Tuesday, January 13, 2009

First Person: Jennifer Smith, wife, mother, swinger

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Jennifer Smith, 36, makes her living selling advertising. She has seven kids, ages 5 to 16 — two of them with her husband, a truck driver for a local delivery company whom she met six years ago. They were married in 2006, but have been frequenting swingers’ clubs almost as long as they’ve been together.

I come from a small town and was raised by a single mother in a very religious family where sex was something you didn’t do before marriage, but I’d always wondered what those places [swingers’ clubs] were like.

When I’d been to college and had my first child, I was a little bored. So I decided to ask my husband about it about three months after we first met. I think it surprised him, but he’d already been going as a single guy. He didn’t try to push me into it or anything. His whole thing was, “Let’s just go and see if you feel comfortable or not.”

So two days later, he took me to Club Venus. I was petrified. It was a crowded night and kind of dark and I don’t think a child could’ve held onto its parent crossing the street any tighter than I held onto him. It was interesting and I enjoyed it, but I was still like, “I can’t believe these people are doing this!” I saw the dungeon master in there with a woman doing his thing and I ran and got my husband and said, “Omigod, he’s beating her, he’s beating her. Stop him!”

On our third trip, we went to a private area with another couple. We went out to dinner beforehand and they said, “Try it out and see how you feel,” because a lot of women don’t feel comfortable seeing their significant other with someone else. But it was … I don’t even know how to describe it. I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. I didn’t feel like anybody was taking anything away from me or our relationship.

I’m the juice girl at Venus now. We were going there so much and I’d made friends with other people who work there. My husband and I go every year to Hedonism [swinger’s resort] in Jamaica and we meet friends there — not just for lifestyle purposes, but because they’re good friends. When you go to these places, there’s a lot of [business] networking that goes on and you can meet great people.

Everybody has his own inner freak, but people in the lifestyle are normal, with normal jobs. I’ve met real estate agents, lawyers, doctors, contractors, stock brokers — every spectrum of life. There are so many different types of people, from every socio-economic background. We’re not weird; we’re like anyone else walking down the street.

My husband and I have had problems, but we’ve been able to sit down, discuss them and resolve them without an outsider destroying our family. I feel like this is the most honest relationship I’ve ever been in. We’re very open with each other; even if we know it might hurt the other’s feelings, we always tell each other the truth. If we’re in a situation where one of us feels uncomfortable, we just have to say so and it’s stopped, no questions asked. Our sex life is great. In the lifestyle, you have to be very secure in your relationship. You can’t be the type who gets jealous a lot.

The lifestyle has changed somewhat since we got into it. A lot more African-Americans are exploring the lifestyle and more people from inside the Perimeter. And younger people in their 20s and early 30s are getting involved, which is both good and bad, because some people don’t have an understanding of the rules. If you truly adhere to what the lifestyle’s about, you’ll have more fun and stay safer.

I don’t play every weekend, and I know there’s going to come a time when I want to leave the lifestyle. I don’t think it’ll be any time soon, because I like it. But when my husband and I decide we don’t want to do this any more, we’ll stop.

I think being in the lifestyle has made me a more understanding, accepting person. My husband has a saying: “If they like it, I love it.” I don’t have the right to judge anybody for what they choose to do in their life. If more people adopted that concept, the world might be a better place.

Editor's note: 'First Person' is a series of commentaries that gives voice to those not commonly heard in Atlanta media. At the subject's request, we changed her last name.

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