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-   -   Having trouble adjusting to husband's new girlfriend (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22861)

Fiona 04-04-2012 07:45 PM

Having trouble adjusting to husband's new girlfriend
Just what it sounds like. In the past, I've had my own insecurities about people my husband has dated, but I've recognized them as exactly that and dealt with them accordingly.

This new person just makes me uneasy. She seems like a lot of drama, most of which I won't get into here. There are a few major issues for me, including that they broke one of our fundamental agreements at the beginning of their involvement, they spend most of their time together drinking heavily, she has expressed frustration/impatience if my husband or I contact each other when they're hanging out (it doesn't happen often, but sometimes it can't be avoided) and a few other things that set off alarm bells for me, including that she has never been in a poly relationship before and doesn't seem to have any idea how to handle...well, anything. I am tired of feeling like her poly experiment.

This situation has caused trouble not only in my relationship with my husband, but even in the one between me and my other partner. This makes me feel angry and helpless.

When I try to talk to my husband about this, he gets very defensive and asks if I want him to break up with her. I'm not sure; on one hand, I guess I do. On the other, I don't want to play that card unless I absolutely have to - it doesn't seem like it'll fix anything now. Sigh. But I don't like her, and I don't feel like I can trust her (or my husband) either.

Had a similar experience? Any advice to offer? Thank you in advance.

ViableAlternative 04-04-2012 08:22 PM

Through most of your post, I was thinking about how I'd normally think/say something like how you're not dating her, you don't need to trust her, you only need to trust your husband. Express your concerns to him and set boundaries about not allowing her drama into your relationship, and let him handle his own relationships. But then you said:


Originally Posted by Fiona (Post 131441)
and I don't feel like I can trust her (or my husband) either.

Though you put "or my husband" in parentheses, as though it is an aside, it's a big deal. It's not a trifle. It's important. And telling. And scary. This needs to be resolved, and fast.

What do you not trust, and why? What needs to happen for him to gain (or regain) your trust?

In general, for my own relationships, I just trust my partners and let them deal with their significant others; there's no reason for me to need to trust the significant others BECAUSE I have trust in my partner's capability to manage relationships.

I'd also be especially concerned about how/why this girl's drama has spilled into your relationship with your husband, and with your other partner. This should be unnecessary. Can you give examples of how this has happened, and what impact it's had?

opalescent 04-04-2012 08:25 PM

Maybe reframe it? Make it less about her presence in your spouse's life and more about how his behavior had resulted in uneasiness and less trust in the relationship between you and he? The drinking heavily and breaking of agreements right away is concerning. Perhaps focus more on that than her specifically. You are right - if he does this with the next girlfriend than you are back where you started. Has he done similar actions with other partners? Or just lost his mind where she is concerned?

Fiona 04-04-2012 08:44 PM

Thank you for your responses. My husband hasn't behaved this way with other people; he really does seem to have lost his mind when it comes to her.

As for the not trusting: they broke one of mine and my husband's major agreements (no oral sex or intercourse until both parties have been tested) while they were drunk. This is a HUGE red flag to me.

There was a situation in which her actions (or lack thereof) affected me, my husband, and my partner; my evening with my partner (and a very emotional and much-needed discussion) was interrupted because she forgot something at home and my husband was insisting that I bring the car home so he could take her to her place. I did, and was very resentful about it, and my partner was extremely uncomfortable with the whole thing. She didn't even apologize for inconveniencing us.

She and my husband had a condom break, and thank god she can't get pregnant (or so she says) but I didn't find out about this until almost a week later. I was livid and felt like he had been lying to me (though he says he didn't want to tell me when I was out of town.)

I don't even know if I'm being unreasonable anymore. I can't think objectively about this at all. I don't think that she is adding anything to my husband's life except stress and drama. I don't know what would have to happen for me to trust him again, but I have been reluctant to be close to him or spend much time with him lately. He has been jealous of my other relationship, and I wonder if he's trying to get back at me in some way (though, for what? For having a happy, stable, loving, honest outside relationship? That seems ridiculous.)

Derbylicious 04-04-2012 09:10 PM

The only person you can control in any situation is yourself. If he's being unsafe sexually you can insist that he uses condoms with you. For sure he isn't making good desisions right now. He's wrapped up in NRE. Chances are it will pass and once the shine wears off he'll probably wonder why he ever decided to be with her.

I think since he has a track record of conducting himself well in other poly relationships that he will come around eventually. You need to do whatever it is that you need to do to protect yourself emotionally and physically. I don't know what that is going to look like for you because it's different for everyone. Let him know what your personal boundaries are and why they are in place.

Fiona 04-04-2012 09:41 PM

Derbylicious, that's a very good point, and helps me to feel somewhat less panicky about the whole thing. And we always use condoms anyway, so that's taken care of, at least.

I really appreciate some perspective on this; thanks so much to everyone who has replied.

Windstar 04-05-2012 12:05 AM

Wow, I really feel for you.

"I have been reluctant to be close to him or spend much time with him lately. He has been jealous of my other relationship, and I wonder if he's trying to get back at me in some way"

That is scary to me. I have seen many relationships go sour very quickly when this type of dynamic takes root. I would nip it in the bud strongly or fear that it grow very big very quickly and be harder to remedy later.

