'My hubby and I have been together for 27 years. To add some spice, we're trying ethical non-monogamy.'

For 27 years, *Amanda has been in a relationship with her husband, *Jake.

They have two kids and have created a happy home life together. But when it comes to sex... both were yearning for the same sexual freedom they had in their 20s. They missed the passion, the excitement. 

In the early days of their relationship, Amanda said it was "the fairytale everyone expects it to be". 

The idea of having a non-monogamous relationship hadn't ever crossed Amanda's mind before. But their dynamic as a couple shifted when they had kids and their respective careers grew, both having to put their personal identities to the side for the sake of family.

"Soon into the marriage, we started seeing a couple's counsellor. I was really uninterested in sex, which was completely different from who I was prior. Looking back, I think I bought into those ideas of how a mother 'should' behave. I was in my late 30s, my kids were young and the expectations of parenthood impacted our sex life," Amanda said to Mamamia. 

"The counsellor said to us: 'You have three choices. You can stay together, you can separate, or you can choose an open marriage.' We thought the idea of an open marriage was hilariously bizarre. Non-monogamy was so foreign and confronting."

Little did Amanda and Jake know that more than a decade after that counselling session, they would start to ponder the idea of opening up their marriage.

In the last few years with their kids now grown up, Amanda has felt a shift. Her sexual desire returned. And she wanted to explore that outside of the marriage — without cheating on her husband. 


Watch: Changing the way we think about non-monogamy. Post continues below.

Video via TedxTalks.

"I've never had an affair, it was never something I wanted to do. But after my kids finished school, I felt this incredible lightbulb moment of liberation from the burden of parenting. I had been on autopilot for so long, and now I was coming up for air," Amanda explained.

Their sex life recently had been good and regular. But it wasn't romantic or passionate, thrilling or exciting. It was dutiful. Then Amanda met *Steven. 

"This guy was actually building a house for us. In October 2022 I realised I was often thinking about him. I just really wanted to have sex with Steven," Amanda said.

With this in mind, Amanda knew an honest conversation with her husband was desperately needed. 

The concept of ethical non-monogamy wasn't on Amanda's radar at this point in time. All she knew was she wanted to have sex with someone outside her marriage, but wanted to stay with her husband and for him to be okay with it.

"Over a week or two we kept tossing around ideas. Jake was shocked at first and he was really worried about discretion. So we went to a couples counsellor together, because it was pretty tricky. And that's helped us navigate it all because there's no rulebook on this. The only rulebook we've got is how to be married and monogamous."


When Amanda told Jake that it was Steven who she was interested in, Jake was initially not thrilled with the idea, saying it was too close to home. But now, Amanda said they both feel like it was the wiser choice — to opt for someone who they knew was kind and a safe option.

Soon after deciding to give ethical non-monogamy a try together, Amanda spoke with Steven to make sure that vibe she had been getting from him was mutual. And indeed it was.

"I asked him out for coffee. I said: 'I don't know if you feel this, but I think there's something between us'. And he felt it too. He is separated from his wife, and wasn't crazy about the idea of me still being with my husband, but he has come around," Amanda reflected.

"We've been transparent from the start, and it does take lots of conversation and reassurance for everyone involved."

For the last six to seven months, Amanda and Jake have been engaging in ethical non-monogamy. From Amanda's perspective, it means she is in an open, transparent, respectful relationship with her husband and they've both agreed to opening the relationship to other sexual encounters or partners. 

They're both welcome to have sex with people outside the marriage. They have also used the services of a sex worker together. 


Overall, there's been "lots of ups and downs", while the pair navigate their new normal. But it's been positively life-changing too, Amanda said. 

"Now six months in, I would say my relationship is now verging on polyamorous because I feel like I have two really valid and meaningful relationships in my life — Jake and Steven."

As for Amanda's husband, he has so far had some sexual encounters with Amanda and another woman simultaneously. He is also currently on a dating app designed for people who are polyamorous and non-monogamous, to see if there's someone on there that takes his interest.

For Amanda, she said: "I feel like I have the capacity to love more than one human. In the same way, I have two children and I don't love one child more than the other. Liking Steven doesn't diminish my love or respect for my husband in any way. In fact, it's actually turned our sex life around completely — we've never been more intimate, passionate or experimental."

One of the big lessons learned along the way has been the importance of setting boundaries. Plus, acknowledging that those boundaries can evolve over time.

"We just keep on top of communication and make sure neither of us feels un-reassured. Neither of us will text, call or sext our sexual partner in front of one another. And for my husband, he would prefer that I shower after I've seen Steven before having sex with him [Jake]," Amanda explained. 

"Same goes for lingerie given to me from Jake — it's not for anyone else, just for my husband because he feels it is unique and special to us."


Ultimately, to make ethical non-monogamy work, it takes patience, a lot of navigating various emotions and a good deal of maturity and self-awareness. 

"Resentment and jealousy can creep in. And that can be totally normal from what I've heard — it's just about being open about those feelings and addressing them quickly rather than stewing. I have so many friends who are in a loveless, sexless marriage and feel their only resort is to cheat. And that was something I never wanted to do," Amanda said.

For Amanda, she and Jake haven't opened up about the new structure of their marriage with those around them, for reasons of discretion and fear of potential judgement.

But she wants people, especially women, to know that ethical non-monogamy is an option — and it's one that can be really successful, from her experience. 

"I want to empower other women to explore relationships that are mutually respectful outside the conventions of marriage. I feel sexy again. I've reclaimed my desire at age 54 and I want women to know that being in your 50s and older shouldn't inhibit our sexual personas. We always deserve pleasure."

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons. Their identities are known to Mamamia. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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