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How My Swinging Marriage Changed My Views About Sex And Relationships

By December 7, 2017 December 12th, 2017 Swing Lifestyle Articles

My husband and I were recently asked how we keep our relationship special. What is it that we do to differentiate our marriage from our other encounters—if we’re going on dates, holding hands, kissing, or having sex with others, what’s left for us to share?

My guttural response was, “Are you kidding me?! What’s left for us to share? EVERYTHING!” But then I remind myself that it wasn’t all that long ago that I would have and did have the same question. I shared the same belief as the majority, the belief that the physical intimacy I shared with my husband was what separated us from others with whom we came into contact. I know for me, the reason I believed in this concept of intimacy was largely based on how I was raised to view marriage.

I was taught that marriage was all about finding that one other person on the entire planet with whom to share my life. This sharing of course was to be confined to the two of us. We would be giving or sharing with our partner certain things that we weren’t supposed to give/share to anyone else… EVER! This “thing” was sex, the pinnacle of intimacy and what defined a union. Sex was what severed a married couple from everyone else, what made the partnership special, sacred even. I was told that the only time sex was permissible was upon marriage, so yeah, I can see why I thought the intimacy of sex was what made marriage so specialized. Marriage entrusted me with certain “freedoms” that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to partake, and that’s pretty special indeed!

As much as I tried to refrain from engaging in sex before marriage, I didn’t. I had sex when I was in college with my boyfriend at the time. As a matter of fact I had sex with him quite often, and it was wonderful. I loved the connection I felt towards him, I loved the way making love felt, and I loved the newness of the experience.

I tried to justify having sex with my boyfriend based on the fact that we were engaged. Did I marry him? No. Did I sometimes struggle with my “sin?” Sometimes, but interestingly enough, NOT when I was having sex. During sex, when my brain was not weighted down by rules and structure, when I was free to let my senses be my guide, I didn’t feel shame. Was it because the sex felt so great? Was it because I enjoyed the total focus my boyfriend and I were sharing at the time? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that when I ended up having sex with the man I DID marry, my view of sex was the same. I loved the way sex with my partner made me feel. I liked seeing my partner satisfied, I liked being satisfied, and I loved the connection.

So there it was, I had sex before marriage, an act I was only supposed to have with one other person my entire life and only after marriage. I had already broken the rules I had been taught. I had already stepped outside the confines of how life was supposed to proceed, and in a way, had exposed the myth that you can only have special feelings for one other person. I had loved both these guys. During each one of those relationships, I could picture myself with them for an extended period of time. We all brought something viable to the table, all different, but no less important.

At this point in my young life, I still wanted to believe in what I had been taught, so I kept striving to attain the goal of marriage and solidarity with just one other person. I believed my marriage would automatically lead to a bond and intimacy that separated us from the herd. We would form an alliance, an us against the world kind of union, and attain the zenith of what society deemed a success.

And I did! I did attain that status. I married and nestled myself into cultivating and deepening those bonds with my partner. But something unexpected happened. Here I was with this great guy, a man I loved who was funny and smart and who loved me, and yet I was still catching myself looking at other men when they walked by. I was still fantasizing about having sex with that hot actor on screen. What was wrong with me? I was married! Why on earth was I having these kinds of thoughts? I believed and had been taught that once I was married I would be gloriously spellbound and satisfied with my partner, that I wouldn’t even be interested in anyone else. Oh boy, no one prepared me for this. My thoughts seemed to have a mind of their own. I wasn’t LOOKING for anyone else, but for some reason I would look at other men and wonder what it would be like to have sex with them. Sometimes it wasn’t even about having sex with them, sometimes I would fantasize about just talking to them or being close to them whether through conversation, a touch, or a kiss.

I was convinced there must be something wrong with me, so much so that I even talked to my doctor about it. What made all of this even more bizarre was that although I was having these thoughts about other men, I still loved my husband. As a matter of fact, sometimes I found I could become excited while having sex with my then husband while fantasizing about having sex with someone else. I never told my husband this because, well, because I couldn’t. I came from the, “If you even THINK about anyone other than your spouse sexually, you’ve already committed adultery” mindset. I wasn’t trying to fantasize about these other men. I did love my husband after all, but somehow the perceived variety turned me on.

