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-   -   How does everyone handle arguments (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=43739)

PolyInWA 03-29-2013 09:41 PM

How does everyone handle arguments
Hello everyone.

I am new on this board and posted an introduction a few minutes ago. I've searched through this forum and didn't come across any posts that addressed my question, though I am sure I probably missed it. It seems like it would be a common concern.

My wife and I are at the point where we have decided to change from a monogamous relationship to a polyandrous one We have been talking alot about possible pitfalls because we both are committed to preserving our relationship. Just a bit of background before I ask the question... my wife and I have a very close relationship that has been built on a foundation of trust. We do argue, as most people do, and on rare occasions when we've argued one or the other of us has left the house to "cool down". Later when we are both together again and our heads are cooler we are able to talk through our issues and resolve them. We never allow a disagreement to go unresolved.

A couple days ago my wife asked me how I would handle it if we were in an argument and she left to cool off. She expects that in the past if she had a relationship with a man that she might have possibly gone to him to seek to be comforted rather than to drive around until she has calmed down. She wanted to know how I would respond to that, especially if she ended up having sex with the other man while being comforted by him. I have to admit that that scenario places a pit in my stomach, and my gut instinct would be to feel betrayed by my wife. I don't think I'd have as much of a problem with her seeking comfort from another man, but I am afraid of what the act of having sex with him under those conditions my cause me to feel. Like she pointed out, if we argued I would have no one to turn to since I don't want to have a relationship with anyone except my wife (this is the way she prefers it too) and I really do not confide in family or friends if my wife and I hit a bump in the road.

Does anyone have any comments or suggestions on what you have done in this type of situation? What works? What doesn't? Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Phy 03-30-2013 05:13 PM

I am in a relationship with two men. I can tell you about how it usually goes in our case, but have to say in advance that this obviously is only how we work :)

If I argue with one of them, I don't go to the other to seek comfort in that way. When I am upset I have no desire for sex, so that problem never arose for us so far. But I wouldn't go to the uninvolved party to be comforted, because those relationships are separated from each other. An argument is private stuff. Full stop. The other doesn't need to meddle in those affaires just as we never talk about sex or other personal topics outside of the respective relationship, if I am told that one of my partners doesn't wish for me to do so.

When (for example) my husband and I have a discussion and we aren't able to solve it right away, and I spend some time with my boyfriend shortly afterwards, I am affacted by this dispute. Sometimes I talk about the topic, if I need another perspective to clear my mind a bit. I never rant and I never reveal too many details. None of them would let me, btw. There has to be respect for the other relationship of the partner and it wouldn't be acceptable to take advantage of this situation.

Maybe this is due to our cohabitation. There is no complete 'outsider' in our case, that's why the affaires sometimes mingle partially. But never wholly and I wouldn't advise you to seek out a partner to solve problems with another partner of yours.

BoringGuy 03-30-2013 05:48 PM

What you (the OP) describe sounds like a version of "relationship broken add people stir wait until thickened", except maybe your relationship is not broken.

How would your wife feel if you had a girlfriend who tried to fuck you every time she had an argument with one of her other partners? Is it a turn-on, or a turn-off? It sounds like this hasn't actually happened to you yet, so it's good that you're talking about these things, but it's kind of odd that your wife says "in the past, I would have..." So, in the past, HAS she? I don't really care, but it might make a difference to you.

kdt26417 03-30-2013 07:47 PM

Hi sjn1069,

My personal vote is that your wife should not go to the other guy's place if you and she are in the midst of an argument (unless she had already made a prior commitment with him to see him at that time). First of all because it only seems fair, after all you have no additional woman to run off to and seek comfort, secondly because you have always worked things out in the past without needing a third party involved. If she needs to take a drive to clear her head that's fine, but visiting the other guy at that time would be inappropriate in my mind.

Maybe your feelings will change eventually, and you will start to feel okay about her seeking out the other guy for comfort (and maybe sex). If you do start to feel okay about that, you can let her know your feelings have changed and re-negotiate that rule.

This is just my vote of course, and it is up to you and your wife what agreement you want to come to. It sounds to me like you are okay about her (when you and she are arguing) seeking out the other guy for comfort, but not for sex. That seems reasonable enough to me, if she's willing to stick to that rule.

An argument is a very delicate time. It is not a time to engage in behaviors that will make one of the people feel much worse. I think the argument should be resolved before she goes to see the other guy. Unless, like I said, she'd already made a promise to see him at that particular time and it just turned out to be a bad time. But even then, I am wondering in my mind if she shouldn't call the guy and say, "We are in the midst of an argument and we need to get it resolved, can I reschedule my time with you?" I'm not sure whether it should be handled that way, but I'm not ruling it out.

Hopefully you and she can work out an agreement that you can both live with, and stick to the agreement. It is good that you are thinking and talking about this contingency ahead of time.

Marcus 03-30-2013 08:15 PM

It's probably best to take things slow if you can. Sounds like you two are in the fortunate position of being able to do so and are able to take the time to go over some of these things in a theoretical context. Most of the time people who are new to this already have a new partner and the puppy love feelings are making everything spiral way too fast.


Originally Posted by sjn1069 (Post 193654)
We do argue, as most people do, and on rare occasions when we've argued one or the other of us has left the house to "cool down". Later when we are both together again and our heads are cooler we are able to talk through our issues and resolve them. We never allow a disagreement to go unresolved.

My curiosity surrounds the nature of these arguments. I call them arguments because a "cool down" period is required in the middle of them. That is not a conversation I would call a disagreement, that's a straight up heated argument and is a red flag that there is a more base line issue not being dealt with.

