Counter an Affair With an Open Marriage?

MILF_in_training:  Someone tell me why this is a bad idea.

We get lots of “s/he cheated on me, now what do I do?” stories. The standard advice is to Option A/B, with A going no contact and B being divorce. I’m wondering if the exact opposite might work:

Option C: We now have an open marriage. Honey, you can keep the affair going, BUT I need the OM/W’s contact info, and we (and the Other Spouse) need to all sit down together and set the ground rules. Give me the info now. Oh, and this means I’ll be able to find a lover, too. And let’s both go tell the older kids, and call out families and friends to let them know we now have an open marriage. And there’s this hottie at work ….

Do you think this would scare the cheater into reality? If the other cheater and spouse were forced to come out into the open, would this kill the thrill of an illicit affair?

Athol:  Actually that sounds like it could potentially work in some cases, but suspect it’s easier in abstract than reality.

It’s extremely hard to get cheated on people to even focus on pulling off an Option A or B without collapsing into a pool of tears and doing nothing more than begging the cheater to not cheat. Generally we have to prop them up and support them every step of the way as they struggle with the idea of taking action that can potentially end their relationship. Most people will cling to the idea of “half a loaf is better than none” until they can see no possibility of saving the marriage any other way than truly demanding the affair stop or the marriage ends.

Generally it’s simply not believable to the cheater that the betrayed spouse wants / is willing to sleep with someone else on a mutually calm and rational level. “Oh you were banging Tom? Cool! I’ve always wanted to nail Jessica, I’ll be back tomorrow morning.”

Generally the betrayed spouses willing to sleep with someone else, are hell bent on revenge and simply fucking other people to hurt the cheater as much as they can. They aren’t interested in saving the marriage, simply having it all end in the biggest fire possible.

The spouses capable and willing to try the open marriage route, are probably sexually open enough that it’s already on the table before the cheating in some sort of fashion. “Oh you were banging Tom? Why didn’t you tell me, I told you I wanted to watch if you did someone else.”

What is totally believable though, is where a betrayed spouse simply executes an Option A or B move in an icy righteous rage.  You want the cheater to have that sense of cold hard reality batting their hamster all the way up into the upper deck… “Holy crap. What have I done? I knew she was going to be upset, but I never though she would flip out like this. Oh shit, she’s got freaking divorce papers already. Oh God I’m screwed.”

What most people don’t realize is that the betrayed spouse is usually unwittingly supporting the affair by performing all their usual Beta support spouse stuff. Holding a job, watching the kids, doing the shopping, making a home, yada yada yada. Once you threaten to remove all that support, and are 100% believable, the affair relationship is going to fail under it’s own weight.

The exception being where the Other Man/Woman is willing and able to immediately bridge to making the affair their primary relationship, and their Sex Rank is higher than yours. But if that’s the case, you’re out gunned anyway. If you’re a 7 and your wife is cheating on you with a 9 and he offers your wife a permanent gig… game over.


  1. “Generally the betrayed spouses willing to sleep with someone else, are hell bent on revenge and simply fucking other people to hurt the cheater as much as they can. They aren’t interested in saving the marriage, simply having it all end in the biggest fire possible.”

    Most people are children emotionally. Adults can talk about their problems, and if I may be so bold to say for adults sex is not that much of a big deal. The more jealous someone is, the more immature s/he is emotionally. An open marriage is not necessarily a sign of the lack of mutual love, it could be the sign of a willingness to let your loved ones seek fun and happiness. And you can do it together. Of course it needs to be in a context of deep mutual respect, trust, understanding, and love – not the Romeo&Juliet kind of flaming romantic love, but the more mature, glowing one.
    Talking about this to relatives or friends (ie. “coming out”) is a bad idea though. If you want to scare the sh*t out of your spouse with it, you can, but it means you’re childish and vindictive. Your private life should be private. Talk about it only with whom it concerns.

  2. here2play says:

    I posted a full response on the forum thread but I’ll just make the bullet points to keep it as brief as possible here.

    -This option won’t work in the above scenario because the betrayal has already taken place. The offending party has already shown they can’t/won’t follow the rules and the trust has already been broken.

    – For an open marriage to work and be functional, rules and boundries must be established BEFORE sex with others occurs. The rules must be followed at all times and there must be a level of transparency.

    -Swinging/open marriage does not prevent cheating any more than monogamy causes it. Cheating is not about hornyness or high libido, it is about selfishness, entitlement and lack of concern for rules or the feelings of others. Open marriage will not change or prevent that. It will just provide another table to dine from.

    – Cheating is just as destructive to swinging/OM couples as it is to traditional couples…perhaps even more since the Swing/OM couple already has a mechanism in place to have contact with others. Betrayal is still betrayal.

    -Telling your cheating partner they can continue to screw around and that you will do the same is an aggressive and manipulative response intended to inflict more pain and revenge rather than a legitimate attempt to make the marriage work.

    -It may work keep the parties in a legal marriage for atemporary and specified period of time such as untill the kids are older etc but it will not be a functional or healthy marriage.

