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-   -   Struggling with monogamy (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12254)

AnotherConfused 07-16-2011 06:14 AM

Struggling with monogamy
I've been married 12 years to a sweet monogamous man. I came on this forum last year and received a lot of help as I learned about polyamory and realized this is how I tick, emotionally. With encouragement from the good people here I started talking to my husband about this, and we have come to terms with my penchant for loving others besides him. Sexually I'm monogamous, and fine with that. My husband is not thrilled but is accepting of my romantic attractions to others, as long as he knows I still love him.

I met someone several weeks ago who I felt an immediate bond with. He doesn't live nearby but we have been exchanging emails almost daily, and have had occasional opportunities to visit in person. I'm really growing to love him, and he seems comfortable developing a relationship with me in spite of the limitations (no sex, no "partnership," no one-on-one commitment, and we both know he's still seeking a life partner).

My husband is fine with this being a friendship, and tolerant, at best, of the romantic attraction involved. Yesterday this friend came through town, and we ended up alone together for several hours. I have been bedridden for weeks with a painful illness, and I got a little self indulgent -he ended up giving me basically hours of massage. (It wasn't erotic massage, but there were definitely moments of arousal for both of us, and we chose not to act on those.) It felt wonderful. My pain levels went down and stayed down for hours after he left. It felt like exactly what I needed.

I talked to my husband about it -how much it helped me, but I asked if he was ok with it. He's not. He'd rather I pay a massage therapist. He doesn't want me being touched so much by a man who is so attracted to me, and vice versa. I get it, and I respect it, and I told him that since he feels this way, I won't do it again.

However, I feel really unhappy about this.

Then I feel selfish for feeling this way.

I want to be a good wife for my husband, since he is an amazing husband for me. I want to find a compromise, since I know it has not been easy for him to come to grips with my having other men in my life with strong emotional connections to me. Keeping sex as something just in our marriage seems like a fair thing -he's quite satisfying, and I did marry him after all. But I know when I see my friend again next (which could be Monday) I am really really going to want his hands on me again. I've never had anyone else caress each joint of my finger as if he were appraising a beautiful object of great value. He makes me feel extremely good, and that's combined with the beautiful connection we've made through sharing a lot of personal thoughts in our emails. I honestly love him.

It's going to be really hard to respect my husband's wishes on this one. I've considered whether I should even stop the visits in case there'd be too much temptation, but not seeing him would be painful too. I don't know what to do about this.

What happens when mono and poly can't find a happy medium? No amount of talking seems to get us there.

MonoVCPHG 07-16-2011 06:35 AM

Some times people are simply better off not together in all aspects. I know this sounds defeatist but not everyone can be compatible in a healthy way.

You're tempting fate with the massages and we both know it. If you are truly committed to maintaining the relationship with your husband I would strongly suggest you do pull back from this friend for a while...only because you are admitting you want this so bad and don't know what you will do.

That being said, you and your husband have to look at the reality of your situation. You aren't happy in the compromise you have. He is not either. Both of you have been "putting up" with it to keep your relationship together. How long can you be healthy holding back? How long can he be healthy holding you back. This is tough for both of you. He has to know how draining this is on you and you have to know how draining this is on him. Speaking from the perspective of the person who holds my partner back, it is very draining to feel that you are always putting your weight against the damn.

No matter what both of you decide you need to be fully prepared to accept the responsibility for your actions. If he holds you back from something you really want he's got to accept responsibility if you cross that boundary.

If you let this relationship exceed the confines of your boundaries then you have to accept the potential fall out as well.

You're in a tough situation. I hope you find your way in this.

redpepper 07-16-2011 06:37 AM

You keep talking and talking and talking... Until you think you've reached a boundary/agreement and then oooops, nope, false hope and then talk and talk and talk some more and realize there will always be a compromise, no actual agreement or understanding and that's the new normal. ;)

Try a tag search for "mono/poly" you might find some more in the thread there.

Welcome back :)

Pantheist 07-16-2011 06:52 AM

Hello AnotherConfused, I am also poly dealing with a mono life partner, and even though I don't talk much on these forums, I feel like your story resonates with me a bit and thought I might be able to offer some advice. (You can decide whether that advice is good or bad.)

When my wife and I were trying to bridge the gap between us, things got really tense at some points. I was adamant that Poly was not something I was willing to ignore. There were times that I felt very guilty about the pain that I was causing her, but this isn't something that I could put to the back of my mind. I was in love with a second person already. It can't be undone. Being capable of loving more is something I was born with and I refuse to feel like I am a bad person because I have more love to give than most.

Of course she was perfectly within her rights to not be poly also.

We were stuck. There were fights. They were really bad sometimes.

What it came down to is that we had 4 options to choose from.

A) You both compromise a little. Make it work. Stay together.
B) I give in completely, we are monogamous, and I suffer.
C) She gives in completely, we are poly, she suffers.
D) We admit that it can't work, and we find people who are more compatible to us.

Once we sat down and talked about it, we realized that options B & C weren't options at all. We were both too stubborn and willful to break our egos like that. Option D seemed really tempting sometimes, to both of us, but we never pulled the trigger. What it came down to was that we loved each other. Because of our love, we endure the pain that we have to (both of us) in order to live with each other. Option A was the only option for us.

