Allowing open marriage...does it become my sin?

My husband has withheld intimacy for about 7 years. But ever since I told him I was pregnant with our first child in 2001, he has treated me like a leper. He blamed many things - stress, my becoming a mother, my no longer being beautiful, etc - but none were medical. I believe that the issue stemmed from my refusal to bring a third party (couple) back into the marriage.

Now I had done “swinging” because my mother taught me a “good and proper wife” does what her husband says. He wanted to do it, so I agreed. I was raped in the process, and when I informed my husband he told me to keep quiet so he could continue to “do” the guy’s wife. That’s how much he valued me.

I confessed to a priest already, and have come to terms and peace, as I truly thought I was doing what a wife was supposed to do.

So now fast forward back to current times. He agreed to have intercourse to conceive our son, but after that, nothing. He had fallen in love with someone else, but didn’t physically act on it. But he himself has admitted that he no longer wants me no matter what I look like and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Despite this, he and I are good friends and he is a good dad. He wants permission for “one-night-stands” just to get his kicks, but says he doesn’t want to leave me or the children.

If I agree to this, am I as guilty as he is in allowing it? I have no means to provide for our kids, and I place very little value in myself that I would be able to provide for them or even get another husband.

But I don’t want to further destroy my soul, as prayer is one of the few things that has gotten me through so much pain. So, is this my sin or just his?

My heart is breaking for you. What you are describing is an abusive marriage. You were raped and your husband is the one who invited this man in. This is not a marriage you need to or should be living in.

Is there someway you can get connected to a mental health professional to talk this over with? From what you said it seems you have very little self esteem. Perhaps you grew up in an abusive environment and don’t know what it is like to be treated with love?

It is absolutely not ok for you to tell your husband one night stands are acceptable. Please see help from others so you can grow stronger and get out of this marriage. Also, seek help for the rape that happened to you. That is extremely traumatic.


I am praying for you.

You cannot force him not to sleep with someone else if he’s determined to do so, so if he does so without your approval, it is not your sin. But no, you should never “allow” it or give him permission. We should not approve of or encourage another person to sin. It’s disrespectful to him, to yourself, to God, and to marriage in general to approve of his adultery.

CCC 1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

  • by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
  • by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
  • by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
  • by protecting evil-doers.

So, yes, you would be cooperating in his sin by approving it and not hindering it.

I would suggest speaking to your priest and also getting some counseling. If your husband refuses to go to couples counseling, go for yourself.

I also think perhaps you should do something to begin to provide for yourself and your children–a part-time job, a volunteer position, a home business (or learn a craft/skill that could turn into a source of income), a college class or two (or your GED if you didn’t graduate HS)… something that will get you started to realizing that you ARE capable and give you a little boost of self-confidence. You have to plan for the future–for instance, what happens if he is in an accident and is disabled or killed? What would you do then?

I’m not suggesting you need to get a full-time job, nor am I saying you must leave him. But you do need to be sure you can provide for your family if he isn’t around for any reason.

I’m so sorry that you are struggling with this. You ARE beautiful.

I will pray for you. :gopray2:

You absolutely cannot endorse or allow your husband to commit adultery. Based on what happened in the past with the rape and you husband not only allowing it, but ordering you to “keep quiet”, he is a very abusive man. He not only betrayed you in the worst way possible but enabled a criminal to walk away free- a criminal he invited in. This is beyond the pale. It is abuse in the most extreme sense of the word. Your husband may be a good father in some ways, but from what you described he is not a good man. I strongly encourage you to seek out a priest and / or counsellor, lay this all out, and follow their advice. You deserve to be treated with respect and love by your husband.
Were you married in the Catholic Church?

Thank you all for replying so quickly –

I wasn’t raised in an abusive household. I guess it was an old fashioned one - spankings, in-charge father and mother who brought me up in the belief that it was my sole duty to sacrifice to please my husband and children - that in order of importance it was God, husband, children, parents, then myself as a woman. I was taught early that as a mother I wasn’t going to be important - it’s exhibited by my beat-up clothes versus the very expensive clothes my family has, for example. This is what I was taught.

