I'm making this thread after a tumultuous night, where I felt my whole body shaking and I had to leave the room after talking with my husband about his other partner.
Now this is not how I expected to feel. Honestly up until this point I thought I was at peace, so I'm confused.
I've been reading Freetime's "I'm in over my head" thread, I'm almost done, but now I think things that had been bubbling under the surface are what is coming up as a result of seriously working to examine my jealousy and initial rage.
Some background for your better understanding:
Four months after my mother passed I joined a forum and that is where I first met my husband. This was in 2008. He and I connected immediately, and after a few private messages back and forth he practically had me begging for his number (lol). I still remember how earth-shattering that first phone conversation was; he blew me away with his candor, his wit, his confidence, and though I was hesitant to even consider that such a person could exist I knew that I needed to know more and learn more about him to make everything more tangible. Note: At the time, I lived in Canada and he lived in the U.S.
We spent the next month talking at least three times a day on the phone, texting madly, hungry for more and more and more. One night I didn't hear from him so I got worried. Eventually he was able to make two very short calls to let me know he was dealing with a situation that sounded like it would turn violent, and that he would call me when he could. So I spent the next three or so hours pacing, hoping for the best, trying to think as positively as I could.
He called me the same night, when I had fallen asleep waiting to hear from him. That was the first time I heard him stressed and upset, and all I wanted to do was be there. After listening to details I felt horrified and confident enough to offer him a place of refuge with me for a while, whenever he was ready. He didn't believe me at first and I was shocked at myself for the suggestion but it just made absolute sense. I wanted him. He wanted me. Sure, the way the offer came to be was less than ideal but it needed to happen and I needed him to feel safe and be safe.
Fast forward to when we met face to face and immediately fell into the physical aspect of NRE; I shared my grief with him, he empathized and agreed that due to the commonalities between he and my mother they would have gotten along superbly. It was pain and joy and confirmation and exuberance and sadness all rolled into one. The intensity was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
After being together for about 1.5 years and me moving down here he initiated the conversation of sexual exploration outside of our relationship, something we discussed before, but with additional aspects this time around. He would seek a woman, preferably someone who was open to being my lover as well, and I agreed. The first outing didn't work because I thought she was attractive and the feeling wasn't mutual, which eventually led to things tapering off with her and my husband. I'll note here that they worked together, and had been texting and talking on the phone for the duration, so flesh never met flesh. He showed me pictures she sent him as well as giving me information about her, such as being a mother to 3 kids, and how she liked nice things. Doomed from the start but a lesson learned nonetheless.
It had an effect on how I felt about myself, having had our son 6 months before, but I didn't feel any pressure to go running 10 miles a day to make up for a lack of attraction; I just chalked it up to "It is what it is". I was still confident and still sure that though this first interaction didn't pan out like we hoped she wasn't the last woman on Earth and the search would continue.
Fast forward to now. My husband has sought out around 10 or 12 women online who he never made physical contact with, but exchanged pictures (including explicit ones) while getting to know them. I've seen maybe one or two. He has also received at least one explicit video that I know of because he showed me. That is an issue I raised last night, that I didn't even realize was an issue before. Since he has already done this with his other partner I have no idea where we go from here, because it has already happened.
About six weeks ago he began talking to his now-girlfriend, a woman also in her mid-20s who lives in another state. It was only days ago that he referred to her as his girlfriend and I was confused because he assumed that all we talked about in theory would fall into place once put into practice (me acknowledging her as his girlfriend without him having to say so after the decision was made). There had been no emotional turbulence on my end until I saw them on social networking sites saying things like "Love you", which put me in a tailspin I wasn't prepared for or expecting. I felt blindsided. I could not have predicted that response, what with all the logic I've been using to better understand his perspective.
It pretty much alienated me, and made me feel a spectator like everyone else who could see what they were saying to each other instead of his wife, the person on the inside of everything. I told him so. He explained that they did it with the intention of unsettling people, which it has, but I'm one of those people, and I asked that they stop. They agreed.
There are so many things going on inside emotionally for me, none of which I blame on him or her. I keep stressing that it is my process, this feeling similar to fight-or-flight (I think that's the term), and that he has been doing his own legwork accepting his poly nature YEARS before we even met, so I really really need his patience and understanding. He says that he's surprised that I'm "having a breakdown" because he has never seen me like this before.
