5 Things I Learned From Reading a Book About Open Marriage

by Rose Maura Lorre
Originally Published: 

It’s a fascinating read, one filled with insightful takeaways about The Big Things in Life. Here are just five things I learned reading The Wild Oats Project:


1. Cheating (for me, at least) isn’t worth it.

Granted, Rinaldi makes crystal-clear that her project doesn’t count as cheating because she and her husband establish “open marriage” guidelines. But (spoiler alert!) she engages in out-of-bounds infidelities anyway, which, by her own rules (or really, anybody’s) do constitute cheating. I know all too well the heart-palpitating, stomach-churning thrill/dread of cheating, because I did it before I met my husband. But I’m happy to be reminded that choosing to stay faithful will bring more happiness—qualitative and quantitative, short-term and long-term—than an affair ever will.

2. Men who are too good to be true are too good to be true.

Here’s how Rinaldi describes her first dates with her future husband: “We drove down mountain roads and around hairpin curves listening to an audiotape of the poetry of William Butler Yeats…I stood up on the passenger seat, stuck my upper body out the sunroof, and threw my arms back, letting the sea wind hit my face until the road became too curvy to keep balanced… [Scott] said, ‘I’m so happy I feel like my heart could burst right out of my chest.'”

Sounds like something out of a movie, right? Here’s how she describes him not a few paragraphs later: “It also felt, at times, like I was a crash test dummy and he was a wall, and the only way to obtain information, or a reaction, or any kind of headway, was to ram into him…I showed my love by asking him to live together three years in and then haranguing him to propose seven years in; he showed his by eventually giving in to my requests.” Ugh.

3. If more people described their real-life sexual encounters this honestly, porn would’ve never been invented.

Whether it’s depicting marital sex, extramarital sex, or any points in between, The Wild Oats Project is as hot as any erotica you’ve laid eyes on—and made me realize that, despite our sex-steeped culture, we know next to nothing about the mechanics of other people’s sex lives. That’s to our collective detriment, because downplaying the hotness of “regular” sex (i.e., the sex regular people like you and I have) only deceives us into thinking the hotter sex is happening elsewhere among other, more gorgeous people—if only we could find them and convince them to take us to bed.

4. New rule to live by: “Make pleasure the basis for my decisions.”

Believe it or not, Rinaldi’s not one for sexual mantras. But this one, which she applies not to intercourse but to big decisions (where to live) and little moments (buying her morning coffee), stopped me in my tracks. Why isn’t pleasure a factor in most of the decisions I make?

5. Sex takes practice and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Getting good at sex is a stereotypically male concern, but now I realize it needn’t and shouldn’t be. We don’t all have to go out and take classes in stroking other women’s clitorises (clitori?) like Rinaldi. But a little homeschooling never hurts.

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