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. 


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.

A Better Camelot by including Polyamory


The story of King Arthur is essentially a Shakespearian type tragedy.  King Arthur , a good and virtuous monarch who sought only to do good and to make a just and peaceful society.  He is married to Guinevere and they love each other deeply and together rules the Kingdom well. The land prospers in a time of peace and plenty.   The great Launcelot Du Lac comes to Camelot with the sole purpose of serving the King and Queen in their great an noble mission.  The tale is told by Mallory of the many feats he accomplishes in the direct service of the Queen. In the process, he falls in love with her, and she with him….and they express their love for one another sexually.  All the while both Guinevere & Lancelot love and respect the King.    For years, this love triangle goes on with Arthur pretending he does not know about his wife and closest friend romantic and sexual relationship.    He uses self-delusion to reconcile the fact he is expected to react negatively to his wife’s amorous relationship with Lancelot but does not.

However, when it becomes public Author feels compelled to put both Guinevere & Lancelot to death. In the process of trying to do so, Camelot comes crashing down. The round table is broken, war rages, people great and small have their lives destroyed, including Arthur, Guinevere & Lancelot.   It is a tragedy because all three believed in the dream of a better kingdom and none acted in out of a wicked heart, yet fate used their goodness to destroy the great good they sought to build.

What, if we changed to story to say King Arthur defies the conventional morality and publicly acknowledges that to two people he loves best also love each other.   What if he gives Lancelot an adjoining chamber to the Royal bedroom so that his wife can share her life with both the men she loves?   Camelot  survives, the people, great and small, continue to prosper in peace. And everyone lives happily ever after.

Perhaps in the musical movie adaptation of this version of Camelot the grand finale will be a scene of the three of them in the big royal bed singing a rousing song of their love’s triumph over the forces that sought to destroy it.  All three hit a high note as they all climax together. The End.

You see, the absolute demand for both emotional and sexual monogamy destroys lives. An acceptance of the core principle of polyamory (i.e. loving a second person does not reduce one the lover for the first person) would eliminate the destruction of so many marriages and families.   I will say firmly that polyamory is a family value.

I am thinking on this because my wife has told me she is falling in love with her new boyfriend.  She and Steve an I have had this conversation over the weekend.   She has that excited “always thinking about him” kind of love that simply can’t survive in a marriage of 26 years.  Saturday night we all had a great romp in our bed together and all day Sunday she glowed with that special glow or both sexual satisfaction and new love.  She asked me in the early evening if I was sure I was OK with the intensity of her feelings for Steve.  Although we’ve been through this many times before, this time is seems even more intense than her relationships have for a number of years so she just wanted to make sure. 

I assured her that I was happy for her.  I have no concern that Steve will displace me in her life. My only concern is that Steve’s wife is on board.  For although he tells us they have had one poly relationship with a man, both my wife and I are adamant we will not undermine her security.

There is a brand of polyamory that simply doesn’t give a damn about existing relationships and the feelings and needs of anyone but those who are in the throes of love.  We don’t buy into that narcissistic approach.  Loving more doesn’t mean loving more at the expense of others. Polyamory as a family value is one in which existing relationships are highly respected and the good of all concerned is the higher value.  This is especially true when there are dependent children involved.  No amount of passion or love between adults justifies the undermining of a dependent child’s stability and security; however, polyamory,  by providing an outlet for new and exciting emotional and sexual relationships for the husband and wife can enhance domestic stability.  

The kind of relationship that builds a life together is different than the kind that provides for mind blowing emotional and sexual encounters.  Not that at times the former can’t be the later, but they are different. Mortgages, bills, children, illness, parental care and the list of hard things in long term relationships goes on and on. The kind of love that sees people though these events all the way to old age is built on commitment, commitment and more commitment.  These kinds of things can squeeze out passion that is built on a single focus of emotional and physical pleasure.  Hence people have affaires with work mates where those “real life” problems can be forgotten for a little while.  We all need a break sometimes, and some people need them more often.  The monogamous model says such breaks from the pressures of life is “cheating” or being “unfaithful”; however, the polyamorous model calls such low stress relationships as positive and healthy to both the individual and the couple.

