"How this couple saved their marriage by embracing non-monogamy and having sex with others"
Canada's leading national newspaper talks to an open couple from Vancouver. They're marriage coaches who are off to the International Conference on the Future of Monogamy and Non-Monogamy in Berkeley this weekend.
Q&A: How this couple saved their marriage by embracing non-monogamy and having sex with others
Mark Bentley Cohen and Lianna Walden
By Zosia Bielski
Mark Bentley Cohen decided a mountain top was the spot to tell his wife of 15 years that he was bisexual.
The Vancouver couple had considered experimenting with non-monogamy, but Cohen decided to go ahead without his wife, cheating for two years with other men. Instead of leaving him, Lianna Walden came to an atypical solution: The two would recast their somewhat stagnant marriage as a non-monogamous union, playing with others instead of divorcing.
“We really want to be together but we free each other to do what we want to do sexually,” says Walden, a 49-year-old filmmaker who now does marriage coaching.
On the cusp of their 20-year wedding anniversary, Cohen, 52, will star in a one-man show titled “Bi, Hung, Fit … and Married” at this weekend’s International Conference on the Future of Monogamy and Non-Monogamy, held at the University of California, Berkeley.
Walden and Cohen spoke with The Globe about how people react to the unconventional setup and what their teenage kids think.
How did you move from grappling with your husband’s infidelity to diving into a non-monogamous marriage?
Lianna Walden: It was devastating at first. I wasn’t as upset about him fooling around as I was about him lying to me. I was feeling jealous that he had started experimenting. I didn’t want the same relationship any more. I said, if you’re going to do that then I would like to experiment, too.
The first time it was me, Mark and another guy. It was terrifying. We went through it and I was like oh my god, why didn’t we do this before?...
...And there’s no jealousy?
Bentley Cohen: I wouldn’t say that. This past summer Lianna was reading this book on polyamory and was big on the idea. She started moving closer to Russ. I thought Russ was going to move in and the three of us were going to be sharing a bathroom and a bed. I was definitely uncomfortable with the idea. When it came to emotionality and another love relationship, I was jealous....
...You’re telling me this is easier than monogamy?
Bentley Cohen: No! It’s easier to stay in simple dissatisfaction, which is stable.
Walden: We give workshops and we tell people that it’s not the easy route. There are more emotions you have to deal with but it’s way more exciting. We love each other more than we’ve ever loved each other before.
Bentley Cohen: We’ve allowed each other all these freedoms, crossed all kinds of lines and upset each other in ways that we could never even have imagined before. It’s made us stronger. There’s a lot of emotional upheaval but in the end that’s what a lot of people are missing from their relationships after 15 years of being together when you become complacent and stagnate.
Read on (Feb. 20, 2014).
A little earlier, I now find out, Lianna Walden and Mark Bentley Cohen were interviewed in Vancouver's The Straight: Bisexuality and open relationships: transcending myths of monogamy and monosexuality (Feb. 5, 2014). With a better photo of them.
Update: In the U.K.'s Independent, Adultery may be the key to a long, happy marriage, psychologists claim (Feb. 21, 2014).