Our Decades of Open Marriage: Parts 1&2
Two Decades of Open Marriage:
A True Story
Before I start, I must say these are recollections of our activities over the years. I have written this as accurately as I can without embellishment, though as you read it you will see it would have been more erotic with some changes, but this is what really happened.
The initial material was written around 1998, therefore it is based on memory that I won’t’ claim to be perfect. However, most of the text covering the events after that was penned within a week of the actual events. Thus, from chapter ten onward there is a higher degree of detail and accuracy. In particular you will find the narrative becomes quite explicit when discussing sexual experiences. This was not because I had, at the time, intended to make this public, but rather that I knew my memory would fade and jumble up what really happened. As it turned out I am very glad I did it this way because when rereading these stories I realize how much I did indeed forget.
One last thing. I know that my dear wife, Paula, will not agree on some points (but of course my telling of it is the right one); however, the larger facts are not in dispute.
How We Came to Have an Open Marriage
I must simply consider myself about the luckiest guy around. I have never been much of a stud. When I was young, I was skinny and uncoordinated, I’m now in my early-60’s and a little too heavy and still uncoordinated. I had a 25+ year career in education and social work before earning my PhD and moving to higher ed. So I’m kinda dull and not rich. Yet for all that I have been blessed with the most amazing wife in the world since 1986.
I was raised in a very progressive, upper middle-class home in Texas. I would describe it as “Leave It To Beaver” in its simplicity and “Love American Style” in its outlook. Until I was in high school my mother was a stay-at-home mom and my dad earned a good living as a senior executive in an international engineering firm. My parents joined the PTA, we took annual family vacations and we went to church regularly. It wasn’t until I got married that I realized my family was so liberal on sexual issues.
My family circa 1972
Though, looking back, I guess I knew our family was a little different. As far back as the late 1960’s, while I was in elementary school the current issue of Playboy and Penthouse magazine were usually on the living room coffee table. My older brother and I were freely allowed to look at those magazines, but we were told not to let our friends see them. I did not quite understand why, or why my parents put them into their bedroom when my grandparents came to visit. At the time I had no idea of the significance of those magazines, but at that age I didn’t ask why Grandma and our friends shouldn’t see them.
I remember every Christmas my dad would get my mom a new negligee and she would put it on before we kids could open any of our presents. That, of course, drove us crazy. For Dad, there was always the Playboy calendar and a box of cigars in his stocking.
On Christmas morning after we opened our presents, she would wear her new negligee and drink coffee and he would smoke his cigar. This had been the tradition as long as I remember and from looking at old photos I think it predated my arrival into the world in 1962. I distinctly recall at least one Christmas night when the whole family worked to put together a big Playboy centerfold puzzle.
I really did think all mothers wore semi-see-through negligées around the house when only the family was around. In public during the 1970’s she wore the smallest bikinis, shortest shorts and halter tops that showed lots of cleavage.
My father had been taking lingerie, topless and nude photos of mom since photo processors first began to print them in the late 1950’s. To her long-term regret in a fit of anger one day, my mom destroyed 20 years of nude photos of herself. Only one set of slides from a trip to the nude resort in Jamaica survived which came to me after her passing.
One of the few art nudes my father took of my mother that have survived.
Circa about 1970
When we converted the old 8mm movies to video we found one reel from a trip to Yellowstone of mom nude soaking in a hot spring in the woods with us kids just as naked running around (these are captures from that old video).
My pubescent friends must have loved my house and they told me they thought my mom was great looking. It wasn’t until several years after I was married that my mom told Paula she had gotten some of the first silicone breast implants in the country back in the mid 1960’s.
When I was in junior high I began to become curious about my parent's lifestyle, not because I thought it unusual, but because I was growing up. I remember snooping in my parent’s room and finding the box of nude photos of my mother and a stack of 8mm movie film. I could tell right off they were not our home movies. One night when they were out, I took the movie projector to my room and saw what sex looked like for the first time.
It was shortly after that the Debbie Does Dallas movie came out. In the Dallas area it was front page news as the Cowboys sued because in the porn film the star played a Cowboy cheerleader and wore a real Cowboy cheerleader uniform in the movie. I remember how the “Wild Bunch” (as my parents group of friends called themselves) were right up front with us kids that they were going out one night as a group to see the movie.
