Talk about a Pandora's box! Partner swapping has all the elements needed to worm damage through an otherwise healthy relationship. The marriage becomes like a block of Swiss cheese...at any given time you can slice into the relationship and find little (or not so little) holes hiding there. These holes are from the security, respect, and commitment pieces of the marriage that were lost as soon that first foreign touch or kiss transpired. Through these holes, many demons can come a'haunting and constantly wreak havoc on you and your marriage.
The first thing to go is security. You will likely torture yourself wondering how much your spouse is thinking of the other partner. Was that person “better” than you? More attractive than you? Is it possible that your spouse could lose feelings for you and decide that they would rather be with that other person? Of course you will also be asking yourself the same questions regarding you and your swap partner. All bonds of “my spouse only wants to be with me forever” are sadly gone.
As a close second, trust also goes out the window. You and/or your spouse will become obsessed with why the other one wanted to get involved in this lifestyle. Is he/she always thinking about this? Is this just a way for him/her to have sex with other people? Does he/she really think so little of you that you can be offered up as a trade? Will you be asked to do this again? What if you don't want to? Will your spouse and the other couple meet behind your back? These are only a few of the dark thoughts that will constantly take up residence in your brain.
With the lose of security and trust, fights will eventually follow. You can't keep all that bad mojo in your head. Perhaps it start with one of you wanting to just “talk” about what happened. This is a sign that badness is brewing in the brain and you or your spouse is trying to figure things out and find a way to get rid of those troubled thoughts. Sometimes couples don't communicate very well and the whole ordeal is never discussed until a final blowout that often marks the beginning of the end of the marriage. Or maybe the fight happens when you find your spouse cheating on you with someone else and they give you the excuse that you were fine with them sleeping with someone else before not to mention the fact that you have done it as well.
So far we have just touched on the damage to your marriage, it doesn't even take into account the damage done to the other couple or, in the worst situations, the friendships that existed between the couples beforehand. Be prepared to be blamed for many of the problems that arise between the other couple. Regardless of where the idea originated for the swap, you and/or your spouse will eventually be blamed. If either of these people are someone you are in close contact with, such as a neighbor or a coworker, you will have to face them on a regular basis and endure either pressure to continue this adventure even if you are trying to get out of these treacherous waters, or guilt, or even hatred. Rest assured that your relationship with both members of the other couple will also be forever altered.
Most importantly, you have to consider the damage that this could do to you, your self image, how you feel about yourself. Will you be able to look yourself in the eye the next day and be proud? Will you feel like you have desecrated your marriage? Can you control this? Will this be like the first dose of an addictive drug that will drag you into a world to which you would rather not belong? All of these things happen to people involved in a swap more often than not. Above everything else, you have to be able to live with yourself and take responsibility for your own actions.
It is true that there are some couples out there that can enjoy this lifestyle seemingly without any repercussions. However, these couples often have a somewhat different relationship than most, and the boundaries for engaging in this act have been set up from the very early stages of their relationship. If a couple is thinking about exploring this activity after they are already married, it is a sign that they are trying to “fix” something or “find” something that is lacking in the marriage. Going down this road will not do that. In fact, it will simply invite in many new problems to the relationship as well as dragging them into the turmoil of another relationship. Never, never, never let yourself be forced into this type of activity when you are not consensual. If you are getting that kind of pressure, perhaps the marriage is already dead and just needs to be buried.