– “Doctor…An occasional tryst won’t break our marriage—on the contrary.”
Patrizia X. is a nice, attractive middle-aged professional woman with a nice family of four: a loving, considerate husband and three teenagers that are excelling at their studies. Who could ask for more? Well, she does. A few months ago, she sat down with her hubby and discussed together the decreasing eroticism of their relationship and ways to improve it. Being both Italian-Americans, the solution was not an easy one.
Finally they decided that they could each have an occasional date and sexual encounter with a partner of their choosing with the acknowledged aim to refresh their sexual desire. They could not lie or hide the romantic escapade to each other and they were not supposed to repeat the same escapade. Usually they chose mutual friends that would keep the secret or, in this time of extreme social connectivity, an old flame from the past that landed in the USA to visit or even an inconclusive high school relationship. The fact that they were not residents of the same city supposedly precluded any attachments.
They are not swingers. They do not profess the mantra of free love. And they don’t cheat. They assume, as informed and responsible adults, the need to revitalize their relationship with “un souffle au coeur” as the French had pointedly defined this novel arrangement. In order to properly function both members of the couple must be willing and ready to accept it; it cannot be the result of one of the partners co-opting the other one for a needed change. Once they complete their escapade, they erase that episode from their minds altogether.
Even though this kind of arrangement is rarely seen, it has become progressively more common, especially in young and middle-aged couples that are often educated and well off. The cross-fertilization of social habitudes in our multi-faceted, hyper-connected society has pushed out into the open something that had been an accepted practice for the closeted; when the LGBT community pushed for equal rights for marriage, they brought us a present. Homosexuals, unencumbered by the traditional view of the couple based on marriage, breeding and the patriarchate, have been tolerant of an occasional third party in their couples, as long as there was no lying, hiding or the break-up of their amorous relationship.
It all sounds very exciting and adventurous with the possibility of maintaining the status quo. However, we must respectfully disagree with the apparent “civility” of this increasingly common agreement; we will reluctantly play the part of “devil’s advocate” in this honorable court of bloggers’ forum. It is never that easy to keep a clear mind.
Long, long time ago (before I became a monk of Medicine) I had the rogue predisposition to establish clandestine friendships with duly married ladies, without any guilt or remorse. Each one of those felt like an exhilarating roller coaster ride that would jump-start our hearts. It was fun. It was invigorating. It was fabulous. But a Damocles’ sword was always hanging above us. After guilt-free sexual encounters with somebody you really liked (it’s only natural to want more of it) the bug of emotional attachment buzzed. Inevitably we tended to fall in love. And then what were we supposed to do, eh?
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave us alone.