Holly Hill: Believes in negotiated fidelity. Photo: Michael Myers
Author Holly Hill believes 'negotiated fidelity' could be the way to a long and happy marriage.
Negotiated fidelity is basically a husband and wife agreeing to have sex outside of the marriage, but with conditions.
"It's sexual risk management against cheating. There are going to be variations, hormone levels, falling in love with other people. You need to talk about everything before tragedy happens." Hill, 46, explains.
Hill has documented her journey with negotiated fidelity in her third book, The Velvet Pouch.
"Every couple purely needs to ask and assess, 'what would make us break up?' before their relationship starts. As soon as you get a new boyfriend, you need to sit down and say, 'Can I perve on other guys when I'm out with you?', and ask them questions. You need to ask them what makes them feel comfortable."
Once boundaries are set, both parties know what is acceptable and what is off limits.
Sexual Health Australia estimates that 70% of marriages experience an affair, so Hill says negotiated fidelity can save your marriage, "You need to protect your marriage like any other investment, like taking out insurance when you get a new car or having savings in the bank in case one of the kids gets sick. Its all just risk management."
A recent sex consensus conducted by a woman's website She Knows claims that 13.2% of men and women are in an open or swinging relationship, and that 6.4% of men and 8.6% of women are in a committed open relationship.
However, Hill's experiences with the topic weren't smooth sailing, and she's the first one to admit it.
"What we discovered is that any kind of infidelity has to be a one time encounter. Our mistake was that we eroded each others confidence," she says.
But she still believes it could work.
"The recipe for lifetime sexual exclusivity itself is failing, we need to change and update the recipe. Talk to your partner, 'What are our boundaries? What would bring on a breakup? How far can I go? What would upset you?' These all need to be covered."
Hill acknowledges that monogamy is a term that we need to be able to work with, no matter what your view on relationships are, despite unapologetically calling herself an 'anti – monogamist' in the past.
Not everyone will approve of negotiated fidelity, but Hill insists that there are some factors within the concept that all couples should accept.
We contacted Relationships Australia but they declined to comment on Hill's book.
Dr Christopher Fox from 'Sex Life Therapy' in Melbourne agrees that relationships require negotiation, "At its simplest level, it comes down to, what are we having for dinner? Do we want kids? How many? It rings true to every relationship.
"Negotiated fidelity is for some couples who wish to put the time into negotiating. Negotiation is very important to a relationship, so is communication. Communication underpins a good relationship.
"If you were to try it, you would need to be very clear about what you are asking of each other and what the boundaries would be. The most important thing is having a strong relationship to begin with," he says.
Fox believes the concept could work but it would be hard slog like most relationships, "The idea that there is one perfect match for you out there is more suited to Hollywood."