Marriage troubles--suddenly poly is a problem
My husband and I have been married for 5 years and together for 10. I always
thought things were great between us and that is part of what lead to us
choosing polyamory for our relationship. I thought we had enough communication and trust and it would be more honest and fullfilling for both of us. For the last 3 years we have opened our relationship to other people and it has always worked well for us. The problem is we are facing some problems in our marriage that have slowly developed to the point of explosion. I wish I had, had more foresight to fix them before they grew, but I didn't. I strongly believe these problems do not relate to polyamory; rather I feel are related to a poor dynamic between us (I feel take care of everything) and his excessive drinking (my perspective). Things have gotten so bad, in terms of arguing, in the last few months that I decided to go stay with my mom for a while to alleviate the stress in my life. We have agreed to seek counseling because we both don't want to give up on the last ten years, but I am now feeling concerned about how polyamory is going to impact us as we move forward. My husband has always been very good about other relationships and has had some of his own and I have always accomadated him so I don't feel it should be an issue, but he has begun to express to me that he doesn't feel I should continue to see my current boyfriend because our relationship is in real
trouble. I understand his jealousy and where he is coming from, but I also am
feeling that it is unfair to tell me that my love for this other person is
suddenly wrong. He accepted it before and now he is holding it against me and I don't know what to do. I don't feel that the relationship with my boyfriend is going to replace my marriage as the commitment level is very minimal, but that doesn't mean I am going to be readily able to just give it up. I have feelings for my boyfriend as well and I resent being put in a position where I have to choose between them. I guess I thought that was the point of poly. I like my relationship with my boyfriend the way it is. Am I wrong for wanting to keep it? Anyway I guess I was just wondering if anyone here has experienced something similar or has any advice for me as I move forward with things.
It's a hard call because it's apparent you and hubby do have some serious self-work ahead of you. Regardless of his reasoning, he has a potential legitimate reason for concern about whether you can have the time and focus (maybe most important) necessary to work on yourselves and your marriage.
It's also only fair to share this conundrum with your BF. Ideally, he may be able to help you both in some way. But on the other hand, it may be more than he's capable of or willing, depending on the nature of your relationship with him.
I guess you can try to juggle it, but I feel you need to be prepared for some rough days ahead. Hopefully I'll be wrong !
If your BF and husband were closer, it would be much easier to form a team. You don't mention anything about that so we have to assume a widely spread V ?
You're going to have to set some priorities - and stick to them.
Good luck !
You're not wrong to want to keep the relationship with your boyfriend. It's hard to say what the best thing to do is, but I was in a similar situation not to long ago, and I couldn't have ended it with my guy. When one relationship is falling apart, the idea of ending a good relationship is just completely horrible. Fortunately, my husband understood that even in the worst of it, even though he didn't like my boyfriend at all, and he never asked me to end it. We worked through things in counseling, and really started putting a priority on time together. When it was warmer, we took a walk every evening, now we find something to do indoors, whether it's take a bath together or go shopping or just sit down and talk for a bit, and then we go to bed together. It sounds trite, but we went from being miserable and wanting a divorce (well, we were conflicted, and sometimes he wanted to leave and I wanted to work things out, and sometimes it was viceversa) to really thinking this can work for the long haul over a few months. Once my marriage calmed down. *then* the boyfriend left. I explained that in the other thread I started, but part of me thinks he might have been waiting around to see if we'd divorce and then ditched when they didn't look likely (still bitter over here).
I definitely agree that it sucks that you've been put in a position that you have to choose between two people. You'd think poly would prevent that, wouldn't you? I definitely know it's possible to repair a marriage without ending other poly relationships, and there's no guarantee that ending things with the boyfriend would save the marriage. Or that ending things with the boyfriend won't make you so sad and angry that you have no energy to work on the marriage. The problem here is that your husband doesn't see things this way. He might be at a place right now that he can't work on the marriage while you're still seeing the other guy. The problem really isn't whether you should end a secondary relationship if the primary is in trouble, the problem is agreeing with your primary on what to do. I would try to make him understand your perspective, and see if he can work on the marriage while you're still with your boyfriend. If that won't work, clarify what you and your husband will do if you break up with your boyfriend, because it's not going to magically make anything better. What sacrifices would your husband make? Will he come home from work earlier, do things with you that you want to do, do more housework, etc? I'm sorry that I'm just thinking of stereotypes now, but think of what he can do to help the marriage from your perspective, and make a plan. The last thing you want to do is end a good relationship just to see the relationship you still have stay crappy or even get worse. Make sure your husband understands that fear, and if he still insists that you end it make sure your husband is committed to doing whatever he can to save the marriage.
Dictating terms is a tricky business...
when confronted with difficult relationship issues, weather poly issues or otherwise the first thing I like to do is try to really understand the other persons' perspective. If I can get my mind wrapped around what's motivating their behaviors or dialogue I can then begin to work towards a solution. I can say from personal experience though, once someone begins making demands in a relationship it's a slippery slope.
you are left with two choices; accede to the demand or refuse. Each has perils that must be weighed carefully. If you give in you cause resentment within yourself for allowing this person to control your actions. If you don't they wind up hurt because you're not putting a premium on their feelings. Having said all that in my mind there has to be MUTUAL consideration here. And that includes your BF. He does after all have a stake in the decision process. To look at it otherwise would be tantamount to relegating him to second class status. Compromise and work are the only real solutions. In these types of situations my gut instinct is to examine all possible paths and mutually decide what's the best path to get us from where we are to where we want to be. often times in order to accomplish that it's neccessary to minimize external distractions. In your situation it may well mean putting external relationships on hold for a little while as you work on the larger problems.