I wanted to cry last night but the tears wouldn't come. I left the room feeling overwhelmed. I cried ten minutes ago after reading two different stories on other sites about women being thankful for their husbands. It wasn't for long, and I'm also just getting over a cold so there was a lot of drip, lol. I feel a little better. I know there is more crying ahead and when I was about to during the talk with my husband he said he felt bad and asked if I wanted him to just stop.
I don't. I'm honestly glad he has finally found another woman he has connected with, in different ways than he does with me, and glad that he told me he is happy right now, which is good. But I have work to do, and I doubt he gets that it is going to affect EVERYONE involved, no matter how settled and content HE is.
I think I need more than just his reassurance. That's partly why I came here. Please, any advice you could give I would really appreciate it. I'm not trying to drive myself crazy dealing with this all on my own, inside of my self.
I'm brand new to this, so I don't have a lot of great insight. However, I'm probably about as far down the path of poly as you and I can tell you that I really don't like the approach your husband is taking to this.
In our situation, we did not set up to deliberatelly be poly. It happened, born of a friendship that continued to grow. I fell in love and compartmentalized what my heart was doing, to honor and preserve my marriage. We've been open sexually for years, but one of our hard and fast rules was no emotional ties--just sex. I was shocked both to learn I could fall in love with a woman and that I could violate my boundary....and it feel right to do.
After we fell in love, I approached my husband about opening the marriage to her, at least to a degree. Even then, I felt I could not handle if *they* fell in love. It was fine for me to love both of them, but if they loved each other, we somehow could not all be okay. Until I realized that not only did I love both of them, but loving each of them has made me realize I love my husband even more for allowing me to explore this and express this.
They were both keeping a firm wall between the two of them. They both loved me. However, I have been very careful to be 100% honest and fully transparent with husband, T, through all of this. Even as I have fallen in love with C, my primary focus is STILL him. If this doesn't work for him, this doesn't work. Never once have I sought to hurt him in this. That doesn't feel right to me. If I'm hurting someone I love, then I'm doing something VERY wrong.
In fact, it was because I realized the potential to hurt both of them that I approached both of them about turning what has accidentally become a hinge into a triangle. While they have each carefully guarded their own hearts out of love for me, I can see both of their hearts. What I saw was love, that niether of them was willing to express to the other if it meant hurting ME. I don't want them incomplete and unwhole, no more than they want me that way. I want all of us to have our entire hearts together. I want them free to love each other, and I want to grow strong enough and brave enough to know they still both love me.
Even so, when they first expressed their love of each other, I feel apart. Rage wasn't the right word, devestation was. This was my idea and I was terrified. Just as I held each of them when they were afraid that sharing me would hurt them too much, they both held me through that.
I didn't set out to be poly. I didn't think I was poly. It happened because the love couldn't be contained. I've come far enough to tell you that it cannot be forced, and if someone is scared and afraid of the process, then the solution is NOT to tease them, push them, demean them or in any way to downplay their feelings. When one of us is struggling emotionally, the others approach that need with open communication and love. Love thus far has guided us through this strange path. Each of us wants only the best for the others. When we see one hurting, the others stop to hold that one through their pain. They don't demand that one figure it out and catch up. That's what existed when my marriage was a two-some and that seems to be the only way this can exist as a three-some...at least for me.
If your intention was to have a triad, I don't see effort from your husband to create that. To me, it sounds like your husband wants to be poly, holding you as something different on the side. And I just don't hear a lot of love guiding what is happening but a lot of distrust and actions that need adjust. I don't know enough to know if you can navigate this. It sounds to me like you are not okay with this and feel pressured to conform, but maybe not. I'm certainly no expert. I've so new at this I'm still shaking in my boots. However, I've been following a path that seems right, that honors the people I love and makes sure they are protected at all times and costs. I can't imagine that this works without that. I just can't.
Poly affects everyone differently, and it's common to have a harder time than you think you will at first, and for logical ideas about how things will work to melt away in the face of a complex and emotionally impacting reality. Your experience is a very familiar one here. It can and almost certainly will get better. Being honest about what you're going through is one of the best ways to make sure that it does, combined with doing a lot of hard work, which it's clear you've already begun.
