Swinging In a Long Term Marriage

Swinging marriage

As most of you already know, John and I own and operate a chain of swingers’ clubs in the U.S. called colette. John has been personally and professionally involved in the world of swinging for decades, and I joined him in this adventure several years ago. One of my very favorite things about colette is all the patrons. John and I have the opportunity to visit with couples every single weekend at any one of our clubs, and what I have noticed lately is that there are more couples in attendance who have been married 20 plus years beginning to dip their toes into the swinging pool.

I love this! I love to see couples who have such a great bond and have taken the time to build a solid foundation that enables them to open up their marriage to alternative options including swinging. This was particularly evident a few weeks ago when John and I were at the club. I spent the entire evening talking with a few couples who were relatively new to the lifestyle celebrating decades of marriage.

I find this so intriguing, probably because John and I started our relationship swinging — we had an open marriage from the get go. So, I wanted to know, HOW did these couples embrace this lifestyle so wholeheartedly?! HOW did the topic of swinging even come up in their relationship? HOW were they dealing with things like jealousy or play partners?! HOW was the fear of opening up the relationship (if any) handled? I learned quite a bit that night.

The first couple I spoke to had a 20 plus year marriage, but they had only been swinging a few years. I immediately asked her, “So, how did the subject of SWINGING even come about?” She said that she and her husband had talked about fantasies and role played for YEARS.

In all those years their sexual relationship had been healthy and active, there was never anything taboo subject wise, and they had really learned to see the importance of keeping those lines of communication open in the relationship. This kept the marriage fresh and fun and allowed them to explore that wild side. One evening the subject of swinging made its way into their conversation. Again, the couple believed that due to the no restriction policy in regards to topics and the fact that they had spent so many years cultivating a healthy relationship, this alternative option was worth discussing.

Because so much of the fantasy talk had included other people, they had been able to process their feelings in these role playing rendezvous. Trying it out for real for this couple was a turn on and something they decided the relationship could handle. Once they had the go ahead from each other, the planning phase began. They got on an adult social site and began communicating with other couples and singles. They visited swinger clubs and made dates. “Sure, we had moments when we struggled with fears or jealousy, but we found that swinging had opened a door to a completely new level of communication. No longer were we talking about abstract encounters, we were talking real life.” The wife shared that she and her husband were actually talking about matters they had not revealed to each other from such a rooted level, and that swinging had actually deepened their connection.

Another interesting point I learned from speaking with this couple was how they handled the play partners and playing in general. Of course when they first started playing with others they did it together. They would interact with another couple or in some cases another single and when they were done would carry the energy from the interaction into play with each other. She said those “moments of synergy” with others carried over into their bedroom, giving them even more material to pull from for their own intimate moments.

She also commented that as a result of the positive intensity swinging had brought to their marriage, they had even begun playing separately. I asked her how she was able to wrap her head around her husband playing without her physically being there and she said, “Well, I may not be there physically, but I am there mentally.” She said for her, the emotional buildup of knowing her husband was being satisfied sexually was exciting. She had learned through the swinging experience that the result of her husband’s playdates was the amazing sex she and her husband would share afterwards. She had freed herself from any shame or labeling when it came to her own sexuality. She admitted she LIKED hearing about all the details of his trysts with others.

I watched this couple throughout the evening – the way they engaged with others and with each other. They looked and responded to each other like a newly dating couple! They were attentive and affectionate and could not keep their hands off each other. This was a couple who had been married for over 20 years!!! They had not resigned themselves to one of those couples who put their relationship on the back burner, no, they cared too much about themselves and each other to let that happen. They were engaged and active in the direction of their marriage.

Another couple I spoke with were on the cusp of 20 years together. The husband was eager to share the explosive impact the swinger lifestyle had had on their relationship. He could not wait to tell me that before they were introduced to the swinging lifestyle he was that typical jealous husband. He said, “If anyone even looked at my wife I was ready to throw punches. I would be all up in your face if I thought you were paying too much attention towards her.” I asked him how on earth he had broken away from that mentality and his succinct answer: “Happiness in her happiness!” I gave him a skeptical glance, “Oh come on, are you saying it was that easy?!”

No, it had not been an overnight revelation, but being introduced to the lifestyle had been the reason for his change of view. “Being jealous was how I was raised,” he admitted. But even though he spent years living under this vice, he found it exhausting. Not only was it draining, he also began to see other negatives to his jealousy. “I learned that my jealousy showed a lack of trust in my partner. I began to see how my behavior was draining her as well. Instead of treating my partner as a trusted companion, my outbursts only displayed the opposite. I love my wife with all I am and I want nothing more than for her to be happy. Realizing my jealousy was taking happiness away from us both was an eye opener. Through love and patience we started our journey into the swinging lifestyle. We met couples and made friendships. Being able to openly share some of our fears or jealousies with other couples and get real honest feedback eased me further and further away from my traditional response.”