With our daughter’s upcoming marriage, my search for a college teaching job for the fall and the attendant move, the recent death of my wife’s 86 year old father and a nagging health issue, my wonderful wife needs a break. Steve might well be the break she needs.  How it that anything less than pro family?

So back to Camelot. 

Arthur was King, it was a very stressful job. Guinevere, as queen was under a lot a stress and Arthur was too consumed with the work of being King to meet her emotional needs. Lancelot steps up and meets Guinevere’s needs out of love for her and love for the overworked Arthur.  The King is better off because his wife is happy. The Queen is happy her needs were being met and Lancelot was happy to serve the two people he loved most in the world.  There were no losers. This is the promise of polyamory.

Of Scouts and Sex

The husband of my wife’s first lover was an Eagle Scout. At some point, once the trust level reached a certain point, he told us that while a scout in the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s it was just understood that in the pup-tents at  night you would be sucking and fucking with your tent mate. This went on for years and made up most of his adolescent sexual experience.  Now, that does not make him gay, even though the political gay community would desperately want every 15 year-old who sucks off his buddy to join their community.  Most researchers in to adult sexual behavior discount any sexual activity prior to age 18 because sexual experimentation is part of growing up.

Now to be fair, this guy when I knew him could fuck longer and cum more than I thought was even humanly possible. I filmed him having sex and he had 5 orgasms in about 90 minutes. And although at the time I was only aware that he was having sex with his wife and my wife, I have no doubt he would (and does) stick his dick any warm hole that would stay still long enough for him to ejaculate. For he, like nearly all people can get sexual enjoyment with either sex.

But all that brings us to today’s issue of the Boy Scouts allowing openly homosexual people in the scouts.  Now, I listened to a story on NPR about his this morning and in the story they had a clip of Gov. Perry of Texas saying that “Scouting is about teaching substantial life lessons and sexuality is not one of them, it never has been and doesn’t’ need to be.”  Wow!  That is so wrong for so many reasons. I might write an essay on just that. They also heard from  one leader of a conservative organization that predicted that lifting the ban on open homosexuals would destroy Scouting since it is built upon being “morally straight”.

Now in this debate we must remember that under 4% of the population identify as being LBGT, while over 50% are religious, and the majority of Scout troops are house by and sponsored by religious organizations.  So this is clearly a classic case of minority rights as well as sexual rights…..and religious rights.  How to balance the needs of all three? One person interviewed, a mom who was removed from being her son’s Cub Scout den mother last year because she was openly homosexual used exactly the right word “this policy is archaic”. And archaic it is; an artifact from a world that is gone with the wind. But, if the gay activist have their way and the Scouts forbids the discrimination of gay scout leaders the scout likely would fold up as they would lose nearly all their chapters when churches who can’t accept mandate pulled their sponsorships. Of course the gay activist don’t care if that happens.

So how to balance the rights of religious organizations to freely practice with the rights of sexual freedom?  The neo-Marxian leftist don’t believe such a balance is necessary, to them the public good (or their good) certainly outweighs the rights of those they see as religious bigots. Ah, the ugly head of utilitarianism rears its head: the ends justifies the means.

In fact, freedom to practice religion is a fundamental human right, just is the right to practice one’s sexuality. The measure of a liberal democracy is not in how it allows diversity of philosophical thoughts that are popular, but in its ability to allow unpopular thoughts. Ask yourself, if the numbers were reversed, and if the political LBGT community represented the majority of the population and only 4% were traditional Catholics; would they allow the Catholic Church to keep preaching that homosexuality will send a person to hell?  Given what I hear in the rhetoric, the answer is absolutely not. I have no doubt, If they had their way traditional Christian religion would be aggressively suppressed.

So, we must continually ask ourselves what is best for a free democracy and what will best preserve everyone’s rights.  In this case, I think the Boy Scouts answer had planned to to announce two weeks ago was a good one, they  had planned to allow each sponsoring organization make its own choice on this issue.  This would have both preserved the human rights of homosexuals and the rights of the religious sponsors (with whom I happen to disagree).  So if a mom can’t be a den leader at her son’s pack sponsored by 1st Baptist Church, her son can join (or she can start) a Cub Scout Pack at some other location, and she can lead there.  Sadly the leadership seemed to have collapsed under pressure from religious conservatives.   Conservatives that have been energized by the attempts to portray them as hate groups. Nothing mobilizes people like tipping your hand that you wish to eradicate their belief system.