In my opinion this should be the nature of your investigation, not the visiting of another partner. Regulating what partners do is against my fundamental viewpoint. If my focus is on how to contain their behavior to best suit my feelings I am decidedly making things worse and am ignoring or marginalizing the importance of a real issue. If I'm fighting with my partner that *must* be investigated because there is clearly something going on that is in need of mending.

Basically, I think you're looking at the wrong problem.

GalaGirl 03-31-2013 12:53 AM

Are you saying then that you would be envious that your wife would have another close person to share burdens with and you would not? If so, the solution could be to develop such relationships with family, friends etc and create the support network for yourself to resolve the envy.

Shoot, people could have that support network already in place for their OTHER problems -- life happens. Births, deaths, car issues, house issues, child care emergencies, being sick... people need other people!

As for arguments? I don't argue like that with my spouse any more. That was more in our first few years together when we were still learning how to "fight fair" and resolve conflicts without temper fits as young married 20's people. Like anything else, those kinds of relationship skills are learned and then honed over time.


is not exactly how we deal with it now, but close enough. A lot cooler and calmer and we've learned to plan ahead so as not to bump into conflict things later down. It's easier to head it off at the pass in the planning process and say "I see where a potential conflict could happen here... we need to sort that out before finalizing the game plan. Have you considered that...."

I would rather my partner not be out driving around while highly emotional. Driving mistakes can happen. I rather they stay home, and I could go out to give them space. Or if they want to be elsewhere go elsewhere then -- to the other partner is fine with me. A friend. Mom's house. Whatever. I can drive you! We can make other arrangements. It depends on the "volume" of their upset.

Having a "time out" to recollect composure when upset is valid -- people can get "too full" or tired and can no longer take things on board. Some things take more than one session to full break down and deal with.


I don't think I'd have as much of a problem with her seeking comfort from another man, but I am afraid of what the act of having sex with him under those conditions may cause me to feel.
What feeling(s) do you fear feeling? Are you fearing she'd be having sex so she can use it later to hurt you? Neener neener style? And how would you know they had sex anyway?

Seems weird to me to have a thing with my husband, he goes to see his lover for comfort and then comes home and announces to the household "I had sex while pissed off at you! Ta da!"

I'd be startled to receive unrelated news like that because to me it would be like "And your sharing this announcement at this time in this fashion is intended to do WHAT exactly to move conflict resolution forward?"

Because it doesn't. And besides... I could have done a lot of things myself in the time he was away. Mowed the lawn. Gone out. Slept. Taken over the world. So what you had sex? Maybe I had sex or masturbated or peed or ate my dinner? How's them apples? Life did not stop just because we had a fuss pot. TADA!


I'm curious as to why wife is "what iffing" her having sex with lover when over there and asking you for your reaction. Isn't them having a sex share on their tier of relationship? What's it got to do with the conflict problem on YOUR tier of the relationship? The argument thing? Nothing.

Could keep the focus on the problem at hand -- conflict resolution.
  • How your both handle conflict resolution.
  • If info is shared with others, how much information to share or not about personal stuff going on in your tier of relationship in the polymath. And then how that is shared -- orally? In writing? With/without your knowledge that it was shared? Because it is your info too. To me, the hinge is responsible for keeping the TMI wall -- and all players agree how high the wall is. Some like no wall -- some want some privacy.

The only time sex with her lover during conflict time with you would enter into it, is if she plans on using "sex as a weapon" to hurt you or as leverage to get her way in the conflict resolution process. Like... "Let me have my way or I'm leaving to go have sex with my lover and not you!" or something.

And that's not a healthy attitude toward sex or to the people one is in relationship with.

If right now you do not know how you would feel -- say so. Maybe say something like...

"I do not know how I would feel in that situation. I have not experienced that situation before.

If you are asking my preference at this time? Not knowing how I would feel?

I prefer you not have sex. Or at least, not TELL me you had sex in that relationship while over here in our own relationship area we are doing conflict resolution.

Giving me distracting extraneous information from another relationship area does not help me focus or be more present in our relationship area so I can do my part to help move our conflict resolution forward."


Helo 03-31-2013 08:35 AM

A couple foundation blocks with regards to arguing that I have always followed and that have never failed me;

-Arguing over stupid things indicates something else is wrong and neither of you wants to talk about it.

-Arguing never made a relationship happy. You'll never sit back one day with your partner and reminisce fondly about an argument you had. Chances are good you wont even remember most of your arguments. Keep it that way.

-If someone needs to vent, let them.

-Never, ever, EVER go to bed angry and never argue tired.

-Sleeping on the couch is not nearly as bad as it sounds.

Octopus 03-31-2013 07:26 PM

Don't the last 2 contradict each other? Wouldn't you only sleep separately if you were still mid-argument?

Helo 03-31-2013 07:57 PM


Originally Posted by Octopus (Post 193955)
Don't the last 2 contradict each other? Wouldn't you only sleep separately if you were still mid-argument?

Sometimes diverting an argument can necessitate sleeping on the couch.

Guardian 03-31-2013 08:21 PM

I would politely suggest you find a comfort zone for yourself and your dearly beloved. A poly relationship is good for those who can handle it, for one who is new or not extremely secure in their relationship it might be a negative influence on the relationship. What is the reason for changing from a mono relationship? If it is to perhaps spice up the relationship or out of boredom, perhaps the two of you should sit and review the relationship and where you want it to go. Judging from your post, it sounds as though your concerned about sharing the relationship, which is quite understandable. Introducing a third person in your case might introduce more argument, insecurity, and eventually more arguments or perhaps resentment. Please, take time to sit and discuss with her why the relationship should change, and possible other steps to fix the relationship. I wish you luck.

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