What if polyamory stops working?
My story is on this forum in bits and pieces from the past two or three years, but the summary of my situation is that I have a monogamous husband who is tolerating my relationship with a man I fell for about a year and a half ago. Through lots of trial and error we agreed last summer to an arrangement where I can go out of town two days a month to be with him. My husband prefers this to having him cross paths around our home on a less predictable schedule, and the boyfriend and I love getting to have a solid chunk of time together rather than trying to fit short visits between other things in our busy lives.
The problem is, this is getting harder and harder for my husband to take. Even though I am scrupulous about sticking to our agreements (including no PIV sex, which is increasingly agonizing) my husband feels like I am cheating on him. He doesn't feel like he can love me as much as we used to, and he feels like he is getting shortchanged out of the marriage he expected. I totally understand his perspective, and I feel awful about it, but I don't know what to do.
We are in counseling, and trying to focus on improving the relationship we have between us, leaving my polyamory as a sort of side issue that the counselor almost seems to find irrelevant for now. I do think there is a lot my husband and I can do to improve our marriage in terms of how we treat each other and how we live our lives. However, it's clear that this business of polyamory is hurting him more over time. He won't tell me to change what I do because he doesn't want to be in the position of controlling me or forcing me to give up something important to me, but I think he feels more and more betrayed by the fact that I am going forward in spite of his pain.
How would I go backward? Can a connection be unmade, or a relationship unformed? If I told my sweet adoring boyfriend that I wasn't going to see him any more, would that make my marriage stronger, better? Should we put a stop to our physical intimacy? I already feel like making PIV sex a taboo has had the unintended effect of giving all of our intimate encounters a layer of excitement and creativity that exists for the mere fact that we can't have routine sex, so I think if we stopped all of it, we'd build up an enormous amount of sexual tension. If I stopped seeing him at all, I'd cry buckets.
I'm trying to find the middle road between guilt and longing. I love them both, and I want them both to be happy, but my husband is not happy.
What could husband choose to do as his next behavior?
The husband could choose to ask the wife:
" Wife, I gave it a try. I find it is still not for me. Are you willing to be in a monogamous marriage with me now that we've tried it on and it is time to re-assess?"
wife says yes, she is willing?
The wife says maybe or not sure?
Wife says no, not willing?
What could wife choose to do as her next behavior?
Wife could choose to stay silent.
Wife could choose to speak up.
WIFE could choose to initiate the Hard Conversation:
If Husband answers yes? Wife must be prepared to answer:
I am sorry you are hurting. :(
But fear, or unwillingness to do introspection work on yourself, or not liking to feel yucky feelings...
Those are not a good reason to avoid having Hard Conversation that has to be had. HAVE IT. Are you a participant in your marriage tending or not? The marriage is hurting. Tend it. This includes talking to him about ending it to stop continual suffering you both experience and how you want to be after that sort of option if the couple chooses that.
What could the couple choose to do?
Could choose to speak to willingness.
Could choose to do the work of un-suffer.
Could choose to stop focus on what they do not want (aaaah! marriage ending!) that is causing paralysis.
Could choose focus to run TOWARD something good that both DO want:
Not stay in UGH because of fear of yucky and stay cultivating a thing that isn't feeding either much of anything but suffering.
Whatever the outcome the couple decides to work toward? (new and improved polyship, monoship, break up and friendship only, something else?)
I suggest you both could choose to BE WILLING do the work of UN-suffer to get yourselves over there to the Happier Place.
SPEAK UP. SPIT IT OUT.
You even have a counselor already -- let's go! Work on the communication skills you both could grow to better steer this relationship to its next port of call.
Hoping you both do ok...
What my husband has said to me today is that our "agreement" was something he was forced into because he felt I would revert to a recurrent illness if he didn't give in. That I have not been loyal to him, because I have been in a relationship with another man despite knowing that he did not "really" agree to it.
I called my boyfriend and we agreed to cancel our trips, and not be intimate, which really means not being together.
My husband is thankful and relieved and says now, finally, he can start putting effort into making our marriage better.
I am crying and crying and crying. I went running until it got too dark. Now what? How can I find closeness and intimacy with my husband, when I so much resent his unwillingness to make this work? (I say unwilling in part because he backs out on our agreements, and in part because he flatly refuses to try to learn or understand anything about polyamory on the grounds that he doesn't want anything to do with it.)
Should I smile and fake domestic happiness and offer my body at night and hope that eventually I convince myself that this is what I want? Or can I go live in the guest room and write down every wonderful moment I've had with my boyfriend before I forget them, because they have been some of the absolute best moments of my life? At least for a little while?
This hurts SO MUCH! Why must I choose? I get to love both my children, and both my parents. How does my loving another man hurt my husband so much?
Being on the young end at this forum AND very new, I apologize ahead of time for any naivety. ((And I think I just point that out cause galagirl has provided with such a great breakdown as it is.. XD))
Honestly it does not sound like you want to be with him anymore. Or at least you are just willing to be unhappy in a relationship with him.
