Chris Hubbard, 54, and Beth Aucoin, 38, are like a lot of married couples in San Francisco. They spend a lot on rent, help each other in the kitchen and they're also in an open marriage.
"This is my second marriage," Chris tells me on a visit to their loft apartment in the Bay Area. "My first one ended disastrously. And it was so bad, I decided I didn't know much about marriage or relationships."
I didn’t want to go through five divorces.
So they decided to try an open marriage. It was actually Beth's idea. They were waiting at a crosswalk when Beth out of the blue told him, "I want to have sex with whoever I want, whenever I want, and you have to be ok with that."
Chris says a chill went down his back, but he quickly came to his senses and said "Ok," rationalizing that it was not his job to hold her back from what brings her pleasure an joy. Now, five years into their marriage (12 together) Chris has a girlfriend and Beth has various "boy toys" she sees around the country.
"Usually for his birthday," says Beth, "I make sure the three of us do something."
Beth decided to go into an open marriage after she saw the constraints of a traditional one on her mother and grandmother.
"Each woman would get to a place of upset. Of not telling their partner what they wanted, what they needed, in many different ways. Sexually, entertainment or someone to talk to. And I didn't want to go through five divorces."
And they're not alone. There's not a lot of data on open marriages in the U.S., but a 2015 study by Avvo estimates that 4% of Americans are in an open relationship. Dossie Easton is a marriage and family therapist who's spent years working with polyamorous couples. She even wrote a book called "The Ethical Slut," which many in the community see as the bible to practicing polyamory. She says people are getting into polyamory at a younger age now.
"It's a new world," says Easton. "We're now entering into relationships for emotional reasons. Because we're in love and we're hoping it will last forever. Even though we've done it a few times and know it won't last forever."
If she wants to have sex with another person, please do so.
Ethan, 35, and Kat, 24, are one such young couple. They have been in an open committed relationship for three years.
"Right now I have Kat, and then I just started seeing someone else the last couple of weeks," says Ethan.
Each couple says they set rules to make their relationship work.
"Fairly simple," says Chris. "I want to make sure she has the pleasure she needs in her life. If she wants to have sex with another person, please do so."
Beth and Chris must also tell each other when they go on dates or sleep with someone else, and always use protection. And yes, there's jealousy.
"I've definitely felt envious of another person that he's spending time with," says Kat. "Like, not the person. It's the time that he's spending."
"When I get jealous, it's a feeling. It's not much worse than feeling cold in the morning. It's not an overwhelming thing."
Beth says one question she gets a lot is why people enter an open marriage if they don't want the commitment to one person.
"I know why. It's that feeling of 'I've put in this many years with this person. I want him on my You-can't-get-off-my-list-now'," says Beth.
For people looking to open their relationship, they have this advice.
"The one piece of advice I keep hearing everywhere is, 'Don't ask; don't tell," says Chris. "Which is, 'Go off and do you stuff, and don't tell your partner.' As far as I can tell, it's a recipe for disaster."
And then there are the misconceptions.
"That it's just one big fuck fest all the time," says Kat, laughing.
"Ironically, I think we've gotten more traditional. It's interesting because we used to do a lot more crazy stuff. I run off less now."