One summer my parents and two other neighborhood couples went for a week to a nude resort in Jamaica. When they returned and started showing the slides they made us kids leave because “You’re not old enough to see the ones from the nude beach.” Only the outtakes from those photos still exist, and they are the slides I now own.
For my Dad’s 40th birthday my mom threw a luau party and his cake was a nude woman with a cherry baked in…. well you can guess where.
Dad eating the "Cherry" from his birthday cake
As time went on and I moved through junior high school I began to get a better idea of what was happening with the parent’s gang. One Sunday afternoon the Wild Bunch failed to lock the door for their “adult time.” A couple of us walked right in on them, when we arrived in the living room the adults scrambled around hiding things and began yelling for us to leave. I was at the back of the group of kids, so I didn’t get a good look before they moved; but I saw, in the second before we were aggressively shoo-ed back out the door, magazines (Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, OUI were opened to photo spreads and strewn all over the floor, almost to the door where we stood. However, it was evident that this is not what they were trying to cover up, because the big throw pillows that were very popular at the time were not used to cover the magazines; but rather they were used to cover the chests of several of the mother’s. From what I saw, they appeared to be topless. I got more information about what they all were doing one evening when I was asked to baby-sit while the Wild Bunch went out to celebrate one of the member’s 40’th birthday. The party had started at the house at which I was sitting, and what they left behind was all new to me. Sex jokes and toys I hadn’t known existed and did not know what they did were left strewn around the living room.
As a Junior High student in the mid 70’s my parents stored a huge box of old Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler and OUI magazines upstairs in the closet opposite my bedroom. There is no way my parents could not know that by putting all those magazines in the upstairs hall closet (their room was down stairs) they were in effect giving them to my brother and me. Thus when I was about 12 and my brother was 14, we had unrestricted access to all the erotic material we could imagine existed. I thought nothing of having several of the magizines in my room at any given time.
Though this kind of access is the rule in the internet age, in the 1970’s it was extremely rare. To this day my favorite images are from that early 70’s style Playboy. In time I read every word of every magazine in that box and masturbated to every nude photo. I love Playboy cartoons and “Little Annie Fanny” to this day. One year Paula bought me for Christmas the collection of every centerfold.
As I said, this was however, long before the internet or even VHS porn. So I wasn’t “shown” how guys masturbate. I didn’t know that the things I found enjoyable were or were not what all guys did. Concepts like “bi-sexual” simply were not in my world. However, by the time I was thirteen or so, I found I very much enjoyed using makeshift dildos (no I didn’t have that word yet) to put in my mouth or up my ass while I masturbated. In time I found the perfect substitute penis in a 16” long bean bag snake. It was firm and flexible. Covered with Saran Wrap, I could hold one end firmly and suck on it, pretending it was a real penis while I looked at pictures of naked women and masturbated with the other hand. Or, by using shampoo as a lube, I could fuck myself with it. I simply loved the feeling of jacking off with a “dick” in my ass.
While on one hand, it seemed the most normal thing in the world, yet on the other hand it never, ever, occurredguys’ to me that guys would like it if I offered to suck their penis or let them put their dick in my ass. Sure I knew guys called each other homo or fag as an insult, but I really had no idea that guys actually sucked other guy’s penises, or were fucked by other guys. To me, when I did those things with my homemade dildo, I always just imagined it was my own penis. I have no doubt if a guy had introduced me to male-male sex at the time I would have jumped on it, but it would be many years before that bean bag snake method of masturbation became a real man’s penis in my mouth. So, though it would be decades before I took the label bisexual; from the beginning of my sexual life, my interest was in women, blended with my desire to be penetrated by a penis.
All that to say that I grew up in a sexually liberal home; so when I chose to rebel against my parents at age 17, I became an arch-conservative rather than a liberal. In my conservative rebellion, I became involved in the fundamentalist Christian movement of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. For several years I became radically conservative.
I met Paula my senior year at the very conservative Christian college at which we were students. When Paula and I got married in the early 80’s I was still a virgin and clueless about actually having sex. Though from my earlier years, I was well versed in the writing of Xandra Hollander and the other writers in Playboy and Penthouse, and had even read a good part of “Everything You Wanted to Know about S*x but were afraid to Ask.” Yet, on our wedding day, I found out there was so much I did not know. To this day she teases me about how little I knew about real female anatomy.
