Vetoed relationship but can't get over secondary
My wife and primary (Pol, on this forum) explained our situation recently in a post: "New Poly Relationship Trauma." I started a relationship with a secondary that was wrong--done in the wrong way, and with the wrong person for us.
Every possible mistake that could have been made I did. I lost track of my wife's feelings, I got drunk on NRE, I kept moving forward thinking that everything would work out, and I kept thinking that all of our problems were just the growing pains of having my first emotional bond with a secondary. It wasn't until my wife threatened divorce that I stopped the relationship with the secondary. I know how wrong my behavior was. I know the stupidity of my mistakes.
Here are the problems that prevent us from moving forward:
1. I still have feelings for the secondary and they are not fading fast enough to help my wife and I move forward and rebuild trust;
2. My wife sees that everything the secondary did was manipulative, while I see her actions as those of a mono person (introduced to poly by me) who stumbled her way through our connection and opening up her marriage simultaneously.
Help me. I WANT to see that I've been manipulated and that this secondary was evil. I want to see her in the same way my very intelligent wife sees her behaviors and personality. When my wife asks me if I can recognize how I've been manipulated by this woman, it feels like she is asking me, "what does 2 + 2=?" And every time I come up with, 5, 8, 43, etc.
Why the hell can't I see clearly? I feel like my mind has been taken from me. How do I get it back quickly? Time is of the essence, because if I don't get this fixed, my wife has made it clear that our marriage will be over.
I dipped into some depression throughout all of this, which hasn't helped either.
There is an older forum post my wife read about a couple in a similar situation. When the husband realized the pain he was causing he apologized and ended the secondary relationship. It is described as a quick, clean, painless process in that post. Is that really how it is? If so, what is wrong with me?
With all due respect could it be that you know her better than your wife and maybe your take on her motivations might be valid? Most of the time people do the best they can with what they have. If this was new to all of you I can see how there would be a lot of missteps.
I have to agree with Derbylicious, remember, it is in your wife's best interest to see your exgf behaviours as manipulative, because then she feels it is easier to excuse your behaviour, it isn't particularly insightful, it is just easier and very, very human to do so. Do you really want to cast your ex as an evil person to help you recover from your feelings? Or do you want to learn to grow and accept the path you chose to take? Including allowing someone else to dictate your other relationships?
You'll have to recover from this relationship and examine whether Polyamory is the correct path for your future.
Especially layered onto the depression, you should NOT be expected to feel things you don't feel or see things you don't see. Your internal process is your own, and if your wife is giving you the choice between "say you see it this way or get a divorce" (I really didn't get that sense from her thread??), then your real choices are going to be "lie about how you see it or get a divorce", because perspective is something that just takes time... not to mention that reasonable people can disagree on someone's motives!!
So, I would say you cannot at all be reasonably expected to change your feelings or perspective. What you CAN change are your actions. Are you still in touch with this woman? Still talking about it at home? You've got to just let it all go. You can't make it painless or clean, but you can make it quick in the sense that you end it fully and completely on all practical levels. That seems imperative.
It'll take longer for it to end in your heart. That's just natural. If your wife really wants to stay your wife -- and from her thread, it seemed like she really, really did -- she'll appreciate your practical steps and give your heart time to catch up. That's my take, anyway.
IMO your wife is filtering things through jealousy and hurt. And honestly I think she was selfish.
You two need to sit down and have a serious discussion.
You guys started on this path to poly through an affair. Many of us here have. There are several steps to get from cheating to poly. There are things you can't rush. DH and I were in a VERY similar situation and it kind of drives us nutty when people have an affair and discover they can love more than one person so say they are poly! No, they aren't.
You're wife had an affair, the fact that she CAN love two people at once does not excuse it, it does not mean she is poly, and it does not mean by saying she is poly the hurt feelings of betrayal and the affair are 'easier' to get over. They aren't. It's been five years for us and guess what? Still dealing with the affair. It was an online affair, imagine how much longer we would be working on it if it was more than that!
We often say that if you start this journey through an affair then it's not Affair >> Poly. Rather it is Affair >> Non Monogamy >> Ethical Non Monogamy >> Poly. Now I'm not saying everyone needs to take the same amount of time we did to get there, but saying that you had an affair because you are poly is ridiculous. Poly is a relationship style, not a state of being! People will say they are hard wired poly, the truth is they are hard wired non mono. HOW they choose to have those relationships tells if they are a cheater, ethically non mono or poly!
