Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sleep with an Open Marriage

Do you know where your spouse is? If your partner purposes we either have an open marriage or  we separate, does this mean they are already having an affair or just hoping that you agree that both of you may see other people intimately? If you agree to an open marriage (besides worrying about STD's), is your biggest fear that they would fall in love with the other person and you would end up separated/divorced nonetheless? Is the only reason they want to have an open marriage to stay close to the kids and not to go through a messy divorce; splitting assets, child custody etc? If so, do you feel the marriage is pretty much over anyway and the only reason you would agree is to have time to get your life in order to prepare for being a single mom: getting a job that can pay for child care with health benefits, saving some money etc. Do you end your 20+ year marriage on a maybe? Not only are you stressed about what they're doing when their not home, you are also stressed about what you are going to do with the rest of your life. What are your options if you agree to this? Who can sleep easy with all this added stress? You wonder how he can sleep so easy (snoring beside you) knowing what he is doing to your family. Can you live with yourself in a semi-happy marriage, life without intimacy from your partner, but freedom to do what you want without financial burdens? In order to sleep with an open marriage it may be time to rewrite your marriage rules according to Pamela Haag, the author of Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples

Stressful life events cause sleepless nights and sleepless nights turn into insomnia which can lead to physical and emotional health problems like; obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression. Weeks of irritability and stress about your partners commitment to your relationship keeps your mind spinning. Rewinding the conversation over and over in your head wondering how to undo the mistakes you have made to make them want to have an open marriage. Now, how can you enjoy any family moment without feeling slighted. Lack of sleep in conjunction with these feelings causes you to fly off the handle or cry over anything they may do or say. You try to control your emotions because failure to do so would lead to more stress and sleepless nights. According to a CNN article everyone feels mediocre about their marriage it’s time to face facts and stop the pity party. Haag stated it is time to change how you “do’ marriage because you can no longer expect to fit your discontented spouse into your idea of the perfect institution of marriage. What  is it about marriage in the 21st century that many are finding ways to stay together between a semi-happy marriage and divorce? Haag suggests these alternative marriage approaches and offers some open marriage ground rules:

According to recent reports one in four Americans sleep in separate bedrooms and the National Association of Homebuilders predicts that by 2015 60% of new homes will have dual master bedrooms. Sleeping apart and creating privacy in a marriage might help. See Couples Sleep Easy Together or Apart for more information.

Try making time for some much needed personal growth by way of a marriage sabbatical in hopes to reconcile the stability of your semi-happy marriage. A marriage sabbatical is different than a separation that has no time limit or usually ends up in divorce. With a sabbatical it creates a certain interval where spouses spend time apart.

Rewrite your marriage vows every few years to represent promises and rules that are actually relevant to your current marital situation. One politician proposed a new contract every seven years to reflect on the marriage. Now that might be an idea for the seven year itch, which beats the alternative, the 20 year ditch. Statistics report the only 15% of 20+ year marriage end in divorce but out of these 93% of the women are the ones that file. Men are more prone to stay in a loveless relationship because they get used to how their marriage is, they don’t want to hurt their partner nor deal with uncomfortable situations. And basically they do their own thing. That’s why it might be good to rewrite your vows and get everything out in the open. It initiates communication and allows you to make agreed upon intentions for your marriage.

Since the 2008 recession many semi-happy marriages that might have ended in divorce have found they cannot afford to get divorced or they can’t sell their property and are now forced to stay in their house. This War of the Roses scenario continues for some couples even after divorce. They maintain the same household to provide stability for their children all the while enjoying a single, open marriage dating life…if you know what I mean:)

Haag also shows how the possibility of how an open marriage might work. In fact, one to two couples out of twenty are trying it in one form or another. They do it because they are bored or they want to maintain their lifeless semi-happy marriage from divorce along with a happy-happy life alternative. Remember before you agree to any options; separate/divorce or a life of eternal semi-happiness…life is long and it pays to be open and flexible. Men need intimacy to feel devotion and women need to feel love to be intimate. And one of the major contributors to marital stress is the lack of intimacy. Negotiating monogamy is becoming popular and is a way for some couples to remain committed to each other without being sexually faithful.

Isn’t it better to talk about something and understand each others boundaries than to guess maybe they are, maybe they aren't or commit to life of anxiety/stress and insomnia! So remember: Taking marriage vows does not mean taking a vow of silence. If anything, being married should give you some level of trust, trust at least outside the bedroom, where you feel like you can talk about anything. The goal of an open marriage is to never have to lie -- to create an environment where you can be open without feeling uncomfortable or afraid. Proponents say that this atmosphere supposedly then creates an opportunity for incredible communication, deeper understanding and the opportunity to thrive as yourself to the fullest. So if your partner brought up the idea to negotiate monogamy and it isn’t your cup of tea because you can’t deny your feelings of resentment, competitiveness, jealousy, insecurity, curtailed time, scattered affections, feelings of betrayal, lack of security -- all inevitably blur the lines of what you consider a healthy marriage.. You need to sit down and have an adult conversation about other lifestyle alternatives that will work for both of you. It is essential for your health to get all these “what if” thoughts out of your head and relieve some of your stress. It’s your what’s best for you and get some sleep.

The content provided in Sleep with an Open Marriage is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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  1. Curious. This is very interesting. Did you have someone specific in mind when you wrote this post?

  2. No, writing about sleep can be a bit tiring, so I get some of my ideas from CNN articles. When I saw this one it was a very different topic even though it was related to another article I wrote about called Couples Sleep Easy Together or Apart. There must be added stress to a relationship when this topic is brought up and stress is the number one non-medical reason for sleepless nights. I also wanted to promote the book that just came out at the end of the month in regards to this article. Thanks for the comment.