The 'Lifestyle' -- Real-Life Wife Swaps


On the hit ABC show "Desperate Housewives," cheating destroys marriages because spouses lie and get caught.

But we found couples who say they have found a way to enjoy the company of others without the deception. It's called the "lifestyle," or swinging, an arrangement in which couples have sex with other couples, and there is no secrecy.

Brian and Olga Depenbrock got married four years ago. Now they run a business together, and after work they like to go to a club in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., called Trapeze, which also has branches in Atlanta and Philadelphia.Trapeze looks like other nightclubs, with a dance floor, buffet, bar.

But it's not like other clubs, because in back there's a locker room where couples can get undressed and, if they want, have sex in different bedrooms with other couples -- or watch one another in hot tubs. It's called swinging or the "lifestyle."

Isn't it immoral? Four couples I talked to said no, it's a good thing.

"What we do is not illegal. And I don't believe it's immoral," said Brian.

Chris, who takes part in the lifestyle with his wife, Lavonne, said, "I don't want to be 85 years old, looking back on my life, like, 'Man, I didn't have enough sex in my life.' " Like most of the couples we talked to, Chris and Lavonne didn't want their last names used.

Another swinging couple, Bob and Tess, were college sweethearts. They've been married 19 years, and five years into their marriage they decided to try the lifestyle.

"Tess was the first woman I ever kissed in my whole life. So you always have an innate curiosity about 'How would another woman feel?' I no longer have that curiosity," Bob said.

Swinging was Tess' idea. She heard about it from a girlfriend and was intrigued. She figured their relationship was strong enough to give swinging a try. "You have to be completely open and honest with each other," she said.

Won't they look back at their lives and feel that they ruined the intimacy they had with each other by having sex with all these other people?

"No. It's made us much stronger over the years," said Bob. "Just 'cause we are attracted to other people, doesn't mean that we don't love each other."

But if they really loved each other, they wouldn't be attracted to other people, right?

Bob and Tess don't believe that. "To us, sex is not love. Sex is sex. It's just natural to be attracted to people, to other people. I mean, that's just nature. And we decided one day not to suppress nature," Bob said.

The first time Bob and Tess went to a club, they didn't participate. They just watched. That's common. Often almost half of the people at the clubs are "soft swingers" -- they just watch, without having intercourse, according to the club owners and swingers we met.

But watching had an impact on Bob and Tess at home. "We had the greatest sex of our lives that weekend," Bob said.

"Hard swinging" is group sex. The couples we talked with weren't concerned about catching diseases. They said everyone in the group uses condoms.

They also said they were surprised to meet other "nice people" at the clubs.

"Our eye-opening experience, was 'wow, there are actually other people like us,' " Bob said.

Travel Industry Catering to New Niche

Apparently, there are a lot of them. About 4 million people are "swingers," according to estimates by the Kinsey Institute and other researchers.

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