Different Types of Poly
A few months ago, my wife and I agreed to "tryout" an open relationship for six months. We set down a few basic ground rules: (1) our marriage always comes first, (2) be safe, (3) be discreet, (4) if one wants out, we both quit.
I am interested in developing a deep, intimate relationship with another woman. My wife, however, indicated she is more interested in multiple, less serious "flings." She indicated that my having a series of one night stands is not a threat, but the idea of me developing a deep, emotional relationship with another woman was more of a threat to her.
I am beginning to develop a relationship with another woman I know and trust. I feel like this new relationship has enhanced the relationship I have with my wife. I fear, however, that as this new relationship grows, it is a growing concern for my wife. I love both of these women and feel very lucky to have the relationships I have with each, but at the same time I don't want the new relationship to hurt my wife (and our relationship).
By contrast, the new woman's husband has been incredibly supportive, even though he seems to tend toward an approach similar to my wife's (one night stands instead of deep relationships). He even refers to me as his wife's boyfriend.
I know all the advice on this forum has been to take it slow, but I am struggling to figure out how to help my wife with her concerns. How can I help her to better understand that this new relationship is an enhancement, not a replacement, for our relationship.
Have her read read read! This forum, other web resources, printed books on the subject.
Have you communicated to her how exactly you feel your relationship with her has been enhanced? Many established couples experience a lovely NRE spill-over, improving their communication, sex-life etc.
One idea to improve the security she feels in your relationship; find out what are your love languages. I, for one, place the highest value on Acts of Service, whereas my partners might appreaciate Gifts, Physical Touch or Quality Time more. If I try to communicate that I care through the one love language I am most proficient in, for example by doing the dishes, my partner who values touch or time might sulk on the sofa and wonder why I think doing the dishes beats spending cuddle-time with them.
You do not give timelines, so I don't know how long this new relationship has been in the works, but I sure feel NRE is rearing it's mischievous head. Really, if I was struggling with my partner wanting a different style (love vs. flings) than I was, the last thing I want to hear is them telling me that the fact that THEY ARE FALLING IN LOVE with somebody else is good for their relationship with me, so I should be happy. Even if it is true.
Now Luckily my partner and I are on similar pages, but since you are not. Take it slow. Take it really slow, to show your wife she is important and loved. You will not die if you take your time. Really. You might screw up your marriage if you go too fast though.
edit: second on the 5 love languages. My husband and I have vastly different things that make us feel loved, but receiving the things that we need to feel loved especially when it doesn't come naturally to the other to give them... helps get through the rough times.
I would think that, before you take any further steps into opening the marriage, you go deeper into the conversation you've already had. Find out WHY one thing is threatening and another not so much. Don't just accept the statement, "that would feel more threatening to me." Ask things like, "Why is that? Does the idea of it bring up bad memories? What does it mean to you if I had deeper feelings for someone else? Just how would you imagine the threat would manifest itself? What would be a way to reassure you?" and so on.
Unravel the reasoning behind pronouncements like that, and you might be able to reach some better understanding of how each of you feel you will be affected. Because the fact of the matter is, someone can insist all they want that they won't let themselves fall in love and it happens anyway. Who knows, she might want a fling and wind up feeling something deeper than she imagined she could. So, you both have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes feelings can't be controlled. So get to the bottom of understanding all the ways you both would picture how you want things to go, what you don't want, and why.
As "The five love languages" has been brought up... could someone go and get a link? a reference would be appropriate no?
I would suggest looking at some of the threads here with the tag "lessons" and "foundations" to see if that helps. Maybe share with your wife and gf also. It sounds like some boundaries need to be laid out by all three of you about time spent and what you mean to one another.
Unfortunately there isn't really a lot you can do about your wife's apprehension except wait and keep showing you love her. She will go through her own process with everything and its important to listen and reassure every step of the way without compromising what you need and want in your own life.
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