How to Have an Open Marriage: A Guide to Expressive Love

What is an open marriage?

An open marriage is a consensual relationship in which both partners agree to engage in romantic and sexual relationships with other people outside of their marriage or partnership. It is a non-monogamous relationship where emotional and sexual intimacy is shared with other partners. Open marriages are often seen as a way to explore individual sexual preferences and desires while also strengthening the bond between partners through communication and trust.

Is an open marriage for you?

Before considering an open marriage, it is important to have a deep conversation with your partner about what you both want and need from the relationship. It is a decision that should be made with an understanding of the potential risks and benefits. Here are some things to consider:


Open marriages require a lot of communication between partners. It is essential to establish clear boundaries and expectations with your partner before getting involved with anyone outside of the marriage. Being able to talk openly and honestly about your feelings is crucial to the success of an open marriage.


Jealousy is a natural and normal feeling in any relationship, but it can be amplified in an open marriage. It is essential to be honest with your partner if feelings of jealousy arise and work through them together. Jealousy can also be an opportunity for growth and finding solutions to problems that may arise in the relationship.

Sexual Health

Open marriages involve engaging in sexual activity with multiple partners. It is crucial to prioritize your sexual health and the health of your partner by regularly getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and using protective measures.


An open marriage requires a lot of trust between partners. Keeping communication open and maintaining honesty about your relationships with other partners are essential to building and maintaining trust in the relationship.

Establishing Boundaries in an Open Marriage

Establishing clear boundaries is vital in any relationship, but it is particularly important in an open marriage. Boundaries should be discussed with your partner before engaging in sexual activity with someone else. Here are some examples of boundaries to consider:

  • Are there certain people off-limits?
  • Is the relationship purely physical, or can emotional connections be made?
  • What are the rules for bringing other partners into the home?
  • How often is it appropriate to see other partners?
  • What kind of communication should be shared between partners about other relationships?

Maintaining a Healthy Open Marriage

Maintaining a healthy open marriage requires ongoing communication, trust, and respect between partners. Here are some ways to keep your open marriage healthy:

Communicate openly and honestly

Always keep communication open with your partner, whether it be about your feelings, boundaries, or new romantic interests. Honesty is essential to the success of an open marriage.

Respect each other’s feelings

Even with clear boundaries in place, feelings of jealousy and insecurity can still arise. Be respectful of your partner’s feelings and work together to overcome any issues that may arise in the relationship.

Make time for each other

In any relationship, it is essential to make time for each other. This is especially important in an open marriage where time with other partners may take away from the time spent together as a couple. Schedule date nights or special activities to prioritize your relationship.

Be open to change

An open marriage is not for everyone, and it is okay to reevaluate the relationship and make changes if necessary. Always keep an open mind and be willing to make changes if the relationship is not serving the needs of both partners.

The Benefits of an Open Marriage

While it is not for everyone, an open marriage has its benefits. Here are some reasons why couples choose to have an open marriage:

  • Exploration of individual sexual desires and preferences
  • New experiences that can strengthen the bond between partners
  • Less pressure on one partner to fulfill all of the other’s sexual desires
  • Increased communication and honesty in the relationship

The Risks of an Open Marriage

While an open marriage can have its benefits, there are also risks involved. Here are some potential risks to consider:

  • Jealousy and insecurity can be intensified
  • The possibility of becoming emotionally attached to other partners
  • The increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • The potential for relationships with other partners to negatively impact the primary relationship.


An open marriage is not for everyone, and it should be entered into with caution and only after thorough communication and consideration with your partner. If both partners are on the same page and prioritize communication, trust, and respect, it can be a fulfilling and exciting experience.

Most Common Questions About Open Marriages

  • What is the difference between an open marriage and polyamory?
  • Is an open marriage considered cheating?
  • Can an open marriage help save a struggling relationship?
  • How can I approach my partner about an open marriage?
  • What are some common misconceptions about open marriages?


  • Open marriages involve engaging in sexual activity with other partners, while polyamory involves forming loving relationships with multiple partners.
  • No, as long as the relationship is entered into consensually with both partners agreeing to the arrangement.
  • An open marriage can bring new experiences and excitement to a relationship but is not a fix for an unhealthy or struggling relationship.
  • Approach the conversation with honesty and respect, and be willing to have an open and ongoing dialogue about the relationship.
  • Common misconceptions include thinking that open marriages are only for people who enjoy casual sex and that they are inherently unstable or lead to the end of the primary relationship.


  • Weiser, P. (2017). Consensual Non-Monogamy: How to Have a Healthy Open Relationship. Psych Central.
  • Sheff, E. (2014). The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Tully, E. (2020). The Ultimate Guide to Open Relationships: Find Polyamory, Swingers, and Open Marriage Relationships. BookBaby.

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