Poly and soulmates?
Wow! This is all so new to me! A few days ago I didn't even know the word polyamory existed!
Anyway, I've got a bit of a story and I would really appreciate people's thoughts/advice and even sharing their experience as a way of helping me sort through all of this. I hope this is right place to post. I really appreciate the opportunity to share...
I have been married to my wife for 19 years. We are soulmates and have been mono for all this time. We were each other's first boyfriend/girlfriend and the first person we each kissed. We have three beautiful daughters. I love her to bits! We have had an amazing relationship - and still do!
Five years ago we met another woman ("J") who had a very difficult upbringing and we opened up our lives to her as a way of helping her to heal. In this process I started to draw close to her emotionally. I strongly felt this was right and appropriate and was more than just helping her heal, but was somehow helping me discover more of who I am. However my wife sensed that for the first time I was opening myself up to another female in a way that I had never allowed in the past due to an upbringing that assumed monogamy was the only appropriate relational status.
My wife started to feel enormous pain about this and kept telling me that she felt like our marriage was a threesome. I really empathised with her but didn't know what to do. She expected me to do something about it but I knew that to finish things with "J" would be a complete abandonment of her - especially with the trust issues that she was overcoming. Our family had become amazingly special and meaningful to her. So I kept empathisizing with my wife and hearing her pain, and all the while she was trying desperately to be "OK" with everything but was not. She wanted to know what was unique about our marriage and she kept feeling like things were a threesome - which in her mind was a very negative thing.
In the end, she finally exploded and made the decision to cut things off with "J" - on Christmas day unfortunately. This devestated me. I was very close to "J" (actually we both were) and knew the damage that this would inflict on her. I felt like we had abandoned her. I don't abandon people! I'm not that kind of person! But I knew that in order to keep our marriage together, this is what we had to do.
I was quite depressed for a long time. Then 3 years later, my wife invited "J" back into our lives. We spoke at length about this. I didn't want her to do this for my sake to alievate my sadness about the situation, but I think this was part of her decision. The other part of it is that she and "J" are also close.
"J" and I naturally click. So it was inevitable that we started to draw close again. Naturally since my wife and I had never fully resolved the real issues about the relationship feeling like a threesome for my wife, all the old emotions started to flare up again. So "J" and I have decided not to contact each other for the time being until things are resolved about this between my wife and I. My wife still connects with "J". I feel trapped - like I can't really act on my heart's desire. I really do love both very deeply. But I also don't want to separate from my wife. I couldn't imagine doing life without her!
I have been going through all sorts of emotions and thoughts. I can totally understand why my wife feels threatened by "J". We have come from a religious upbringing where monogamy is just assumed. Anything else is wrong. My wife feels like her jealousy is evidence of the inappropriateness of the relationship. So for my wife, even the thought of me opening myself up to someone else is inappropriate. I have always thought the same... until meeting "J". I have a deep conviction in the "rightness" of this relationship. This obviously has caused me to deeply question my upbringing and the assumption that emotional and physical monogamy is the only appropriate lifestyle for a married person.
In questioning all this I have stumbled across polyamory. When I started to read stuff about it and read people's experiences, everything inside me resonated with what I was hearing. It was as though a fire started burning within me and I felt like screaming out - this is me!
What next though? What about my wife? We are currently getting couple counselling, but I am afraid to bring up the whole issue of poly. My wife just sees a threesome as such a negative thing. To challenge these fundamental assumptions in her life could be too devestating for her. But then where does that leave me now that I have started having this fire lit within me? I would love to embrace "J" into my life and even to give myself permission to open myself up to others that I sense a possible deep connection with, but I can't do that while my wife is struggling so much. Once you start down the rabbit hole, you can't turn back! I'm excited and petrified at the same time. I can't believe this is happening to me!
I'd really appreciate hearing experiences from people who relate... Thanks for listening!
I have never liked the term soul mates. Its inherently limiting. About 15 years ago...give or take, I found a term that stuck. Soul Friends...or in its original term - anam cara. In its simplest form it allows us to have a soulful connection to more than one person for more than one reason.
I truly believe in this term and it has been proven time and again. People come into my life that impact my soul to its core. Soul Mates is just such a limitation on a potention thought :)
As to your specific challenges. All you can do is keep talking and educating yourselves. The only way to make it work is start the process. Explain whats happening and point her in directions to learn at her own pace. You can't rush it, if you do, you may end up hurting her more than necessary. You need to figure out if you BOTH can do poly before you jump in feet first. If not, you may need to look at another configuration than a triad :)
You, should also look up NRE. Read up on it in detail. You may find some insight into what you are feeling. It reads a lot like NRE has you full in its grasp.
Best of luck.
It's not clear from your post just how intimate your relationship with J is, so I'll assume that it's only emotional at this stage, not physical.
