I would not call myself polyamorous nor would I say I am monogamous. I have no interest in relationship labels and trying to follow someone else rules, especially in the most intimate of chambers — my marriage.
There are times my marriage is open. There are times it is shut. There are times in my life that it was perfect to be polyamorous; there are times when I did not want to “share” my partner.
But here’s the thing: in my “modern marriage” (for lack of a better phrase) I reserve the right to have choices. I want an ongoing, open conversation with my spouse. I frequently turn to my man — when we are relaxing together, sipping martini’s at a crowded bar, lying in a meadow near our road bikes after an exhausting ride — and I ask, “How’s it going for you? What do you need?” It’s a casual inquiry that happens about once a week. Because love is a verb, and I want my actions to be responsive.
Of course, many forces threaten eros — bills, caring for kids, ambitious careers. But I still want an erotic charge in my marriage — and sometimes that comes by way of another person. That’s normal. Let’s not pathologize these very natural eruptions of eroticism.
My husband and I deliberately choose to have conversations about what we do with these sexual attractions. Sometimes it’s nothing at all. Sometimes it’s “legalized cheating." I purposefully use this absurd phrase because “legalized cheating” seems to be the only way some people can wrap their minds around what I am doing. It’s as if they think that there are “marriage rules” ordained by God and society, and that any deviation of the rules — even if consensual — is "cheating."
Cheating is so much more digestible to many people than "ethical non-monogamy." For some, monogamy is the only way to construct a relationship, and if we have “slips” or affairs, at least we are still faithful to that supreme goal of monogamy.
But my intention in my marriage is so much broader. I want longevity, sure. A 50-year golden anniversary sounds great. But only if we are still in love, if there is still a spark, a passion an excitement to connect. Having this open and honest communication keeps that spark.
Bottom line? I want choices and intelligent discourse. Knowledge is power and intelligence. I want the illumination of fully knowing the man I love. Even if it sends my heart accelerating with some fear. Because even if there's fear, there's an opportunity for a conversation, an openness, a dynamism that will keep the spark alive.