When I told my mother about our problems in the bedroom, she blamed me for not being able to please him, and that if I can’t please him he’ll go elsewhere. That was years ago, and here we are.

I do have a part-time job…from home. But it doesn’t pay well; however, full-time in an office or hospital I might make more. Just doesn’t work for us at the age my kids are at.

If something were to happen to him he is heavily insured, so we would be okay.

As for a priest/counseling. 4 different counselors told me to take anti-depressants and leave him. Leaving him is not an option. It feels selfish to leave because my needs aren’t met, especially when so many others are in worse marriages sticking it out.

He refuses to go because he knows he’ll be told his sex addiction is wrong and doesn’t want to hear it.

I have made my peace about the rape. I didn’t become pregnant, thank God, nor was I physically damaged. Prayer and speaking to a priest (and nun as well) helped me find peace.

It feels like I can’t forbid him to do it. But by turning the other way or allowing it, I guess it does make me complicit. Aren’t we as women supposed to allow our husbands to do as they will?

Yes I was. I am Catholic. He is not (he is Christian). I have not spoken to a priest about this particular situation…but after the rape it was simply to pray about it to find peace (which I did), and the counsellors just wanted to give me drugs and have me divorce him. They didn’t seem interested in talking much, so after going to 4 different ones I gave up.

So if I “forbid” it, and he does it anyways, and I don’t leave him, isn’t this the same as just saying “Fine?” I can’t go anywhere.

Thank you.

I was in school…dropped out to put him through. Went back to school, had seizures which had me kicked out of the program. God had other plans I suppose.

You were taught an abusive form of marriage and you are suffering the consequences. Please don’t make excuses for not leaving an abusive man. If you have children – think of what they will learn from your husband and you.

Definitely No – men are not to do “as they will” – and women go along with it.

And furthermore — If you do have children — I would be very concerned that the grandparents lead your children down the same road as what you were taught.

You are going through so much, please do not heap guilt on top of everything. No, you cannot give his adultery your blessing, but you are certainly not at all culpable if he does it anyway, even if you look the other way. You are the victim here.

It may be best to leave him, or it may be best to look the other way while his adultery occurs. It is impossible for us to say, although it breaks my heart to think that staying is the best course. But neither course of action is sinful, as long as you are trying to do what is best for you and your children.

It is his sin, not yours. Praying for you.

Honey, if your father treated your mother anything like your husband treats you, then you WERE raised in an abusive household. And right now **you are raising your son in one **to continue the cycle.

A woman does not exist for a man to treat like a doormat. A man is supposed to love and honor his wife the way Christ loves and honors the church. Would Christ treat the church like its some unfashionable rug? No! Please don’t let ANYONE treat you that way, especially not your husband.

I would urge you to do two things 1) find ways to build up for self-esteem. It could be through prayer, counseling, volunteering, etc. But please, you are a daughter of God, please find a way to remind yourself of that. Christ did not give his life for some unfashionable rag.

  1. Find a way to better support yourself in case this marriage ends. I’m not saying that you have to breakup with him, but if you have the means to support yourself than you can CHOOSE to stay with him rather than be forced by circumstances.

Jesus is the embodiment of love. He is the Prime example of how a man is supposed to love a woman.

Although no man on this earth is perfect, your husband is certainly nothing like Jesus. He has no respect for you, not a single ounce. Jesus is in tears, His heart breaking for you, He wants so much more for you.

Please listen to the advice of the other posters, they have given you wise guidance. Do what is necessary for you and your children. It is not selfish, it is wise and healthy.

You’ll be in my prayers…

My parents and I live far apart and see the kids maybe 3 times a year. Luckily they’re more interested in playing with them and having a good time/interacting than doing any rearing.

Their “advice” usually comes through me, which I either ignore or follow if it’s actually sound advice.

As for our kids, my husband and I interact like normal couples I suppose. All this occurred before they came into the picture, and all that’s happened since has been in silence. We will disagree and problem solve, but as far as arguing - never in front of the kids. Ever. And my oldest will be 14 soon.

