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Ask Amy: I don’t know what my wife means by ‘opening our marriage’

Ask Amy: I don’t know what my wife means by ‘opening our marriage’

Dear Amy: I’m so upset. I’ve been married to my wife for seven years. I have loved our life and thought we were both fulfilled and happy.

Lately she’s been a little distant, but I assumed that work or family issues with her big extended family were stressing her out.

Last night she dropped a bombshell. She asked me how I would feel about “opening up our marriage.”

I’ve heard about open marriages, of course, but what does this even mean?

I was too shocked to say much, and she asked me to “think about it.”

After a sleepless night I wonder how I’m supposed to think about anything else.

How am I supposed to respond?

– Devastated Husband

Dear Husband: The trend toward describing some marriages as “open” is supposed to imply that both parties are consenting to having other sexual relationships outside the marriage.

When one party asks to open the marriage, they are seeking consent to stray.

Your wife is not granting you freedom or latitude; she wants to take it, and she is giving you a heads-up that she has met someone.

She has asked you how you feel, and so you should tell her exactly how you are feeling: confused, upset, concerned and possibly angry. Lay it all out there.

I hope you two can have a completely honest talk about your mutual concerns and desires.

Dear Amy: “Liz” and I worked together for a short time nearly 20 years ago. She was excellent at her work and was an officer in a national organization in our field.

We have not seen one another in years. We’ve spoken on the phone one time in the last six years.

A decade ago, I spoke with an old colleague and recommended her to work at a firm I worked at 30 years ago. Liz got the job and was fired within weeks; I am not aware of the reason.

Liz has changed jobs a lot. She apparently has difficulty holding a job, and often will send a text informing me that she has listed me as a reference for a new application.

Responding to her subsequent requests, I have answered questionnaires, spoken with Human Resources on the phone, and reached out to colleagues at various hiring firms.

Several weeks ago, she contacted me yet again, asking for a reference for a job at a preeminent firm where I have had close contacts for decades. The position was great, interesting and with good benefits.

She got the job, and has now lost that job.

I found this out when she texted me and told me she had given my phone number to someone at a new opportunity, who would be calling me.

My concern is not only that I am referring someone whom I haven’t worked with for many years, but I have no knowledge of her recent work, or the reasons she changes jobs so often.

In referring her to old colleagues and friends, am I messing up my own reputation when these situations don’t work out for whatever reason?

With so many failures after my recommendations are given, maybe I’m not the right person to be providing references.

What do you think I should do?

– Stunningly Good References — Not!

Dear Good References: If all Liz has to do to get a great reference from you is to supply your phone number and then shoot you a text, then you sound like the perfect mark.

You have been extremely generous in assisting this person, but at this point you are devaluing your own personal and professional currency when your own experience with her is ancient and yet you continue to recommend her for jobs when you know (by now) that – based on her extensive track record – she will not succeed.

When you receive the next text from Liz, you could reply: “I’ve provided many references for you over the years, but my work experience with you was so brief and so long ago that I am no longer able to provide any kind of helpful reference. Please don’t supply my phone number to any more potential employers.”

Dear Amy: “Pondering Papa in the Pacific Northwest” expressed his discomfort over his 20-year-old daughter sleeping with her boyfriend during a visit to the family home.

Your advice was ridiculous. It’s called “my house, my rules,” and it’s that simple.

– Not Pondering

Dear Not Pondering: “Pondering Papa” and his wife disagreed on this matter. It’s her house, too.

You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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