So your wife sees this other woman as manipulative, guess what? So is your wife. Pulling a divorce card or veto card is often considered VERY manipulative. Also, more than a little hypocritical considering you didn't pull a divorce card on an affair! Rather you were willing to work with her and do counseling. Now, I'm not saying the ex wasn't manipulative, I just don't think it was on purpose. Humans can be very selfish creatures and be manipulative without realizing it. In little ways that they don't notice.
Also, where is the kindness? The compassion? Your wife stumbles into poly by an affair, she obviously hadn't heard of poly knows little to nothing about it and you guys hit some bumps. Sounds like your ex did the same. Why is SHE vilified for it? Have ANY of you done any ground work on poly? Read some books, discussed how you feel about certain aspects? Decided what taking it slow means, learned to communicate honestly and effectively so that when bumps arise feelings can be discussed and dealt with in a way that isn't a veto or divorce?
Being able to use NVC to say when you are hurting or upset by something is important. Seeing the EXACT SAME THING is not! DH and I still don't see things the exact same way, it's not required. What IS required is the ability to honestly express our feelings and own them, not put them on someone else. To be able to hear the other person, understand that their feelings are their own and valid for them. Not right, not wrong, but VALID FOR THEM. Just as your feelings are valid for you. Respect the other person's feelings but they aren't yours and honestly shouldn't be. You are TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. That means that sometimes your own insecurities and issues will be yours to deal with, and yours alone. Your wife feels insecure? She can tell you, ask for some reassurances. Dictating how you feel and how you view other people should so NOT be on the table.
Egoscout - i have tried to send you private messages but they don't seem to working properly. I wanted to reach out because i feel we are going through similar experiences at this time.
I developed a relationship with a secondary and, regardless of trying to do everything possible to be sensitive and respectful, apparently did everything wrong. Now it looks as though my marriage is over.
What i have come to learn is that THE TRUTH is the most important thing. I stopped seeing my gf upon my wife's request...but all it did was created resentment and help me realise that i do love my gf. My wife is positioning my gf as a manipulative home wrecker...and simply displaying a complete unwillingness to work anything out by blatantly ignoring the confronting aspects and not communicating. In this process, i am beginning to see that there are things going on for my wife that are far deeper than anything related to when i came into her life. I am talking about deep seeded expectations about marriage more than anything...because despite genuinely attempting to design a marriage that was suitable for our beliefs and principles...at the end of the day, the expression of the marriage by my wife has been nothing short of text book institutionalised co-depenency.
I seriously call for a review of how our culture has designed our understanding of interpersonal relationships...in that it seems to have created the expectations that all connections we have with others can be institutionalised by some dominating idea of how it's supposed to work. To me, it seems far more important to cultivate a capacity to integrate the dynamics of our relationships as they arise, in order to allow for the natural flow of our feelings as they ebb and flow.
If anyone knows of any good threads or references that explore this topic...i would appreciate being directed there.
I came to a poly dynamic via my affair.
As a sense of perspective:
I committed to "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" September 25, 2009.
Over the next 3 years the boyfriend I cheated with and myself struggled through some HELL re-earning my husbands trust.
Only in the last 6 months or so has that been visible (trust) in all honesty.
It's taken a LOT of suffering on our parts-genuine willingness to basically suck it up and suffer; while he fumed, cried, fumed, cried, left, returned, filed divorce paperwork, moved out, moved in etc.
When you destroy trust-it doesn't just come back because you say your sorry and agree to new terms. Those things are part of apology-but there is still "making amends" AND "suffering the consequences" of your choices.
It sounds to me like you want to skip the consequences part.
Three years of hell-much of it logged on here and/or in my personal blog.
Finally-we're really progressing to a place where my husband and boyfriend are being reasonably friendly metamours and coparents to our children.
I am always amazed by how quickly people who were the ones who hurt someone want to be forgiven and "get on with it". Not that I didn't FEEL that way-but really? If I were the one hurting and angry-I want my partner to honor that emotion, own their part of it and be supportive while I work through it.
I see it a lot like grieving.
They say grieving stages are "at best" 5 years with re-occurence randomly for life... Welcome to breaches of trust. Same thing.
I'd say that your wife was/ is the manipulative one. She had an affair, which opened you guys up to poly, but wasn't really okay sharing you, so she had to find some way to convince you to leave your GF. She threatens divorce, and you, who obviously love her, give up your GF to save your marriage. But since your wife needs the GF to be the bad guy to keep you in line so you don't leave, she's creating an environment where she can manipulate you into agreeing with her opinion. Once you come around to her POV, she can keep doing what she wants to do, have more affairs, etc, while you believe her because she's the trust worthy one, not anyone who you date.
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