AA: Open Marriage Agreements

Earlier today, I got this email from James:

Hello,

First let me say thank you for your blog!

What are your thoughts on open marriage agreements secondary to discovering one spouse is asexual?  How to navigate that when you have an 11 year old child and still love your spouse very much but don’t want to forego a sexual relationship for the rest of your life?

I’ve been married 24 years and in the last year my wife and I have come to understand she is asexual.  She has offered me the ability to have an open relationship, but I have no idea how to navigate it without it ultimately leading to separating and divorce.

thanks for any input or advice you can offer. (or links to discussions about ACE/ASEXUAL Open Relationships…. i’ve not been able to find any real discussions.

This is what I originally wrote back in response:

Hello!

Well, this subject is beyond my area of personal experience, so I’d advise you to keep looking for input (perhaps more in poly communities), but I’ll see what I can think of here.  Also, if you want/if you give permission, I can post this to my blog where my followers might comment with their own advice or additional links they know of, but it’s just as well if you’d rather not.

First of all, you might want to discuss some specific boundaries and logistics with your wife.  For example, when you begin seeing a second person, would she prefer to meet them and possibly befriend them, or would she rather never even see hide nor hair of them?  What will be your protocol if a serious conflict comes up between the two of them?  Will your second person be allowed in the family home at all, allowed only if the rest of the family is gone, or would your wife prefer you meet with them elsewhere?  If you introduce the second person to your child, will they be introduced as a “friend,” as an “aunt/uncle,” or something else, or not at all?

Like I said, I don’t have experience to go on, but my thinking is that if you discuss the specifics with your wife beforehand, that can help establish expectations and may also give her time to process and fully react — by which I mean, if she has insecurities or is worried, this can allow you an opportunity to notice and address as much from the beginning.  It could be that she’s not actually okay with the idea, but was just suggesting it because she feels like that’s what it’ll take to make you happy or take the pressure off her to perform for you.  It’s common for aces to have a lot of insecurity about their worth in relationships — if she’s anything like most, she’ll need to hear frequently that you love her and that her being ace doesn’t detract from how important she is in your life.

Sorry I don’t have a whole lot of resources for you, but you might want to browse:
this linkspam on asexuality and relationships
this blog, by an ace in a poly triad
and this post, by an ace and her non-ace husband “opening up,” which has some additional links at the bottom

James then gave me permission to publish this in case my readers have anything useful to add — I know a lot of you are more knowledgeable of poly stuff than I am, so please feel free to chime in.

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One response to “AA: Open Marriage Agreements

  • Grey Wanders

    These are good suggestions. Go slow, be careful of your motivations, and talk about everything a whole bunch.

    I’d definitely check out some poly-specific resources, in particular More than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, which is both a blog and a book. It’s a great resource (especially the book) if you’re considering any type of poly (or even if you’re just looking to improve your relationship/communication skills), and as an added bonus is reasonably ace-competent!

    A key term which may be of use to you is “mono/poly”. There’s a lot of discourse about relationships where one person is poly and the other one isn’t, which may have some useful ideas for your situation, since it doesn’t sound like your wife is planning of pursuing any outside relations.

    Good luck!

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