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-   -   surprised and reluctant spouse (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23291)

christinaballenstrausse 04-26-2012 10:15 PM

surprised and reluctant spouse
 
I would appreciate a little direction in our endeavour to open our relationship to polyamorist life style. I am a 54 yr old female who has been monogamous for 33 years through two kids and multiple grandkids. My spouse had read Sex at Dawn and the Ethical Slut and though I didn't read each entire book, it wasn't hard to see the philosophies as practical and probably healthier than the traditional closed and restricted social order our parents taught us to live.

I didn't know while we spent many many nights and hours discussing this openly and agreeing that it made very good sense that my spouse was already practicing. He finally decided to tell me that he had been seeing someone and they were physically intimate but that it wasn't a threat to what we had and he just wanted to explore other relationships and experience other people. She was also polyamorous and had two other friends and a spouse. I was very hurt and felt betrayed but I had openly agreed that these ideas made sense and have since been trying to work trough my issues of jealousy and inadequacies.

Its been two months and I have invited her to our home to meet. I still have emotional and spiritual issues but I had decided to put every effort into making this work. My problem is that I keep getting signals from him that make me think that I really don't matter anymore. He says things like "if you weren't here, she and I would be together" which (because I still have issues) I interpret as "I wish you weren't here".

I get upset and then we fight about how my reluctance is going to mess the whole thing up for him because she doesn't want to come between us. He put his profile up on ok cupid to find her and set his cut off age at 50--she is 45. He later changed it to 60 but when I asked, he didn't hesitate to tell me that it was 50 without the slightest notion that I might be hurt by the fact that at 54 I'm disqualified.

I got upset and we had a similar mini battle about how I'm reading too much into it and I'm not trying hard enough to get my head around all of this. On the eve of the weekend she is suppose to spend getting to know me he spends a day with her and when he comes home I (proudly) have worked through any negative feelings about that and greet him with a genuinely chipper attitude and dinner. We sit down for an evening with a glass of wine and conversation.

We are talking openly and without incident for several hours and then he makes the pronouncement that there will probably be physical intimacy between them while she is here this weekend (while I lay in my bed alone I guess and listen). I got extremely upset because he said I was in charge of the boundries and one of the boundries I set was that I wasn't ready to see/hear any of that --right now-- just knowing that it was happening was all I could process. He said he didn't remember that conversation but it was a conversation that we've had twice since I invited her to spend the weekend. He then launched the very familiar "you are going to mess this up because you will upset her with your negativity and she will be gone because she never wanted to damage a 33 yr union."

I would like to note that I think she is probably a wonderful person and I don't have any animosity towards her. I also realize you all are only getting one side of this- but the battles are always about what might upset her and what might damage what they have and at this point I really don't believe that I matter at all and I am pretty ready to bail.

Philosophical convert but emotional mess~

ThatGirlInGray 04-26-2012 10:55 PM

Oh goodness. I am so, so sorry you've ended up in this situation. My gut reaction is: "In all his reading, did he forget the ETHICAL part of ethical non-monogamy??" He wasn't up front with you about his initial practice of the theories you two were discussing, and he seems to be conveniently forgetting the boundaries when he wants something. That's not how poly (or any relationship) works.

I would suggest getting all three of you together to put the boundaries/agreements IN WRITING so no one can later say, "Oh, I forgot". This would also give you a chance (if you want it) to reassure her that you think she's lovely and have no problem with her personally. SHE is not the one coming between you, it is really him and his actions and lack of respect for you.

It's possible that you'd feel more comfortable hammering out that agreement with just him first, before getting her take on it, but I'd worry that he'd change his tune between meetings. You've done amazing so far, so if you think you can handle it I really think making him communicate with both of you at once, in person, is the safest way to go. She might even have something to say to him about the way he's treating you if he continues to disregard your feelings.

mostlyclueless 04-27-2012 12:33 AM

What about what you want? Where are you in this whole story?

Anneintherain 04-27-2012 06:45 AM

"if you weren't here, she and I would be together"
Well, sure him and her and her spouse and her two friends with benefits.... I doubt they'd be as together as he thinks. If she would ditch her other partners to "be with him" she isn't particularly very good at being poly. If she is aware of his cheating, she isn't particularly very good at being poly. It sounds like he's not really operating in reality.

I am really sorry about this introduction by him into an open relationship. I suggest you (and he, if you still want to be with him) read some of the books that are more geared towards ethical non-monogamy of a polyamory variety (not that ethical slut isn't kind of but...the book resource list has a lot of other great books that will help you decide if honest polyamory is something that you could either embrace for yourself, or accept in him). Discuss with him what he is willing to do to make this a positive experience for you.

I second mostlyclueless' post too.

dingedheart 04-27-2012 02:16 PM

It sounds to me ...from the time line and actions that your husband could be trying to use this to cover his tracks as a cheater with an all about me attitude. Post stuff on line get a GF then read the books then have you read the books ...then disclose ..." gosh I'm glad you agree because I already have a girlfriend I've been seeing for X amount of time."