It seems your emotions are not very flexible concerning your monogamy with him. You have to ask yourself, is it worth suffering to stay with him? Do you want to stay with him so bad that you don't mind letting yourself hurt, is it because you believe one day you heal and feel you can ((learn/heal)) to be happy in a monogamous relationship? Perhaps you just need the forum to vent your feelings, which is perfectly all right I think. Maybe deep down you believe that you can be happy again, but with just your husband. It seems that way cause you haven't chosen to leave your husband(and that could rely on a whole bag of other issues that have nothing to do with your desired relationship dynamic.) I guess what I'm trying to get at is, you are hurting, and it may help to dig down a bit deeper as to why you currently hurt, find out if you're going to continue to hurt, and if it's worth it. Being unhealthy to yourself, trying to convince yourself of something you might not ever agree with will be your undoing, and I don't mean just cheating on your husband.
Ah, AC, it is bittersweet to hear form you. I am glad to see a post from you again because your participation here has been missed - but I am so very sorry to hear that it has gotten to this point... again. You have had so many bumps in the road, and your husband has made you spitting mad sometimes, but it seemed to be taking baby steps forward after each time you and he would talk and get clear on things.
I know that his Indian culture, and his huge pride about what a proper wife and mother should be, has influenced his choices in the past, but -- I can't quite believe him when he says he went along with poly against his wishes, and because of your heart condition. That sounds too much like blaming you for his remorse over choices he made. He is regretful and not accepting responsibility for the agreements he made and then went back on so many times before.
I would be upset, too, if I were you. You had told us before that there were many times he expressed being satisfied with the arrangement. After misunderstandings, you strove to accommodate his requests, and always respected his wishes. And he acknowledged that - until the next time he had remorseful thoughts and started picking on you again. So, to me, he either lied then or is lying now. I think that, besides his refusal to try and learn more about poly, one of your biggest issues is communication. He has gone back on his word so many times, or misconstrued small things as huge transgressions against him. I also think that your therapy needs to focus on how he sees the roles of husband and wife and what marriage means to him - I feel like a broken record saying that, but every time you and he have an issue, I get the sense that most of his struggle is with the IMAGE of marriage and what your being polyamorous would MEAN, in relation to his position and knowing his place in the world. I am afraid I may not be expressing it well, but I think his issues are less about you two as the individuals you are, with whatever needs you have, and more about what a husband and wife should be to each other, according to what he thinks is the right way to be.
Another thing I noticed is that, every time he expresses his displeasure, you immediately go to remedy it by putting the breaks on your other relationship. You never really let your husband stew and feel the depth of his discomfort. He protests and you jump. I'm not saying that you should rub his nose in anything or make him suffer, but you are always so accommodating that I don't think he ever really works through any of the stuff he feels. Nor does he ever seem proactive; he waits for you to do something, expresses how he feels and then waits for you to fix it. There's something to look at there; I'm not sure what, though.
I'm glad you came back here to let us know what's going on. I hope you find a satisfying way out of the pain, something that all of you can live with.
I'm sad to hear that things aren't going well. I've always been interested in your story and I know how hard you have worked on your marriage.
Unfortunately, I have to go back to my initial first impression: your husband has too many issues of his own that he is unwilling to address. Would an amicable divorce be possible?
You love your husband, but he doesn't share your views on marriage, love, sex, etc. You've worked hard to go at his own very slow pace with your polyamorous relationships--but he's not even grateful to you / appreciative of you for that.
I'm so sorry.
Do these behavior of his create a trusting,loving environment in the marriage? A list of less than forthright behavior? No.
Does this behavior of yours help create a trusting, loving environment in the marriage -- demonstrating a willingness to believe the spouse? Yes.
You could bring this up in counseling:
Could also mention this in counseling:
You cannot hit a moving goal post.
You could ask him in counseling if these are behaviors he willing to change in service to the marriage health so that you both can be in right relationship.
Here is your opportunity: what are you wants? Needs? Limits in this marriage? What do you need to be fed here? What do you expect your husband to deliver?
Here is his opportunity: what are his wants? Needs? Limits in this marriage? What do he need to be fed here? What does he expect you to deliver?
Are these things SMART? (S)pecific? (M)easurable? (A)ttainable? (R)ealistic? (T)imely?
Or more "mind reader" type stuff that is not attainable by anyone? If he presents you with a crazy list, you can say you are not willing to sign up for this. Make you a new offer. Make sure your list to him is SMART and in the land of reality.
Assuming you are willing to give him another chance? For how long before the next checkpoint? This is the final checkpoint, right? Because you can't hang around waiting forever for him to choose behaviors that are constructive to the health of the marriage. Rather than indulging in all these destructive behaviors.
