Jim and I have probably known each other since the day we were born. Our families have been close for several decades now. Our grandfathers served in the army together, and had become fast friends. The friendship continued and grew stronger when their children became business partners. So, our families jointly ran a big and successful business in that little town, earning a lot of affluence and reputation.
Suggested read: Are open relationships worth it?
Jim and I did grow up together, since we also holidayed together. Along with our respective families, we spent most summers in exotic and beautiful locations. We were good friends and were quite close as well. However, we were never romantically involved with each other. He was a few years older than me and was a senior in my college. I saw him date a few women on and off. On the other hand, I was a complete nerd, focusing all my energies to get into a good B-school. Also, I didn’t date all that much; I wasn’t the type.
Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License
I was sent to England where I graduated from a prestigious university in business administration. I was away for two years, and in that time, we both had different lives. By then, he had joined the business, and I wasn’t far behind. We were both ambitious and very interested in the business our families ran jointly.
I had returned from England after graduating, and was meeting Jim after about two years. So Jim, a few friends from college, and I went out for drinks. And needless to say, we all got drunk. It was on that night that one thing led to another and Jim and I ended up in bed together.
Obviously shaken and awkward in the morning, we decided to forget our lapse in judgement and move on. It was ridiculous, a stupid mistake. I hadn’t ever thought of him that way, and I’d slept with him! So, like the adults we were, we acted like it never happened.
However, it it did happen, and it kept happening for the next few weeks. We were strongly drawn towards each other, and I knew the attraction was only physical.
Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License
Sex is addictive like that.
I didn’t want to spoil the rapport our families shared, let alone them knowing what we were doing behind their backs. It would have been a complete let down for them.
A month later, I found out I was pregnant. Obviously we’d used protection… except that first time. We had been drunk out of our minds, but that wasn’t a strong excuse. I was in trouble, and it was serious.
I was 25, pregnant, unmarried, and scared of the repercussions.
Terminating the fetus was the only option, but getting it done in a small town like ours is like setting oneself on fire. Juicy things like that never stayed under wraps, and we’d be the talk of town, in the worst possible way. We decided to fly to the nearest city and get it done. Jim was supportive, but scared at the same time. Something stopped me from getting on that flight and I asked Jim if we could tell our parents about it so that they could help us figure this out. After a few disagreements and compulsive reasoning, we broke the news to our families.
We were shocked to learn their reaction, because, it was nothing that we had expected. They, on the other hand, were excited and happy. They asked us to get married and have the baby.
Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License
Two weeks later, we were married, and eight months later, Aiden was born.
I knew that our circumstances were odd. I felt as though I had forced Jim into doing something he wasn’t ready. But, in those nine months, Jim had been a great father-to-be and a loving husband; the only thing lacking was that we both weren’t in love with each other.
Our lives weren’t exactly distraught because our families backed us up, but the same family also coerced us into doing something that we hadn’t given much thought to. So, over the next few months, we felt guilty when we looked at Aiden. We both knew that we were capable of much more in life than what we were doing. We were also at the prime of our youth; while our peers were having fun, switching careers, traveling the world, and enjoying life, we were stuck with a baby and his smelly diapers.
Soon, we were going through the motions, living and treating each other as little more than roommates, but that was bound to happen. We were friends, but friendship alone couldn’t make our marriage stick, because we knew we weren’t meant to be together.
He cheated on me first, and I did the same thing without confronting him. The “cheating” soon became apparent and he didn’t mind it; strangely, I didn’t either. We were like best friends living under a roof, raising a kid. But as soon as we were out of the house, we had our own lives. He had a string of affairs with extremely beautiful and desirable women, and I was having a little something with my fitness instructor on the side.
Image source: Pinterest
One Saturday morning, as I was making breakfast, Jim came down to the dining room with a woman who had spent the night with him in our guest room. Somehow, when I tried to narrate this to a friend of mine, it got her all worked up and disgusted. However, I didn’t feel anything like she did. I was okay with it. I didn’t think it was wrong, because he did care for me, he loved Aiden, and we were just fine. On days we got horny, we did it like teenagers. On other days, we slept on the same bed like best friends. Truth be told, we were in an open relationship. Although it hadn’t been a conscious choice on our part, it was the way lived.
We were living a life that our families wanted us to live, and a life that was bound by the prejudiced society. We had to do it for Aiden and for other people who weren’t our family. Somewhere in between, we had an unsaid bond that brought us together. I didn’t mind him philandering, and he knew I was having my share of fun at home with my beau du jour. We never questioned each other. But as Aiden was growing up, we had to be discreet about our lifestyle. The last thing we wanted was for him to grow up in a hostile environment, or witness a loveless marriage. So, we kept our secret and came to an understanding. A pact.
In an open relationship, couples are aware of what their partners are doing and it surely isn’t cheating because they are both fine with it. Because both of them are probably involved with other people who aren’t their committed partners.
Image source: Flickr
In our case, we had to stick together for a variety of reasons, and Aiden was the primary one among them. Our families would never accept separation or divorce, and while we were aware and happy with each other, we decided that this was our best bet. This way, we were always going to be loving parents to Aiden, we would still keep up our families’ image, pretend that we were perfect, and yet understand that we both had needs that the other person couldn’t fulfill.
It’s funny, but we were happy living like this. This was an arrangement, a perfect one – for us. We both gave each other a chance to live the life that was taken away from us, we were conscious about what each of us was doing. Plus, we didn’t have a problem with that. The only thing we had to work hard was on keeping these appearances for two people:
- and our families
They would be shattered if they learnt about our open marriage and we didn’t want them to know. It was our little secret. Plus, it was none of their business, to be honest. This was between Jim and me.
Suggested read: 12 clear signs your relationship will stand the test of time
Sometimes, we had to cover for each other, and other times, we had to pretend to be the ideal husband and wife. We wore our façades with pride, because only Jim and I knew why we were doing this. This was the only way out.
Aiden turned nine last spring, and we fear he has started noticing that his parents are not really who they say they are. He has questioned us from time to time, but we have been able to convince him that his thoughts and fears are for nought. We do have moments that make us reconsider our existing arrangement, but I think we’ve become way too comfortable living like this. We are a little old to break out of it; we have made peace and have decided to co-exist. Because that’s what happens in an open relationship.
You are free to judge us as much as you want, but trust me when I say this, I know way too many couples who are in an open relationship like ours. And all I can say is, it works!