After only dating three months we were engaged and by the time we had known each other less than seven months we were married in November 1986. Our wedding night was not the first time she would have sex, but she was still very conservative and guilt ridden about her past.
It was only years later she admitted that she got married because she wanted sex and at the time she thought the only guilt-free way to do so was in marriage. Guilt was the controlling force in her sexuality when it came to guys, but, like all people it was complicated.
Her Christian fundamentalist parents did not acknowledge sexuality even existed unless it was to condemn people. However, she had developed a taste for sexual gratification when she was quite young. By the time she was in elementary school she had learned to masturbate to orgasm (though she had no idea this was sex). Her favorite method of masturbation was rubbing her crotch up and down on the post of her four-poster bed. To the best of her memory, she did this regularly for several years until she was caught by her mother and told that what she was doing was BAD. So she stopped masturbating for a very long time.
Paula showing off her panties to her older cousins. Circa 1972
Her first forays into sexual pleasure with other people was with girls. Her first real sexual experience was perhaps far more common in years past when it was normal, even in middle class homes, for siblings to share both one room and one bed. This was the case with Paula and her sister.
Her sister was (is) 7 years older than she is. As a child that age difference is immense. It was the late 60’s and early 70’s and both the sexual revolution and the youth culture were in full swing. However, she lived in the very isolated rural farming world of the Deep South. In many ways, she was among the last children raised in the world that people think of as the Old South. Her Grandfather was a wealthy plantation owner and political leader. Yes, she had a “Mammy” and everything.
Her father had married his best friend’s sister and as such their world was filled with aunts, uncles and cousins. Nearly all the cousins were, like her sister, significantly older given her dad and all her uncles were WW2 vets. And, like so many of the baby boom children during the late 60’s and early 70’s; her cousins were very much into sex, drugs and rock and roll. But in this, Paula was a bystander, as a nine-year-old in 1969 when her cousins were in high school getting high and fucking like rabbits. Her sister however, has always been somewhat socially inept. Despite the fact she is pretty and had a killer body well into her 50’s, as far as Paula knows, in high school her sister remained a virgin and did not use drugs at all. However, she swam in a sea of sexuality. Her closest friends, both cousins, were fucking like mad and from what Paula could piece together, her sister would be around and see a lot of the sex, but did not participate.
What her sister did do, was to get her little sister (Paula) to play with her when she got into the bed they shared. At nine years old, Paula was giving her sister oral sex several times a week. As far as Paula recalls, her sister never reciprocated, but that didn’t bother my wife. She enjoyed giving her sister cunnilingus and playing with her breasts. It was something special they shared between them. I’ve asked her about it and she does not feel in the least bit traumatized by the whole thing. Though she does point out that in time, she began to put powdered sugar on her sister so as to make her pussy taste better. To Paula, eating out her sister was just a normal and enjoyable part of life. She continued to do it regularly all the way until her sister went off to college. She doesn’t recall if she did it when her sister was home for breaks or summers, because at the time, it was just so normal it was not really noteworthy.
I say Paula wasn’t traumatized, but her sister, without a doubt is. She became involved with a hyper-conservative Christian group and is as sex-negative as it gets. From things that have been said, I think she is wracked with guilt to this day about what she “did” to her sister.
Not long after her sister went off to college, Paula began making out with (and feeling up) a local girl her own age. In all this, there was simply no understanding that what they were doing counted as the sinful thing called sex. The simple truth was, just like I had no idea of the homoerotic nature of my early sexual life, the idea of being a lesbian wasn’t even part of her vocabulary in the early 70’s.
What she has always known is that she is sexually attracted to girls with equal intensity as her attraction to boys. When she was in college, her friends at the place she worked part-time clearly picked up on this because she told me how they were confused about her sexuality. They would say that she must be a lesbian because her interest in girls, but they also said she couldn’t be that because she REALLY liked guys. Even in the 80’s the idea of being fully bisexual was not part of the common discourse.
On our wedding day I was still a virgin and our first lovemaking turned out to be as much comic as romantic.
To understand why, I'll take a detour to talk about our college life. We both went to a Christian college near Chicago that was so conservative it was almost cult like. Not only was premarital sex an expellable offence, but so was almost any physical display of affection in public or private. After every Christmas and summer break there would be a few sermons in the daily chapel time that focused on the great sin of premarital physical affection. That would be followed up by a call for confession. A couple, whom I knew quite well, heeded that call to confess the sins committed over summer break and were promptly expelled because they had felt each other off when they were back home in Texas.
