Can an open marriage work? The pros and cons

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If you’re in the process of reassessing the boundaries and possibilities of your relationship, chances are that you’ve come across the intriguing idea of open marriages. 

But can an open marriage truly work? 

In a world where love and relationships defy traditional norms, the concept of open marriage often leads to a great deal of skepticism or confusion.

The truth is that it does have plenty of benefits that can make you rethink the traditional notions of monogamy. On the other hand, it can also create plenty of obstacles between partners.

In either case, if you’re ready to broaden your perspective and reshape your understanding of love, we’re about to explore the pros and cons of open marriages.

5 benefits of an open marriage

1) You’ll have an opportunity to explore your own desires

I’m sure about one thing: everyone who’s considering the benefits of an open marriage has thought about the opportunity to explore their own desires. 

It’s a natural curiosity that arises when contemplating a non-traditional approach to relationships. In fact, studies prove that sexual exploration fosters a positive sexual self-concept regardless of your orientation. 

And you know what?

This curiosity may be one of the reasons why open marriage can work for you.

The thing is that in an open marriage, you have the unique opportunity to do just that. One of the significant benefits of an open marriage is the freedom to delve into your own desires and interests without compromising the commitment you have with your partner.

So, if you’re ready to explore your sexual desires and experiment with new experiences, an open marriage can provide the perfect environment for personal growth and self-discovery.

2) It will foster a deeper level of emotional intimacy

If you’re like most people, you might be thinking that open relationships damage emotional intimacy between couples. 

But guess what?

Contrary to this common belief, an open marriage has the potential to foster a deeper level of emotional connection and authenticity within the relationship. 

Let’s be honest: open marriages provide an environment where individuals can be more open about their real desires. The result?

This deepens emotional bonds and simplifies the process of truly understanding and connecting with your partner on a profound level.

Most of the time, traditional monogamous relationships are accompanied by societal pressure to conform to certain expectations and suppress certain desires or needs.

While this leads to a lack of communication and even resentment over time, open marriages directly promote discussing desires, boundaries, and expectations,

That’s how couples can build a foundation of trust, understanding, and empathy.

3) You’ll get more in line with your values

Let me ask you a question:

How many times have you compromised your values and beliefs just to conform to societal expectations? 

If you’re tired of sacrificing your authenticity and yearning for a relationship that aligns with who you truly are, then exploring the benefits of an open marriage might be the path toward greater fulfillment.

The only problem is that sometimes we’re not completely sure what our true values are. As a result, we live with others’ expectations and leave our own desires and aspirations unfulfilled. 

At least, that’s what I was personally facing a while ago — I wasn’t sure of my core values and felt that there was a big gap between my values and my behaviors.

But then, I found the Life Journal by Jeanette Brown. This incredible resource helped me bridge that gap and gain clarity on my values. Now, I want to share this life-changing tool with you.

I’m sure this free checklist is the perfect starting point to help you uncover and align with your core values. 

So, if you’ve been feeling uncertain about your marriage preferences, don’t wait any longer. Discover your core values, and don’t compromise your inner desires anymore.

Download your free checklist here

4) No pressure of monogamy

Picture a relationship where the burden of monogamy is lifted, and you’re liberated from the traditional confines and expectations. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

Still, it turns out that only 5% of North Americans have experienced non-monogamous relationships. 

Well, that’s one of the most significant benefits of an open marriage – it allows you to explore the vast realm of relationships without the weight of monogamy holding you back. 

This means you have the freedom to connect with others outside of your primary partnership. What makes this connection so special?

You can still maintain open and honest communication with your partner while dating other people.

Let’s admit that no matter how committed we are to our partners, sometimes we still find ourselves attracted to others or curious about what else is out there. 

Luckily, in an open marriage, you don’t have to suppress those natural inclinations. Instead, you can embrace them and navigate the exciting terrain of multiple connections.

Chances are that this will increase your relationship satisfaction.

5) You’ll get to know more people

And the final and most obvious benefit of an open marriage is that you will have a chance to meet new people and start new relationships.

Deep down we all know that being in a stable partnership with a single person restricts us from fully exploring the world of potential connections.

What I mean here is that we’re willing to spend most of our time with the one person we love and cherish.

But it doesn’t mean our curiosity about others disappears. 

It’s only natural to wonder about the possibilities and connections that exist beyond the confines of a monogamous relationship.

That’s exactly what I like about open marriages and open relationships the most. They give you the opportunity to expand your social horizons without feeling guilty that you might be betraying your partner or breaking societal norms.

