All good things come to an end....
So, this is Rider continuing on my journey, trying to discover the root of all the problems Iíve been having this week, and figure some things out.
I would like to state up front here that we are struggling with the gravity of what this thread means. I wrote the post and RBR has read it and given her approval to post it.
For the remainder of this post, I want to define the terms that I will use, and what they mean to me so others can understand. I am NOT saying that this is the only meaning for these words, just saying that this is what I mean when I say marriage, autonomous, or independent. I really donít want to offend anyone by the use of these words, so please let me say in advance that Iím fully open to the fact that there are many different ways to use these words and give them the meaning that best suits you Ė thatís all cool!
Marriage Ė a commitment between two people, that includes with it a deep entanglement of emotion, devotion, physically and sexually, finances, it basically includes the entangling of two entire people, everything about them. They become partners in everything, incur a responsibility to the other spouse, supporting and loving each other through their lives together. In an arrangement like this, all important decisions would be made collectively.
Autonomy Ė an autonomous person makes all their own decisions, is not entangled with anyone else, may chose to consider or consult others in their decisions, but the key here is that all decisions are made by the individual, not collectively. An autonomous person is not responsible to any other individual.
Independence Ė I see independence as lying somewhere between married or entangled, and autonomous. An independent person could be married, and does likely include significant entanglement, but also has a strong sense of self, needs to make some (or even many) decisions on their own, often needs alone time, etc.
Again, please donít argue over the terms and definitions. The idea here is to be sure that I can clearly communicate.
What I think I have learned this week:
In order to make sure that I never had an affair or cheated on RBR, I made her my whole world, I looked to her for anything that I needed from a woman, spiritually, emotionally, and sexually. I have had other female friends, but if there was ever an attraction, I gently moved away from the relationship, just to be sure that it was never an option to cheat on RBR. This worked to ensure that I never had to make that choice. If itís not an option, it canít happen. That worked for our 20-year marriage, but it also created a thick entanglement between us, something that moved beyond entanglement into codependence. I knew she was my whole world, but I did not know how deep it ran, that I was actually what some would consider codependent with her.
RBR desires autonomy, plain and simple. She wants to be able to do what she pleases, make her own decisions, and not incur a responsibility to anyone else. She does desire some entanglement, but that too is on her terms. She decides where she is willing to be entangled, and the terms of that entanglement.
I think I want entanglement, maybe even codependence. I want to be very intertwined and partner in all things. And given the definitions above, you should be able to immediately see the rub.
When RBR and I started this journey, Iíve found that it was with some pretty high naivety. I thought poly would mean adding new love and relationship to my life. It would mean granting and receiving more independence in our relationship, which was necessary to facilitate each of us having other relationships, but in general the overall effect would be adding, not taking away.
I think what happened as we have moved into this is that I discovered RBRís deep sense of having been controlled, and her longing to be free of any responsibility to me. She wants autonomy as defined above.
The way Iím viewing things, marriage is closed, and could not include other emotional, physical and romantic relationships. Autonomy is incompatible with marriage, as the entanglement and partnering that comes with marriage is exactly the opposite of autonomy.
Independence is somewhere between the entanglement of marriage and autonomy.
RBR wants autonomy, and in order for me to grant that, it meant that the deep entanglement that I had built over the marriage had to be dismantled. I think this means that the ďmarriageĒ as I have known it is over. I think this is what the deep sense of profound loss and hopelessness that I have been experiencing this week has been all about. Mourning that loss.
RBR is not asking for a divorce at this moment, she wants to continue to be legally married, raise our kids together, own a house together, live together, etc., but she also is all about her autonomy. She wants to make all her own decisions and not have any responsibility to me for anything. I will be part of the relationship between RBR and I, but basically have no part in any other relationship she chooses to have.
The autonomy RBR seeks she also grants to others, so I will have the same autonomy she desires, freedom to make my own decisions and have the responsibility for them. The difference is that this isnít what I want.
This makes RBR sound selfish, or the bad guy here. I donít think that is the case. RBR deserves the freedom to pursue happiness in life just as anyone else.
So, I think autonomy means that she is in a relationship with me at her own pleasure. She will grant love, devotion, time, and even entanglement in her terms, to what suits her. I on the other hand have the option to accept those terms, negotiate for other terms, or leave the relationship.
Iíve been all over the map emotionally this week, so no decisions are being made. Iím just trying to understand what Iím feeling and why.
The deep emotional problems Iíve been experiencing this week are due to me coming to the understanding of how deeply incompatible RBR and I have become, and the ripping and tearing that has occurred in me as she separates herself from me to gain autonomy. It has bothered me that this seems so easy for her. In truth, in our discussions it is coming out that she probably left the marriage some number of years ago; itís just all coming out now.
She is sad that this has all occurred, and she never meant for this to be happening. As I started this post, we entered poly thinking we were opening our marriage to new love and relationship to be added to what we have. As it turns out, this led to the discovery that we really didnít have anything left.
I still love RBR very much and she says she loves me, but the new RBR is incompatible with me. I cannot love her as the autonomous person she desires to be.
RBR doesnít like these words, as they go down very hard, and make us both sad. The problem is that I want entanglement and she wants autonomy, which I feel are mutually exclusive.
Weíre not having an emotional meltdown today, but we are both very sad, as I think that this means that weíve come to the end of our marriage.
