I am a monogomist, been married for 5 years, dating/engaged 3 years before that. I have no desire to have a relationship with anyone other than my wife (of course I do fantasize, but in terms of relationship, I don't want anyone other than my wife). Over the past few weeks I became aware of an emotional relationship my wife has been having with a male friend. I told her it made me uncomfortable, etc....This led to two weeks of arguing and fighting and me snooping on her emails which confirmed for me that this relationship really was an emotional affair (in my opinion). While we were arguing she would email him at work and he would be giving her reasons to choose him over me. She also verblly confirmed when we were fighting she did have feelings for him, but that she loves me and is married to me. I went to a counselor myself and she told me to forget about the suspected emotional affair (which she said she wouldn't confirm or deny without talking to my wife) because the problem was not the other guy, it was me and my not meeting her needs. Took that to heart, didn't talk to my wife about it for a week as this was just making her mad, stopped snooping, etc... We also started a marriage counseling session but so far we've only taken a inventory that will be used for the counselor to have some talking points.
Last night my wife and I were discussing some of the things on the inventory that we thought would be brought up in counseling and somehow I brought up something she had said to me when we were fighting. She said she doesn't know if "there is one person in the world for everyone." I probed to kind of figure out what she meant. I said, if we never met would we have found someone else...I think so, but now that we have each other that's all I want. I could tell that isn't exactly what she meant and she really kind of clammed up when I pushed a little more and started to get mad. I said that the counselor told me that I didn't have to get all her emotional needs from me (which I agree with) except for 100% of her sexual needs unless we had an open marriage. Teh counselor said I did have to meet at lest 80% of her needs or we were in trouble. She responded that she didn't want an open marriage very quickly, and I believe her. All this led to me moping around all night which she hates.
anyways, I've got two questions I guess. First, the story I'm starting to tell myself in my head is that my wife may want to have a romantic relationship with me AND this other man. I am not willing to accept this (even if the other relationship has no sex). How do I bring up the subject with my wife without her getting mad? What kind of non threatening questions can I ask, or do I just have to wait for her to bring it up? I really want to know how she feels, even if it hurts me. I love her and want her to be happy, but I also need to be happy myself.
The second question is: Now that I think she has started to think about the possibility of this other man, even if she decides that isn't what she wants do you think we can go forward? If so, how? all the marriage websites say no contact with the other man. My heart tells me that if that doesn't happen her feelings for him will never go away, but if I tell her this I think it will just drive her to him.
I found this website because I was searching for some way to understand what I think my wife is going through and I thought this fit. Even though I am a monogomist I do respect other people's decision and freedom, I just know in my heart that I wouldn't be able to handle a poly arrangement at all...any advice sure would be appreciated! It would be especially nice if you told me I was nuts, needed to get on some meds and that all this was in my head, but unfortunately I trust my heart.
Snooping is a touchy subject because although everyone has a right to privacy, everyone also has a right to be respected and be treated with honesty and openess (you were not)
I feel for you
Peace and Love
Thanks for the sympathy....
Yeah, I feel like crap for snooping but that's the only way I had enough background to talk to my wife. I haven't snooped AT ALL in a week which has been really tough. My wife tells me she is "doing what I asked" (not talking to him). I don't know if I believe, but I'm trying not to dwell on it. She has told me about 2 texts they sent back and forth this week about a mutual friend who's wife had surgery, so I do appreciate her being honest. I'm intentionally not asking her if she's talking to him. I do not want to come across as controlling at all. I want her to want to not talk to him and I guess the only way to do that is keep working at it.
Been reading a lot of posts on this forum, very intersting....and by the way, I disagree with those that say a poly relationship is more work...a mono relationship is VERY HARD TOO!! ;)
I think I've just got to be patient and be there to support her as she thinks things through. I have to figure out that I will love her no matter what, but I can't be part of a relationship that involves another person.
ARGH!!! I typed up a very well stated reply and hit the wrong button... Now I am going to wonder if I covered all my bases....
First and foremost, you have to tell her how you feel about having an open marriage. It doesn't matter if it upsets her or not. You are upset that she's had this emotional affair. it's not a tit for tat either, it's a married couple sharing needs and concerns.