Paula and I in college. Circa 1986
It should not be surprising that the college which was so strict about student sexual conduct was rocked by a series of sex scandals shortly after I graduated. Most notably, it turned out that the minister/founder of the school had been screwing his secretary for literally decades. Even worse, it became public that his son (the youth pastor) had not only been screwing the teen girls but taking nude Polaroidsbachelor’s of them. He got away with it when the cache of Polaroids were found by a church employee and destroyed, and none of the girls would testify against him. The founder's son-in-law wasn't so lucky. He became the leader of the church and college, but is now in federal prison for taking a minor (a student in the church’s high school) across state lines for sex. All that to say our college was very sex-negative.
Not surprisingly, dating off campus, even in groups was forbidden. Because of this never once were Paula and I actually alone until I graduated in August of 1986. Upon finishing my batchelor’s degree, I took a job in the Dallas area and she moved back in with her parents in South Carolina to plan the wedding. We did have a few days unchaperoned when I went out east for the wedding itself. We kissed a lot, but we never took off our clothes. Once, however, while we kissed, she straddled my thigh and began rubbing really hard, hard enough it hurt as we were both wearing jeans. I at least knew enough that when she climaxed, I understood what had happened. I'd never once been with a girl where she'd had an orgasm. The bliss was short lived, because no sooner had she come down from her orgasmic high than she felt so overcome with guilt she began to cry. She was so upset in having committed such a sin so close to our wedding. I was befuddled to say the least.
Since I'd just finished college, we were broke, so our wedding was on the cheap. This actually helped us in our effort to prevent getting out of control again because we had to do everything ourselves. We even climbed a big magnolia tree and cut greenery for the decorations. But in the end the wedding was very nice and went as smoothly as if we had a professional wedding planner.
One of her cousins had given us the use of their beach house on Fripp Island, a very exclusive private island off the SC coast, for our honeymoon. With a 1:00 PM wedding time, it was still the middle of the day when we headed out to the beach. The drive from the reception to the beach was about two hours and by the time we were half way there she had her shirt off and front close bra unfastened. I found myself within reach of only the third set of bare breasts to which I'd been so close. I was surprised how soft and malleable they were. Most surprising was that I actually didn't realize that women's areola's can shrink and the nipples enlarge. How was I to know they change shape? Nipples in magazines were always erect. I was actually a little disappointed when she opened up her bra to show me her tits and I saw her nipples were essentially flat, no "point" at all. Then as if by magic, they shrank, got darker, and nipples the size and shape of pencil erasers appeared. I guess it was at that moment I realized how little I knew about women and sex.
So, in our Mercury Lynx, I played with her tits while zooming down the rural US Highway toward Beaufort and on to Fripp Island. I thought even then how anyone we passed could have seen her, yet she did not seem to care. That was also a moment of enlightenment. My new wife was both horny and not very shy. It was only years later she told me how she pressed for an early wedding because she so much wanted to have sex. I’m sure we got a lot of looks from passing cars as she was essentially topless and our car was plastered with “JUST MARRIED." To make us even more conspicuous I’m sure I was weaving as I played with her wonderful boobs.
When we arrived at our honeymoon beach house we had our pick of bedrooms in which to consummate our marriage. Having worked my way through college working as a bellman at a large Chicago hotel, I'd roomed many honeymoon couples. Most were just tired, but the few for whom that would be their first sexual experience were very obvious with their excitement and nervousness. Paula was very excited and very ready to fuck, but I was the one who was nervous. The beach house had five bedrooms. We chose a room with a sliding glass door which led to the sand road that led to the beach which lay about a quarter mile away. It didn’t even occur to either of us to close the drapes and spoil the tropical view.
As if in the script of a movie, she went into the large bathroom and shut the door so as to primp for the big event, while I got naked and crawled under the sheets. I waited, and waited. I waited so long my erection died. But eventually she came out in white lingerie. It was a sight I will never forget. Though I am now an outspoken advocate of sex before marriage, only those who have waited for that well planned moment can understand what it is like to see your new bride for the first time. My erection came back.
