Before you dismiss the idea of open marriage as aberrant, consider that it's on the rise, especially among couples of a certain age.
Published in More Magazine in April 2010
When Jill Barrett's close friend Marguerite Palmer lost her husband after a lengthy illness, Jill was there to offer support in any way she could: going to the funeral, coming over to cook meals, and planning shopping trips as a diversion from the loneliness that had seized her friend.
Jill's husband, Leonard*, was also there for Marguerite: helping to repair a dripping faucet, taking her out on the lake in his boat, holding her and letting her cry in his arms.
As the months passed, Marguerite and Leonard found themselves attracted to each other and longed to move beyond consoling hugs to sexual intimacy. But instead of starting an illicit affair - the discovery of which carried the risk of ruining both a solid marriage and a long-standing friendship - they talked openly about their feelings.
Leonard told his wife about his sexual desire for Marguerite. Marguerite told Jill she was lonely, had gone a year without sex and longed for the loving touch of a man she could trust.
And Jill? She gave the pair her blessing to go forth and fornicate, to enter into a sexual relationship without any guilt, shame or fear of getting caught.
"My own feelings surprised me," says Jill. "But the fact is, I trust my husband and I trust my friend. Life is short; why should I stop them from having this experience?"