What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And that couldn’t be truer for Lianna Walden, a mother of two who has been married to her husband, Mark, for over 20 years.
Eight years ago, Marked dropped a truth bomb on Lianna that rocked her to her very core.
“We were on holiday hiking on a mountain when Mark said were needed to talk,” she recalls. “Mark told me he had been sleeping with other blokes and was bisexual.”
Despite being a professional sex and relationship coach, Lianna says she was absolutely “devastated” by the news, unsure what to make of it or what it meant for the future of her marriage.
“I did go into shock,” she says. “It was devastating at first. I wasn’t as upset about him fooling around as I was about him lying to me. … I kicked myself for not realizing he’d been seeing men for two years.”
But after the shock wore off, a new feeling crept in.
“I was feeling jealous that he had started experimenting,” Lianna says.
To be clear: She wasn’t jealous of the other people Mark had been banging. She was jealous of Mark banging other people while she was confined to the tedium of monogamy.
“I didn’t want to be like my sister or friends and get a divorce,” she explains, but “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. … I wasn’t prepared to give up and destroy a marriage, our lives and everything. So I thought outside the box.”
Her solution? Open their marriage.
“I decided we’d try and make an open or non-monogamous marriage work,” she explains. “Mark could see his male friends and I could have flings with other people as well. We’d also indulge in threesomes as part of a shared experience. … 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?’”
Lianna and Mark quickly saw their relationship improve after the new arrangement.
“It was like we wanted each other more than ever because we’d reached an open and honest agreement,” she says.
Of course, there are still challenges from time to time.
“I have a lot of jealousy but I’ve been working on letting it go,” she says. “Mark has sex with other men and has chased other women although he never ended up sleeping with them. I think I would be jealous of another woman while men I can accept more easily.”
As for the future of their marriage, things are looking good.
“I want to keep moving forward,” Lianna says, “and I’m enjoying this kind of experimentation. People have said I have been too permissive with Mark just to stay married. That’s rubbish. His actions brought both of us to a place where we acknowledged that the relationship was not working. So we made changes.”
She continues, “People need to understand that sexuality is fluid and there is no right or wrong. Our relationship is always changing and [will] never stop changing. Remember what you consider normal today may change tomorrow and Mark and I have learnt that and always will respect each other’s needs.”