Secondly, for him to tell her even once that she should pick him over her should be a huge red flag for both of you that this will never be a polyamorous relationship. Polyamory is about building the extended family in love, not picking sides etc... Picture having your wife in an exact duplicate. You wouldn't build one up more than the other and you wouldn't break one down. It's about love. If it's just about sex, it's swinging.
Thirdly (or whatever), RELATIONSHIPS PERIOD are hard. The hardest part is communicating needs and wants. The second hardest part is understanding that your needs and wants are sometimes not supposed to be part of a relationship (your wife needs to accept and appreciate that you won't have part of an open relationship). You have to make your needs known and listen and understand hers too.
I am speaking from the view of your wife as well. I am an ass who ended up having an affair (emotional and physical). I used to hate when friends would tell me about cheating on their wife or girlfriend. It was selfish of me but I can honestly say that I love both my wife and the woman I had an affair with. We no longer talk or hang out. I miss her deeply too. The people of this board helped me realize that I was being an ass and that I was wrong. What I did was not polyamory, it was cheating. I am working on my marriage now and will continue to focus on that until we are right. At that point, I may bring up my feelings and come clean to what happened.
I am also a person that understands that needs and wants change over time. There was a time when I would have fought another guy for looking at my wife with lust. Then I found that during our marriage, we agreed to swing with a married couple that we knew. I went from ready-to-fight to ready-to-watch. The odd thing is that even with swinging, I didn't think I could ever love another woman like I love my wife. We had a hardfast rule while swinging, no kissing. That was because it was so personal and could lead to emotions etc... Well, here I am now. Telling you that I am a convert and know that for a fact, I love two women. In the few short months
There is an EXTREMELY SMALL chance that if you and your wife discuss this out completely you may find that you have changed too. You might find that polyamory isn't bad for you both (but not with this guy) and take your relationship to a whole different level. Even if that isn't the outcome, at least you will have discussed it and understand eachother.
Finally, You mentioned that your counselor made reference to "it was me and my not meeting her needs". You either need to find another counselor or listen more carefully to what they say. Unless you said that you were clearly not providing a need (I don't hold her, I don't kiss her, I don't tell her I love you) it sounds like they already chose a side (wrong for them to do) or you didn't listen to what they were saying. Either way, communicate, communicate, communicate with your wife. If whatever counselor you choose tells you differently, find another one. That should be (and will most likely be) the focus of your counseling.
ok snooping is wrong altho understandable in this scenario. i'm going to play devils advocate of sorts here...
firstly, perhaps she is trying to "come out of the closet" to you but simply lacks the words or maybe even the labels to describe what she feels. maybe she is poly, maybe she isn't. i know there are a few support groups out there for poly-mono relationships if indeed she is and i can email a few of them to you.
but is this a poly-mono relationship? i don't know. only your wife really will know.
being open and honest to each other is key. you need to talk this though. all of it.
maybe the alleged emotional affair (i say alleged only because it isnt coming from her but you... no offense meant ok?) is her way of reaching out and trying to get something she feels lacks in your relationship. this may be a time to rekindle and get back to basics and figure out where the disconnect is in the relationship.
thirdly, you need to be honest with yourself. you married her, you're monogamist and you never intended her to fall in love with somebody else.... what do you want? if she is poly, and that is a HUGE if (because we are talking to you afterall) then are you able to handle emotionally her with another man... what is best for you and her? what do you want? how do you feel? have your feelings changed about monogamy?
talk not only to her, but also ...to your own heart. be honest with yourself. the heart, never lies.
listen, only you and your wife can figure this out. all i know is something brought you two together and there seems to be a disconnect someplace.
i beg you two to not use poly as a reason to replace something that is missing in a core relationship, as it only leads to more harm down the road. IF THAT IS THE CASE. which it may not be....
if indeed she is poly, it is a beleif in her heart and as such she isnt seeking others because she lacks something, she is seeking other because well.... i dont know. thats something only she could answer.... it is differnet for us all...but essentially we all believe the same thing... you can and do fall in love with more then one person at one time and that indeed there isnt just one person out there that is "meant" for you....
