(MyFoxBoston.com) – Marriage is a commitment between a couple to have and to hold, but what if you've both agreed it is okay to have and to hold another couple?
Swinging is alive and thriving, and you may be surprised to find swingers living right next door.
The definition of swinging according to www.spicymatch.com is "engagement in sexual activity with someone other than one's spouse or primary partner, with the full knowledge and consent of that spouse/primary partner."
According to relationship expert Dr. Karen Ruskin, swingers can be soccer moms, hockey dads, businessmen and women, married and living in the suburbs, just like many of you. But they have decided, together, to stray from monogamy and enter into sexual relations with other couples.
They're swingers, and they've invaded the suburbs.
"There are people swinging right in our own backyard," Dr. Ruskin said. "When it comes to swinging it is more common than you might think. Just because your neighborhood doesn't tell you they're not swingers, doesn't mean they're not swingers."
Meet happily married Jess and Jack. She is a stay-at-home mom and he is ex-military turned corporate. They've been swinging for years and wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's getting to experience something new, you know? It's like driving a new car – you may love your car, but you want to go drive this other one on a Sunday because it's fun to drive, but you're still going to go back to your car. It's just, it's something I can give him. I can give him a new experience by letting him experience somebody else," Jess said.
"We just like to have fun with people," Jack said.
Jess and Jack are not alone. According to the Kinsey Institute, the estimated number of swingers in the United States alone ranges anywhere from four to 15 million, with accounts of up to 15 percent of couples hopping on the swing set at some point in their marriages.
Swingers attend house parties, conventions, and swap online. And though swinging may take your mind back to a hot tub 70s scenario, it dates as far back as the 16th century. Swinging re-emerged during WWI when American fighter pilots were dying at an alarming rate. The men would make promises to one another to take care of their wives should they die.
Dr. Ruskin says swinging is still about filling a need and that's a tricky scenario that could cost you your marriage.
"I believe swinging will spice up our relationship and help us to take it to another level – can't tell ya' how often I hear that line. That is a big mistake because if the relationship is already in trouble, swinging makes it worse," Dr. Ruskin said.
"And do bear in mind that when it comes to swinging there are always rules, and swingers believes that if you follow these rules swinging will be a wonderful experience and everyone will feel safe and happy. I'm here to say that that doesn't wind up being the outcome. Swinging is suicide to relationships," Dr. Ruskin added.
Courtney, another swinger, agrees swinging can make or break a marriage.
"There are a lot of people who get into the lifestyle to fix their marriage, and it's either going to fix it or it is going to break it," she said.
"If your marriage is already going the wrong way, I think swinging is a great idea because you're probably gonna' find out real fast that you don't want to be together anyway," Jack said.
So though it may sound like a recipe for disaster to many "vanilla couples" as they're referred to by the swing community, national surveys suggest 60 percent of real deal swingers, like Jess and Jack, say it has improved their relationship.
"And you're not afraid that she may fall in love with someone else?" FOX 25's Sara Underwood asked.
"No. I mean I guess the real root answer is that there's never a concern, but there could be a little bit of jealousy, but the jealousy adds to the excitement of it," Jack answered.
"There's not. There's not jealousy because I know he's always coming back to me. We're together, but it's still fun to play with other people," Jess said.
It may be hard to believe, but we have been told that Boston is one of the fastest growing swing populations in the United States.
So how do you spot a swinger in your neighborhood?
Years ago, purple doors and white rocks out front may have been an indicator, but like everything else, the Internet has taken over and the swing community now connects online.
So unless they tell you outright, it is nearly impossible to know for sure.