So now you have to ask yourself these questions:

Are you willing to suffer through an unknown number of years of monogamy? (Option B)
Or are you willing to leave your husband shattered and in emotional turmoil for an unknown number of years? (Option C)
Are you willing to walk away? (Option D)

If aren't willing to do any of the above, then you don't have much of a choice either, just like us. You've got to dig in your heels and fight to make it work. Talk, talk, talk and when the horse is just bones and a saddle, beat it some more. The two of you will fight, and it will hurt. You will cry, he will cry, your lover will cry. Someone will probably threaten to walk away, but you just keep on fighting till it's over.

If you survive, the two of you will be closer and stronger than any relationship you've ever seen. Just be aware that not every relationship makes it.

MonoVCPHG 07-16-2011 07:02 AM

Nicely summed up Pantheist.

AnotherConfused 07-16-2011 07:04 AM

As far as tempting fate... I'm good with avoiding sex. I've had that boundary long enough that I know I can hold it. It's a lot harder to say no to massage, because the boundary is a lot more fuzzy. Many friends who come visit me, where I'm lying on the couch in pain these days, hold my hand for a while. Can he do that? What if he's rubbing my hand while he holds it? Does he need to stay below my wrist? Should he let go after a certain number of minutes? Is a foot rub out of line? I mean, I guess I'd need to ask my husband all these questions. I told him I wished he could just be there, so he could be the one to say if things stopped being ok with him, but he recoiled at the thought, saying he didn't want to watch some other guy making me feel good. And yet he doesn't mind watching men dance with me, or make me laugh, or cook for me.

I guess I just really object to massage being off limits. And he just really objects to massage being allowed.

My marriage is worth more to me than any relationship with any other man. I would never leave my husband in favor of being with one or more other men. We have beautiful small children, and the way we relate to each other is fantastic in many many ways.

I think life could be amazingly fulfilling and exciting if I could pursue some of my other relationships more (this new one and one very old one, mostly)... not even to include sex necessarily, but just to have the time to spend together, and the freedom to include more touch. But I have virtually everything else a girl could dream of in my life, so I've been content to make this sacrifice for my husband's comfort.

It's just especially hard right now. I've been sick for 12 weeks, I miss living life fully, I don't know when I'll be well again, and I want to follow every possible avenue out of pain. Touch is about the best thing. My husband can only do so much. (He's swamped taking care of the household and me on top of his usual jobs.)

Thanks for the thoughts anyway. I guess more talking is always in order.

AnotherConfused 07-16-2011 07:08 AM

And Pantheist, thanks for your perspective too. I think compromise is the only option, but I feel like we do that already -I get to love others, and have my friendships with them, and acknowledge the feelings, but I don't have sex with them. I guess it's time to fine tune the compromise.

Talking, talking, talking.

Pantheist 07-16-2011 07:15 AM

Just make sure that you know exactly where that line is. You just described a very slippery slope. If he can hold your hand, then can he hug you? If a hug is fine, what if you kiss in greeting (you know, just the cheek)? Surely if your husband is alright with kissing on the cheek then he won't be hurt too much by a just a real kiss... and he's not here right now, and maybe he'll never know right? Then the hands start to drift. Etc.

It takes a lot of strength to settle for boundaries, and it sucks to do, but people in our situation have to do it. Just be careful. Broken trust takes years to mend.

I have to say though, I couldn't handle a limitation that gives me so little touching. If my wife can accept that I'm going to have a romantic relationship with another person, than I have to at least be free to hold hands, dance, hug and kiss. Anything further than that requires a talking/arguing session. ;)

AnotherConfused 07-16-2011 03:24 PM

We had another long talk, but it seems to be one of those situations that is going to get be worse before it gets better. He'd really like a nice traditional marriage to a nice traditional wife with nice traditional values. (He is from India, after all.) He's feeling like he got short-changed, and like I'm being selfish and unnecessarily throwing a lot of drama into our relationship, when the rational thing to do is simply to ignore my feelings for other men, like any good wife. I wish I could be that good wife.

I hate this whole argument that normal people aren't like this, so why should I be? I pointed out that most people are straight but that's no reason gays should be, but he doesn't see this along those lines. We discussed that there's a difference between my nature (polyamorous) and my actions, which is the part he gets uncomfortable with. I don't think he really believes polyamory is a different way of being, so much as an excuse for acting on selfish impulses.

He's really concerned about our children. He doesn't want them to see "displays of affection" between me and other men but he hated that I asked him for specifics on that. He said once they are adults I can do whatever I want, but I think by that he means our marriage will have served its purpose and he won't have such a vested interest in its success.

In the end he says I don't need his permission for anything I do, and if I want to base my decisions on his feelings, I'll steer clear of other men. If I want to act based on what I want, I'm free to do that and he won't like it. (And if I went as far as sex, our marriage would end.) I don't see how we can get beyond this.

So now instead of just me hurting over this, we are both hurting over this. I guess it makes sense to step back and let it sink in a while.

redpepper 07-16-2011 04:48 PM


Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG (Post 92148)
Nicely summed up Pantheist.

nice indeed. Totally sums it up. :)

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