friend of both me and my wife. She’s had several dates with him a few years back but it didn’t go anywhere.  He is in mid-life like me and is experimenting with new things like cross dressing. He wanted to find out what is like to play the female role with a man. Last week we got together and has exual play about an hour.  He found out that having oral sex with another man is fun, but no life changing experience.  We left friends, and neither of us climaxed. It was just casual sexual pleasure.

With that background, I contend that sexual interaction is, or should be, a normal and positive part of adult friendships.

With this in mind I offer the following definition of “Casual Sex”

Casual Sex: informal sexual interaction of a caring, but casual, nature between persons who have an ongoing mutually supportive relationship (philia), but are not romantically involved (amore); mutually pleasurable sex between friends where their relationship is not defined by that the fact they have sex.

Of Enjoying Your Sexuality; or “Go out and fuck your brains out”


 

Years ago I recall a Playboy Magazine cartoon by Erich Sokol I think.  On it an elderly lady was sitting on a park bench talking to a young girl in a miniskirt (this was in like 1972 or so), and the old women says “Don’t make the mistake I did, Go out there and fuck your brains out.”

Of course in the day, it was a particularly jarring idea that old women had ever thought of recreational sex.  That toon stuck in my head, and here 40 years later I still remember it.

Life is a one way street.  One may project what ones future will be like or one might reminisce about what ones past was like; however, one my never go back and actually relive the past.   I, like so many people, have tried to do the next best thing by recording in words and paper some of the most pleasant events.  Why are weddings and birthdays and vacations so well documented in photos and videos? Because we like to relive in our minds those happy moments.

My home computer has a pair of large monitors hooked up to it. I use one for navigation and such and the other for word processing.  I’ve been working in the evenings at edits on my great “socio-political novel” and so the second monitor has just been showing photos.  Yesterday I changed my Windows wall paper collection to a directory called “beach fun”, it is a collection of about 400 of our family beach photos.  Now, our family beach photos are more interesting than most, in about half of them mom appears either topless or nude on the beach. These photos were primarily taken from 1999-2005 when the kids were in elementary school and mom was absolutely stunning looking (not to say she’s not a beautiful 52 year-old).   Many of the photos that came up on the right screen I had not seen in years. Several times I just stopped and looked at how beautiful she looked.  One in particular,  was a waist up photo on a bright sunny pubic beach.  She was covered in coconut oil causing her bare breasts so shine.   If I didn’t have the photo I’m not sure I would believe boring old me ever could have a wife that looked that amazing.  

Perhaps the most striking thing is that in those photos she was in her early to mid- 40’s, not her teens or 20’s.  We, like many people, did not break free of the puritanical codes until we were in our late 30’s.

I got married at 24 as a virgin, and she at 25 had only one sexual partner.  We were told that sex before marriage was a sin and so we both spent our most sexually potent years fighting our bodies. Sexuality was a curse and cause of pain and frustration in our teens all the way up to our wedding day.   Even that didn’t end the frustration, for it was not too long after that the mismatch between her sex needs and mine frustrated both of us for the next ten years until she took her first lover.  

So for 20 years we bought into the sex negative approach that sex outside monogamous marriage was inherently wrong.  For 20 years our sexually was a source of pain and frustration when it could have been a source of pleasure and fulfillment.   We know what works for us.  She has a date tonight and a possible hotel rendezvous with another man later this week.  She is ever so happy with her new lovers and I am equally happy with her happiness and occasionally joining her and her lovers in bed.

The only sad thing is that we listened to the wrong people and now 16 years into this lifestyle we are in our 50’s (with all the baggage age brings) rather than our 30’s.  

We can’t go back and reclaim those years. We can’t , as much as we might like to be that young couple on the nude beach at Hedo who can sun all day and fuck new friends all night, then do it again the next day fresh and ready to go.  We just can’t do it now.

I don’t bemoan that fact (very much).  Truth is we have had a great life; however, we did not raise our kids to think sexuality is to be put in a box.  After all,  they are also in those family photos with mom on the beach nude or topless.  

All people should be free to enjoy their sexuality from the later teen years forward in all its variations and glory.  We can’t be teenagers or twenty-something’s again, but we have for years encouraged those who are to wring out every pleasure their young lives have to offer.

So ….. if you are younger than my wife and I, we endorse the advice in that cartoon,  “Don’t make the mistake I did, go out and fuck your brains out.”  …… and may we add, take pictures.

Polyamory: Love is Not Finite


Polyamory: Love is Not Finite

by posted on Life on the Swingset

“One of the most difficult parts of opening myself to non-monogamy and, really, to polyamory, has been letting go of the ideals of monogamy. Deeper than our drive to find ‘the one’ seems to run our drive to be ‘the one’. We seem to be socialised to want to be the still point of the turning world for our partner; and there’s definitely some truth in how that idea has made me feel for most of my life. I’ve always wanted to look at someone and feel that they love me uniquely and for me, and only me; that I am enough.”