The 30-Year-Old Navigating An Open Marriage

September 23, 2020

An open marriage is a form of non-monogamy where the partners agree that the other partner may engage in extra-marital sexual relations without this being regarded as infidelity. It’s more or less like Jada and Will’s marriage, although the rules often vary.

Needless to say, this isn’t a very popular arrangement with most people, and much less so among Nigerians. Despite this, I had the pleasure of meeting a 30-year-old Nigerian man who has been in an open marriage for two years, and before that, an open relationship for 10 years. We talked about his marriage, what it demands and why more people should consider open marriages.

So, how did it begin?

Honestly? It’s not something we really thought about. At least, we never called it an open relationship, when we were dating. Or even a relationship. It was basically, “Yes, I love you and you love me, but we both still find other people sexually attractive. So what are we going to do?” We had a lot of back-and-forths about what that meant and what we could do about it.

Initially, the relationship wasn’t open at all. We had been dating for a few years when, one day, she suddenly came to me and said: “I found someone I think you’d find sexually interesting.” That’s how it started. We discuss it frequently to touch base and see what the other person is thinking.

What do you think were her motivations for giving you the green light to sleep with someone else?

To be honest, it’s probably a hodgepodge of factors. Firstly, she is bisexual. Secondly, she enjoys watching me having sex and she loves it when I tell her about other women I’m having sex with and how. Also, there were women she found sexually appealing but she wasn’t comfortable about her sexuality with other women at that time. So she’d offer the women to me and live vicariously through me. Eventually, she decided to try women.

Interesting. What are the details of your arrangement?

Basically, both of us can sleep with whomever we want. The only condition is that we obtain consent from each other before sleeping with other people. There have been instances where we both didn’t agree to let the other sleep with someone else but it’s always for a good reason.

What would you say is required to be in this kind of relationship?

Lot’s of work and honesty. From the outside, it looks easy, but in reality, there’s a lot of work required. We have to talk and talk and fine-tune things a lot. 

Our relationship is pretty private, but now and again, we raise some eyebrows. When we are with friends and a lover of either of us or both of us is around, our friends tend to give us weird looks, thinking that we are cheating on the other partner. They think it’s weird that a married person is hanging with someone else, and even more surprised that the other partner doesn’t care about it.

One time, I was with my friends and I had one of my girlfriends with me. My girlfriend kept talking about my wife; not in the I-shouldn’t-be-with-you type of way and more in a playful “I will tell your wife you’re not treating me nicely” type of way. My guys were looking at me funny. They don’t know about the arrangement and I’d like to keep it that way

Wow. Do you worry that either you or your wife might catch feelings for someone else? What’s the contingency plan?

The thought that either of us might have feelings for other people crosses our minds, honestly. It’s only logical that if you keep fucking the same person, feelings will inevitably come into play. That’s why we emphasise on honesty. Also, we already know we’ll spend the rest of our lives together. We know that even if you catch feelings for someone else, it’s only half the truth. My wife and I know our full truths with each other and it makes us both happy. 

If it happens, we’ll deal with it the same way we deal with other matters; discussing honestly and finding solutions together. It’s us against any issues bothering one person.

Have you had any disagreements over this arrangement?

Ah yes. And it was absolutely my fault too. I’m an emotional guy, really, and I can only have sex with people I like and have a real connection with. At some point, it got a bit too emotional with one of my women, and when my wife pointed it out to me, I got defensive, and even worse, started to feel like I needed to hide parts of that relationship from her. I refused to do any introspection for a while. But at some stage, you gotta listen when your own woman insists on something like that. I regret it very much; hurting her was never part of the arrangement.

Do you plan on having children?

We do plan on having children, a little down the road. Of course, we think about how having children will have an impact on the nature of our relationship. It’ll definitely means having less random partners. We’ll settle for regular partners so that we aren’t introducing the kids to strangers every two weeks. It also means meeting out of town more often and having fewer partners.

Sounds like it’s all planned out.

Again, we talk and talk and talk. It’s hard, but it’s the only way it works.

Between the two of you, how many partners would you say there are?

Lmao. This is hard. There are some regular ones, there are seasonal ones and there are part-time ones. But currently, I’d say three. Of course, we have partners outside of each other. Some of our partners are in relationships of their own. However, we do have a favourite girlfriend. She’s in a relationship with both of us together and individually.

The next thing on our agenda is dating a couple similar to us. It sounds really interesting. We aren’t rushing it because sometimes, you just have to let things happen. So far, it hasn’t happened yet. Although it’d be nice if such a couple reaches out.

That’s interesting. Do you think more people should consider open marriages and relationships or do you think it’s only suited to a select few?

It’s definitely not for everybody. It’s also not a response to infidelity or an inability to be loyal. It demands even more accountability that normal relationships don’t ask of you.

I think more people should be honest about the fact that loving someone doesn’t mean you never want to fuck someone else. Once we all come to that place, the rest is just housekeeping and figuring out what works.

Man Like – A series about men, for men, by men. Every Sunday by 12PM.

Olufemi Fadahunsi

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