Kudos on fearlessly telling your wife your true feelings; how you feel about J is simply the way things are, and the sooner the truth is out in the open, the better. That said, it sounds like you have doubts about your wife's willingness to enter into a poly relationship, or to have you entering into one. The possibility exists that this may simply be something that you and her will never agree on. In that case, you will have to decide whether your relationship with your wife, or your freedom to explore relationships with others, is more valuable to you.
Unless your wife has a complete change of heart on poly relationships, I'm sorry to say that I don't see this situation resolving itself with everyone 100% satisfied with the outcome. You followed your heart when you told your wife your feelings about J, and I hope you'll follow it again if a time comes when you are faced with such a tough decision.
Good luck, and I wish you, your wife, and J all the best.
have you heard of Aram Cara... I suggest doing a tag search for this as it could be helpful to you... I think it's one of Ari's threads actually.
As for your circumstance. Take your time. I know you are excited and have a "fire burning" but there is no rush and your wife is certainly not in a rush. Remember she is experiencing this in regular time. You are not because you are excited about the possibilities. Give her time, and yourself. If you want this to work then time is what is needed for it all to settle and for the issues to emerge and settle. At least in my experience.
I hope you turn your wife on to this forum so that she can ask questions and get support also. Both of you are not alone. If nothing else I hope you have a good read around in here to find what might help (do a tag search, check out the stickies etc.). Poly is not new and there are a lot of people successfully living in relationships that work. Keep at it and enjoy the ride... its not so much the destination, but the journey... its a life time of journeying.
We have a dear friend that my husband met nearly 10 years ago. They quickly became almost inseperable. They were both very involved in the Boy Scouts and would volunteer for stuff together. It took me a long time to get comfortable accepting her as MY friend and in truth, she isn't one I would have picked out on my own. The biggest problems for me was that my husband would just invite her and her family on any family outing we had planned without consulting me first. I began to feel that either my husband doesn't want to go with me or he just can stand to go without her, either way it was a serious stomp on my self-esteem. I really began to resent the fact that if I wanted just my family, I would litteraly have to say, "this is just for the 4 of us". The last straw for me was when I found out that he was sharing personal details about our relationship with her. To me this was a complete betrayal.
My husband and I had a looong conversation about those two points and things have been better. When I finally wasn't feeling threatened about my relationship, and my husband made a point to spend time with me and the kids without her things improved. I don't get jealous of their relationship any longer and know that if she is there, someone is watching out for him. Their relationship is non-sexual and there is no way that will change (even if he wanted it to).
In addition to a few things I thought my husband was neglecting, the biggest change had to come from me. It was not an easy process nor quick. Like I said, we have know her for 10 years and it has only been in the last 2-3 years that I have been able to accept things and start to change my way of viewing marriage, sex and relationships.
What are you doing to make your wife feel special when "J" is around? What is making your wife feel threatened? If she is willing to come here, it could be a great help for her to understand where your are comming from. I have gained so much VALUABLE information to use in my own currently mono married life, that I just didn't get from other sources (especially the religous ones). The people here seem to truely be focused on helping relationships work (period).
Thanks for everyone's responses. I really appreciate it!
Ari, thanks for your comments about "soul friends". That is a very meaningful term. I like it! I guess by using the term "soulmate" I was referring to the person who I want to do life with, raise a family with, a life companion. I can understand why you would see this as limiting. And it would be if we didn't open ourselves up to allow others at a soul level. And I guess that's where we are at. I have reached a point now where this is what I want for us, but I don't think my wife is at that point yet. I appreciate the comments about taking time too. Admittedly it has been over 5 years now and in some ways I feel like I have been very patient and put my needs aside for all of this time, but in other ways it is all very new and fresh. This is the first time that I have found a description (being polyamory) of how I have been feeling. It's really relieving to know there are others on this same journey and that it can work!
Thanks Saint for your comments too. The other week I actually told my wife that I want us to be together even if that means that "J" is not a part of our lives. It was really hard for me to say this, but it meant so much for her. My hope is that my wife can start to open herself up to the possibility of poly, but I also understand that this is a big ask for someone steeped in mono as the right way of living (as I have been too).
Thanks SNeacail for sharing your story too. It means alot to hear someone else going through similiar things. I appreciate your honesty!
I'll read up on Aram Cara too...
I guess the real question for me is whether I broach the subject of poly with my wife, cause even broaching the subject is going to be very delicate and potentionally damaging for her trust, or whether I suppress my own feelings. Hmmm, any thoughts or similiar experiences???
It seems to me your wife is more worried about losing you than sharing you. Or rather, she's afraid the sharing will make her lose what was so special about your relationship.