Because this was sinful, I knew I was in a world of trouble. The only thing left for me to think was that my marriage must be over. In order for me to even be looking at someone else must mean that I didn’t really love my husband the way I thought. My marriage was destined to fail because I had failed in my ability to stay focused on only my partner.

Had my marriage really failed? If you had asked me at the time I would have said absolutely! I had all kinds of evidence to support this view. I was looking at other men, thinking about being with other men, and by the demise of the marriage was actually WITH other men. I was fulfilling all the prophecies of marital inadequacy, with sex at the top of the list. If the sex was compromised then of course the marriage had to be over. During all the years I was married, I believed it was sex that differentiated the relationship with my partner from all others. Sex was that pinnacle factor of a sacred marriage.

Fast forward to today and I have a vastly different view of what makes a marriage sacred.

No longer am I a slave to the confines of the traditional marriage diagram. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE marriage. I love BEING married. I love the companionship, the late night talks, the early morning runs, and the afternoon delights. I love having a travel buddy, who also happens to be my favorite f**k buddy! I savor our conversations and revel in our vulnerabilities. After being in a swinging marriage for half a decade, I’ve learned a few things. The glaring neon flashing fact is that sex in and of itself isn’t what makes a marriage special or sacred. It’s NOT what holds a marriage together. It’s NOT what differentiates a marriage. What makes a marriage a marriage is SO much deeper.

If I were to list all the wonderful things about my marriage, yes sex would be in the top five on my list, but so would things like honesty, trust, communication, companionship, and humor. These would be merely a sampling of the sacredness we bring to marriage. But even more than this, if we were all to make a list of all the things in our marriages that have made our connections so special, surprisingly enough, they would also be things we do on a day-to-day basis with the other people in our lives. Honesty for instance. Just because honesty with my husband is on my list doesn’t mean that he is only honest with me. No, one of the personality traits I love about my partner is his honesty towards everyone with whom he comes in contact. Same with communication. I adore our talks, but my husband doesn’t just communicate with me, he has a network of friends, family, and associates he speaks openly with on a daily basis. I don’t stand around complaining that the specialness or sacredness of our communication is diluted because my husband is talking with someone else. What makes the communication sacred between us is the communication between us. No matter how much he talks with others, it will NEVER be the same as when he and I communicate. This is what differentiates our marriage from everything or everyone else.

The other realization I’ve found about being in a swinging marriage is that neither my husband nor I have to restrict or confine ourselves from the rest of the world. This was revolutionary for me. No longer was my marriage going to be defined by a list of don’ts and an undertone of fragility but would be rich with an ever increasing circle of people. As a matter of fact, the larger our circle, the more special/sacred our union. The fact that we have this HUGE legion of people to which we can express ourselves, and yet return to each other is the apex of sacredness for me. We’ve learned to let go of the teachings of our youth to incorporate an ease in our relationship. If I kiss someone else, rather than jealousy and fear, the kiss is seen as a caring gesture, and the act is never blown out of proportion. We’re free to respond to whomever in whatever way we feel appropriate, with the full trust, love, and support of each other.

So when I’m asked how I keep my partnership sacred or special as a swinger, I tell people it isn’t just one thing over another, it’s the sum total of everything. We love each other for who we are, we share the same goals, we both value family, we both love to travel, we work as a team in all our endeavours, we have awesome chemistry, and yes, we’re on the same page about marriage/sex. We know that our marriage is one of freedom in which every avenue can be explored.

I no longer feel shame or doubt the love I have for my husband because I look at or fantasize about other men. I know my husband loves me for who I am, and I also know that if we ever decided to stop swinging, our marriage would survive and remain special because we share so much more.

Note: This article was first published on Jackie’s Huffingtonpost blog.

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  • kathryn Newman says:

    Great article! Nicely written and thank you for sharing!

  • Lynn Moorhead says:

    Hi Jackie,

    That was a very nicely detailed breakdown of what any relationship should be, or could be, even if it didn’t physically involve other partners. I always appreciate reading your insightful stories and descriptions, and I imagine anyone who finds this site or your posts, will walk away better for having read them. Even if they don’t choose the swinger lifestyle.

