swinging, one couple having sex with or beside another couple
Q: Hello Joe, I have a very important question….because its everywhere, more then I ever imagined. That does not make it right. It’s consensual sex with husband & wife with others, commonly know as swingers. If a married couple seems like the fire has been turned to a pilot waiting to be lit,what’s wrong with a little soft or so swinging as long as no one gets hurt physically or emotionally, and it enhances the married couple’s sex life after the fact in the privacy of their own bedroom…and it’s not a whole (lifestyle), it’s a jump in and get out just to enjoy the nature that was given to us. Is it better than to deceive your spouse and commit adultery? IMPORTANT: answer needed. PLEASE!!
A: Though I, as always, withheld your identity, I think it helpful to our readers to know this question is from a wife. As you say, this happens more than most people imagine. Recently I corresponded about this with my friend Brian Alexander who writes the Sexploration column for MSNBC. We discussed the varying reports of how many American married couples participate in “the alternative lifestyle” that used to be called swinging, and before that wife-swapping. There is no clear answer because much of the so-called research fails miserably in meeting scientifically acceptable research standards and procedures. The more reliable research has been done by actual scholars rather than people with an agenda. A quick scan of scholarly articles indicates that somewhere between 1.7% and 4% of the married couples in the USA have, or are participating in some form of consensual sex with others. That’s quite a number of couples. According to the US census, there were 54.5 million married couples in the USA in the year 2000. Using that number, 1.7% would be a little shy of a million couples, and 4 % would be over two million couples. Either way, that’s a LOT of couples.
However, as you stated, “that does not make it right.”
My friend Brian at MSNBC has a different world view than mine. He’s an agnostic and I’m a Christian. (Yes, we really are friends. I like the guy a lot.) Yet when Brian wrote an article about swinging, he penned, “…swinging can be a minefield of jealousy and I shouldn’t have to remind you that we are living in the age of AIDS, herpes and a stew of other sexually transmitted diseases. Indeed, swinging often sounds more fun than it is. Ads for swing clubs often depict extremely sexy women and handsome men, but try going to a nude beach someday. Take a look around. Those are the types of bodies you are most likely to encounter at a swing party. Personals advertising swinging couples often beg for single men to stay away because many more men are interested in swinging than women. Remember, sometimes the fantasy of something is better than the reality.”
I don’t hang out at nude beaches, but I see the folks walking by me on the streets and get his point about that. However, it seems you have a particular couple in mind, and if that is the case you likely see them as attractive. I wondered if that is why you went on to list your reasons that would lead you to think it okay. Your points were:
1. It would turn on your “pilot light” and make sex better for your husband and you.
2. You would only do it briefly and not actually go into that lifestyle.
3. It would be better to do this than commit adultery.
Let me respond to those in order…
1. If you and your husband consensually involve yourselves in sex with other couples, or having sex in the same room as another couple (soft swinging), that could, indeed, rev up the passion of the sex act. Admittedly, over time a couple has sex less often and, as anyone that has been married for a while can attest, it can get boring. My friend Barry McCarthy, PhD, is one of the leading sex experts, researchers, and wrters in America. He wrote me recently, “Emphasize the crucial importance of positive, realistic sexual expectations: The most important being that less than 50% of sexual encounters among happily married, sexually functional couples have outcomes that are mutually satisfying, and 5-15% of sexual encounters in marriage are dissatisfying or dysfunctional.” His point is that a natural part of life is that sex isn’t always going to be great, exciting, and all that kind of thing. That’s why the most important thing in a marriage isn’t sex, but the bonding between husband and wife that develops a deep, loving, life-long commitment. There are many ways to spice up a sex life in marriage without involving other people, but no matter what you do — even swinging — sex in and of itself isn’t going to be what you apparently think it is going to be.
2. As to the “get in and get out” and be excited by the memories of the brief excursion, you know that isn’t realistic. If you found it exciting, you would repeat it. If you found it repulsive, you would develop very negative feelings toward your husband for being involved in it. Remember the commercial about no one being able to eat just one potato chip? Telling yourself it would be brief and not a lifestyle is a well-used and very effective form of self delusion. If you enjoyed it physically, the reality is that eventually you would have to have it to become sexually aroused and never again would your husband alone be enough for you. Remember what Brian wrote above about “minefield of jealousy”? We have worked with the couples that started into swinging and eventually; 1) one of them fell in love with another sex partner, 2) one of them (usually the wife, but not always) started comparing themselves to the other sex partners and felt ugly, unexciting, etc., 3) sex became more important than relationship and they became strangers living in the same house. In short, this line of thinking just isn’t valid.
3. Having sex with another couple is adultery. The fact that it is consensual doesn’t mean that you aren’t violating your marriage covenant. That’s what adultery is; violation of the marriage covenant. That’s why lusting after someone you are not married to is already committing adultery. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28). As to our “nature that was given to us” you referred to, Jesus went on immediately to say, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” In short, He said that if our flesh leads us to violate what should be holy, we’d be much better off to get rid of the flesh than the face the spiritual consequences.
Paul visits the theme of walking by the flesh or walking by the Spirit several times in his writings. For example, start at Galatians 5:19 and read the next several verses. Look up the definitions of the words used to describe the works of the flesh. The alternative lifestyle, swinging, wife-swapping, or whatever you wish to call it falls squarely within the description of walking by the flesh.
Could you avoid the flesh if you just have sex in the same room as another couple and not actually touch them? Think about it. It’s flesh, not Spirit. Sex is a bond between a man and a woman. It is not to be polluted, diluted, or intruded upon by involving any other person. Ever.
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)