Ask Kari: What should I do if my husband wants to have an “open marriage”?

Dear Kari,

My husband wants us to have an “open marriage” and date other people. He says that he doesn’t have anyone in mind, but I don’t believe him. I cannot believe that the man I married 18 years ago is asking this of me, I don’t want to be intimate with anyone else. What should I do?

--Devoted Wife

Dear Devoted Wife,

It would be quite a shock to have one’s spouse declare that they want to date other people after many years of marriage. I too would be suspicious if my partner suggested such an idea without him having someone in mind that he would like to pursue. If this is not something you are interested in, I recommend that you state to your husband under no circumstances is this option ok with you. You do have power in this situation to state what you are willing to accept in your relationship. How your husband reacts to your response is his choice. If you are not able to come to a resolution as a couple, I suggest you seek marriage counseling, as there may be additional underlying marital issues besides the option of agreeing to an open marriage going on.


As published in the September 2013 issue of Connections.

About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.

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