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Balancing Work, Children, and an Open Marriage: Navigating the Challenges Beyond Family Life

Eighteen months later, the switch remained in the off position. Throughout my life, I’ve perceived sexuality as a fundamental aspect of my identity. It serves as a cornerstone in my self-understanding, a cherished attribute that significantly influences my self-esteem. Reluctantly, I attended the gathering where I encountered Treasure – or to be more precise, with great compassion, David coaxed me to go. Both of us acknowledged my profound despondency, recognizing that the absence of my sexual identity contributed to that emotional state.

That evening, I started to rediscover the profound impact of embracing a satisfying and adventurous erotic life. Often, I find myself feeling like a frazzled, busy mother. At 42, I reside in a chilly Victorian residence in north London with my family and a playful cat. There are instances when I appear and feel deeply conventional and content. However, during a night out – encountering a dark-haired Australian, a bleach-blond musician from Birmingham, a Brazilian with smoky eyes – I experience a different kind of beauty, feeling desired in an exceptionally thrilling manner.

Despite the increasing acceptance of consensual nonmonogamy, many individuals I encounter express surprise. Some assume that our sex life must be a source of hidden resentment (which is not the case; our disagreements revolve around home improvement, vacations, and car packing). Others find it distasteful, perhaps even unethical. Given the notorious time constraints parents face, suggesting that sex holds importance can be considered taboo. Yet, recognizing and pursuing my desires, and witnessing them reciprocated by those I find attractive, fulfills and energizes the adult within me. It brings me joy, making me a better parent.

Primarily, people (especially fellow parents) share common concerns: how do you handle jealousy, and where do you find the time? Surprisingly, the answers are straightforward. We have reliable friends and babysitters to look after our children when we wish to go out together. If that’s not feasible, we take turns. We prioritize each other. We strive to be both honest and compassionate.

Nevertheless, maintaining perfect balance in dating can be challenging. There are occasions when one of us is involved in multiple romantic relationships while the other feels down. When I lost interest in sex, there were moments when I felt left behind. Yet, returning home after a rejuvenating night away, I felt radiant and empowered, diving straight into the morning chaos of breakfast, chores, and fatigue, noticing my struggle to provide the reassurance David seeks. Communication is essential, which is a positive aspect of our relationship.

My children are the greatest blessing in my life – I’m not discontentedly attempting to escape a self-imposed trap. I feel incredibly fortunate that I didn’t have to choose between a traditional married life and one characterized by sensual exploration and self-discovery. Most of us cannot fulfill all our needs solely through family life.

During my children’s infancy, I was crafting Open Season, my novel exploring couples navigating nonmonogamous relationships. To me, the erotic and creative mindsets share similarities. In both realms, I am fully engaged, brimming with vitality and readiness. Reviewing intimate scenes I had penned during periods of sexual vitality felt surreal, as if they were penned by another author. Yet, this realization served as a reassuring sign: I had experienced those emotions. My writing validated my ability to rediscover that connection.

Nevertheless, the concept of returning to a previous state is illusory. The switch didn’t instantaneously flip that night on the rooftop and remain on. The journey ahead is still tumultuous, delicate, painful, and enchanting. I am grateful to be traversing this path.

Open Season by Cassie Werber (Trapeze, £20) is set to be released on 25 April