    Thank you as always.

    Lynn M.

  • Jennifer Clendenen says:

    Hi Jackie,

    My husband and I have been together for 4 years now and have been in the swingers lifestyle the whole time. Neither one of us had done this prior so it was a new experience for the both of us. In the beginning one of our rules was that we did not play separate regardless of whether or not both participated both were present. Recently my husband has decided since he works 4 hours away from home and isn’t home very often that he wanted me to start experiencing other people and Reporting back for lack of better words details of the experience to him. Although I was not very comfortable with this mainly because I was afraid that he would want to start doing the same thing and that is something I’m not comfortable with at all. I also recently found out that he had cheated on me at the beginning of this year just a few months before we actually got married. So I guess my main question is how do you get past the hurt and the feeling that you’re not enough for him sexually in order to be comfortable enough to allow him to have sex with other women without me around and still no that it won’t affect his love or desire for me.

    • Jackie Melfi says:


      If you read any of my blogs you will see a resounding theme…honesty, communication, and trust. These three things are paramount in any relationship and our dependence on this trio will have a bearing on the success and peace we have with our partner. With that being said, let me delve into your post. First off, I commend you both for taking the time to communicate boundaries. This is an important step when dipping yourself in the swinging pool. For most of us, an open minded relationship model typically falls far outside the norm of relationships. Setting up guidelines or boundaries can be a way to affirm our love for our partner by saying, “these steps are important enough to us both in this journey.” As you have shown in your post, guidelines or boundaries can be fluid. They can and will alter and change as you and your partner grow together in the lifestyle. This can also be a great way to gauge just how far you have progressed and how trust, honesty, and communication play a role in the relaxing of some rules over others. In your case though, there has been a breakdown in this trio. Your question to me about getting past hurt and the feeling you’re not enough are attached to this triad disconnect. Putting myself in your shoes, I would want to focus on rebuilding the trust, honesty, and communication before trying to hurry along towards sex with others. For me sex with others and my ease in accepting and enjoying the interaction is a result of these three building blocks. But to answer your question, for me, it was asking myself what made me think I wasn’t enough? Was this a belief coming from society/religion/government/family? How did I feel about John whenever I was engaging in sex with others? Did I love John less when I was with someone else? Of course not! I love John, because I love John. I love everything about him. His humor, his body, his intellect, his drive. Okay so if I knew I loved John regardless of who I’m with and whether John is even in the same room with me during the intimacy, why would I think it would be any different for John? I realized part of the answer to this was trust. About trusting John when he said he loved me. He loves me. He has shown this time and time again. Each and every time he is with someone else, do you know where he returns? That’s right…to me. Does it really make a difference the specifics or is the importance the fact, at the end of the day we are unified. My love for John is not a competition. I don’t have to be the prettiest, the smartest, the funniest, the most intelligent…I just have to be me. I also don’t weigh myself down by thinking I have to be some sexual dynamo. Of course I will not satisfy every single solitary sexual desire John has, nor do I fool myself into thinking I even have to. As a matter of fact I love the variety others can bring to our bedroom, whether I engage or not. Each time either one of us is with someone separate or together, it adds a layer to our bed. Another fantasy to talk about, a new position, a different eroticism to explore. While I can say this today, in the beginning, I did struggle. I did wrap myself up in competition, in a less than mentality, that had me swimming in fear. This is why I say again, trust, honesty, and communication are so vital. It was through these that I could walk myself through those fears of inadequacy. I could risk being vulnerable with John in order to reassure myself the love we had built together. The more I worked up the courage to walk through my fears, and the more John filled my memory banks with positive outcomes, the less fearful I became. Today, I am vastly different from the wailing woman in the corner of the shower convinced I was going to lose my husband to a woman I thought kissed better than me. Today, John and I have vast amounts of freedom because we have shown we are capable of this freedom. In fact, this freedom brings us closer.

  • Bruce says:

    Raised in a strict Methodist household it took me a long time, but I now am firmly convinced of this truism: Love is a mental emotion; sex is a physical sensation – there is nothing inherently inter-dependent between the two. They DO exist separately.

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