If you feel drinking to excess is a part of it you need to make that an issue. Not saying something is the same as telling a lie. letting destructive behavior slide will always end in heart ache and for what it's worth I've seen it play out first hand. The long and short there is if his drinking is causing you distress it's a problem, regardless of his opinion in the matter.
What it all really boils down to is that you sound like there are multiple problems here. Isolate the smaller ones and work them out and work up to the larger ones. Often times by the time you get to the biggies you find that they are little more than the accumulation of smaller stuff. I hope this helps, and if it doesn't, well, at least you got your money's worth lol.
I've often heard that the "primary relationship" has to come first. I've noticed a lot of people taking that to mean that if there are issues in the primary relationship, then all others need to be put on hold or terminated.
Personally I find this perspective to be one that would guarantee that I not date a person with it. WHY would I want a relationship with someone whose going to toss me to the curb when their OSO has issues?
Frankly-I wouldn't. I expect more loyalty than that.
That said, currently my husband of 12 years has moved out of our home. If I broke up with my boyfriend who has lived here for the last 7 years, my husband would likely return.
I love them both. I want to be with them both.
I am hoping that the other issues can be resolved so that my DH can and will return home.
But I'm not breaking up with my boyfriend just to make things "easier" for DH. This is who I am, these are the men I love.
They have to be able to accept me and this in order to be good partners for me.
Just as I have to accept them and who they love in order to be a good partner for them.
I guess it is just a really difficult decision to be asked to make because I feel like I am being asked to weigh my love for these two people and it isn't something I feel capable of comparing.
Drinking to excess is a self destructive act and should be delt with as such. I guess if you were eating too much or smoking, that might be a fair trade off.
drinking to excess IS self destructive...
...Poly issues are hard enough in a perfect scenario (if anyone has ANY clue what that may be I'm all ears). Add the difficulty of dealing with alcoholism or addiction and it becomes untenable. As most on here would agree, brutally honest communication is the only key and if your guy can't see that his drinking is causing problems in my mind that simplifies the matter. The clinical definition of Alcoholic is one who experiences trouble as a result of drinking. That's not just legal difficulties. If drinking takes a front seat to interpersonal relationships time to cut bait. After all you cannot reason with an unreasonable person.
I love LovingRadiance's statements. There are many components to your situation Crystal and I definitely understand the struggle but I do agree that the issues in your marriage should not require you to end your other relationship(s) just to pacify your husband's ego/feelings/whatever you want to call it. I don't like the way that exercising 'giving your primary relationship priority' seems to be used and/or accepted as a free pass to discard the feelings/desires/position/effort of others you are involved with. i don't believe that is necessary unless the issues are directly linked and that would be a different story entirely and would require a different approach.
Stuff like that is very hard to deal with, especially when you are put "in the middle" and forced to try to come up with some sort of solution.
You often read the stuff like "if your marriage isn't good then you really shouldn't be looking to go out and find another" - poly is not the fix for a bad marriage, in the same way that children aren't - what that leads to is the children or the other relationships suffering. So I tend to strongly advocate against that sort of thing.
However, this situation sounds completely different to me. You entered into this poly thing with the full agreement of all involved. it also sounds like your husband was in agreement of you pursuing a relationship with your current boyfriend. You have built a loving relationship and that needs to be respected, as much as everything else does.
Now, the "you made me give up drinking so you have to give up your boyfriend" (I'm paraphrasing, I know) seems pretty unfair to me. The drinking was something that was harming him and your relationship, it sounds like. You having a boyfriend isn't (if it was then why did he agree to it?). So to me the two bear no connection to each other.
If the request were more like "look, we've got problems and we really need to be focusing our energies on our relationship and shouldn't get distracted" then that is a very different request that can be dealt with in very different ways.
If the three of you are working as a team to make all of this work, then your boyfriend will no doubt also be very upset at the problems that you have with your marriage and be doing whatever he can to support you - whether than means giving you more time with your husband, or a shoulder to cry on or whatever. You don't have to automatically give up your relationship with your boyfriend in order to spend some more time working on the relationship with your husband. (I would also hope that this would work the other way around too - if you were having problems with the relationship with your boyfriend and things were good with your husband, I would hope that your husband would support you and give you the time and energy that it takes to get things worked on)
However, if you are really in the confrontational mode of him saying "what you give to him you can't give to me" - the zero-sum model of love, then you are going to hit this sort of challenge often.
To me commitment means not turning tail and running at the first sign of trouble (what I call "fair weather poly"). It's easy to stick together during the good times - the challenge is how it all works during the hard times.
Obviously we can't know your exact circumstances, so it's hard to get too specific - all we can do is offer some general advice, and hope that some of it can apply to your situation.
If you feel like talking more about it, please feel free.
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