I recently read an article from the New York Post that talks about the growing trend of wives giving their husbands permission to cheat. This permission, according to the article, is arranged through a contract between the couple. Each agrees to terms set forth by what is classified as a “marriage contract.”
According to the New York Post and Suzie Johnson, a relationship coach, such arrangements are increasingly common in her [Johnson’s] practice as a growing number of women agree to widen their monogamy boundaries and embrace a marriage of convenience, where it’s just the husband who strays rather than an open marriage where both sides cheat.
Wait a minute! If both parties are in agreement about a partner having a sexual experience outside the marriage, then how can you still call it “cheating?”
Why do we so often see the word “cheating” used when it relates to couples that are swinging or in an open relationship?
I’ve even had friends say to me, “how can you let your husband cheat on you like that? Doesn’t it bother you?”
I believe that many in the mainstream see the swinging lifestyle as something bad. They don’t see it as an alternative to a traditional monogamous relationship. Because in their minds they see it as a bad thing, they label it as such, using words like “cheating” or “infidelity” even though this is not what is going on.
In the 20 years that John has been in the swinger club industry, he has seen the lifestyle grow as steps towards acceptance of it within mainstream society and media are made. But there is more work to be done. I say to the media—to each his/her own.
I know that our lifestyle is not for everyone, but please stop interjecting your personal beliefs in what is working for thousands of couples and singles around the world. John and I consider ourselves to be in a swinging/open relationship, we both engage in sexual experiences with others outside of our marriage, but neither one of us has ever “cheated” on the other.
We are both open and honest about each and every encounter we experience, whether those experiences are together or separate. As a matter of fact, the more open our marriage becomes, the closer it brings John and I to each other. One of the many things we love about being in an open relationship, is cheating becomes obsolete.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of cheat is as follows:
“to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something”
“to take something from (someone) by lying or breaking a rule”
“to prevent (someone) from having something that he or she deserves or was expecting to get”
This is where I get a little confused about why the term “cheat” is being used to describe an arrangement in which both parties are in agreement. If a couple constructs an arrangement regarding their relationship from a sexual standpoint, as in this instance, and both parties are in agreement, then using the term “cheat” does not reflect a true definition of the arrangement. In fact, we’ve talked about the concept in our video on myths and misconceptions about swinging.
According to the article, these agreements essentially give a partner permission to share sexual experiences with others outside of the marriage. Everyone within the partnership is in agreement and everyone feels as though the arrangement provides a benefit to each partner.
As a matter of fact, using the word “cheat” or “stray” to describe the arrangement made between these couples takes away the power, ownership and love these couples are working so diligently to claim in their relationship in the first place. These couples should be viewed as a great example of how broad and varied a foundation can be in a relationship and how vital it is for couples to communicate about what they want from the relationship, regardless of how outside the norm those wants appear to be.
These arrangements are about enhancing a couple’s marriage. These couples are not afraid to step outside the box to create an environment that works for them. I commend those couples who take responsibility for their relationship and tailor those partnerships to fit within whatever parameters the couple finds comfortable.
I am also encouraged by the fact that more and more couples seem to be embracing a more realistic approach to who they are as sexual beings and how this relates to their marriage. So, even though I may have an issue with some of the terminology used to describe these contracts, I still think it’s great couples are having these types of conversations, as more and more validity is being given to the open lifestyle.
John and Jackie Melfi are in a consensually non monogamous marriage. They have been featured in ABC News Nightline Special Report “Getting Naughty In N’awlins”, Inside a New Orleans Swingers Convention, and CNN “This Is Life” with Lisa Ling. The Melfis are the force behind the industry famous colette swingers clubs in New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, and Austin. With over 20 years of combined experience, this powerhouse couple coaches thousands of singles and couples through their award winning blog Openlove101.com.