Can I Still Hold My Wife Accountable for Agreeing to an Open Relationship Before?



The article revolves around a man seeking advice over his marital issues, mostly stemming from his wife’s inability to have sex due to a childbirth injury. The wife had previously agreed to a non-monogamous relationship, but has since become monogamous and rebuffs attempts to reopen the relationship. The husband is considering having a mistress, which the Ethicist labels as disrespectful and possibly harmful to the relationship.

Open Relationship Issue Causes Tension within Marriage

My wife and I agreed on an open relationship when we first met, but things changed after the birth of our second child. She got injured during the birth and now finds sex painful. We were supposed to have an open relationship, but now she insists that having kids has changed things. Meanwhile, I’m bothered that she didn’t keep her commitment. I don’t want to separate from my family, but our lack of sex life is causing a wedge.

Ethical Implications of Outside Partners

The Ethicist expresses concern about the husband’s intentions to get a mistress, arguing that the pre-baby agreement is now moot due to the marriage becoming de facto monogamous. He emphasizes the importance of clear rules and consent in non-monogamous relationships. He cautions against the potential harm to the marriage if the wife discovers the husband’s infidelity and the risk of an emotional investment in an outside relationship.

Dealing with Loss of Libido after Childbirth

Low libido after childbirth isn’t uncommon and can often lead to painful sex, a condition frequently undertreated. The Ethicist suggests various treatments are available and urges the wife to explore her choices. Physical intimacy can be achieved in many ways, and counseling could also be helpful to address their stalemate. Sex isn’t just about physiology, and the husband insisting on a “hall pass” may not lighten the mood.

The Ethicist’s Response to Previous Inquiry

The previous week’s inquiry was from an American expat living in Sweden, unsure about voting in US elections. The Ethicist reasoned that those granted the right to vote are free to exercise it but don’t necessarily have a duty to. The complete response can be found here.

Reader’s Reactions to Ethicist’s Voting Stance

Subsequent reader reactions varied. Some agreed with the Ethicist, like Fabio, who stated the global influence of US politics warranted every eligible person to vote. Christine, however, disagreed, insisting voting as a privilege should be exercised to honor those who fought for this right. Some, like Uriela, believed voting would be influenced by their adopted home’s interests and therefore would be ethically wrong.

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