I took my time and slowly removed her lingerie. I'd read enough in Penthouse Forum to know that was the right thing to do. But things then got comic. I was such an utter neophyte that I didn't know anything about real sex. She had to tell me step by step how to eat her out, and how to not bite when I sucked her nipples. The next part, putting my penis in her vagina, just did not happen as naturally as I thought it should. I just sort of thought if we lay together it would slide right in her, well it didn’t. To make matters worse I thought the vaginal canal was pointed to the front. After all most sex scenes showed the guy on top, thus the pussy must be pointed forward. That seemed to be what was described in all the Penthouse articles, so why would I question my "research." After several failed attempts to find the right way in, she said "Here let me help" and she reached down and guided her new husband’s manhood into her body. Soon thereafter we were in full sweat with our naked bodies making honey on our honeymoon bed. It was everything that I'd imagined it would be, but for her the whole event was a comedy of errors that she has (to my chagrin) told many people over the years.
The house sat in a manner that the sliding glass door looked down the sand road, rather than perpendicular to it. We'd chosen that room for the view. That was of little concern, since we'd not seen any cars out but ours since we arrived. Fripp Island was primarily summer homes and/or winter homes for very wealthy northern "Snow Birds."; but, being mid-November we found the island nearly deserted. Furthermore the sand made it so that there was no sound made if a car did come up the little road. Just off this same road sat our car still plastered with “Just Married”.
All this to say, while we were deep in our long first experience of lovemaking, we noticed a shadow moving on the wall. It was from a car just approaching the glass door on the sandy road. There was a shadow because the late afternoon sun was coming from the water right into our bedroom, almost like a spotlight. The shadow was barely moving. We were on top of the sheets and she was on top of me grinding away. Lifting my head, I could just look down past Paula, while she had to look over her shoulder. We made direct eye contact with the middle-aged man and woman in the front seat. While I vaguely knew they were watching us have honeymoon sex, my mind was way too full to process that part. So, noting that it was just a car, we continued on the business at hand. It was a little while later when the shadow returned. The same car was back, this time hardly moving. I didn't know if Paula saw the shadow, but notice or not, she did not respond. She kept her focus on grinding her clit down on my pelvis trying to achieve an orgasm that way. Momentarily the car came to a stop. They were overtly watching us have sex. I told her the car was back. She didn’t slow down or cover up. Finally, she gave up on getting off that way and Paula looked over her right shoulder, directly at the middle aged couple in the car. From my vantage point below Paula, with my head now propped up on a pillow, I could see the woman smiling and then say something to her husband before they drove off and didn’t come back. We have laughed many times knowing this couple came back to get a good look at the newlyweds making love (of course if we were them, we would do the same).
Through this event, I learned something else new about my bride, when she's turned on, she has few inhibitions.
Well, that week I learned that Paula could not get enough sex, and she liked variety. We made love in every one of the five bedrooms, on the living room floor, the couch and even the kitchen counter. I was virile and she was horny, so we had sex three and four times a day for a week. And never once did we shut any of the curtains. For a very conservative Southern Belle, my new bride was quite bold.
I also learned that unlike the magazines, she just could not get an orgasm without direct clitoral stimulation with her hand or by riding my thigh. It would be some months before I would learn to get her off manually, and a year before I could induce her orgasm by giving her oral sex. But, truth be told we had a lot of great sex over those first few years as she broadened the ways she could get off. It would take twenty years and the onset of menopause before she became orgasmic through intercourse alone.
The only disappointment was that because a cold front had come in we did not make love on the beach. But that was a small thing. Looking back, it is too bad this was way before the era of digital photography and phones that take photos and video. The next week we did get a photo of us in bed at an antebellum mansion in Vicksburg Mississippi using the auto-timer on my manual Olympus OM-2. Out of fear of not being able to get the photos developed, even in that photo, she covered up her wonderful breasts.
On our Honeymoon. Circa 1986
It was when the honeymoon was over and we set up house, the first appearance of what was both a long-term problem and later the rationale for our open marriage made its appearance. The fact that we did not have sex until our wedding day might seem romantic, but it forestalled knowledge of our different sexual styles. Simply put, Paula wanted to have sex every night and every morning and every afternoon I was home. She felt she'd held back her libido for a very long time, but now she was married she deserved to make up for lost time. In short, she expected me to fuck her brains out morning, noon and all night every night. Well, I had taken a new management job and I was working a lot of hours and I wasn't up to fulfilling her expectations. After a year in Dallas, we moved for me to start my master's degree at a conservative Christian University and my stress and hours only increased. Within the first month this disconnect between her sexual expectations and my sexual capacity put a strain on our marriage and the stress only increased with time. For her, things got worse when I went off for almost five months of training with the US Army Reserve.
