Back and Forth
So I'm finding myself in this situation where, after 6 years of monogamy with my husband (and 3 yo), he has a sudden realization that he can love two people, and already has someone in mind.
Now, to give some background: he'd met this new love three days prior to our conversation and had already started falling hard for her (so much as to suggest that "it might just be her and you for the rest of my life").
More background: this comes to light after months of struggle over family resources (time/money) that have left us pretty strained, and months of talking about trying some form of poly, but wanting to do it together, or at least to start it together. This conversation, I thought, was on hold for several reasons, including (a) the primary issues already existing with resources, and (b) I hadn't yet come to agree with him on a healthy way to start it up.
Even more background: both of us have experience in poly relationships, and aren't necessarily opposed to it, but chose monogamy consciously and intentionally for this relationship.
Back to the conversation about this new love, which happened after a night when I had realized we had grown apart and I would either have to leave him, causing major upheaval in our lives, or we would need to seek professional help. My mistake, I acknowledge, was running from that realization, smack dab into the poly conversation, and entertaining the notion that, maybe if I could date other men and women, it'd be easier to live with him as best friends. Yes, I know, poly is NOT a way to fix relationships in trouble. My bad. But I bring all this up, and he chimes in with the real story of his past three days, that after a week away where we DISTINCTLY and very clearly discussed poly again and I was still uncomfortable with it, he had met someone and for the last three days had been talking with her on the phone constantly. They had apparently decided together that not pursuing that spark they felt with each other would be "abandoning themselves."
I'll try to make my description of what happened after that short and sweet: initially, I was like "great, let's do it, let's give it a try," but then shortly after that I started having serious doubts, like perhaps we should try counseling first and then continue the conversation. Upon encountering his absolute confidence that this was our spiritual path, and that it would open everything up for us, however, I did hesitatingly agree to try it, even though I kept asking him why he felt it necessary to put it all on the line for this. For the next two weeks, then, things moved extremely quickly. My back and forthness on the issue, coupled with his extreme gushing love for this new person, pushed us into an emotionally turbulent state, which was starting to affect our daughter. And he increasingly told me he was simply "holding space" for my negative emotions, and choosing to believe that Truth resided only in the times I agreed. I, on the other hand, quickly realized that his desire for me to run out and set up dates with new potential poly lovers was rash and superficial. I did have a phone conversation with her during all of this (she is not poly, and had never heard of it). She didn't share much, except that she "didn't want to break up anyone's marriage". And we talked about how we hoped that maybe her and I would click better when we met, and maybe just maybe the three of us could make something (although he didn't really want to share).
The day before the new love was to show up from her faraway home (we'd at some point agreed that she could come out to do a workshop that was primarily for her, and to see what would happen), I began to beg him to stop, never telling him to do so or giving him an ultimatum, however, because that's just not who I am, and I know it wouldn't work. He blamed my choices for how it had gotten to here, and that at this point he couldn't stop. So I rapidly flew into the mode of creating "boundaries" like no sex the first night, or no talking to me about details (suggested by a poly friend/counselor, but something that didn't resonate for me because if you can't share details about your experience with your wife/husband, why bother?), etc. etc.
When she finally arrived, I met them on the beach. I could feel the "amazing energy" between them, the lust oozing off of them, and I felt really uncomfortable and unsatisfied with her conversation with me. When she heard I was struggling, she just said "yeah, that must be hard," that she didn't have any expectations about the relationship, but that not pursuing it would, again, be "abandoning herself." When I told him that I thought this might be the end of us, he told me to have faith, that this was just the beginning, that we are in the midst of a major heart based spiritual breakthrough, etc etc. When he wanted to go off for a walk with her, I left. I just felt like I was forcing myself into the situation, and that they wanted nothing more than to get it done and run to her hotel. But that, yes, *could* have been my insecurities at work (he tries to paint the picture that way).
After he came home from his first night with her (at 11, as promised), he takes a shower and I am feeling really open, like wow, maybe this could work....I go to touch him and he retracts, however, saying he needs time to transition from his deeply intimate encounter with her, back to me. I flip out, surprising myself with my intensity, and ask him to leave. (yes, then there was an earthquake, for added drama). The next morning, I realize in yoga that wait a minute, this was never polyamory, this was his deal, just happening to coincide with my realization and the remnants of a still open and very clearly unresolved conversation about how we might want to start poly.
So I promptly ask him to leave, that my daughter and I need some space and serenity from the emotional turbulence of this. He doesn't show up at work that day, spends the day on the beach with her, and then comes to collect his clothes later when we are home, making sure he looks happy and telling me that he will be staying with her.