You might not care not care one wit about exercising your religious freedoms as you seek to exercise sexual freedom; however, the 80 year old Catholic woman might not care one wit about exercising her sexual freedoms as she devotes herself to her exercising her religious freedoms.  Both are fundamental rights. It shouldn’t matter if you are fingering your rosary or your hot lover’s ass, the right to do either (or both) is what matters.

A free society must be free for everyone. We must resist those seek to enhance one set of rights at the expense of liberal democracy itself.  

Of Real Morality v. Phony Morality

“If I am behaving morally, my partner’s sexual participation is not a means for me to get pleasure, but that partner’s sexual participation is a means by which I enhance the quality of her/his life; my pleasure is a simultaneous byproduct of benefiting her/him.”

We now live in a world where morally right behavior is claimed by just about everyone (which is not new) back by the sophisticated methods to make their claim appear utterly believable to millions upon millions of people. Morality is now just one of the tricks in the business of getting people to do what you want.

Again this in itself is not new, but prior to my life time there was not an entire, financially lucrative, industry devoted to obfuscating the what is morality and replacing it with things that are not. It is easy to see this in the Goebbels’s propaganda machine for the NAZI’s, but even he was only a precursor to the modern industry of phony morality. To make matters worse, most of this industry is not geared at making evil into good (as did the NAZI’s) but rather to making good actions into moral imperatives. This might seem innocuous, until one considers that there are many good behaviors but good behaviors does not make a person moral.

Hitler did not smoke or drink and was not known to eat meat. To a Baptist, no drinking and smoking would count for morality and a vegetarian diet is called basic morality by PETA and many other groups for numerous reasons. Did those things make him a moral person?

Of course not; yet, there are well funded efforts to create a public morality based on a plethora of equally narrow definitions of morality. Equating good behavior with morality makes morality transient and subject to circumstances; morality must be foundational with “good” actions being optional ways of working out the core morality. Thus what one eats, drinks or smokes is not what makes them moral or immoral; they are individual expressions of ones underlying morality. The “morals industry” seeks to reverse that order, making the individual action key, not the underlying reasons or impacts.

The oldest morality industry, of course, is religion. “Do this” and “Don’t do that” is the foundation of most religions and all hierarchical type religions; obedience to the code of behaviors is explicitly spelled out at the definition of morality. My favorite moral philosopher, a certain Rabi from Palestine, viciously attacked the replacement of morality for a code of behavior and was executed for his efforts. He was not the first, nor the last, but likely he was the most influential. Sadly those who came after him, used his name to justify the very same rules based morality that he died opposing.

A 18th century German by the Name of Immanuel Kant let the way to reviving morality based on the universal “categorical imperative” of valuing and respecting every person simply because they are human. Pretty much the same thing as that Rabbi who taught people that true morality was based in your care for others and the “thou shalt not’s” was phony morality.

What was different however, was that Kant said this universal morality does not need to be found via supernatural methods, but can be found via reason and reason alone. That Rabi, spoke to people who could not conceive of morality apart from a supernatural god, hence he spoke of God a lot. By Kant’s day humanity was ready for a higher level of morality that applied throughout the globe, for people with one God or many gods and for people with no god at all. The categorical imperative did (and does) not rely on any particular religious text or prophet, for it was not founded on the historic traditions, beliefs or particulars of any religion (though it is nominally espoused by many). It was applicable to all humans, for all humans could discern that universal human respect of other humans…. all other humans, is what is right for all of humanity.

This is morality. It is immutable and universally applicable. It applies to every situation and to every historical epoch and to every person on the planet.

To act in a way that denies or undermines the equal worth of another person’s humanity is simply wrong. It needs no other explanation. We do not need spin doctors, or doctors of psychology to prove this or support this, or to make up slick ads to convince us this is so. We do not need catechisms or commandments or priests to give this basic morality validity.

It just is.

