Several years ago, Ess and I almost went our separate ways.
Holy shit! That got heavy, fast. Yeah, well, sometimes it’s best just to come right out and say the thing. And it’s an important part of our pre-LS story.
So, as I was saying — Ess and I almost parted ways. After a number of years of marriage, we were both extremely discontent. This is not, by the way, where I tell you that the Lifestyle saved our marriage. Anyone who has a marriage floundering in the mire and thinks that opening their relationship to sex with others will fix it, is delusional. From every source we’ve encountered, the Lifestyle either strengthens an already strong relationship or rips a weak-ish one to shreds.
Anyone who has a marriage floundering in the mire and thinks that opening their relationship to sex with others will fix it, is delusional.
Nope. This is, instead, where I tell you that before we were ever even peripherally able to think about swinging or hall passes or any Lifestyle hi-jinx of any sort, we did a lot of hard work on our relationship with each other.
As fate would have it, our near-parting turned into one of the best things that ever happened to us. Rather than admit defeat, we did what a lot of troubled couples don’t — we worked on our selves, separately, and our relationship, together. We humbled ourselves, sought therapists that worked well for each of us, and examined what was going wrong within ourselves and between us. We found that a lot of it had to do with communication. The three biggies that threaten a lot of marriages were absolutely going to town on our relationship: finances, kids, and sex. But mostly, the problem was our inability to communicate well about those things.
As fate would have it, our near-parting turned into one of the best things that ever happened to us.
We weren’t able to think about or talk about anything Lifestyle-esque until after we worked on ourselves as a couple. We did the work — intensively, for the better part of a year. We learned better ways to communicate, and deepened who we were as individuals and as a couple, well before any of this shenanigans entered the picture. Then we recommitted to each other and, instead of divorcing, began again.
And we keep doing the work, keep checking-in, keep reminding each other. Sometimes we do deep, hard work in response to a new challenge or setback, but mostly we try to stay mindful and practice daily good habits as a sort of ongoing preventative maintenance. It’s like laundry or dishes or working out — you’re never really done. And man do you suffer if you stop doing it.
All of this is to say — and we have talked about this a lot — there’s no way we could be where we are right now, willing and excited about sharing one another with others, if we hadn’t done the work on our own relationship first, and come to a spot where we know with certainty that we are each other’s Number One and that we can communicate clearly, honestly, openly, and without fear.
When readers write to us and ask us how to get a spouse interested in the LS, we freak out a little bit. There’s no way we can tell you that. The only thing we can tell you with any confidence is — make sure your shit is squared away with each other, first. Be sure of it. There is zero doubt, after what we’ve gone through together, that Ess and I are each other’s best friend and greatest love. That’s what allows us to explore the LS. We could not have done this before we got to this place with each other.
When readers write to us and ask us how to get a spouse interested in the LS, we freak out a little bit. There’s no way we can tell you that.
What we want to tell people who ask about how to get their spouse interested in the LS is this — do a relationship inventory first. How well are you able to communicate about the tough stuff now? How open and adventurous is your sex life with each other, right now? (Do you watch porn together? Experiment with sex toys and/or indulge each others’ kinks? Masturbate in front of one another? Try the usual positions and seek new ones together? Talk openly about fantasies and desires?)
If your very very honest answers are that you have limited communication when it comes to sex, sexuality, and other deeply personal/emotional topics — we’d say the time doesn’t seem right to invite others in. If your spouse shies away from talking about sex and isn’t interested in much sexual exploration with you within your own relationship, chances are pretty slim that pitching the Lifestyle is gonna go over well or benefit your relationship. You may want to start with work toward those things, first.
We don’t have advice to give. We’re new at this. But we can tell you unequivocally that the thing allowing us to explore our sexuality together in this way is that we have done the work on our own relationship, first.
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