Your husband needs to realize all of this, and to understand that you are you giving all three of you -- him, yourself, and the girlfriend -- a huge and difficult gift by actively processing what you're going through and asking for what you need. After all, just imagine the blow-up and the fallout if you'd just sat on all of this until you couldn't take it any more and felt like the only solution was for one of the relationships to end. All too often that's just what people do, sadly.
If you need to break down a little that's ok, and if it makes him uncomfortable to see that, well, too bad! As long as you're truly working on your feelings it's his job to toughen up and be there for you through it. You crying does *not* mean his relationship with her has to end, hopefully he can get over his guilt about that.
He also needs to understand that this -- "he assumed that all we talked about in theory would fall into place once put into practice" -- is never, ever a good idea in poly. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Personally, for the record, even though my girlfriend is completely free to take another lover or partner if she wants, I'd be freaked the fuck out if she suddenly started referring to some random dude as her boyfriend, so I think your feelings are completely reasonable.
It might make sense for him to be talking to you at every new juncture. Like, before any new step in the relationship with the girlfriend he could be checking in with you first. That may seem like it'd end up with him feeling micromanaged and you feeling overwhelmed, but it could be worth a try for at least a little while as you learn what is easy for you versus what is hard... and it'll give you a chance to process before you're confronted with something new. Now what I'm describing is possibly easier said then done, but I think it's worth considering as an alternative to how things have gone thus far.
Btw, if you're not comfortable with him sharing explicit videos with women he doesnt know well it doesn't matter that it's already happened, you can ask him not to do it again. That is a perfectly reasonable request and another example of something that he *really* should have talked to you about first.
I guess it seems like I am being pretty hard on him? I'm sure he means well and is a great guy. This is just a matter of him learning that poly does not mean you get to do whatever you want... quite the opposite, especially at the beginning actually -- "go at the pace of the one who is struggling the most" as RedPepper and others here like to say.
Sorry to hear that you're going through a tough time. This forum definitely has lots of great information and stories to draw from.
Had you considered polyamory before your husband or is this your first go around dealing with your partner having a more long term relationship? Like you said, he's done a lot of legwork so hopefully he can extend you some more patience and kindness so that you can do your legwork. How is the relationship between you and her? Are you close at all? Poly can be very very stressful and bring up a tornado of emotions. Certainly, it can be very rewarding if you manage to work through some of the stuff but it does take time. So, don't feel down on yourself for not immediately being totally ok with everything. Sometimes a therapist can help to sort through this kind of stuff.
He's also in the throes of NRE most likely and that can be challenging for anyone to deal with. Why were he and his SO trying to 'shake' things up on social networking? Like activism or something? I can see how that might feel a bit hurtful even if they didn't mean in that way. Do the three of you go out in public ever? Maybe the three of you could go out and all hold hands or something, a way to shock and awe but one that includes you as well. These things you're describing sound like a lot of people's struggles with poly so don't feel alone or abnormal :). You sound like you're working very hard to give him what he needs and wants in this.
Thank you for your responses, first of all. :)
I have invited him to join the forum and he has, so our understanding of each other and this shift in our relationship receives more attention from more than just me.
He told me he made the assumption based on my personality, not anything else. He assumed that my ambivalence towards other things meant I would be ambivalent towards this as well. Wrong. Dead wrong. And I let him know that too; my personality doesn't mean I'm not a human being with fluid emotion at my core.
I did mention that as of right now I need to be made aware of new steps. He agreed. So I'm happy about that.
I didn't consider polyamory before my husband; I knew nothing about it besides it existing. This is my first go around. I've asked him for more patience and kindness, and space to process.
The relationship between me and her at this point is a mutual respect. I respect what they have, and she does the same for me. We haven't spoken yet, and I'm wondering if during this time would be good to start. I do plan to speak to a therapist eventually. Right now it's just not feasible, but it is definitely in the works.
Neither of us have met her face to face. This is all happening online.
And thanks again, I no longer feel as alone as I did before. I just remind myself that as bad as I might feel sometimes, or he might feel, it is still with love that we are going through this together.
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