Remember to speak to willingness! Do not be willing to be in just any ol' kind of relationship with him. But what it takes to be in RIGHT relationship so you, he and the marriage can be healthy? Is he now going to provide you with the right to responsiveness, clear communication and all that has been missing so you can be in right relationship? Get it written down and be willing to hold each other accountable. Here's ours. Feel free to borrow what helps you as you form yours.
I've written about mono/poly mismatch in my journal thread - the whole first page and part of second covers my thoughts on mono-poly mismatch.
If you choose to agree to a Closed Polyship of 2, is he going to agree to Open to the authentic poly you and allow you poly expression? Not a LOVER. But share in your inner emotional world? You are starving for emotional intimacy with him.
He can choose to provide for your need for emotional intimacy. He can choose not to. He chooses his behavior. Not you.
But you can see what he chooses next. And then you choose yours: You can choose to stay. You can choose to leave.
I know it is hard to FEEL. But the actions are simple. You choose your own next behavior based on what's going on around you and information received. So choose your next choice. Choose to get on with your living your life in a way that is healthy.
I do not suggest this choice. It is not healthy.
Right now I am hearing you chose to cancel a trip with the BF and postpone sex to allow space to work on the marriage and give DH the emotional safety he needs to get his butt in gear and WORK ON THE MARRIAGE.
So let's not jump the gun on the BF thing. Thank him for his patience and willingness to let you focus on this area of your life. Could tell BF you plan to check back in on _____ date so he's not out in the cold.
So now that husband can focus...
What are his deliverables for new behaviors? In what time frame? Try this new way for a month? Then assess?
What do you need to see happening to make this a worthwhile return on your investment? He will choose to perform to spec or not?
If he chooses destructive behavior STILL? When the deadline arrives you could say -- I am sorry. You got your request for BF to be on hold for a month so you could focus on healthy change. You continue to choose desctructive behavior. This does not to meet my needs. We must part ways.
That IS looking out for your long term healths. You love him so you are willing to endure some short term suckage to see if he gets his act together or not. If he doesn't? You can choose to love him from a distance so it is safer for your health. Not throw YOU under the bus.
Loving husband does not mean automatic staying with husband. You can love him all your life. But you do not have to stay in a destructive climate.
YOU choose your behavior.
You are here:
1) You can choose to stay in a bad climate with no change.
2) You can choose to ask husband to change his behavior and improve the marriage climate. (He will choose to do so or not.)
3) Then you can choose to stay/leave based on results of his chosen behavior. Because you have a limit on endless suckage. Don't you?
You can love each of them all you want. AND move you to a healthy climate.
So sad to read that you are going through this. I've followed your story and had hoped that things were going better between all of you.
The situation you are in now absolutely sucks.
It has always sounded to me like you and your husband care deeply for each other. You have been willing to shift the relationship with your boyfriend numerous times to try and help your husband feel more comfortable. Your husband has been willing to agree to a situation that he has been clear is upsetting for him. Your boyfriend has dealt with the resulting shifts in his relationship with you without complaint.
The love and effort from all of you shines through in your posts
But - maybe there is just no way to make this work as you want it to?
I reckon you've all given it a good, long try and have made numerous attempts at shifting and changing arrangements to see if they will work.
Maybe you have to choose something that isn't exactly what any of you want.
You could carry on as you are right now, allow your husband to be uncomfortable. Nobody's life is perfect and maybe having an ongoing niggle that you have a boyfriend is something that you and he can live with?
You could work to just be friends with your boyfriend and allow yourself to be uncomfortable. As before, nobody's life is perfect and maybe having an ongoing niggle that you don't have a boyfriend is something that you and your husband can live with?
You could work to be just friends with your husband and to co-parent your children while both being free to pursue whatever lifestyle makes you each happiest. It might not be the most comfortable situation but nobody's life is perfect and maybe the ongoing niggle of being friends and co-parents is something that you can live with?
I wish you well and continue to hope that you can all be happy.
Sorry to hear things aren't going well. With the long absence I assumed all the kinks were worked out. Again sorry.
To your question ..... when was it working well. Every thread or conversation you and I ever had he was against it ...he didn't sign up for it ...he doesn't want to share his wife with 2 other guys ....he tolerated it, to make you happy, to keep the family together, etc ,etc... forgive me if I'm wrong but I thought you said that once the kids were gone he would reavaluate the marriage at that time. The DADT, all those things are the definition of not being on board.
I think you have to give him some credit for trying. Unless it was just ways to run the clock.
If you didn't have kid how long would this situation have lasted? Or would it
have started at all... wouldn't he have said see ya later have a nice life?
Clearly he's mono lots of people are all over the world that's his choice.
You now identify as poly that's your choice or the hand you've been dealt.
Life too short for you to deny all that you are or compromise away the great majority of who you are or how you want to express yourself. And the same thing goes for him if he wants a full-time mono wife why settle ?
Youre both settling and both resentful. If you truly love him and want him to be happy you'd set him you free....and he 'd do the same for you. It's just incompatibility.....cramming someone in too small a shoe.
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