Like the previous couple, one of the pivotal changes was the deepening level of communication. Now, instead of the knee-jerk jealous reaction, this husband was learning to convey what he was feeling. This opened the doors for affirmation and confirmation from his wife that he was her partner in life and they would be on this journey together. For this husband, learning to let go of his jealousy enabled him to embrace the love he had for his wife and to focus on the happiness their trust for each other was bringing.

This new outlook brought about an amazing transformation within him. As he and I talked, he would smile and tell me how much he loved his wife and how incredible their relationship had become since being introduced to the lifestyle. He and his wife were such proponents of the consensual non-monogamous union that he wished the media could see this side of swinging. “All you ever see about swingers is the sex. But it is what swinging has done for our relationship that is the real deal.” He said if it had not been for swinging, he would still be stuck in his old ways of dealing with issues. Instead, he has a completely different perspective. “Oh, the sex is great, do not get me wrong, but it is the communication and trust and compersion (happiness in my partner’s happiness) that is keeping us in the lifestyle.”

I have to admit, I agree with these couples. I too have seen the benefits from nurturing the swinging lifestyle and melding it into my marriage. I have experienced so many of the same things… those instances when you finally expose your vulnerability through trust, when you can put down the anvil of shame or guilt and be honest with yourself and your partner, when you can focus on your love instead of fear, when you can share those guttural raw moments in deep conversation, and when you realize the most important partnership you have is with the one who loves you for who you are.

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7 Comments

  • Dennis Hansen says:

    My wife and me have been married for 50+ years now. We started swinging three years ago. Surprise to both of us no real problems cam up. Jealousy was expected but never happened. The only thing that bothered Jean was the large number of men she met on cruises seems to her to be interested only in quickly filling their daily quota of women.

    Thank you for the help you have given us. LIFE IS GOOD

  • Lynn says:

    Thank you Jackie, as I think THIS was the exact article I have been waiting to see. HA! Just from my independent research on the topic, it seemed to me that there are MANY long term marriages that just got into the lifestyle later in their lives together.

    I can’t wait to see the next article, maybe a deeper dive into this very topic, as I think there is a lot of information and value to be found there, for couples in and out of the lifestyle, and those thinking about getting into it.

    Thanks.
    Lynn M.

  • Sue says:

    This is very interesting!! And incredible at the same time!! My husband and i have been married 36 years and a year ago we ‘dipped’ our toes into the LS. The reasons were many at the time and probably not honest ones. Over the past 6 months we have not been involved but have put the LS on hold. We are trying to figure out this path for us. It has come to light that he is not a ‘sexual’ person. He does not have nor gets ‘those’ urgings. I on the other hand, need and want them. So we are trying to determine if the LS can provide this part of our life for us.

    We still are discussing… what do you think??

    • Jackie Melfi says:

      Hi Sue,

      As you point out in the beginning of your post, getting into the lifestyle minus honesty can thwart the view of what swinging has to offer. But, it does sound as though you have made some headway in the communication department, which is wonderful. The discussion about sexual appetites being different, can be a great place to start. Open dialog about fears, jealousy, watching a partner play, playing separately…all of these topics, can be considered as possible starting points for discussion. But, the conversation has to be honest, truthful, and loving. Swinging can provide all sorts of benefits to a couple from all sorts of different angles. For you, it can be a place where you explore your sexuality. For your husband, it could offer another level of friendship, with no play at all. It is whatever you both decide works. It also involves a healthy dose of compersion…being happy in each others happiness. Take all the time you need to determine whether or not the swinging lifestyle is for you, no pressure…only love. Jackie

  • Tim says:

    Jackie,
    The insights are remarkable. Let us add a bit.

    For us long-marrieds (we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary this year), the lifestyle is about how we style our lives–our values and our outlook. Our closest friends are also in the lifestyle.

    At this stage in married life, the lifestyle is not “all about sex”. It is about how we frame relationships with other couples. Physical intimacy is wonderful part of relationships. It is not the basis of relationships. In our worlds, we look forward to spending time with our LS old married friends because it’s honest, it’s meaningful, it’s fun, it’s play in ways that it cannot be in the vanilla world.

    • Jackie Melfi says:

      Hi Tim,

      I couldn’t agree more! The friendships in the lifestyle are like non other I have ever experienced. Like you said, they are honest and meaningful. I have also found them to be empathetic with a dash of vulnerability mixed in.
      Jackie

  • The Rainbirds says:

    Wow. I don’t *remember* talking to you, but that first story is ours… 🙂
    –Aimee & John

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