A reader writes:

As someone who's lived in an open marriage for the last 8 years but have never had sex with anyone else but my wife since we met, I thought our experience might shed light on the actual experience.

I was 38 when we married. I'd been married before and saw that marriage implode over one issue: Trust. (Which had nothing to do with infidelity. There was none).

When we got together we agreed that this, more than any other thing, would destroy the marriage.  So we talked about trust and talked about our sex lives and our proclivities and came to the conclusion that yes, we might well be tempted to sleep with someone else. After all, we're only human.

So we established some simple rules.

If either one of us feels we just have to sleep with someone else, we can. But we have to tell the other spouse. And we have to tell the person in question that we are married and plan to stay that way. AND, (this is the big part) either of us gets veto power with no questions asked.  If I want to sleep with someone my wife despises, she can say no and vice versa.

Eight years and neither one of us has been with anyone else.  But it's taken a strain off the relationship that I think most people never even know they experience until they don't have to.  I don't want to sleep with anyone else. I want to sleep with my wife. But if some pretty girl wants to, and I'm so inclined, it's awfully nice to know that I can.  I just don't get to lie about it.

It's a great way to live and it's a great way to be married. I adore my wife. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live without her.  If her having a brief fling with some guy is going to be that important to her, I'm willing to swallow my ego and let her do her thing.  Because, after all, insisting on monogamy even when it makes your spouse unhappy or even at the cost of dishonesty (the REAL killer of marriages) isn't really love at all. It's possession.

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