You might be able to explain things to her based on your kids... When your second kid was born, the first one didn't become any less special and loved. Indeed, the second one probably made you appreciate the uniqueness of the first one due to all the things that were different. Same thing with the third one.
Your wife is her own person, she is unique and so is your relationship with her. J isn't "more of the same" or "a replacement", she is a different person who could never bring you the same things your wife does.
Your wife might think you should get everything from HER, personally. But you do get emotional support and connections to other people: your friends, your children, your family. You couldn't expect your wife to fill all of these roles at once, and similarly she can't and shouldn't fill J's. Therefore, if you can't have J in your like, you WILL miss her, but that doesn't mean you don't care dearly about your wife.
Maybe your wife needs to know you will always pick her over J, that as your wife she has a special status. That would mean she would be your primary and J would be a secondary. If you can all live with that (I'm mostly thinking about J here. Can she live with coming after your and your wife's relationship? Some people prefer it that way, some don't), then it might work very well for you.
You might want to have your wife read this thread or others on the forums and see how she feels about things, knowing that each case is of course unique, therefore what works for some of us might look terrible for her, but other things might resonate with her more.
I hope you can find a way to make your intimate network work out. It's important to deal with your wife's feelings of jealousy and not ignore them, but it's also important to know that feeling jealousy doesn't mean the situation itself is wrong. You might be jealous that a friend gets a raise when you didn't, for instance, but that in no way means they didn't deserve the raise.
When jealousy occurs, you need to work on yourself and identify the feelings. What causes the jealousy? And can we work on the underlying issue? It's possible to eliminate the jealousy while keeping the situation.
Good luck with everything!
I'm not big on the kid comparison myself as I don't have sex with kids... it kind of weirds me out, but it is a close example all the same. There isn't really another I can think of.
Will you not be increasing trust because you want to talk to her about it. Can you market it too her that way. You are being honest about who you are, being patient with the process and with her in it, ready to do what it takes to make her feel loved, special, needed in your life... if you then show that you are serious, yet doing the things that you say you will do (show her you love her etc.) she will see that you are trustworthy.
The good thing about poly is that it can start a whole new romance with ones first partner. It shows up all the things that have been sliding or have slide in a mono relationship. Now is your chance to re-kindle with her. Make date nights, talk deeply about something, do the things you like to do together and involve her in your journey as well by keeping your willingness to communicate open.. It will be hard too for her, but there is nothing more you can do but be your authentic self.
Thanks for your comments redpepper and tonberry. I appreciate them!
As I continue to think things through, one of the things that crosses my mind is the thought that maybe it is appropriate that a woman be jealous of her husband who decides that he wants to explore other emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationships. At one level you could argue that this is a part of who he is, at another level one could argue that by suppressing the jealousy, one is actually fighting what is natural and appropriate. My wife talks to her girlfriends about her feelings of jealousy over me becoming more emotionally intimate with another female, and her friends all totally get her and say she has a right to feel jealous. What do people say to this?
Jealousy is a signal. It lets you know you're not fine with something. Then you need to know what that thing is, and whether your signal means "stop everything" or something different.
She is entitled to feel jealous, yes. It's important that she isn't made to be ashamed of her feelings. And yes, they are natural. But then you need to identify what the problem is.
Because monogamy is portrayed as the "normal" and "right" thing, I assume everyone she asked would have told her that she can't let you do that, that it's wrong, etc.
But this image of someone who matches you 100% and fills 100% of your needs 100% of the time is wrong and flawed, and that leads people to be disappointed when it doesn't happen. So one thing is definitely to get used to the fact that no, this is not a realistic scenario.
Mind you, monogamy is possible, and works for some people, and nothing else would work for some people. But that doesn't mean it's right for everyone.
A lot of the jealousy comes from "am I not enough?" and "will he leave me?" kinds of questions. In this cases, reassurance is important. The jealousy doesn't come from your actions as much as it comes from her insecurities. A jealous person will be jealous when they have no reason to be. In this case, society leads her to believe she has reasons to be jealous. Your role is to show to her that she does not, or in other words that you won't leave her for J, that you won't love her any less, and so on. It might be slow and it will be hard, but it is possible.
It is definitely a good idea not to go further until she is comfortable. And that might take a while and be frustrating, but otherwise it will be worse afterwards. You can't ignore problems, you need to work them through.
I agree that the child comparison is weird. The first thing that comes to mind is "I don't have sex with kids". I used it for the feelings though, as many people don't have trouble believing you can desire more than one person, what remains is the feelings, and they're not dependent on sex. I also use comparisons with friends, too.
But also, there is the fact that from the post, I don't think there is a sexual relationship between J and the OP, so focusing on feelings is a good way to go, and as the mother of several children, I felt she would be able to understand that love doesn't divide, it multiplies.
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