An Unconventional Marriage - A Novel

An Unconventional Marriage

by Liisa Rinne


A humorous and irreverent novel about the difficulty of long-term monogamy.


Vera cherishes the comfort and security of her family life and she is deeply attached to her husband Ben. It’s not a bad marriage, but the sparks are gone and they are more like buddies than lovers.


At 48, Vera feels too young to resign herself to a future with no promise of passion, hot sex, or the thrill of a new relationship ever again.


Some people divorce, some have affairs, and others just plod along and pretend everything is fine. But what if there was another, less conventional alternative?


When Vera suggests they try out an open relationship, Ben is at first shocked and then intrigued. As Vera’s friend Rita points out, what man could resist being “allowed” to have sex with other women?


However—Vera knows that this will only work if Ben has a lover before she does and so she sets out to find one for him. This turns out to be more complicated than she had anticipated, and along the way she has a few unexpected adventures and discovers things about herself that she has kept buried for years.

After several years of working on a novel, I gathered up all my courage (had to borrow some from family and friends too, the ones who were starting to sound like a Nike commercial: “Just do it!”) and self-published it on Amazon Kindle.


There are so many different ways to make relationships work in addition to what tradition/convention dictates—with emphasis on in addition to, not instead of—and I wanted to write about one of them.


Had you asked me 25 years ago, I would have claimed that nearly all of the people I knew were in “good” relationships. Of course, they were all new and fresh back then.  Now, I sense a general feeling of discontent nearly everywhere I look. Things are not awful, but they aren’t good either. On the inside, there is a longing for something different, and on the outside, there is a lot of pretending that everything is fine.


I love the following quote, which pretty much sums up Vera’s predicament in the novel:


Ich kann freilich nicht sagen, ob es besser wird, wenn es anders wird; aber so viel kann ich sagen, es muss anders werden, wenn es gut werden soll. (Georg Christoph Lichtenberg)


(I cannot say whether things will get better if they change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.)


There is also another theme to the novel, deeper than what relationship model Vera chooses. It’s also something I see nearly everywhere I turn—not just in my own life, but in probably 80% of the relationships I see.  And yes, you’ll have to read the novel to find out what that is!


When I first had the idea for the story, I wrote it as a screenplay and submitted it to screenplay contests, figuring that was a good way to get professional feedback without having to spend thousands of dollars.


I didn’t win anything, but I did get a lot of feedback. All of the judges seemed to agree on two things:  that my story structure wasn’t working but that the idea was good.


One judge wrote six pages of feedback (including specific things I could do to make the story work better) and wrote the following under the heading What else would you like to tell this writer? : “I would tell you that you are really onto something with this story. This is a story that needs to be told.”


I finally decided to rewrite the whole thing as a novel and publish it myself. I read up on story structure and revamped it from start to finish. No, it wasn’t easy, it’ll never be perfect, and I could probably spend the rest of my life tweaking it, but it is now finished.


An Unconventional Marriage is available as an eBook on Amazon, and a paperback version is in the works.