Now, he is still with her, or so I assume because he hasn't come home and hasn't wanted to talk at all (or is simply respecting my silence), and I'm relatively clear on the fact--based on the many healthy poly friends I have--that this was NOT a healthy way to start poly, and that, as I realized in yoga, that this wasn't even really poly, it was him starting an affair and trying to capitalize on my openness and experience with poly, and my slip up that first night, in order to validate his actions. I am relatively clear also that his conscious disregard of my doubts and fears and sadness and anger as simply my "ego" or my "lower self" is something that is not very cool, that if maintaining our marriage and keeping our family together was really his primary concern, he'd have taken note of the fact that I wasn't 100% ready for this, and maybe would have stopped or at least put the damn thing on hold for awhile. I'm clear that his argument that I agreed so I caused all of this is fundamentally flawed. And I'm clear that this lover of his really doesn't give a shit about anyone but herself in this.
But it still hurts, and I'm still finding myself feeling wobbly and regretful that I ever agreed to this, in any form. Earlier, I acknowledged fully that I made a mistake in thinking that poly might "fix" our relationship, and I will acknowledge it again. But I feel a little mind-fucked, here, and it would help to have some perspective from the poly community.
Note: I am still not anti-poly, per se, and would seriously consider starting any new relationships as poly from the beginning. Of course, all of my mono friends want me to file for divorce...tomorrow.
But I need more nuanced advice than that, as you can all probably appreciate, because there is so much at stake here. A child, a home, a marriage that we've put a lot of intentional work into, a home, etc. Your heartfelt responses are much appreciated. Thanks so very much.
I am sorry you are hurting. :(
You write well.
So let me just point this out. This dalliance with this woman? Shoosh it aside for a minute. Look at what you write before airing out the story about the woman and how you felt before this even all got started.
a) Close back down in order to see a counselor and get back into right relationship that way
b) Go see a mediator/lawyer to negotiate a clean, fast split and get back into right relationship that way.
That's about it here. The woman at the beach? That's just frosting. Your cupcake was already in progress by the sound of it.
But don't do another big circle around the bush running from realizations and avoiding what is in front of you. If YOU do not feel like counseling is worth the bother or you cannot be fully present and vested in that making it work thing? Don't even put it on the table. It's basically a split.
In 6 months, it is very likely your husband and his lover will wonder what the hell they see in each other. They are certainly following something but it's not their 'higher selves'. The sooner the faux spiritual justification for their behavior is gone the better for all involved. I just cannot stand people justifying treating others horribly because of 'spiritual' growth or changes. Can poly relationships be deeply spirtual? Of course. But this ain't it.
I hope you can work something out with him, if only an amicable divorce.
If for some reason you decide to stay together, is his variation of poly behavior that something you want to handle? Him rushing off to do as he pleases, being insensitive to gush about a new person when you are obviously having trouble with how fast things are moving, informing you he's off to stay with her instead of having a conversation about it?
I couldn't do poly with a partner who didn't remember to be kind to me during the process. I have to agree with the previous comments that it sounds like you knew what you needed to see if your relationship was going to work out or not, and he is not interested in this time at doing that work. Even if the NRE does fizzle out and he realizes he was a jackass, you probably have months of dealing with shitty behavior from him in the interim, and would have that much more trouble feeling you could trust him to be a good partner if you attempted poly again.
It does sound like you already know what is best for you and what you need.
Oh, so many waves of realization here, layers upon layers of past & future tripping. Thank you all for responding, reading, thinking about it, seeing into it.
Deep down it feels like some deep shift in my own self-awareness is occurring, something that no longer feels ok with attempting to live the fantasy, the fairytale dream...
At least he's right that it is fundamentally spiritual. Its just not the NRE-spin-off-into-ecstasy "spiritual"...it's the deep down mucky look-at-yourself-and-don't-flinch kind of spiritual, the cut-the-crap-and-meditate type of thing. At least for me. I'm really glad I've had the clarity not to run into someone else's arms through all of this.
All religious or spiritual baths helps us to move toward becoming our best selves -- to ourselves, to others. It's not always easy either to execute -- putting your faith values into practice in authentic ways. Talk the talk and walk the walk.
Some of what's being said here? That's word twisting in an attempt to give "noble spiritual sounding talk" to FRESH actions. This is not them choosing to behave in a way guided by their faith beliefs so they are at their best selves in themselves, to each other, and to others (like you!)
Here are talks and walks:
He's basically talkin' fresh to me. Don't much care about her -- you don't have any relationship to her, really. Other than she's his cheating affair partner. She's not a metamour if you did not willingly choose to Open the marriage together. You don't owe her anything - not even the basic polite due an honest metamour.
But it sounds like YOU know what you need to do and just need encouragement to get on to doing it with him and your relationship to him.
You ARE talking about your talk matching your walk and being in right relationship to yourself and to others. That is spiritual work deep within. So Shine on! Talk your talk and walk your walk so they match so you can be at peace in your soul and draw strength from that well while facing life challenges.
Call him into account and then decide what's next for this relationship. Counseling or a split. It will be what it will be.
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