I tried to make up in quality what I couldn't provide in quantity. I tried to plan wild sex outings. Now, to some readers what we thought were wild outings would seem tame, but for fundamentalist Christians in the Deep South in the 1980's, we were quite wild. We would have sex in parking lots or in highway rest areas. Once we stopped at an interstate rest area right at dusk. We began making out in the car, but we soon got really bold and screwed right on the concrete picnic table in full view of the parked cars.
Another memorable time was one day, after I got home from school, she said she wanted to go out for dinner and then make love in the car. After thirty minutes of driving looking for a good spot, we ended up only about ten blocks from our house. We parked on a side road and began to make out. After she'd removed all of her clothes, she decided there was no room to fuck in the front seat of our little car. We tried crawling to the back of our Mercury Tracer wagon, but we were still cramped. So we opened the hatch and she stood on the ground and leaned into the car so I could enter her from behind. It was still early evening and not fully dark. She was completely naked and I had my pants at my knees banging her as hard as I could. Initially I was really having a great time and didn't think about where we were. Slowly however, I realized if people from any of the four or five houses nearby looked out the window they would call the police. We knew this was not California and didn’t want to be arrested, so I hurried to finish in short order and we got out of there.
Another place we found for erotic adventure was at my job during our second year of marriage. While in graduate school, I worked as a night guard at a downtown high-rise office building. Often Paula would stop by and tease me, but we were not alone, there was a night cleaning crew of about ten people, a 24-hour radio station on the 7th floor, plus any executives who stayed late. One night she was particularly frisky. She came with me on my rounds and as we walked she began to tease me. She began grabbing my rear and making lewd comments. I literally dragged her into the elevator and I put the car on hold. We began to kiss passionately. We pulled off all our clothes with abandon and we made love for a good half an hour (which was way too long while I was on the job). It was great not just because we were in a public elevator making love, but because the ceiling was a mirror, so we got to watch the whole thing. So even in those early years she was opening up to sex beyond closed doors.
Us, circa 1988
This pattern of regular bouts of semi-public lovemaking continued over the next couple of years, even after I finished school and went to work for a Baptist Church. Like when we had gone to a local lake and walked along the shore for some time before we got crazy. She knelt down and gave me an awesome blow job right on the shore about 1:00 in the afternoon with a good half dozen fishing boats in sight. After she had worked on my cock for about 10 minutes, she stood up, dropped her jeans and bent over a large rock so I could drill her from behind. By then we had already found that having sex in public places provided quite the sexual zip for a monogamous couple.
I was by then a full-time minister, but neither of us were going to fit the mold. To this day Paula gets angry when she recalls how we got called into the Senior Pastor's office at that church to be scolded for how close we sat together in church and for our public displays of affection. However much pushback we got from the conservatives, we were already realizing that a sex-positive approach made us more effective with both teens and other young couples. I developed my first seminar for parents on teaching kids about sex at that church. While I got some criticism for it, I got far more parents thanking me for the seminar.
We also began at that time to expand our knowledge about sex beyond the "Christian" books on the subject. I remember distinctly when we rented an educational VHS video about sex and it turned out to be illustrated by real couples having real sex.
Once again, I must remind readers how different the world was before the internet. In most communities in the South and Mid-West there was no legal way to even obtain videos that had real sex in them. But, as this was a legitimate educational video it was allowed. It might have been legal but it was certainly way outside the normal acceptable content for fundamentalist Christians. We loved it. It was produced in the 70's and was pretty hippy-dippy, but it was informative and a turn on. As it was common practice in the day, we were able to just keep the video by paying the purchase price from the rental shop. It was the first of a collection. We actually have it to this day. Too bad we don't have a VHS machine on which to watch it.
So, even by the end of our first year in the Christian ministry, we were out of step with the accepted behavioral norms. Before we left the ministry less than a decade later, we would have a sexually open marriage. How we got there is the subject of the next few parts of this narrative.