There is nothing wrong with vetoing her. They broke a core rule. She is causing your primary relationship trouble. That is what a veto is for. If you can't use it when you need to use it then it's no good bothering to talk about even the concept of being able to veto.

I would say to use it. Veto her. See where his head and priorities are. It will clarify things for you. Not fun, but not worse than the mire you are trudging through right now.

For what it's worth and nothing more.


mostlyclueless 04-05-2012 01:59 AM

Take my advice with a grain of salt. I have no idea what I am talking about.

That said -- what does your husband say when you bring up these issues with him? Have you asked him what he gains from the relationship? It sounds like you have expressed your discomfort to him -- have you told him that you don't want to use your veto, but you would prefer that they stop seeing each other?

You said in your first post he got defensive when you talked about it. Do you think there is a way to change the mode of communication so he doesn't feel as defensive?

nycindie 04-05-2012 05:15 AM

I think that, perhaps, the issue can be helped if you are clear about your personal boundaries and make sure that everyone knows there are consequences for crossing them.

As for handling how upsetting this can be for you, your post reminded me of an email I got recently. I subscribe to a newsletter from a life coach about recovering from divorce (how pathetic am I?) and in the latest one, there's an article about not putting up with an ex's "bad behavior." I think some of what it said can apply in many relationships/dynamics. Here are a few tidbits (just substitute the word "ex" with any problematic person, as in a drama queen metamour or overly-defensive hubby ;). I took out some wording specific to divorce.) :
"It's all about boundaries. If you are to heal, let go, and move on... you must create a safe and secure environment for yourself. No one else can do this for you. You must take back control of your life.

The first step is to determine what the upsets are that keep you stuck and emotionally reactive.

Start a Deficit Journal

Begin noticing what causes you upset or any other negative emotion. For instance:
  • If you talk to your ex [or lover/spouse/metamour, etc.] and always end up with a negative reaction, that's an entry.
  • If your ex becomes angry when you speak, that's an entry.
  • If drinking 5 cups of coffee makes you feel badly, that's an entry.
Next, look at a specific entry, and determine how you can eliminate or control it. ...we can set boundaries that protect us.

For example, if when talking to your ex on the phone, he or she gets angry and abusive, it's time to explain to them your new boundary. Here is what you might say:

"Right now you're angry, and you're being abusive to me. That is something that I can no longer accept. Being emotional serves neither of us. I want you to know that when you become angry and abusive, I will end the conversation. I don't want it to be a surprise to you in the future if I hang up."

This concept can apply to your email and texts, too. The minute a communication gets ugly, delete! Always make certain that you have explained your boundaries, because what you are doing is a bit like Pavlovian conditioning: you are training your ex in proper behavior. Remember:
  • You must be consistent.
  • You must always outline boundaries.
  • You must do this to create a healing environment for yourself if you are to recover...
You can use this concept of boundaries in every area of your life. It is up to you and you alone to establish what you will and will not accept in your life.

Remember that what you say "no" to defines you as a human being. When you say "no" to abuse, you go from being a victim to a hero or heroine. You take back your self-respect and self-esteem. You empower yourself."
I think it is obvious that all the above relies on honest, clear, and direct communication. Later in the newsletter there is this great little list:
The Steps to Stopping Bad Behavior
  • Set the rules.
  • Be consistent.
  • Explain the consequences and abide by them.
  • Stay Calm. You too have to walk away from your own bad behavior.
  • Make certain that your ex knows what he or she is doing wrong.
  • Offer a positive alternative. If your ex yells at you, ask them to speak nicely.
  • Recognize their effort and acknowledge good behavior.
I don't know if this will help, or even if you think this might apply to you, but it came to my mind while reading how upset and frustrated you are over this, so hopefully some part of it can be useful.

redpepper 04-05-2012 06:25 PM

Poly with heirarchy and veto rights is not how I roll, so it would be out of the question. I am not okay with someone telling me to dump someone because THEY are struggling. Not my husband, not anyone. So I don't ask for that in return. I have earned my integrity and my partners trust that I have their best interest in mind in all that I do. Vetos are built out of fear and lack of trust. I don't find that a useful way to live.

Your impatience, frustration and need for "no drama" is no reason to insist he end it. Its not for you to decide. You have no control and shouldn't have control of his life and choices. If he decides its not worth it because you keep telling him what's going on for you and how they're actions affect you and others then that would mean its been up to him. As it should be I think.

We have discussed vetos here at length if you are interested in why anyone would avoid them. Try a tag search on "veto" "vetos" "veto rights" "veto power"

To me this woman just sounds new to poly and your husband; smitten. They fucked up. It happens. What they do about it and what boundaries are agreed upon as a result are what is important. What are they doing to ensure that you can trust them? Integrity is so important in poly dynamics. It takes time to build and even more time when someone fucks up on an agreement.

I would be letting them know that you won't be rescuing them by cutting into your date time again either. It seems that they weren't all that grateful anyway so why bother. You got nothing out of it that was positive so why allow that to happen again.

I think I would find some empathy in this and remind myself what its like to be sucked in by someone that is new and exciting in your life. I would remind myself that I am dealing with two people drunk on emotions etc. And do my best to laugh it off. This is possible, I think, with firm boundaries constructed from the experience you have with them together.

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