This is what makes it so difficult. Outside to our kids and to the world he’s a great father, great worker, near the top of his field, great provider/supporter, and the few times we interact in public he’s “attentive”. We get along just fine in regular conversations. Except for the rest. Except for him not being a true husband and wanting to step out. It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

As for my parents - they were always loving towards each other, except when they fought. And then when I started showing interest in going away for school, and then decided to get marriage - then my father blamed my mother for not raising me right and that it was her fault I turned out so badly. So I guess it was mildly abusive, but I never really thought of it that way. It was just life.

In my heart I know that I should go. It would be better for me. But what lesson does that teach our kids, who don’t see all of this? And how do I then explain this without demonizing their father? I can’t do that to them.

My main goal in posting was getting an opinion of whether my soul was in danger, or if it was a sin that I should confess should I say yes to his stepping out. I pray all the time, and feel better after doing so. Prayer has gotten me through 2 brain tumors, lupus, uterine cancer…and this. God could’ve dealt me a worse hand I suppose.

As to my daughter, I am trying to teach her the exact opposite - that’s it’s okay to go away to school, get a degree, get a job…live and stand on your own 2 feet as a woman. That she should be her own person and know who she is before becoming someone’s wife. Son’s too young for any of those lessons yet.

Your husband allowed another man to rape you and demanded that you go along because he wanted sex with that man’s wife.

This is in no way normal. :frowning:

This is evil behavior, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that your husband is dangerous to your safety. What else is he capable of?

I couldn’t recommend you staying with him in the hopes it gets better.

Protect yourself and you children.

In my heart I know that I should go. It would be better for me. But what lesson does that teach our kids, who don’t see all of this? And how do I then explain this without demonizing their father? I can’t do that to them.

Children are not stupid. They know when there is “something” wrong in the house.

Is this the example of man you want for your son or daughter?

He allowed a man to rape you.

What would you tell your daughter if that happened to her?

What you are treating your children right now: you are teaching your son that it is ok to treat the ones he ‘loves’ like a fashion accessory: wear one for a while and then toss it aside when another looks prettier. That is no way to rest a human being, let alone one you love.

Your son deserves to see love: to know what respect, honesty, and giving yourself to another human being means. Right now he’s not getting that. It doesn’t matter how much you and his dad “pretend”: kids aren’t fooled by masks. Your son is not learning to love.

You need to get out of that situation and to teach your son what it means to love for real.

As to your daughter, you say that you try to teach her stand on her own 2 feet. But actions speak much louder than words, and the story your current ‘marriage’ tells is very different. Again, you can’t fool kids with a mask. The only way she will learn to stand on her own 2 feet is to watch you do it.

Also, if you and your husband get divorced, the kids do not have to know all the details. You don’t have to demonize him with stories of rape. Just tell the kids the truth: that you guys have decided that it is best not to be married anymore.

I am not Catholic, but it is my understanding that Catholic parents are to teach their children Christ-like love and devotion. Do you feel you are doing that?

My heart is breaking for you as you are in a terrible situation. Definitely do not give him “permission” and if he does it anyway, it’s not your fault. He made the choice but at least you are not culpable since you did not condone it.

I will pray for you.

I will keep you in my prayers all this week.

To those talking about my leaving…his background - his father cheated a lot, would go off with women, and then come back - until one day his mom had enough and they divorced. He hates his father. And yes, I have pointed out to him more than once the irony of the current situation he finds himself in.

His grandfather did the same to his father. Maybe part of me hopes that by staying and avoiding the divorce, our son won’t be as screwed up as the men on my husband’s side seem to be.

As for my daughter and the school lesson, she is well aware that I was removed from school due to my health. It’s state law (patient safety issues) - that was independent of my relationship. At least it left her the lesson of do the college thing early and to the best of your abilities, because there may not be a second chance.

I appreciate and am humbled by your offers of prayers. Like I said there are others far worse off than I. Maybe once the kids are out of the house this will be an easier decision (the leaving one).

As far as the cheating one, I guess I’ll just keep quiet and not say yes or no. Maybe he’ll come to his senses and not do anything and change himself. But I’m not going to outright say yes to him.

Your husband learned to treat from his father, whom learned from his father. What do you except your son to learn?

The cycle of adultery and abuse is caused by what children learn from their parents, not by divorce.

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