A couple opened up their marriage after a decade. The wife lost weight, the husband tackled his alcohol addiction — and they wanted to explore.

Karl Haycock and Nashelly Alba Romo on their wedding day; the couple 12 years later.
Karl Haycock and Nashelly Alba Romo opened up their marriages after some big life changes.Karl Haycock and Nashelly Alba Romo
  • Karl Haycock and Nashelly Alba Romo have been ethically non-monogamous for four years.

  • They tried ENM after Alba Romo lost half her body weight and Haycock tackled his alcohol addiction.

  • They think their relationship is stronger than ever because they opened it up.

Karl Haycock and Nashelly Alba Romo have been together for 12 years and married for 10. But for the last four years, they've been seeing other people.

They aren't cheating or separated — they're ethically non-monogamous, an umbrella term that encompasses polyamory. The couple are part of a growing number of people who prefer dating and having sex with more than one person. Though polyamorous people are in the minority — a 2021 study suggested about 4 to 5% of US adults were in a consensually non-monogamous relationship — the practice is increasingly visible with cities including Oakland, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, legislating to protect non-monogamous people from discrimination.

Haycock, 38, from Ireland, and Alba Romo, 36, from Mexico, met in Ireland in 2012 on a dating app and married in 2014. They live in Madrid and work for an erotic audio platform, Bloom Stories.

While Haycock says he thinks he always had it in him to be non-monogamous, it wasn't something the couple discussed until years into their marriage, after Alba Romo lost a lot of weight and Haycock got sober after dealing with alcoholism for years.

They made some big changes before they were confident enough to open up their marriage

Karl Haycock and Nashelly Alba Romo at their wedding.
Haycock and Alba Romo at their wedding in 2014.Karl Haycock and Nashelly Alba Romo

In 2018, Alba Romo lost almost half her body weight after having gastric sleeve surgery, and discovered a newfound confidence.

"I became really secure in myself, started to dress better, even my mood changed," she said. "I started to notice how some guys were looking at me, and that was something completely new for me.

"I would have loved to try it and explore, but I was married to Karl, and even though I was happy with him, I felt trapped."

Haycock, on the other hand, gained confidence after tackling his alcohol addiction. He'd been drinking since the age of 16 and was consuming a bottle of vodka a day throughout his 20s.

He has been sober for five years, aside from one relapse on vacation four years ago, which he said made him realize he never wanted to drink again.

"I would drink a bottle of vodka, find a dark corner, and cry my eyes out in. I didn't go out, I didn't socialize at all when I was drinking because I didn't have the confidence," he said.

At that time, Haycock wasn't in a position to think about making connections with people other than his wife.

The couple did a lot of research before trying ethical non-monogamy

"The" conversation about opening up the relationship was suddenly on the table in 2020 when, while driving, the couple joked about Haycock hypothetically having a stripper on his knee at his friend's upcoming bachelor party, and Alba Romo said she wouldn't mind.

For a year and a half, they researched and discussed polyamory, including reading books and listening to podcasts.

Each time they had a doubt about something they heard on a podcast or read in a book, they would ask each other about it and come up with approaches they were both comfortable with.

They agreed on rules including keeping their bedroom as a "sacred space" for just the two of them, not getting involved with each other's friends or family, and always using protection during sex.

When they were ready to practice what they agreed would work for them as a polyamorous couple, they went to a hotel catering to ethical non-monogamy with the goal of kissing other people.

Karl Haycock and Nashelly Alba Romo.
Haycock and Alba Romo after losing weight and tackling an alcohol addiction.Karl Haycock and Nashelly Alba Romo

Now, a few years in, they have each had several different "connections" with separate people at different times.

Alba Romo is "working on herself," and so isn't really seeing anyone. Haycock has multiple friends-with-benefits arrangements with women in different countries, whom he meets sometimes and can practice kinks that Alba Romo isn't into. He isn't looking for another romantic connection, though, as his "romantic needs are met" by his wife.

Haycock and Alba Romo think opening up their marriage has made it stronger

The couple think they would've opened their marriage up even if they hadn't lost weight and gotten sober.

"It's always been in my head, from an early age, and I think if I didn't have the issues with alcohol at all, I think I would have pursued this path anyway," Haycock said.

Alba Romo's motivations were different: "I like to be evolving all the time, I am always questioning and moving forward. So I would like to believe I would have ended up questioning the traditional ways," she said.

They agree that if they had stuck to monogamy, they would have gotten bored. "And knowing me, I probably would have wandered," Haycock said. "I can love this girl until the ends of the earth, but I can never be everything she needs me to be, all the time, forever."

And so far, it's worked for them — "Our relationship is stronger now than it was when we were doing it traditionally," Haycock said.

Alba Romo concurred: "Karl and I are together not because we are married but because we choose to be together every day. We have to really look after our relationship because we know if we're not happy, we can just go with different people."

Read the original article on Business Insider