Wife wants Open Marriage
Let me start by saying that I am here to educate myself and hopefully gain an understanding of what my wife is interested in and why she is.
I am a 33 year old male and have been married to my high school sweetheart for 12 years. Early this year (2012), she approached me and told me that she had feelings for a male coworker and that she needed to tell me about it. I was completely devestated. My entire world seemed to be crashing down.
Then, 4 months later, she told me that she wasn't happy, she didn't know why and wasn't sure she wanted to be married anymore. By this point, I was completely destroyed. My heart was broken and I didn't know what to do. She assured me that she would try to figure her feelings out before making any decisions.
The relationship was tenuous at best and I had to get myself into counseling. I was near suicidal. I have always been completely and utterly head-over-heels for my wife.
Now, last weekend, we were talking and she told me that she thinks she's figured out what she wants. She went on to explain that life is short and she wants to experience things with other men that aren't me. She told me she loves me more than anyone else, but that she didn't see love and sex as being the same thing. I did my best to be open-minded and listen without passing judgment. She told me that she is attracted to other men and she wants to have sex with them. She encouraged me to do the same, if I wanted. I asked if she would interested in being with other couples and she told me that she doesn't want me to be there at all.
Once again, I "tried" to be open-minded, but I was hurt. I feel a deep sadness that I am a failure in someway. The compulsive thoughts of "what's wrong with me" and "where did I go wrong" began and haven't stopped.
I started trying to imagine how I might react to her being with other men. When I imagined another man doing intimate things to my wife, I literally threw up. I'm completely disgusted by the idea of my wife with another man and I don't think I can move past it.
My fear is that my wife will be happy if I don't find a way to become "OK" with her desires and she will eventually just leave me despite her telling me that she won't. I am having a hard time understanding her desires because, personally, I have no desire to be with other women. I am a man, so I find other women attractive, but I don't want to sleep with them or wonder if I'm missing out.
I guess my question for those of you who are more experienced is: what can I do to help myself become less disgusted with the idea of my wife being with other men? How can I become a better partner for my wife?
You are not alone
I'm in a somewhat similar situation. I was blindsided by my fiancée wanting to explore outside relationships (something she feels hardwired to do). I had very similar reaction as well, but my advice (about a week since the topic was raised) is continue what you are doing now.
Seek information. Read the stories people are telling here, and elsewhere. But most importantly, ask her what it is she wants. Try to keep in mind that it is about the pursuit of happiness. But not just hers, yours as well. Talk to her and figure out what can be a compromise that might keep you both in your comfort zone? And clearly let her know you need time to understand.
Talk, and slowly whittle away the fear. Ask her to help you understand.
I've found that during our talks about this, we've grown closer than we have in months. We are trying to figure this out safely, respectfully, and most importantly, together.
See it as a chance to bring a new level of transparency and honesty between you.
Clear your thoughts (I found that writing a letter over the length of a day focused my concerns and feelings immensely). And be sure to express them. Help her see your perspective. She has probably had months to think about these feelings, you have not. :-\
Progress and compromise, one step at a time.
PorcupineTree, I appreciate the post.
My wife and I have a pretty open line of communication. We've made it 12 years and it wasn't because everything was always a bed of roses.
The process I decided to follow is:
1. Chronicling all my feelings (negative and postive).
2. Finding non-judgmental support from someone outside the situation.
3. Working through my feelings, with my wife, so I can get a more objective view.
4. Making a decision about whether I can handle an Open Marriage.
5. Then, maintaining my marriage regardless of the decision I make.
The only problem is, I'm not sure how to accomplish all that, yet. Maybe someone can shed some "experience" on how to do that.
Sounds like a fairly typical reaction for the circumstances.
I suggest reading through some of the personal blogs.
There's a LOT regarding how to deal with jealousy/fear/insecurity in my personal blog.
Also-search those words here and you will fins many posts and threads.
Morethantwo.com has GREAT info.
Also the seven levels of intimacy ( not about poly) is VERY helpful in managing relationship communication.
Loving More by Deborah Anapol (aboit poly) is excellent for a newbie who isnt poly oriented.
After some crippling fears got written down on paper, I started to feel better about things. I plan to lay everything I'm feeling out to my wife and create a dialogue. That said, I know there are certainly pitfalls involved here, since my wife and I are in different places.
I would welcome advice on how to talk about my fears with her without making her feel bad. I am trying to be non-judgmental and open-minded, but I'm having a hard time.
I want to be the best partner I can, but I'm feeling jealous and hurt. I don't want that to get in the way of good communication about what each of us wants and expects. Help?
I don't know if anything there will resonate with you -- esp the "pitfalls" one.
Here are more:
You could learn about open models.
If polyamory is NOT how you are wired inside, it is NOT a failing or you being "less than" somehow or "not enough" some how. You have the right to have your own desires and your own preferences in how your romantic relationship come in. There is NOTHING wrong with monoamory.
YOU decide what your core values are.
But if after reading and learning and reality testing your core values you come to find that "Yup. I'm wired for monoamory. And my preferences is a CLOSED monogamous romantic relationship" inside you? Stick with your core values then!
You can read more of my thoughts in my blog thread on mono-poly. It's mostly the first few pages.
Bottom line -- Entering into something that you are not really WILLING to do for your own self, and you do it from a fear of "losing her" -- that's not going TOWARD your happiness. That's running away from things. Face the fears, and do the best choice thing for BOTH your long term health.
All relationships come with a clock attached. Even "til death do us part" is an ending. So... choose what is ending here. Even if you decide to Open, the Closed Marriage portion is ending. The relationship is evolving to a new shape. That's nothing new. Once you were BF & GF. That ended. It changed to a marriage.
So remember to BREATHE deep. Assess what you have here, where your willingness lies, her willingness lies, and come up with the best plan for BOTH you LONG TERM HEALTH. As you both face this next checkpoint in the relationship and decide where it will evolve to next.
Even if that means navigating an amicable split.
The feelings may be hard to feel.
But you guys are in charge of how you choose to behave in response to those feelings.
Galagirl, you have given me a lot to think about and talk about. One thing you said that seems to be a mistake I am making is sacrificing my own happiness to give her a greater measure of it, which I have no doubt is foolish and unsustainable.
I need to accept where I am and talk about where she is. Fortunately, she isn't pressuring me or holding me to a timetable. I find solace there. She is my best friend and I can't imagine what my life would be without her.
Thank-you for everything you posted, I will meditate on this, do some reading and take my time doing both.
You guys could choose how you want to behave as you navigate this (the present) and you guys could choose how you to want to behave toward each other later (the future) -- out of respect for what you shared before (the past).
Remember to BREATHE, and be calm as you both discern for yourselves what is next in store for you.
Hang in there!
So many people come here and ask, "How can I say such-and-such to my partner?" -- not realizing that they already figured it out. The such-and-such is usually perfectly valid to express directly to someone:
"Honey, I want to be the best partner I can be, but I'm feeling jealous and hurt. I don't want that to get in the way of good communication about what each of us wants and expects. Will you help me?"Nothing wrong with saying just that!
I would advise that you also ask her to be patient and give you the space you need to absorb all this and work through it.
I don't really have any advice but I just wanted to say that I think you are dealing with this in a very mature and sensitive way. You obviously love your wife very much and I hope it works out for both of you.
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