Russell’s story: part 3

I’ve told you how Russell cheated on his partner Sylvia and how that in the end this led to their breakup. Now he tells how his relationships became more honest:

When I was near the end of the long-term relationship with Sylvia, Sally was one of several sexual relationships I was having – some regular, some irregular, some one-offs. Sally became a regular and my mental attachment to her grew. This did not affect my other friendships, whether physical or not. Sally did not mind me having my own life, she loved me ‘as I was’, unconditionally. Sally was married before to someone who was unfaithful but lied about it (and he was also dishonest in other ways).

Sally and I were able to talk about any subject – I felt she was completely non-judgemental and was very accepting about my situation, always positive and helpful and interested. She is very mature, wise, understanding and non-judgemental. As someone who doesn’t suffer from jealousy, she didn’t (doesn’t) get jealous of my friends or non-Sally activities. She does however really enjoy the times we spend together, and we have lots of good times together. She loves my ‘whole person’, which includes that saucy glint in my eye.

At the same time as I was getting to know Sally I was also getting to know Diane. She was, like Sally, more than ten years older than me, and she was a wheelchair user with quite severe physical disabilities. She was delighted with my interest in her and we had a few rather difficult to organise sexual experiences. Sally seemed happy for me to do this with Diane, and knew I was providing her with sexual release and companionship and love, which Sally believes is a human right.

When Sally and I discussed my flings with other women, we agreed some ground rules – I don’t play away at home, and am not to discuss lurid details with her (the less I say about it the better). The best thing to say is (if the time is right) “seeing X makes me realise how much I love you” and varieties of that. But only if that’s what I’m feeling!

Other rules were that I did not have those experiences in our house, that the behaviour didn’t get in the way of my being a good dad, and that I answered any questions she asked honestly. Also she would expect me to use a condom and be as safe as possible, partly to protect her.

Although in theory Sally is free to have other lovers, she tells me that I satisfy all her needs, give her more attention and love than she thought possible, and is very happy thank you very much. I think she thinks it’s fairer to share me out a bit.

I am honest with the women I’d like to ‘get to know better’ and I always wear my wedding ring. I’m sure this puts a lot of women off me, but it reduces the chances of misleading someone. Most women I chat up or pay a compliment to do not understand that I can be happily married but enjoy having sex outside of this AND have the ‘permission’ of my wife to do so. I know therefore how lucky I am to have Sally and how well suited we are for a lifetime together.

She is very satisfied sexually (we make love approximately seven times per week) and can see that I’ve got a very high sex drive/level of energy and stamina so is able to ignore the things which if she concentrated on would make her unhappy. She thanks me every day for making her into a mum.

The most difficult thing for Sally to cope with was that on occasions, Diane and I would have a ‘difference of opinion’ which would leave me feeling unhappy or preoccupied or thoughtful.

When we were considering getting married we discussed my sexual habits and agreed that we couldn’t vow fidelity, so we spent ages working out our own vows. My general recollection of these discussions is that I was amazed that I’d met someone who didn’t mind me doing this ‘naughty’ behaviour – making it not-naughty. This also made it less desirable for me, as my rebellious nature is attracted to those ‘forbidden’ things.

The wedding vows were:

By giving you this ring, I promise to continue the friendship, trust, respect and honesty that we have already established.

I promise to build on the solid foundation of our love, our shared sense of fun, joy in our children and appreciation of all that we have together.

I promise to keep listening to you, communicating my needs and practising tolerance of those inevitable little difficulties.

By giving you this ring, I am honoured to call you my husband/wife.

Building an open relationship

Russell’s description of his relationship with Sally illustrates many of the ways in which couples can make an open relationship work well. When they met, there were both keen to avoid dishonesty. It must also have helped that Sally already knew that Russell had multiple partners. He describes her non-judgemental, accepting, positive and mature, all characteristics that can help strengthen any relationship but that are especially important for an open one. In their wedding vows, there are many words that signal a good relationship, above all communication and listening.

Sally is lucky not to suffer from jealousy, and although there are some ‘things which if she concentrated on would make her unhappy’, the advantages of this relationship clearly outweigh the disadvantages for her. She prefers not to hear all the lurid details of Russell’s other lovers but trusts him to keep his wedding ring on. I have spoken with her briefly and she confirms that she is very happy in her marriage.

Russell and Sally’s story also shows how Open Fidelity can be part of a legal marriage. I find their vows moving to read – how realistic they are, how much more evocative of actual married life than the traditional vows!

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