    -The Option A/Option B format for betrayal is still the legitimate and only effective response because the options are not simply about whether to remain legally married on paper or not but rather whether both parites are willing/able to follow the rules and boundries of the marriage and work on making the marriage functional or not.

    -whether a couple is monongamous or consensually nonmonogamous the key factor is establishing rules and boundries and then following them. Either someone is willing and able to follow those rules or they are not. Option A vs Option B is about whether they are willing/able to work within the guidelines of the marriage or not. Not whether they want to remain legally married on paper.

  3. A.B. Dada says:


    This option won’t work in the above scenario because the betrayal has already taken place.

    Yes, it has already taken place, which is why the partner betrayed decided to go and cheat. Or do you think people cheat when their marriages are perfect and their partners are fulfilling their needs?

    The rules must be followed at all times and there must be a level of transparency.

    Oh, so if a man follows the MAP, he should be transparent about it to his wife? Because transparency in a relationship is usually a path to failure. Women love a little mystery, a little challenge — transparency ruins all of that.

    Cheating is not about hornyness or high libido, it is about selfishness, entitlement and lack of concern for rules or the feelings of others.

    Yeah, sure it does. And the women I have been the “other guy” towards didn’t have guys who got fat, lost all interest in the woman’s life, stopped leading the home properly, and weren’t addicted to porn and video games. Yeah, it’s all about selfishness of the cheater. Sure it is.

    Betrayal is still betrayal.

    I agree. And if a partner betrays the relationship by no longer being an active participant in the relationship, the betrayed partner will likely find those needs fulfilled elsewhere.

    inflict more pain and revenge rather than a legitimate attempt to make the marriage work

    Usually, when the non-cheating partner has already given up on the relationship (before the cheating occurred), the rest of the relationship is already passive-aggressive.

    it will not be a functional or healthy marriage

    Because getting fat on a couch watching football all day and ignoring your partner is part of a functional and healthy marriage, right?

    establishing rules and boundries and then following them

    Yeah, that’s what I seek in my relationships: rules and boundaries. Love and attraction and lust and admiration and adoration and support are secondary to rules and boundaries.

    Good luck with that.

  4. here2play says:

    now as a disclaimer to my post above, as someone who has had extensive experience with the swinging lifestyle I do not see any type of swinging or open marriage, polygamy/polyamory etc as a viable option to save a marriage AFTER an affair has occured. That’s basically burning down the barn and spreading the ashes after the horse has got out.

    Where Option C can be presented as an option is after years of succesfull marriage, a solid history of trust and open communication has been established and both parties have somewhat open attitudes towards maritial sexuality and aren’t holding on to dogmatic views that a healthy marriage can only be acheived through strict, lifelong monogamy.

    Many couples that are in successfull nonmonogamous marraiges have been married many years, the children are grown or are old enough take care of themselves for a night or a weekend, have established careers and status in the community and have established a solid foundation of trust, respect, compassion and open communication.

    At that point Option C is presented as not an option to save or dissolve the marriage but rather as another option on how to deal with sexual feelings that are going to arise after years and decades of sexuality with one person.

    People, both men AND WOMEN, have attractions and desires and romantic/sexual feelings for people other than their spouse. Variety has it’s own value. You can not MAP or FAP that away. Even the most beautiful, popular, powerfull and charismatic people in the world get cheated on every day. It is a reality and every couple needs to come up with a way to deal with that reality.

    In those regards Option #1 can be to grit your teeth and resist all temptations and remain strictly monogamous regardless of what options, opportunities and temptations are thrown your way and regardless of how much longing for variety you have.

    Option #2 is to give in to your cravings and opportunities and cheat without your partners knowledge or approval.

    Or this 3rd option can considered as a consensual means to deal with those urges in a preapproved, preascribed manner to help relieve some of the pressure and keep the sexuality within the marriage as opposed to sneaking outside of it.

    So in others words ‘Option C’ is not really a valid option to “save” the marriage once a betrayal/affair has occured.

    However for couples who have a solid track record of trust, respect, faithfullness and communication, it can be an option in dealing with the natural desires for variety.

    That may sound fine and dandy on paper but the exicution is a whole other issue.
    Keep in mind, it is for people who are already faithfull and trustworthy and can follow rules. IT DOES NOT PREVENT A CHEATER FROM CHEATING. SWINGING/OPEN MARRIAGE DOES NOT PREVENT CHEATING ANY MORE THAN MONOGAMY CAUSES IT. If someone is inclined to cheat they will do it regardless of whether they are in an open marriage or not.

    Swinging/open marriage is an option for dealing with the innate desire for variety within a solid marraige. It is not an option or a therapy for dealing with betrayal once an affair has occured.

  5. here2play says:


    I’m not sure anything I can say will sway your anger or resentment but to try to address some of your points and questions –

    -YES, I do think a good number of people cheat even though their marriages are solid and their spouses are decent people. They cheat out of selfishness and entitlement and don’t care who they hurt in the process.
    A fat, lazy, disengaged spouse gives their partner license to give them the option of shaping up or finding themselves divorced. It does not give them license to cheat IMHO,

    – I said a level of transparency. I have been married for almost 18 years, To this day my wife has never seen me taking a shit or clipping my toenails. It is my intent that she never does. If she wants to see who text me during the day, she has that right. Seeing me wipe my ass, she does not. There’s a difference.

