Many couples face a point in their relationship when the feelings of boredom and monotony begin to set in. The couple begins to feel like they’ve lost the spice and spontaneity that once came so easily. Now they have to work for that same excitement which tends to make things seem tedious and stale. This dilemma particularly takes place in the bedroom. Sex has turned into the same thing day in and day out. That is, if sex is still in the picture.
As a response to this “crisis in the bedroom”, many couples begin a discussion of opening their sexual relationship up to include others. As an attempt to spice things up and rekindle a dying flame, the idea that having sex with others seems like a viable option. After all, that would certainly be something new and potentially exciting. This line of reasoning is a very tricky and dangerous direction to follow if not done wisely.
Included are some quick tips I have gathered over the years of working with couples who have presenting in couples counseling with issues of the Lifestyle aka swinging and how to potentially navigate this minefield successfully.
1. Is this really about sex or something else? Have many very frank conversations with your partner about the motivations driving them to take on such a risky venture. Perhaps exploring these motivations with a therapist will help to uncover the true desires and help to ensure the intention is pure. For example, if you are looking to get into the Lifestyle because you are falling out of love with your partner and this is a way to make the relationship tolerable, this is the wrong reason and trouble will follow.
2. Your marriage/relationship always comes first: Under no circumstances should the other party or the Lifestyle in general come before your partner. You must enter into this adventure as a couple and always stay a couple. Do not let anyone or anything separate the two of you or attempt to threaten the marital bond.
3. Both must be willing participants: It is imperative that both partners want to take this road. If one of you is on the fence about it; wait and don’t proceed. Again, talking to a tolerant, open minded therapist could be beneficial in exploring the hesitations and fears and help the communication of those concerns to your partner.
4. Clear and open communication: Venturing into the Lifestyle successfully is going to take the clearest communication you have ever done in your life. You need to be able to discuss your likes and dislikes, your dos and don’t, your fears and concerns just to name a few. And, your partner is going to have to hear you. If you do not feel heard, you will not feel safe and put on the brakes.
5. Make the rules: Write up a contract addressing what is ok and not ok to do. This contract needs to be very detailed and attempt to explore all possible scenarios. Leave nothing uncovered.
6. Get in a Lifestyle chatroom: Talk to other couples who are successfully navigating the Lifestyle. Find out what they are doing to make it work and discuss your concerns and see what they have to say. This may help ease some of your fears and present ideas that the two of you may not have thought of.
7. Practice safe sex: Just like you, your partner needs to know that safety is being honored at all times. There is enough for the two of you to deal with as it is. Don’t add this easy solution into the mix.
8. Create a safety word: Come up with a word or phrase that when said, everything stops. Under all conditions, circumstances and situations, when this word is said, you both stop what you are doing, thank your new friend for their time and leave to join up with your mate at in a safe location. Both of you can say the word at any time and it must be respected. If it isn’t, that will be the end of the Lifestyle.
9. Ask how your partner is feeling: Constantly check-in with your partner about how they are feeling. Your sensitivity to their feelings is what helps to create safety. It shows that they are your priority above the Lifestyle.
Successfully navigating the Lifestyle is extremely difficult to do. Again, take the time to thoroughly explore the motivations to enter the Lifestyle to begin with. Make sure those motivations are honorable and not a threat to the relationship. The Lifestyle can be fun when done correctly and incredibly destructive when not.
If you would like more information on how to successfully navigate the Lifestyle, feel free to contact me through my website or blog by clicking on the links provided below.
Mark A. Kaupp, Psy.D.,
Marriage, Family Therapist,
or at my blog