Itís amazing how unemotional this is at this moment. Very sad though.
We are going to give it some time to make this decision. We talked about perhaps getting marriage counseling from a counselor that was onboard with poly. But it will really all come down to RBR deciding what she wants. I canít stay with the new RBR as described here.
I forgot to add to my previous post that, as this is no longer about poly, this will be my last post here. It wasn't poly that separated us. As I stated above, RBR told me she left the marriage long ago.
Thank you all so much for your help as we tried to take this poly journey. I think we would have made it had we truly had the strong marriage I thought we had entering this life change.
I could relate to alot of what you were saying! I have been married to my wife for 20 years and we have always been known in everything as a couple - completely intertwined and entangled. We lived together, raised a family together, worked in the same business together, did our hobbies together, went on holidays together, and got involved in local community and church activities together, and had the majority of our friends together. That's alot of entanglement! We loved being seen as a "couple"...
Until the whole idea of poly came up, we had no idea how strong that entanglement was...
I have been the one to find out that by nature I am poly and my wife has really struggled to let go of our codependence. In fact, I have also struggled to let it go, but naturally have found it a little easier because I feel there is something to go to (not someone yet) but my wife has had to journey letting go of the entanglement.
We still want to be a couple and raise our family. We still love each other deeply. It is not an easy journey to hold on to our connection and a degree of entanglement while learning to have independence and some level of autonomy. There are no easy answers here. Relationships are about compromise in consideration of others in order to keep a depth of connection together...
My only reflection in reading your story is that I am not surprised that RBR may be wanting autonomy. Sometimes a response to codependence can be a pendulum swing the other way to want to be free of this. Only time will tell whether it is a pendulum swing that will eventually find a healthier balance between codependence and autonomy for your relationship, or whether the relationship is no longer compatible because the two of you have moved forward in different directions... My hope for my relationship with my wife is the former...
I wish you all the very best...
Thank you PolyExplorer.
What is amazing to me is that this is the second time this has happened to me. My first marriage ended when my ex-wife took a boyfriend and divorced me. She said that she couldn't be herself with me.
With RBR, I took a very different tact in our marriage, making sure that I did not put demands on RBR. She tells me that she is under a lot of pressure from me, but can't tell me why or about what. I have supported her emotionally and financially for 20 years, supported her through several businesses that she wanted to start that failed, supported her flitting here and there, trying new things before she is off to the next thing, supported her desire to be a stay at home mom, supported her desire to go back to school, I just can't figure out where this goes wrong.
She gave me the typical "it's not you, it's me" response. It seems so lame, but I wonder if it's actually true.
Either way, she has become so selfish, she's willing to break up our home, hurt our children, hurt me, anything to get what she thinks she wants. It's all very hard to endure once again.
I hope your situation turns out better than this one is going too.
As I see it, people must have autonomy in order for a marriage to work. Autonomy just means that each partner is given recognition and respect as an individual. We're all individuals, no matter how entangled with someone else we perceive ourselves to be. When I love someone I must recognize and respect their individuality, and independence. I want them to be happy and free. If I am seen by my partner or husband as my own person, and not an appendage, I appreciate his love and his autonomy, and we can be happy and free together, as two individuals in partnership. If he wants me to fit a picture he has of what a wife should be, I will suffocate (and that is part of what happened to end my marriage, though not all of it).
Autonomy does not equal irresponsibility.
Autonomy does not equal unaccountability for one's actions.
Autonomy does not equal self-serving selfishness without regard for one's partner.
Autonomy does not mean that love gets turned on and off according to whims -- love is something that is always there.
There is always hope. Mistakes may have been made, but perhaps the hurts you feel are not irreparable. Healing always starts with self-awareness. Don't give up.
Despair.com sells demotivational posters. My favorite is one shows a chain about to snap:
The only consistent feature of all your dissatisfying relationship is you.
I use that as a reminder not that I'm an idiot with all sorts of ruined relationships but that my actions can and do shape my relationships. In accepting that I can be the source of dysfunction, I find the insight to be a source of sanity instead.
Rider, what you and RBR wind up doing is something that each of you choose. You can't control everything, but you can shape a lot. I hope you can learn lessons and grow going forward. I wish you both all the best.
thanks for your best wishes for our situation!
I know for me that sometimes what I think I want isn't always what I actually want or need. But if what I think I want is taken from me or I can't have it for some reason, it makes me want it even more...
I wonder if this could be true for RBR. Perhaps the only way to find out is to completely let her go to pursue her own thing and then time will tell what the both of you really want and if that involves your relationship together or not...
I wish you all the best too!
Autonomy does not mean that love gets turned on and off according to whims -- love is something that is always there.
mama is back in NY for the 3rd time in 4 months. the first 2 times, she was in love with her BF. this time she says she doesn't, they are just FWB but I have a bad feeling they are going to fall into the same old routine they were in before.
I was put in the backseat before and I can see it happening again.
I wish you the best rider. I'm in kind of the same boat I think.
Thanks for the reply TA.
It is frankly astounding to me the difference we've gone through in such a short period of time. We've gone from total honesty, feeling very strong about our relationship to the high likelihood of divorce, all in about 4-6 weeks.
I hope you're able to find the solution that works for you TA, I honestly do. Relationships are precious, we shouldn't give up on them easily!
I'm not giving up yet but if she is continually falling into the same habits that she has been. theres only so much I can do.
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