My lover is a passionate and skilled lover who enjoys the sexual opportunities I offer without expecting any kind of serious commitment. He brings toe-curling excitement to my life and I get to turn around and bring that high-octane sexual energy back home to my husband. Everyone wins.

Polyamory and non-monogamy seem to be all the rage these days. Everyone is talking about thefun new forms relationships can take and the excitement that comes from doing something non-traditional and edgy. But very few articles I’ve read explain exactly why having a relationship with someone other than your husband or wife may actually help you be a better wife or husband.

I’ve been with my husband Austin for almost four years. For two of those years I’ve also had an ongoing occasional relationship with my lover Jay, with my husband’s full knowledge and consent. There’s no sneaking, no cheating, and no funny business here. Just good old-fashioned dates, conversations, and sheet-tangling sex. I see my lover as often as a few times a month or as rarely as every six months, depending on our schedules and desires. I do my best to balance my marriage to Austin, my relationship with Jay, graduate school, a job, and parenting or step-parenting three teenagers, so sometimes I don’t get to spend as much time with Jay as I’d like.

So why do I gleefully indulge in these occasional overnight romps with Jay instead of sticking to the model of monogamy most of my 40-something friends desperately embrace while quietly withering inside?

Well, that last sentence should be something of a clue. Having a lover makes me a better wife because it makes me feel good and that’s good for my marriage. I break the benefits down into three separate but related categories, each of which positively contributes to my life as a wife, parent, student, and employee: communication, passion, and rejuvenation.

A serious relationship takes a lot of work, as anyone who has ever been in one knows. A great deal of that work is simply communicating in ways that make sure both parties get heard, acknowledged, and respected. When Austin and I first started exploring the idea of opening up our relationship to include additional lovers, we had to do an extraordinary amount of additional communicating. We had to try extra hard to make sure we were actively listening, holding each other in compassion, and seeking what was best for our relationship.

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