5 disadvantages of open marriage

1) Increased feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and comparison 

Regardless of these important benefits, you need to know that an open marriage doesn’t come without its share of challenges. The most obvious one among those challenges is, indeed, increased feelings of jealousy and insecurity.

Let me explain why you may experience these feelings.

In an open marriage, the dynamics of your relationship change as you explore connections with other individuals. 

This shift can trigger feelings of jealousy and insecurity, which is natural, and even normal. Why so?

Because seeing your partner engage with someone else, developing emotional or physical intimacy with others, will undoubtedly evoke a sense of fear, or uncertainty.

What’s more, you’re likely to start comparing your spouse with your other partners and on the other hand, comparing yourself to their other partners.

The result?

You may find yourself questioning your own desirability, attractiveness, or even compatibility with your partner. This increases the chances of breaking down your emotional intimacy.

2) You’ll have to face social stigma and judgment 

Ever noticed how society tends to have strong opinions about what relationships should look like? When it comes to open marriages, facing social stigma and judgment can be a harsh reality.

In a world that often values monogamy as the only acceptable form of commitment, stepping outside of those boundaries can lead to raised eyebrows, criticism, and even social exclusion. 

Unfortunately, ostracism, exclusion, and rejection often decrease well-being and negatively affect mental health.

Where does this judgment come from?

Well, from anywhere – cultural norms, religious beliefs, or simply the fear of the unknown. People may question the validity or strength of your relationship, doubting its sustainability or branding it as immoral.

Therefore, if you’re not resilient enough, engaging in an open marriage might make it hard for you to navigate these external pressures while staying true to your own values and desires.

3) You’ll experience logistical problems

Believe it or not, some people find it hard to enjoy the benefits of an open marriage because of the logistical problems they encounter along the way. 

The thing is that balancing multiple relationships requires careful coordination and consideration. So guess what?

In an open marriage, chances are that you’ll find yourself juggling the needs and desires of different partners.

Yes, let’s face that finding a harmonious balance that respects everyone’s boundaries and availability isn’t an easy job.

What’s more, these logistical problems can extend to issues related to childcare, financial management, safe sex protocols, and shared responsibilities. 

This is not to mention creating plans for sharing living spaces and scheduling in a way that accommodates everyone’s needs.

In simple terms, open marriages require careful navigation of these practical aspects to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.

4) Higher risk of STDs

Speaking of safe sex, you won’t be surprised if I tell you that an open marriage increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

The reason is that having multiple sexual partners and engaging in multiple sexual relationships is a natural part of an open marriage. And each additional sexual partner introduces a new set of potential risks.

Therefore, the chances of exposure to STDs can be higher in a monogamous relationship.

In fact, based on the studies, men in polygynous marriages are 2.6 times more likely to be HIV positive and 2.9 times more likely to get Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-2. 

This indicates that even with precautions such as using condoms and regular testing, there is still a possibility of transmission. 

That’s why it’s crucial for individuals in open marriages to prioritize safe sex practices and have open and honest conversations about sexual health with all partners.

5) You’ll find it harder to balance your emotional investments 

And finally, the most significant reason why an open marriage might not work for you is that it makes it harder to balance your emotional investments. 

Let me explain the psychological aspect behind this.

As humans, we naturally form emotional attachments and invest our emotions in our relationships. We develop deep connections, trust, and a sense of security with our partners. 

However, when you have multiple emotional investments in different individuals, it becomes more complex to manage and balance those emotions.


Because navigating feelings of love, affection, and attachment for multiple partners simultaneously requires more energy than you anticipate.

Psychologically, it can be challenging to divide your emotional energy and attention among multiple partners.

It’s not just about dividing your time and attention among different people, but also about navigating the emotional intricacies that come with it.

That’s exactly what makes you experience moments of jealousy, guilt, or a sense of being torn between the emotional needs of different individuals.

So, if you find it challenging to navigate multiple emotional investments, or if you prioritize deep emotional connection with one person, then chances are that an open marriage is not for you.

Can an open marriage work?

As you can see, open marriages bring both opportunities and challenges to the table. They offer the chance to explore your desires and foster deeper intimacy, but they also come with the potential for increased jealousy and emotional difficulties. 

So, how do you know if an open marriage can work for you after all?

Here’s the thing: the success of an open marriage ultimately depends on your and your partner’s willingness to navigate these challenges and embrace the possibilities. 

If you’re ready to approach it with openness, communication, and a commitment to nurturing your primary relationship while exploring connections with others, it can indeed thrive. So, dare to explore, ​​understand your desires, and find what works for you.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

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