Q. My friends tell me that my marriage is “not normal.” My wife thinks it would be good for us to have an “open marriage” but that is not what I want, but I agreed. I don’t know what to do now. What do you think?
A. First of all I am glad you have this group of friends because they are giving you healthy information. You are going along with something that you do not want to do but you could not tell your wife NO. Why couldn’t you tell her that this is something that does not interest you and you want no part of it?
That may be the bigger problem. If you are in a marriage that does not allow personal authenticity and compels you to agree to “open marriage” behavior then YOU really do have a problem. I suspect that there are many other issues where you agree with your wife to avoid conflict but leaves you frustrated, unhappy or resentful. If you give in to her requests or demands often enough I promise you will eventually feel resentful.
If your marriage has reached a place where “open” behavior with other people helps to “make it better” then you probably need to be in counseling. I have never seen a couple engaging in this type of behavior where there was a positive outcome. I have actually seen some disastrous consequences from this type of behavior.
I would encourage you to get into individual counseling. It sounds like you need to explore why you couldn’t tell your wife NO. Your individual growth is very important at this point. Before marriage counseling can be beneficial each person needs to be working on their own issues. Two wounded people have a difficult time having a healthy relationship.
Your wife may or may not be interested in individual counseling. Sometimes one person is more invested in keeping the sick dynamics of a relationship in motion. Gaining knowledge and getting healthy means making behavioral changes and upsets the dysfunctional equilibrium.
But even if she does not want to go, you work you own program. After all you are the one who does not like this arrangement. It appears your wife does.
There is also a great book that might help you; Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. Get the book. Find a therapist. Listen to your friends. You can say NO!!
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org