A reader writes:

How do you decide you have an open marriage?  It is much better to do it before you get married.  One of the things I most love about my husband is his honesty and clarity of thought.  We have been married for 20 years.  Before we got married we went through the Catholic Church pre-cana program.  It was very good and helped us define what we thought marriage should be.  There was a very good discussion group about sex.  Since the "mentors" in the group were a good bit older than most of us, some had been married in the late '60s early '70s and talked about the “communes” that they had participated in and the “sharing” lifestyle. 

We talked about what fidelity actually meant.  Trust and sharing, respect and honesty, these are the hallmarks of a great relationship.  We talked about sex as recreation, exercise and the difference between sex and making love. We talked about the possibilities of having other sexual partners, individually as well as together.  We also talked about our desires, fantasies and needs.  Discussing our sex life, defining it and talking about future needs etc became another segment to work on, like finances, child rearing, chores etc. 

Honestly it was one of the most interesting, honest and exceptional discussions I have ever had within the auspices of the Catholic Church.

We periodically take a weekend away to work on our relationship.  We talk about issues before they become problems and come to a mutual decision.  This has also meant we have talked about additional sex partners.  We have to both agree on the partner, whether it is someone we can share and/or enjoy individually.  We also have to think about being discrete.  Society is not really accepting and we have often passed on what might have been offers because of the ‘appearance’ issue.  And people love to talk.  Being even marginally involved with someone who likes to brag, gossip or is spiteful etc can get messy.  And despite what our teenage children think, we do consider their “ick” factor.  Because what we do also impacts them, our community as well as our relationship. 

We have enjoyed several sexual encounters over the years, both together and separately, and plan to continue to do so in the future.  Some of our past partners became great friends, even though we don't have sex with them anymore.  Being honest with them also helped curtail any messy emotional tangles.

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