i wish you both the best, and we are ALL HERE FOR YOU BOTH. ask questions away, seek out advice, explore... experience.... you're in a crisis right now and i'll be damned if anybody here turns away somebody who is confused, lost, and hurting.. because whether your wife is poly or not Holm, we've all felt that way and we understand. we've all gone along this same path of exploration before ( some of us as the poly partners and others as the monogamist partners...)
keep asking... keep searching.... keep talking....
ps: your therapist sounds very shall we say... direct but if i may say, forgetting is never the answer when it comes to cheating. even emotional cheating. there is a difference between dealing & then moving on and just flat out dropping it and forgetting... trust me, i know from personal experience simply forgetting doesnt work, it leads to more trouble down the road because you never dealt with the problem when it first came up. ok?
maybe this is a one time thing for her. maybe she is discovering something about herself. or maybe its something more... i dont know. but we're here for you.... i hope you can figure this out
Thanks again for the support. I know I'm just grasping at straws a little bit here....
I get the feeling my wife wants to just forget any of this happened, but like you all said, that's not a good idea. This is a great opportunity for our relationship to grow....
Honestly I had never thought about poly (or even knew about it) before this. It just seems like something that isn't for me and I think that's all there is to it. I'm an extreme introvert and honestly don't need ANY friends other than my wife (hmmm...says the guy who's talking to strangers about his problems). She DOES need friends. I need to figure out how to be a part of that part of her life while still giving her space or if we make it through this crisis it will probably just happen again...
Work on the marriage in counseling (possibly bring up the term there). Once it is solid again, then you can bring polyamory up if it is something you really want to delve into discussing with her.
The other thing... You mentioned you are an introvert discussing this issue with a bunch of strangers. The anonymity of the internet is a strange thing isn't it. :D
I agree with what a lot of people have said here. Basically, I think that you have to get your relationship with your wife good before you open it. Opening it tends to cause new stress at first, so you need things to be good.
I think you both need to come out and say what you want. Let it be in a way that you are both free to say what you feel without judging each other. Just figure out your needs.
This other guy your wife likes is not into polyamory. He is operating under the idea that you have to possess the one you love. If your wife wants to get involved with someone, it should be with someone who can respect your relationship with her.
i wish you the best.
As a couple of people have written, the other guy giving your wife reasons to choose him over you is very troubling. That's home-wrecker behavior. Definitely something to bring up with the counselor, IMHO. How did your wife feel when he talked like that? Defensive? Confused? Angry? Sad? But that's for counseling.
Often an extreme introvert has trouble expressing emotions. Recognize that your wife probably needs more emotional nourishment. I know that my first response when I was married and in my extremely in-turned phase would have been, "I do connect with her emotionally!". But looking back I realize that what I considered emotional connection was actually pretty weak and unsatisfying. If there are ways you can open up more with her then you must do that. Talking is a gateway, but laughter and tears in each other's arms are better. But maybe you are already there, I dunno.
Another way you might consider growing is to step outside your comfort zone as an introvert and go with her to make friends. You should ask for her help -- she would probably love to help you meet people and learn how to relax and enjoy being around them more. If that's possible, a bunch of things might happen: you will be participating with her as she gets the socialization an extrovert needs; she will be helping you and helping each other brings couples closer; you may have good shared experiences that she (and you, eventually) will cherish; and she may feel less isolated and pressured (it's hard being the sole relationship provider for your spouse).
This is all stuff for you, but there are also things an extrovert needs to do too. She's gotta pay attention to you and use a kind of awareness that doesn't necessarily come easily to an extrovert. She has to figure out exactly what she feels about what happened and why --the kind of self-examination which, again, doesn't come naturally to an extro.
Your counselor should bring these kinds of things into the discussion. If you're feeling overloaded and "beat up" at the session by hearing about a lot of things you need to change, then override your keep-quiet nature and say so -- calmly, calmly! A good counselor should recognize immediately when you're approaching overload. Being challenged and being overloaded are different.
Anyway. I kind of feel like this is a know-it-all post on my part, and I hope you don't take it that way. My sympathy is very much with you. My mother is an extrovert who learned introspection, and my father is an introvert who learned to socialize...they're 87 and 95 years old, and one of the easiest and happiest married couples I know. Go for it!
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