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-   -   Getting through the pain (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24335)

polyexplorer 06-01-2012 10:37 AM

Getting through the pain
Hi everyone!

It's been a few months since I last posted... But I really need your listening ears and words of wisdom!

Just to bring you all up to speed...

I am married and 7 years ago fell in love with another woman, while also still being in love with my wife. My wife tried to be OK but was not. The relationship with the other woman had to end.

Over the last 7 years my wife and I have talked and talked and talked. I realised in the meantime that I was actually poly. My wife wanted to be OK with it all but thought the only way she would be OK was if she herself was in a relationship.

6 months ago she met a guy and has fallen head over heels for him. I have not met anyone else.

Ever since I met the other woman 7 years ago, my wife has placed a protective wall around herself from me to protect against pain. This protective wall is not there with her new man. As a consequence, she has really given herself fully to him and is still holding back from me. Our kids are starting to notice this too.

Both the fact that my wife was not able to accept the other woman 7 years ago, and now that I can see her giving herself to her new man but withholding from me has caused and is causing me great pain. This pain is unattractive to my wife and pushes her further away from me and towards her new man.

I have asked her to open herself to me because in times when she starts to I know how much this helps my own pain about the whole situation. She says that it is very difficult to do so when my pain pushes her away from me.

I know that in many ways my pain is justifiable. I think most people facing what I have had to face would also be in pain. But if I am to stay with my wife and keep our family together I need to find a way to free myself from the pain even though I am confronted with it everyday because I see how she is giving to her new man and holding back from me (by her own admission too). I love her deeply...

Any words of wisdom??? Please????

CielDuMatin 06-01-2012 12:25 PM

A difficult situation, for sure.

Can you talk a little bit more about how you feel that she is holding back from you and giving everything to him? What sorts of things is she doing that makes you feel this way?

Also, you mention this pain that she is trying to protect you from - maybe I'm dense, but what is causing this pain?

polyexplorer 06-01-2012 12:46 PM

Thanks for your reply Ciel,

She is holding back emotionally. She is protecting herself from me because of the pain I caused her 7 years ago by falling in love with someone else (which at the time we were in a mono marriage), and then the pain she feels because of my ongoing pain and sadness. So because she is protecting herself from me, she can't open herself up fully to me, which she admits. But because I'm still in pain, particularly when I see her not opening up to me, but I see how she does to her new man, this ongoing pain causes her to keep the protective walls up, which keeps me being confronted with the very thing that is causing me pain.

I hope this makes sense...

dingedheart 06-01-2012 02:23 PM

Is your wife a member here?

Is this a theory you had and shared with her ...or is this her answer to your questions.

How about she and you go get professional help...talk about the wall ...pain infected 7 yrs ago...maybe there's a bit of pay back here....try to heal those old wounds.


Learn to live with the wall...distract yourself by falling with another women. Learn to deal with the new dynamic ...it is what it is. You wanted this and unfortunately you have to take the good and the bad. How much pain are we talking 1-10 ?

SNeacail 06-01-2012 02:50 PM

I agree with DH that a professional might be able to help. Breaking down years of resentment is difficult, but can be done. for me it really helped to voice the resentment in front of a third party. She was able to help me vocalize why it still hurt so much after so many years. I had tried before and actually thought I was past it, but it still reared its ugly head. I think my husband was also much more willing to truly listen while we were sitting in front of the marriage counselor.

It's easier to NOT have those walls with someone new. So don't lose hope, if you both want your marriage to survive, this can be fixed.

nycindie 06-01-2012 06:15 PM

It sounds like you both have a lot of letting go and forgiving to do.

Your feelings for someone else seven years ago resulted in consequences, one of which is that your wife had to put up an emotional barrier to protect herself and deal with what I assume she perceived as a betrayal. Whether or not she is ready to let down her guard and forgive you is something she has to work through personally, and there really isn't anything you can do to get her to do that before she feels able to. It sounds like her resistance to letting go and forgiving you is a reaction to your possibly coming off as needy surrounding that. You can't direct her process and, although it seems to you that it has gone on too long, you can choose to be happy now. You don't have to wait until everything is "right" (in your eyes) again.

