My husband is pressuring me to open up our marriage while he works abroad – should I agree?

My husband (40M) and I (39F) have been married for 4 years, together for 6. Our relationship has been strong and he’s never given me reason to doubt our marriage working out.
He has however been offered a pretty huge promotion at work, which requires 8 months of training in a different country.
I’m all for him going and had no doubts about doing long distance throughout that period. We don’t have children but I do have a small business and would not be able to visit him regularly throughout the training. In discussing the logistics of how often we would see each other, I was completely taken aback when he suggested potentially opening up our marriage and seeing other people. I’ve never been interested in polygamy and immediately rejected the idea, but now I can’t shake the niggling feeling that this is something he wants, or that I can no longer fully trust him while he is away owing to the fact that he suggested sleeping with other people. He initially agreed to shut down the idea but has since made a few passing jokes about me seeing other people or generally how ‘lonely’ we will be during this time apart.
Part of me is tempted to agree to his proposal so that he is less likely to stray and we’re both on the same page, but at the same time I have no desire to sleep with or see other people.

Thanks for reaching out. This does indeed sound like a tricky situation – someone to whom you’re happily married suddenly suggesting opening up what sounds like a smooth sailing relationship no doubt caught you off guard.

From what you’ve written, I can sense that you’re really not comfortable with the idea of opening up your marriage – and rightfully so! However, the fact that you’re now reconsidering now seems based on a slight lack of trust or insecurity on your part. If this is the case, I would highly suggest against moving your own boundaries to accommodate his desires. While it’s human nature to consider compromising to prevent him from straying, sacrificing your own values and desires is not a sustainable solution. Agreeing to something that goes against your principles will only lead to resentment and further strain on your relationship.

It’s encouraging to hear that you’ve communicated your discomfort with the idea, and your husband initially agreed to put it aside. That being said, his subsequent remarks and jokes about the topic may indicate that it’s still on his mind and that he’s equally not respecting the boundaries you have set. This warrants further discussion to ensure that both of you are on the same page regarding the boundaries of your relationship.

Trust is the foundation of any healthy marriage, and it’s really understandable that this suggestion has shaken your confidence. Before whatever date he is set to leave, it’s important that you address your concerns openly and honestly with your husband. Express how his proposal has affected you and your trust in him, and listen carefully to his perspective or reasoning for making this suggestion in the first place.

Prolonged periods of separation are difficult in any relationship, but by no means require opening up a monogamous marriage to weather. Once you’ve communicated how the suggestion has impacted your feelings and trust, try and refocus the tone and direction of your discussion upon finding alternative ways to maintain connection and intimacy during this period of long distance.

There are many creative ways in which couples can retain intimacy whilst miles apart. Getting into the groove of using some of these might be uncomfortable at first, but try and drum up some excitement; sexting, virtual dates, thoughtful gestures. Show off your best lingerie on FaceTime! Send some saucy texts throughout the day!

You’re again by no means obligated to do anything you’re not comfortable with nor perform like a monkey to satisfy his desires, but try and shift the focus from needing other people to satiate each other’s sexual needs, to ways in which you can both step up and do so together. This way, you’ll be reinforcing your commitment to each other and reaffirming the importance of fidelity in your marriage.

Remember: you absolutely have the right to set boundaries and prioritize your emotional well-being in your marriage. 8 months will fly by – just make sure you’ve ironed out the doubts and settled onto the same page before he leaves.

Good luck!

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Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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