By Emma Pearson @emma_pear
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Videographer / Director: Elie Khadra
Producer: Emma Pearson, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: Sonia Estal, Ian Phillips
Gracie ‘X’ is part of an ‘ethical non-monogamy’ community – where members openly indulge in extramarital sex with the full knowledge of their spouse.
The Pilates teacher and writer is mum to 16-year-old Tallulah and 11-year-old Merlin, and believes her open and positive attitude to sex makes her a better parent.
Gracie said: “Having sex outside my marriage makes me a fabulous mother. Anything that keeps me happy and gives me energy makes me a better mother.
“If my kids asked me to stop being polyamorous I wouldn’t. I could not stop being who I am, I could not stop living the lifestyle that is me.”
Gracie opened her marriage with her first husband, Hank, six years ago.
The couple invited a man called Oz and his two children to live with them and their children in a duplex.
Hank took on a girlfriend, Valerie, who also moved into the family home.
Initially Gracie had sex with both her ex-husband and Oz and the four adults and their children lived together for four years.
Eventually Gracie grew closer to Oz and Hank grew closer to Valerie and the couples went their separate ways.
Now Gracie and Oz are married and continuing to sow their wild oats with other members of the ethical non-monogamy community in California – whilst remaining devoted to each other.
Rather than hide her sexual exploits from her children, Gracie prefers to be open and says she would be supportive if her daughter decided to follow in her footsteps.
And the 48-year-old believes her sexual freedom creates a happier home and family.
Gracie, from California, said: “It definitely has made me a better parent and a better wife – it’s made me a happier person.
“Domestic life can get spectacularly boring and I need a separate adult life. The downside of monogamy is monotony.
“I think that’s the reason my daughter and son are so close to me is because they know I’m happy and they don’t need to worry about me. I have more energy to give to my kids.
“The biggest burden you can put on your child is an unfulfilled life. We really have to make sure we’re living.
“I’m happy and fun to be around and they ask me about intimate things because I’m sex positive and I’m not trying to control their lives.”
Gracie also insists that non-monogamy keeps the fire burning in her marriage to 41-year-old Oz.
She said: “Knowing that your husband is a separate sexual being is a great way of keeping the relationship alive.
“It makes us closer and after we’ve been with another person the passion between us when we come back together is unbelievable.”
Oz has dabbled in ethical non-monogamy through most of his relationships and he finds his arrangement with Gracie to be extremely fulfilling.
Oz said: “Being polyamorous helps me have a better sex life both inside and outside the marriage.
“It’s fun to explore and be out there and to have new experiences and it’s fun to take those experiences back and it’s fun to grow a relationship with Gracie.”
And although Gracie admits she does suffer from jealousy, she is now fully immersed in the ethical non-monogamy community.
Gracie said: “I get completely jealous when Oz meets up with other women.
“This is one of the biggest fallacies of this - of course I get jealous.
“I think of Oz as this amazing male sexual animal and he goes off and he does these things and there’s part of me that is activated, that is also on the prowl and it’s an animal thing.
“It’s like all the fur on the back of my neck is activated and it’s not a comfortable thing – it’s almost a competitive thing. It’s like ‘oh, she gave you that? Well I’m going give you even better.”
But not everyone agrees with the couple’s lifestyle.
Gracie said: “I’ve told people who I am and what I’m doing and I can see the terror in their eyes so there’s a lot of ignorance and really not understanding.
“You know what I think is really true is when people are negative about this it’s because of something that’s happening for them in their own life.”
Luckily for the couple, Gracie’s children are supportive of their relationship, although there were some teething problems.
Tallulah said: “I was about ten or 11 and my parents sat me down and they told me they are going to start having special friends.
“I sensed these special friends were something more and it scared me.
“It took some getting used to but now I think being polyamorous makes her a better mother because she’s happy.
“It’s like she’s not focused on controlling my life because she has her own life and she’s happy in her relationship.
“I think it affected my view of relationships because now I know I can love the way I want to and really make a relationship in the way I want to and not the way society wants it to.”
Gracie has even written a book about her lifestyle called ‘Wide Open; My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage and Loving on My Own Terms’.
She hopes the future will bring acceptance of her lifestyle and she aims to encourage a sex positive attitude in her children.
Gracie said: “I love and trust my husband and we’re very open about what we’re doing and we set parameters that we’re both comfortable with.
“Some people are critical with the way we live but it suits us and I’ve never been happier.
“Ethical non-monogamy is a sex-positive world; sex is seen as normal, it’s seen as healthy. I’m a sex positive parent.”
To learn more about Gracie, visit her website at graciex.com