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What to Know About ‘More,’ the Steamy Bestseller About Open Marriage

Molly Roden Winter describes what happened when she and her husband decided to forgo monogamy

spinner image left the book cover of more right author molly roden winter and her husband stewart
Michael Tyrone Delaney/The New York Times/Redux

So … ever thought about having sex with someone outside of your primary relationship? How about having it with your romantic partner’s permission — and doing so while said partner is having his or her own extramarital sexual adventures?

What could go wrong?

Quite a bit, it seems — at least in the case of Molly Roden Winter, 51, a mother and writer in Brooklyn, whose new book More: A Memoir of Open Marriage became a New York Times bestseller (it hit number 11 last week) and the top-selling new memoir on Amazon since its release last month. It has readers hot and/or bothered by her descriptions of life since she and her husband, Stewart, now 56, decided to forgo monogamy.

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The book describes how it all began, back in 2008: Stewart was working late one night, as he often did, while a frustrated Winter, who was then a teacher, was left alone to put their two sons to bed. When Stewart finally came home, she left in a huff, and ended up grabbing drinks with a friend at a bar and flirting with Matt — a younger guy with “slim hips” and “thick curly hair.” Later, back at home, Stewart found Matt’s number written on a napkin, and suggested she see him again.

Why? The idea of her having sex with another man turned Stewart on.  

After some reluctance on her part, they both proceed to explore sex with multiple people over the decade or so chronicled in the book. In Winter’s case, the experience includes an enviable number of seismic orgasms, along with what seems to be a similar amount of crying jags, therapy sessions and migraines.

Bottom line? This open marriage thing is complicated. Just try not to feel jealous when your husband goes on a date with his ex-girlfriend. (Winter tries, and fails. “Are you sure it’s OK?” her husband asks, before he leaves to see the ex. “Yup,” she says, while thinking, Doesn’t he know I’m lying?)

The book is worth a read if you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship and wondered, What if …? Or if you’re simply interested in the different ways people choose to love, and what this particular way might look like.

Here’s what to know:

It’s incredibly frank.

Winter doesn’t hold back, describing details like her furiously itchy skin after a waxing session, for instance, and plucking “the errant hairs around my nipples” before a date. She also discusses how she discovered as an adult that her parents also had an open relationship, where her mother had a romantic relationship with a close friend. “It was your father’s idea,” her mom tells her.

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It’s full of kinky sex.

And not just with curly-haired Matt, with whom she has periodic, guilt-ridden sex for four years. (That ends when she writes a text to Stewart: “Matt’s still here. But don’t worry. He has nothing on you as a lover,” and sends it to Matt by mistake.) Winter also goes online to find men, ending up with a few duds and several very creative lovers, including one who ropes her into an awkward threesome with his fiancée and another who takes her to a bizarre Shakespeare-themed sex show. One guy, Leo the comedy writer, suggests she use a particular sex toy that I had to google (not on my work computer) to figure out what it was. Nope, not saying it here.

 And, yes, she writes, “We both get tested for STDs regularly.” 

It’s a killer pick for your book club.

See above.

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Love happens.

Among the many rules she and Stewart settle on for their open marriage is “Don’t date an ex. … No sleeping over. … Don’t date anyone too young. ... And absolutely no falling in love.” My first thought was, Good luck with that last one, and it does turn out to be impossible. She falls for — among others — sweet-sounding Karl, a self-described “ethically nonmonogamous” German guy. When he eventually (spoiler alert!) ghosts her, she’s devastated.    

It makes you appreciate monogamy (mostly).

It’s easy to understand the appeal of being with someone new who makes you, as Winter puts it, feel “not like a wife or a mom but a desirable woman again.” ​But, seismic orgasms aside, her experiences with polyamory don’t sound so wonderful. More often it seems a bit torturous, like when she finds a hotel key card in Stewart’s pockets, and feels “my jealousy mingle with the resentment I’ve kept at bay for years … everything is colored by fury.”  There’s also the agony following a breakup with Laurent, a French/Argentinian guy who turns out to be a jerk: Sobs “tear through my body,” she writes. “I fall asleep with the lights on, my head still buried in pillows soaked in my tears and stiffening with dried snot, my eyes swollen, my face a map of broken blood vessels.”

Yes, their kids know.

Winter recounts how her older son, Nathan, discovered their open marriage at age 13 when he saw his dad’s online dating profile on his computer. In an interview with The New York Times, Winter says that her kids, now 19 and 21, are unfazed by their parents’ sex lives; her oldest told her he read the book and skipped some of the “nitty-gritty” sex scenes. Her youngest doesn’t want to read it, according to Winter.

Her marriage is still nonmonogamous.

I asked Winter, through her publisher, if she and Stewart continue to see other people, and she responded, “The book shows the first 10 years (2008-2018) of what did start out as an ‘experiment’ but is now a firm part of our foundation. So yes, still open!”

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