HE DIDN'T FORGET THE BOUNDARIES. Pretty big boundary to forget..... He manipulated the situation to get what he wanted. Steamrolled. Are you the type who rather not want to make a scene especially around unfamiliar people?

Did he make the pronouncement of the physical intimacy during dinner in front of her?

Do you look forward to finding your own outside partner?

Have you told your children of this lifestyle change?

Fayerweather 04-27-2012 02:25 PM

I just wanted to say that I feel for you and that it doesn't sound like your husband knows much about how to lovingly, patiently and equitably work out the kinds of agreements that are the basis of happy, healthy polyamory. From what you say, it seems like he is more concerned with this working out for him and not concerned enough with how this sudden and abrupt change in your lives might be making you feel. I wish you the best of luck and I hope things work out for the best in the end

drtalon 04-27-2012 03:13 PM

I'm sorry for what you're going through.

Quote:

I didn't know while we spent many many nights and hours discussing this openly and agreeing that it made very good sense that my spouse was already practicing.
Unfortunately, your husband was NOT practicing what you were talking about. If you didn't know he had another lover/partner, then he was cheating.

If his other partner senses your discomfort and withdraws from your husband because of it, in my opinion that's entirely his doing and you shouldn't let him shift the blame for that onto you.

Have you asked your husband whether his other partner knows you were ignorant of their relationship until recently? Technically, she might view what he's done with her as cheating, too, and she might be as upset about it as you are. Many would agree she has every right to be (though opinions differ and the ethical issues of enabling cheating are some of the more hotly debated issues amongst respectable poly-folk.)

I think it's honorable and the right thing to do to try to save your relationship. However, if you have the slightest concern your 33 year union might end because of this (willingly or unwillingly), I think you should consult with a lawyer sooner rather than later, to at least learn what rights you might be giving up by taking certain actions.

christinaballenstrausse 04-27-2012 03:14 PM

Thank you so much to all. I had only read the first response before he was home. But we did sit down and talk for the evening about what is wrong with the situation so far. I feel a lot better about the situation this morning than I did yesterday. I believe that a lot of our problem is communication. I will meet her tonight and we three talk about what we each want or expect. What our the concern's and hopes for the future.

I didn't want this but I'm certain that I can accept it with reasonable boundries. I'm not sure I can embrace polyamory for myself but I do think its a natural way to live and love, so I can accept his choice to embrace it. Its only been two months (for me) and I think I've come along way from traditional monogamy already. What do I want? I would like the 33yr investment in a precious relationship to turn into an 80yr investment so we can celebrate our 104yr birthdays with our great great great grandchildren. I don't want to lose what we've been building on for 33yrs because of misunderstanding and miscommunication.

He did start the affair before he had read the books. But I believe he did that (people do that) because they need to. He'd never heard of polyamory but it is so much in his nature that he sought it in spite of traditional beliefs. I can't imagine his relief to find these writings and be able to believe that he is not a terrible person for what he's done because its natural to want to experience more. He did it out of order because he didn't know there was an order. It would have been nice to have been eased into it a little more gently and take it at a pace that I can manage but I hope we can put the initial failures as a newbie poly couple behind us and go forward in a more structured healthy open arrangement.

Thank you all again
Philosophical convert emotionally way better today~

SNeacail 04-27-2012 03:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by christinaballenstrausse (Post 134153)
I can't imagine his relief to find these writings and be able to believe that he is not a terrible person for what he's done because its natural to want to experience more.

He's not a terrible person for having these feelings, however cheating is a horrible betrayal of trust. While feelings can't be controlled, actions can and his actions were reprehensible. If I had to guess, I'll bet that this is NOT his first affair. Be careful and stay alert, it's hard for people that are used to cheating to switch gears and be open and honest. The secrecy becomes a habit that can be hard for some to break. When my husband starts slipping back into secrecy mode, I have to double my effort to ask direct questions. When I ask enough annoying questions he realizes that he hasn't been offering the needed information and things start to improve.

AnnabelMore 04-27-2012 04:05 PM

"I got upset and we had a similar mini battle about how I'm reading too much into it and I'm not trying hard enough to get my head around all of this."

What right does he have to tell you that you're not trying hard enough when HE put you into this incredibly new and difficult position and you would be justified in just saying "you cheated, goodbye"???? I'm in no way saying you should do that, I think it's awesome that you've been so loving and thoughtful about all of this, it just comes off as super entitled and unfair of him to put the responsibility for making things ok on you when he's the one who done screwed up.

He needs to realize that in all of his fears about you pushing her away he might well end up pushing YOU away if he doesn't show more care and compassion! Doesn't he realize that you are giving him an incredible gift by being open-minded about this, and that he is risking that gift by giving you a harder time than necessary?

Not wanting them to have sex in your home is a perfectly reasonable boundary at this stage and he darn well better respect it!

Forgive my righteous indignation. I'm really happy to hear you're feeling better and I think this will probably work out just fine... I just hate to think of what could be a great outcome for everyone getting screwed up because one person isn't showing the necessary sensitivity and patience. Kudos to the "other woman" for respecting your feelings and your marriage in the way they deserve!


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