All other measures of “good” and “bad” come from this basic moral proposition, but none of them are equal to this proposition. Individuals, or groups or religions or nations can write all the lists of rules they want, but their list of rules are just that, a list of rules. Keeping those rules or not keeping those rules does not make one moral or immoral.

In this blog, I will write a great deal about sexual freedom. But that should never be confused with morality. Morality has nothing at all to do with where I put my penis. It has a great deal to do with how I treat people in whom I put my penis. Do I see a person as just a means to my climax? If so, I am acting immorally, even if that person is my wife. Or do I enter into a relationship in which this other person and I meet one another’s emotional and/or psychological needs as a fellow human being? That relationship could be as short as the time it takes to make eye contact in an orgy so as to know this woman or man wishes me to give and/or receive sexual stimulation for a few minutes; or, as long as an entire lifetime. Either way, morality is determined by my commitment that the other person is just as valuable as I am.

If I am behaving morally, my partner’s sexual participation is not a means for me to get pleasure, but their sexual participation is a means by which I enhance the quality of her (and/or his) life; my pleasure is a simultaneous byproduct of benefiting my sexual partner.

So, I ask you to ask yourself. Is your sexual behavior moral?

*Oh, if you didn’t get it, that Rabbi that opposed rules based morality, his name was Jesus.

Of Polyamory vs. Mono-Amory

I recently was having dinner with a couple who are the epitome of the ideal of polyamory, yet they had never even heard of the term.  As I don’t believe I’ve ever written on this subject is in one in which Heidi and I wholeheartedly believe and practice.

To put is simple and short, polyamory is the practice of opening one’s life, heart and body up to more than one person.  This is in contrast to mono-amory where one believes that one can (or should) only love one person at a time.  Of course never in the history of the world have people been consistently  mono-amorous.  The issue is not whether one has the capacity to have emotional and physical love with more than one person, for some research suggests that the vast majority of married people have extramarital affairs sometime in their marriage.  And what is an affair if not loving someone in addition to one’s spouse?  The issue is whether one embraces the need and capacity to love more than one person at a time as good, wholesome and of benefit to all.

The polyamorus community (including Heidi and I) believe that humans have an infinite capacity to give and receive love, both emotional and physical.   This is not an aberrant or exotic belief, but rather has been the way of life for most of human civilization.  It was only since the advent of property owning culture (about 6,000 years ago) that love became a limited commodity to be bought and sold like any other property.  The simple adherence to the mono-amrory position  reduces love to something one buys with a marriage license or other monetary provision demanding both parties comply with the terms of the contract that limit ones love options to a single person.  Indeed even today brides are bought and sold in many parts of the world.

Even in “liberal” western countries, the larger culture believes that when a husband or wife (or boyfriend or girlfriend) find love elsewhere, they only have two options, to break the contract or to secretly violate the terms.  Both options harm everyone involved. The concept that a significant other must choose between one love and another is simply taken for granted in most of the world.  How much pain is caused by a husband or wife who falls in love with someone new having to choose between that love and the security and stability of their life and the lives of their children.   In the end there are only losers in those situations, and “those situations” are the norm not the exception in life.

In the classic tale of King Author, Guinevere must choose between her hot love for Lancelot, and her deep love for Author.  The result of this quandary is that the utopia of Camelot is brought to ruin.  This ancient story is a morality tale, but I would suggest that it is a cautionary tale of the evil of mono-amory.

Yes, I say evil, for I do not see any good or happiness coming from the expectation of exclusive love.  Anger, jealousy, hurt and violence come in the wake of this system as surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

I propose, the polyamory community proposes, that love is not a limited commodity.  When Heidi falls in love with someone else it does not diminish our love, it does not threaten our family; on the contrary, she is happier and a better mother and mate when in the glow of new love.  Currently she very much loves one of the people I spoke of in introduction to this commentary. Over our 25 years of marriage, she has loved many people; and, yes, sex often, but not always follows her loves.  I believe I am enhanced, not diminished by my wife’s many loves. 

I would suggest we can, each of us can, help build a new and better society by embracing all the love we can love for ourselves and for those we share our lives. After all, do any of us have so much happiness that we can afford to shun the love that comes into our path.


 Originally Posted 5-12-2012  on my blog NeoBarbarians.tumblr.com