    – in my youth I was the “other man” with multiple women as well. Yes they were selfish. They wanted their nice provider at home taking care of the kids while they were getting their faces doused with spew with me. their husbands may not have been superstuds but noone ever said anything about them being drunks, abusive or abandoning the family,,,so yes, they and I were selfish and only looking out after our own desires.

    -I do agree with you that if one partner checks out of the relationship, that the likelyhood of the other party cheating goes up, perhaps even to a certainty. I’m not saying the checked-out party doesn’t bare some responsibility to maintain their marriage. I was only saying that an open marriage is not a viable means of saving the marriage after an affair has occured. Again, a bad spouse gives license to divorce, not cheat IMHO.

    -your last paragraph is an interesting one. I agree that in relationships people do seek love, attraction, lust etc etc and that people don’t go out on a first date anxious to establish rules and boundries. The issue is for those things to last and for the relationship to continue to flourish, rules and boundries etc do need to be established. All those things you mentioned are ‘feelings’ and if feelings are backed up by behaviors and actions they don’t mean much.

    For example, you may have feelings of “love” for your wife but is that “love” going to last long if she is coming home with other men’s sperm dripping out of her? Or are you going to continue to “admire” her when she keeps getting drunk and going to the casino and emptying out the band accounts and then maxing out the credit cards?

    We may enter into relationships because we want love, affection, closeness etc but whether we like it or not it is the rules and boundries etc that keep those things in place.

  6. I’ve heard of one case where it was the cheater that offered Option C (sister-in-law of a girlfriend) but he divorced her and found a new wife (fortunately there were no children involved)> He is happily married to a new wife, raising two children.

  7. LisainVermont says:

    My sister has an unspoken agreement with her husband who has had several affairs. She just ignores his indiscretions as long as he continues to pay the pills and allow her to live a comfortable upper-middle class lifestyle. She hasn’t had an affair herself, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility at some point as they’re having less and less sex as he spends more time with his mistress.

  8. Option D1: “911: what is the emergency?”. “I think my wife is dead, I think she ate poison mushrooms”.
    Option D2: “911: what is the emergency?”. “I think my wife is dead, her head is bashed in”. “911: I’m sending someone, how did it happen?” “She wouldn’t eat her mushrooms”.

  9. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    “I’ve heard of one case where it was the cheater that offered Option C ”

    Actually, I think it’s really common for the cheater to suggest an open marriage, if they aren’t sure the OM/OW wants to give them “a permanent gig”.

  10. To me option C sounds about like telling a neighbot you see every day upon learning he has broken into your home and stolen your stuff, “Okay, now that you’ve taken my things, let’s say I’ve sold that to you so pay me and though you violated my trust, any time you want to steal again offer fair compensation and we’ll call it square….I’ll go into your house too…this could be a financially responsible act of reciprocity.”

  11. here2play says:


    Actually the cheater will offer open marriage if the OM/OW offers a somewhat steady gig but the cheater doesn’t want to go permanant with them. If the cheater wanted to go permanent with the OM/OW and the OM/OW was cool with it they’d just leave.

    Cheaters will push for open marriage if they get better beta from their spouse than what the OM/OW could offer. They just want to continue to get their alpha fix and good sex from the other.

    That’s why the betrayed spouse has to give the option A/Option B ultimatum. If the betrayed continues to provide the beta support, the cheater will continue to have their cake and eat it too indefinately.

  12. here2play says:

    ……and why wouldn’t they? That would be a good gig.

  13. Glenbert says:

    You can’t “counter” an affair. The trust in a relationship is like a vase and once it’s broken, it’s broken. You can’t re-break it. You can break it more, but what’s the bloody point? You can try and put it together, but the cracks with show. Or you can get a new vase. If you’ve been paying attention to what’s written here, getting a new vase isn’t as hard as you think it is.

    I think that, deep down, this guy really wants to hurt his wife. But, he will never have the opportunity to give her that overwhelming sense shock and awe that he dealt with. She beat him to it. She will either anticipate him stepping-out or she she will use it to feed her hamster.

    The only way she will ever understand his pain is if they part, she remarries and, after a decade or so, the second husband cheats on her. But if the first husband still cares at that point, well, that’s another problem.

  14. Please, all of you above posters, your paradigm is showing. Here’s a dose of reality:

  15. here2play says:


    I am a big Dan Savage fan and I do believe everything he was saying in that clip. But the catch is if you are going to have an open marriage and going to have some leeway on sex with others you have to establish that BEFORE you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar. Once the trust and credibility has been broken it ain’t gonna work.

  16. If you’re not going to be monogamous, there’s no point in getting/being married. Monogamy is basically the main point of marriage, that and raising kids in a healthy environment. Otherwise, why bother?

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