Tue Sep 13, 2011
I just saw Swingsetlife tweet about a post on Huffpo, offended by a divorce lawyer’s column about her top 10 signs that a marriage is in trouble. Her number 10, and the only one with an emphasis of all caps for the ‘are’, was
If your spouse wants you to swing with your neighbors, you ARE headed for divorce.
The thing is (well, the first of many things) I don’t think most spouses bring up swinging with their actual neighbors. In fact, in my (albeit limited) experience, most people new to swinging want to keep that activity fairly separate from the rest of their lives, and might go to a neighboring city for their swing activities. Sure, some people want to do it in the same city, especially if it’s a big one, but again not usually with their friends, business acquaintances, or the neighbor they see while taking out the trash in the morning.
I’m not at all offended by the post, though, because while there are tons of happy swingers, there are also tons of marriages that are at the beginning of the end when this comes up. If you read the post, she goes on to talk about one spouse wanting to swing and the other NOT wanting to. Well duh! If you have to coerce, sweet talk, bribe, etc. your partner into something that drastic in life/lovestyle change, if it isn’t a desire for BOTH people, then yes I fully agree, it’s the beginning of the end. And if the “spice” is being introduced when the marriage is kinda sucky already, or lacking in intimacy, or respecting each others boundaries, then yes, ginormous red flag.
I don’t think it’s a knock on swingers, or consensual non-monogamy. I do think it’s a good warning that pushing your partner into a lifestyle they don’t want is often the beginning of the end. Yes, it was a short column that didn’t explore the issue in a lot of depth, but her other 9 red flags were similarly short. Pretty much all of them could be summed up by a lack of true partnership or trust. I think if I’m going to be offended about people knocking non-monogamy I’ll put that where it should lie, with the true haters.
Anyhow, in response, here are my top rules for SUCCESSFUL non-monogamy:
1. Don’t switch from monogamy to non-monogamy during a weak point in the relationship. If your communication, intimacy or sex life is already lacking, that’s not a good time to start.
2. Both partners should be, at the very least, curious if not outright enthusiastic about the possibilities. If one or the other is being dragged along for the ride, well…. bad.
3. The biggest issue ever, in my humblest of opinions, is to figure out where on your priority scale non-monogamy will lie. Is it a “we’ll go swing if we have a free weekend here and there”, or is it a “I want to be fully involved in multiple day-to-day life relationships that encompass far more than sex.”? That is kind of a big issue.
4. If you’re really new to non-monogamy, either as a couple or with one individual within the couple, have the conversation about how you’ll handle things if it IS tried and doesn’t seem to be working out. It’s a take on #3, but more along the lines of “when do things become deal breakers.” That one is also good for negotiation with potential playmates. If you are just getting involved in non-monogamy and are unsure of how things will go, you’ll be better at communicating with a potential interest what your boundaries as a couple are.
I don’t have 10 rules to counter with, but those four are a good start.