Open Marriage Versus Monogamy: Who’s Happier?

Many couples seek marriage counseling or couples therapy after the discovery of an affair or when there is suspicion of an affair.  For many people, in what they believed was a monogamous relationship, infidelity is the ultimate betrayal.  Relationship Expert and Couples therapist Esther Perel writes that infidelity today hurts in a number of ways.  She writes “Now, there are three ways that I think infidelity hurts differently today. We have a romantic ideal in which we turn to one person to fulfill an endless list of needs: to be my greatest lover, my best friend, the best parent, my trusted confidant, my emotional companion, my intellectual equal. And I am it: I’m chosen, I’m unique, I’m indispensable, I’m irreplaceable, I’m the one. And infidelity tells me I’m not. It is the ultimate betrayal. Infidelity shatters the grand ambition of love. But if throughout history, infidelity has always been painful, today it is often traumatic, because it threatens our sense of self”.  Perel talks about the need to rethink affairs, and that affairs are not generally about sex but about a need to feel desired and connected.  This article raises questions as to whether the stigma around non-monogamy is more of the problem.  It  refers to a study that suggests open or non-monogamous marriages or relationships can be just as happy as monogamous relationships.  Researchers in the article are quoted as saying “Ultimately if you are fulfilling your psychological needs and are satisfied sexually, you are more likely to be happy in your partnership no matter the relationship structure”.  Is it perhaps that stigma, secrets and shame that comes with infidelity are more of the problem?  Or are the traditional marriage contracts we agree to outdated or just in need of updating periodically?   In my experience, a marriage counselor can help couples bridge their discrepancies — discrepancies that seem to evolve over time and that can lead to a breakdown of trust, and the desire to have needs met outside of the partnership.  Without difficult discussions, there is no way to know if the old marriage contract still holds or is in need of renewal — whatever that may look like.

Do you need help having those difficult conversations.  Get in touch through my contact page. I’m here to help.