Breaking the Cycle
First time poster, long time reader.
Recently, my partner/primary of six years agreed to my wife. On the condition the our poly relationship become monogamous (She wasn't currently seeing anyone else after our triad split. Turns out she didn't love him as much as I did or as much as he loved her). I thought 'I love this woman to death, I don't want to spend the rest of my life with anyone else.' and agreed.
Things are always simple on paper, huh? Most of the people I love that aren't my fiancee are more than happy to see us finally tie the knot and marry. Most. Some are happy that we will be happy, but devastated that what I had with them is coming to end.
The worst part, is part of me it seems doesn't want to give them up. I avoided telling the ones I loved deepest last. The ones that have hurt the most, it seems, to end it with. I can't bear to see them in pain and hurt by my choice.
None have asked me to reconsider. I am afraid of that, because as much as I love my wife to be, I feel hollow without them. It just... it hurts so much.
What can I do to make it stop hurting? It feels like I can't breathe.
Thank you so much for -any- advice with this.
Oh my. This sounds like the beginning of a disaster to me. I dont know what will help. I will say, please consider if you are really going to fulfilled if you limit yourself this way.
Using myself as an example; I am bi. When I married my husband, I didn't agree to never being with another woman again. I haven't dated another woman since we married (almost 15 yrs) because I haven't met the right woman, but, I could never commit to denying that part of myself if she came along.
I love him. But I love myself too.
Yes, that has potential disaster since you aren't thrilled about it. Did you discuss with her WHY she wanted to close and become monogamous? If so, do you think they were healthy reasons or fear based? If you are only agreeing because it's easier than stating your own hopes and desires, speak up now before you've broken both your hearts please?
Always the possibility you can negotiate what you want to both of your contents if you're upfront and honest about mismatched needs.
One should never agree to things that one doesn't actually want to agree with. We only set ourselves up for misery when we do that, especially when we know those things will make us unhappy. You need to talk this over more, hash it all out, and come to a compromise. What the heck made you go along with that?
I have a few questions, which will hopefully prod some thinking for you and also help us help you, if you can answer them.
It sounds like you have many lovers, asked one to marry you, and felt like you had to agree to monogamy in order for her to say yes - but why? Why would marriage make her want to switch from poly to mono? Do you think she was basically unhappy with poly all along and saw marriage as an opportunity to make that all go away? Or might she somehow feel some sense of shame or impropriety or something that would make marrying and remaining poly impossible for her? What was the reasoning she gave for wanting monogamy?
Why does the love you feel for this person eclipse the love you have for yourself and your others to such degree that you have to put yourself in so much pain? Did it feel like were you given an ultimatum? What prompted you to ask this woman to marry you in the first place?
Lots of people are married and poly (I am one). Was she poly too, and is she giving up other relationships, or was she always monogamous to you? Does she know and/or like your other loves?
I agree with the others who said that giving up something you don't really want to give up is not a great idea and may well lead to resentment in future, or even the danger of cheating if you are making promises you can't keep to.
If you didn't currently have any other relationships, it might make more sense to me - some people do choose to close up at various points in their lives (and may or may not open again later), and as long as that was something you both agreed to then fair enough - but there are other people's hearts involved here too.
Don't make promises you can't keep. You can't keep this one.
Why does she wasn't the marriage to be closed? Does it hurt her very much to see you with others?
It seems that maybe she wasn't all that poly to begin with or perhaps has some unspoken fears/reservations about the lifestyle. Maybe it's because she isn't involved with anyone at the moment...but whatever her motives are, you need to have a frank and open discussion about it with her.
Does she know how much of yourself you'll be giving up to be mono and how much it hurts you? Perhaps she would reconsider her request if she knew...
Please don't make decisions based on fear or ultimatums...because you'll likely regret them down the road. Marrying her and promising monogamy when you're feeling pressured and unhappy is dishonest and it's setting you up for failure.
I would never ask either of my loves to deny any part of who they are to be with me. I accept them and hope for the same in return.
What is the cycle that is being broken?
How recent is this engagement...and how soon or far off is the wedding date?
I see 3 major areas of sorting. And that is ok. Engagement time is the sorting time. DO NOT set a wedding date prematurely -- I see this all the time and think people forget what the purpose of engagement is FOR.
Then why be in it? Why compromise self/lie to triad partners?
Next clarify what you are Closing down to there.
Either is fine -- you both just have to agree to it. Do you BOTH know with clarity what you both are signing up for there, and are both happy with it? Or will staying same or some third option for relationship shape be better?
You are changing relationships with a lot of others and will go through the stages of grief on each. That is normal, that does not necessarily mean your rship with fiancee is doomed. But that area needs some time to clarify too. It's good most of your community wishes you well, and it is appropriate your closet people/lovers are taking this seriously and solemnly. This is what engagement and marriage are supposed to be. Serious and solemn Life Changing Decisions not entered into lightly.
I don't know why people get all weird about feeling the feelings of serious and solemn. It doesn't have to be a BAD thing here.
Get through your processes in each area there. In preparation. Test the waters, try it on while an engaged man. Practice walking the path you will have to walk as a Married for a time of engagement. Before you sign up to be Married and walk that path for much longer. If you find you can or cannot walk this walk is THE POINT.
The end of the engagement period is the time to decide yay or nay.
That is what engagement is FOR. Have a long one! It is the time for both to seriously contemplate a major life decision.
You may find that yeah -- you are ready!
You may find that no -- it's better to keep things as is!
Or she is in mix match to you -- one is and one isn't! You BOTH have to be on a solid yes before going further.
Doesn't have to mean you lose each other in the processing. You jsut have to DO this processing together.
So you can both enter your marriage in good shape in all your buckets -- mental health, emotional health, physical health, spiritual health.
Maybe you want a handfasting with your partner rather than a legal wedding for marking this time in your Lives. The Engagement Time.
Traditional handfastings are a year and a day but people can make them for however long it is they want that bond. You can even renew. To crank up your commitment level to your partner without taking it all the way out to a legal bond just yet. DO NOT RUSH.
DH and I recently did a ribbon ceremony to mark this time of being Open in Mind and Heart but not Body and Soul while talking about opening up later down in future. It's serious work. We wanted to mark it. Those who need to know we are in this time know those who don't, don't.
Years ago our own Engagement for Marriage to Each Other? I moved in with him. I told my parents (horrified but accepting when I explained self and told them I was not asking for their blessing. I was going in how I wanted to live my life!) and he told his (dad--you are grown up mom - I would fight you on this if it were anyone but her.)
The agreement was a year of living together and if good we announce our engagement beyond the parents. It was not good. We tacked another year on. It was good then. We were handfasted by friends at that point to mark that major turn and recommitment. It's basically our wedding. (Not even the parents knew/know that we almost broke up or were handfasted.) We were busy being Engaged and working on it -- including through the first big major conflict. That is what Engagement is for.
We let it simmer another year and a half to be SURE it was good, then got legally wed. That was open to all. Gave everyone time to try it all on, make sure all relationships were in good shape, etc. We were ministered too. Much later. There's no reason NOT to spread it around if that is what you wish.
Remember that you can have YOUR relationship with her unfold and come in whatever shape/styles you and she decide it to be. You write your own story here.
Congratulations on your engagement! I hope your processing time together goes the way you both want it to go and more importantly -- the way it NEEDS to go for both your best selves. Even if you discover that marriage may not be IT just yet. The engagement experience shared will draw you close anyway. That can be a wonderful, deepening thing to share.
And you can always enter engagement again at a later time to see if "Is this the Right time? The Right place in our lives? For this new Change we are engaged in contemplating?"
Take heart, here. BREATHE.
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