Guest post: An agreeable arrangement.

The following post is not my own, it was written by a very dear friend of mine. I offered to allow her post it to my blog as certain members of her friends and family read her own and she does not want them reading this. Somethings, such as names, have been changed to protect everyone involved. I hope you enjoy this post as she is an extremely talented writer. Please share it around as she wants to help people in similar situations and feel free to comment, I’m sure she’ll keep a close eye on this post.

First of all, I want to thank Alan for hosting this on his blog, I’ve been wanting to write about this to hopefully provide a positive look at my particular situation. Unfortunately when researching this particular topic myself before embarking, I couldn’t find many positive stories. I hope to add mine to the internet and thus help future practitioners. False names have been used to protect the identities of all involved.

This is an account of ethical non-monogamy. It concerns a married couple, Scott and Elise, and their friend Theo. To give context, here are the backgrounds of each person. Scott is 36, from a Church of Christ background but now identifying as Atheist. Elise is 24 and Theo is 23, both of whom come from a Roman Catholic background but also identify as Atheist. Scott and Elise have been together for two years at the time of writing this, married for a year and have a baby together. Theo is currently single. Elise and Theo dated almost a decade ago, had fallen out of contact and have only recently reconnected as friends. Both Scott and Theo are heterosexual, Elise identifies as bisexual.Elise has always had a high sex drive. In the past, this was a bone of contention with previous lovers, but at the beginning of her relationship with Scott it was a boon. Scott is disabled. He has degenerative disc disease between L4 and L5 of his lower spine, which means he is in constant pain and finds it hard to do things able-bodied people think nothing of. This, unfortunately, includes sex. In the beginning, he had access to cannabis, which is the only thing which provided him with pain relief, however in moving to Ireland he didn’t want to be caught with an illegal substance, so he gave it up. This meant no pain relief, and it is nigh impossible for him to perform sexually on heavy pain days.

For two years, Elise coped with this. This was the man she loved, whom she had married, whom she had had a child with. Being raised in a religion that valued monogamy, she could not even think to look elsewhere for sexual gratification. Sometimes, though one sheds the trappings of a faith, things get left behind. Further, Scott had told her on numerous occasions that she could do anything she wanted, but look elsewhere for sex and he would leave. I cannot stress enough how much Elise loves Scott, so she put on her metaphorical blinkers and tried to satiate herself with sex toys and various mediums of pornography. Scott had also said he had no problem with FFM threesomes, however the opportunity never presented itself.

In March of this year, Elise’s depression returned. She has been battling it on and off for the better part of ten years. It didn’t help that Scott’s bad pain days were getting more frequent, and she had noticed herself eyeing up attractive men and women when they would go out together, despite forcing herself to look away, chiding herself for even looking. After two months, her sexual appetite had gotten so strong that lying in bed one evening, she text messaged Scott-who was downstairs-to come up and talk to her. Utterly wracked with guilt, she confessed to looking at other people. That week alone, on the Monday her friend Sarah had visited, the Tuesday, Theo, the Wednesday, Louise, and all of the above had left her in such a state of arousal she had to masturbate after they left. She explained all of this to Scott, heart heavy that he would leave her. He reassured her they would find a solution, that she hadn’t done anything wrong, and thanked her for her honesty.

It was Scott who found the article on ethical non-monogamy (ENM). In it, a clinical psychologist explained how some couples sought sexual gratification outside of their marriage when they were sexually incompatible, and in some instances it had enhanced their relationship. Scott spoke frankly about his disability. While he was satisfied with the amount of sex they were having, he could see how it wasn’t enough for Elise, and what happened when, not if, further down the line he could no longer perform? He explained that it would take him time to get over his monogamous tendencies, that he had been raised to marry and love one woman only, that cheating was sinful, but they were not religious, so why let the shackles of a faith they didn’t adhere to bind them in their unconventional marriage? Over two days they talked out their rules, for example neither could bring anyone to their home for sexual gratification, neither could engage in a romantic relationship, it was only sexual, this was not a polyamorous endeavour etc. Once they were both happy with their ground rules, it came to who exactly they would involve.

Scott and Elise are at the point in their lives where very few of their friends are still single, and very few are wholly trustworthy. If they were to embark on a sexual arrangement with the wrong person, it could prove disastrous. It was at this point that Elise thought of Theo. To her, he was trustworthy, attractive, and from being previously in a relationship with him, knew he could provide her with the sexual gratification she needed. She suggested to Scott that he could be her first encounter. Despite initial misgivings as Theo was an ex-boyfriend, he agreed, as long as he could talk to Theo before anything happened. Once everything was laid out with Scott, Elise brought the idea up with Theo. His initial reaction was that he didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardise Elise and Scott’s marriage, so he asked if he could consult a friend of his. As long as it didn’t come back to friends or family, Elise gave him permission to do this. This anonymous friend explained to Theo that as long as all involved were aware of each other and there were no expectations that could not be fulfilled, it could be beneficial to all involved. Theo then came back to Elise and agreed to the arrangement, with the provisor that he spoke to Scott about it in person.

Within a week, they had organised their first night away; Theo would pay half for the hotel, Elise would pay the other half, and both would pay for their own food. Elise would provide sex toys, condoms etc., while Theo would pay for the taxi to the hotel. This was all very well in theory; on te day they agreed, Elise was so nervous she half hoped Theo wouldn’t turn up at her house, and swore when he did. This was not some Hollywood movie where everything is smooth sailing and everyone is cool as ice about the whole thing; Theo took Xanax before arriving and Elise smoked far more than she normally would. Once Theo arrived, she stepped out to the back yard to let Scott and Theo discuss the arrangement as they saw fit. Being men of few words, as long as both of them were “cool” with “it”, there wasn’t much to discuss, so Elise said her goodbyes to her husband and child, and left with Theo for the hotel.

Once in the hotel room, the nervousness didn’t abate for Elise. Was she really going through with this? Did this make her a bad wife? Further, she had only given birth a few months previously, and was wracked with concerns of how Theo would view her post-pregnancy body. However, within a matter of hours such worries were gone, and when she returned home the following day, she felt lighter, happier and more free than she had in months.

This arrangement has been in play for four months now, and all involved are still happy for it to continue. Theo has an outlet for his sexual gratification in between significant others, Elise is better able to cope with her home life and be a better wife and mother, and Scott no longer feels pressured to perform sexually, instead enjoying sex as and when he is able to.

I can only hope that this has been informative and may perhaps help anyone who feels trapped by monogamy, any and all questions are welcome.

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