You can start your own healing process by forgiving yourself, forgiving her for still holding onto her resentment or need to distance herself from you, and letting go of the need you have for your wife to change her stance or process on the situation and be any different than who she is. This is your life right now and you can choose to continue in pain or you can move on in acceptance. You may want to read Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, there is a thread about it in these forums if you do a search.

Therapy may be very helpful, and I think you should look into it for yourself even if she does not want to. The great thing about self-work and awareness is that when we come to terms with our issues in ourselves, and truly are present instead of living in past hurts, we transform those around us. So, don't give in to the urges you have that your wife needs to change in order for everything to be good between you again. Work on you.

CielDuMatin 06-01-2012 08:01 PM

Some great advice here. Has she let you know that she is willing to work on these barriers between you, caused by the lack of trust? It's quite possible that you both want to, but are unsure how. A professional counsellor is trained to be able to provide you the tools that you need. They can do this far better than an internet forum can, because they can have a much longer time to hear both sides of the story in a non-judgmental way.

If your wife has no interest in working on this between you, then that gives you better information about whether or not you want this relationship between you and her to continue.

nycindie 06-01-2012 09:12 PM


Originally Posted by CielDuMatin (Post 138080)
If your wife has no interest in working on this between you, then that gives you better information about whether or not you want this relationship between you and her to continue.

Or continue in the way it has. Maybe you are holding onto a dynamic that would have been over regardless of whether you lusted after someone else seven years ago. Or maybe she isn't as attached to you as she used to be. That isn't necessarily a bad thing.

It is still possible to have a really great relationship even if you never get back what you had between you. It will just not be what it was anymore, or what you thought it was. No one stays the same anyway, and relationships and marriages naturally evolve as people mature and grow and become more themselves -- whether or not they are poly or mono. But, in addition to this fact, now she does have someone else. The thing that so many couples seem to forget when they embark upon a poly arrangement is that the dynamic of their relationship will inevitably change when one or both of them has another partner. Perhaps the distance you feel is not that she has closed herself off to you but that she is just different, and your relationship to her is different because now she has an additional relationship in her life.

It is important to let go of the past in order to move forward.

polyexplorer 06-02-2012 12:22 AM

Thanks for all the great replies!

Yes, we both are seeking professional help. I'm not sure of what issues my wife is seeking to deal with, but she is seeing a counsellor and also talking to a poly friend who has been poly for a long time.

I'm seeking help about how to move on from the pain that I feel and be happy independent of whether my wife is able to open herself up to me or not (which is her answer to my questions to answer your question DH).

I don't think forgiveness is my issue in moving on from the pain. I can totally understand why she has the protective wall up. I can understand why she has been hurt. Acceptance may be closer to the truth. I am finding it hard to accept that she continues to keep the barrier up for such a long time. But also the fact that the barrier is there (even if it is understandable) but not there with someone else is painful to see. It is especially painful because it is in my face all the time and I am always confronted with it. Any more words of wisdom of how I can deal with the pain that is always in front of me??

SNeacail 06-02-2012 06:59 AM


Originally Posted by polyexplorer (Post 138101)
Yes, we both are seeking professional help. I'm not sure of what issues my wife is seeking to deal with, but she is seeing a counsellor and also talking to a poly friend who has been poly for a long time.

Are you seeking help together? Individual therapy is great, but if you are to work in the marriage and your relationship, you need to see a MARRIAGE counselor. I will say that both my husband and I were surprised when we each heardwhat resentments had been building and what hurts we were each trying to protect ourselves against.

Don't really have any advice on how to get past the pain, I still struggle with it. While things with us are much better than they have been in a long time, I think there will always be a disconnect of sorts and walls in place and it makes me sad. We have changed too much and not together and too many past hurts.

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