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An influencer with a wife 37 years her senior has revealed the couple have ‘opened’ their marriage – after realising they are at ‘very different places’ in their lives.
Julia Zelg, 29, and Eileen de Freest, 66, made headlines after meeting on Tinder and getting married in 2019.
Despite almost four decades between them and facing backlash from trolls who criticise their love, the London-based couple insist they remain ‘a team’.
But after struggling through ‘marital issues’ during lockdown, the pair have decided to open up their marriage and are both ‘casually’ dating other people.
With rules in place focusing on being ‘very honest’ with one another at all times, the couple even get to meet each other’s new love interests.
Eileen de Freest, 66, and Julia Zelg, 29,(both pictured) made headlines after they wed in 2019
The couple (pictured) met the same way as many others do – they met while online dating, on the app Tinder
Despite the significant age gap in their relationship, the couple say they are a ‘team’, but have decided to date other people casually
‘We are 1701531204 ethically non-monogamous, which has allowed us both to explore other connections while coming back together,’ Julia, a YouTuber and singer, said.
‘We’re learning more about ourselves and each other.
‘I’m exploring my sexuality, and Eileen is figuring out that she is more interested in intellectual connection than physical in this stage in her life – though that’s definitely still a part of it.
‘We’re both casually dating people, and are open and honest with each other about those other relationships.
‘It’s been really fun to connect over crushes, dates, and more, and it’s brought a new energy and lightness to our connection.’
In the video, Julia says: ‘She [Eileen] is 66 now, she has the right to be retired, she doesn’t have to live life at the same pace as me.
‘Because of the age difference, we are at very different stages of our lives.’
They announced the news this week on YouTube, where Julia has 300,000 subscribers, and on social media – where viewers questioned if it ‘defeated the whole point of marriage’.
According to the couple, who are based in London, they are learning that Eileen (right) is starting to have an interest in connections which are more intellectual than physical
Influencer Julia Zelg, 29, (pictured) said that having an ethically non-monogamous relationship means being able to explore other connections before coming back together
According to the couple (pictured) they are totally open with each other about how their open relationships
In the video, the duo shared how their newly-open relationship works – with rules and boundaries in place to ensure both parties are happy.
For Julia and Eileen, they explained that the main thing was for them to be ‘very honest’ both with one another and the people they date on the side.
Julia said: ‘If we are ever uncomfortable with anything, we tell each other and we make changes – we always put our love and our marriage first.’
The couple said they ask each other questions about new partners, and have even introduced one another to dates.
In the video, they confirmed that they are ‘both casually dating’ other people.
Eileen said: ‘One of the things that has been difficult for me in the time of our marriage, the four-and-a-half years, is my hormones are kind of all over the place.
‘I just haven’t had much desire…and that’s been a problem between us.
‘For me, I’ve just been looking more for intellectual connections.
‘I have a beautiful intellectual connection with you [Julia], but in seeking out other people, it’s been a little complicated because I’ll have to say ‘I’m just into cuddling!’
Eileen (pictured, right) says she has a beautiful intellectual connection with Julia (left) but in seeking other partners, she has to explain she isn’t looking for a physical connwction
Eileen says her ‘lack of desire’ has been a problem for the couple, and so opening up the relationship has helped each partner look for what they are missing
According to Julia, the couple is ‘deeply in love and share values and interests’ – however, they have opened the marriage because they are ‘at very different places in [there] lives’
For Julia, the focus has been more on ‘exploring’ her sexuality, which is ‘more fluid’ than she had previously thought, having always identified as a lesbian.
The wives also explained that they are dating separately – due to having ‘such different taste’ – and opening the marriage was not a way to look for a third member.
Julia said: ‘Sometimes we’re not attracted to the same people, or the people we’re attracted to are not attracted to both of us.
‘We are so different and we have different types.’
The idea of having an open marriage initially came about during lockdown.
Julia said: ‘During the pandemic, like almost everyone, we faced a lot of challenges.
‘We were living in a small space and dealing with substantial Covid stress while I was also finishing graduate school and working full time.
‘Meanwhile, Eileen was retired, and was at high risk of Covid complications.
‘This caused a lot of tension in our relationship.
‘I think that, for the first time, it became really clear that, while we are deeply in love and share values and interests, we are at very different places in our lives.
For both Julia and Eileen (pictured) the main thing was for them is to be ‘very honest’ – that is within the relationship AND with people they date
For some time, the couple took some space, with Julia (not pictured) working abroad in the UK for a while. When she returned, it made they realise they missed each other and wanted to be together
According to Julie (pictured) the couple may have decades between them, and other differences, but they are ‘a team’ and ‘will always be family’
‘Things hit a breaking point, so we decided to take some space with me traveling more to the US for my work.
‘Doing that was really helpful because we were able to miss each other and come back together with joy and excitement.’
Now, they say opening their marriage has been ‘really positive’ and ‘brought more lightness and understanding’ to the relationship.
Julia added: ‘One thing has become abundantly clear — we are family.
‘We are a team, and we love each other deeply, and while our relationship might transform in different ways as we are together, we will always be family.’