Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Do...Think it's Okay to Contract for an Affair

Apparently there is a movement afoot.  More and more couples are opting for a clause in their marriage contract that allows the spouses to cheat on one another.

While visiting last night with my husband, the one in my completely monogomous relationship, he told me he had heard couples were choosing this "freedom contract" over the traditional promise of marriage.  I forgot to ask him, immediately, if he was hoping for such an amendment to our contract, so I went in this morning to check with him.

"Hey, I just want to verify that when you brought up that story of the couples who have contracted to cheat on one another, you weren't looking to change our current arrangement... were you?"

"No," he assured me between laughs.  "It was a 'listen to this!' story on the radio, and people actually called in to say that they do sign contracts like this. I thought it was crazy."

I think it's pretty crazy too, and there is not a single cell in my body that wishes our contract were worded differently, but I am intrigued by this idea.

One of the women who called into the radio show admitted her husband had requested permission to have sexual partners outside of their marriage, and she agreed.  When asked if she cheated too, she said, "No, he's the only one who needs to, and having it in our contract keeps things stable."

He's contracted to stay married to her, to provide for her, to be a companion for her, but he is not required to be exclusive. She committed to that too.

Could this possibly work?  This is what I think: I think it works all the time...even if the couple doesn't have it formally written down, there are plenty of people who know infidelity exists and continue to operate as a married couple. 

"Conservative infidelity statistics estimate that “60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an extramarital affair. These figures are even more significant when we consider the total number of marriages involved, since it's unlikely that all the men and women having affairs happen to be married to each other. If even half of the women having affairs (or 20 percent) are married to men not included in the 60 percent having affairs, then at least one partner will have an affair in approximately 80 percent of all marriages. With this many marriages affected, it's unreasonable to think affairs are due only to the failures and shortcomings of individual husbands or wives."  Infidelity Statistics

The divorce rate is still around 50 per cent, and only 17 per cent of divorces are blamed on infidelity.  It is possible that upwards of 50-60 per cent of marriages affected by infidelity, simply continue to work. 

A couple who talks about the potential for affair, and then signs a joint contract before they are married could be saving themselves the drama and heartache so many other couples endure.
My husband and I will not be personally experimenting with this, but it is an interesting, modern twist on the marital arrangement.  I would be curious to see the statistics of those marriages that remain in tact in ten years.

I really don't have a problem with two consenting adults who want to bind their relationship in any way that works well for both of them.  The problem I have is with the people who have promised, in writing, to be faithful and exclusive, and then go ahead and have an affair anyway.

I guess for me, I just think people should do what they say they are going to do.


  1. So what's the point in getting married at all? The party? The dress? ...the gifts! Definatelly the gifts. Maybe the dress too.

  2. Good point...I think it is pretty ridiculous to call a relationship marriage if there is no exclusivity!

  3. When people first started getting married life expectancy was much shorter. Chances are by the time your children were grown you would be much closer to the end of your life so until death us do part was easier. My mother has always said that marriage is a labor of love and she and my dad have a great one but I also think luck has a lot to do with it as well. That said while I'm a pretty generous person when it comes to sharing my husband I am very possessive.

  4. With a husband like yours, Susan, you have every right to be possessive...even in to ripe old age!

  5. I feel that marriage must be exclusive. I have been married 44 years and what I have seen in other peoples lives is that other sexual partners NEVER helps a marriage. The commitment and devotion to the marriage has to be complete and focused. If you want more sex. Discuss that with your spouse and work on your relationship. Communication is essential. If you have other sexual partneers that communication is tainted as there are things you talk about with your mistress that you would not talk about with a wife. I cannot tell you how bad of an idea I think it is to have a "partial marriage with exclusions". The power of marriage comes from the clauses in the marriage contract "Honor and cherish, for better or worse, in sickness and health, till death duo us part." That is the commitment that makes marriage such a treasure and such a powerful force in the world. The one thing that is constant in the world is everyone wants a "loving, committed, long term relationship". I do not see that is possable if you have various sexual partners. Ron Bank 2-24-11

  6. Ron,
    Thanks so much for taking to time to contribute your thoughts. I, personally, completely agree that exclusivity is paramount to the success of my marriage. It is what I found to be the best way to navigate marriage pitfalls, and I will never do anything other than monogamy. My point in this piece is to acknowledge a shift that is happening in thinking about marriage. I know it is a destructive thought-process, but it is important to try to understand why people are thinking this way. Since this piece...and probably an upcoming blog post... I have decided there is a significant difference between the sacred marriage and the purely secular and contractual one. I am blessed to be in a sacred one, and I would argue you are in one too! Thanks again for contributing to the conversation.

  7. With the new movie "Hall Pass" out, I was wondering if there were many real life instances of this. I wonder if this is a case of life imitating the movies or the movies imitating life? Great post and at a perfect time. BTW, I have enjoyed your blogs and your book looks like a very interesting read.

  8. Thanks for stopping by Angie. I saw the previews for that movie too, and right after this post was published. Movies never happen in a vacuum, but sometimes they reflect the most extreme in our society. I really hope that is the case with this movie. It would make me sad if monogamous marriage were abandoned just because people think they have the right to do what their heart (or their pants) desire. Thanks for commenting.


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