Cheating to Poly
We are very new to the Poly scene and would like some insight/advice from some experienced folks.
My wife Lora and I have been married 27 years. She is 48 and I am 53. We have two kids in their early 20's twenties living at home and going to college. They do not know any of this. We had become complacent in our marriage and I had taken her for granted. We didnít talk much, and when we did I only half listened. Our sex life was routine and she was not at all satisfied. I had long ago stopped doing the little things to make her happy and show my love for her, and so she checked out of the marriage. I say all this to let you know I am just as responsible for what happened as she is.
Lora is the leader of a state advocacy group and started spending several days a week at the state capital in January. We live an hour away so these were long days. She became friends with a married professional man she met there which turned into flirting and they started an affair in April. They would meet two or three times a week in the capital city or half way between at a motel while I was at work. All the clues were there, but I had my head buried in the sand and didnít catch on for four months.
Two months ago I figured it out and confronted her. She said she wasnít giving him up but didnít want a divorce. Her happiness was the most important thing to me and I didnít want a divorce either. I agreed to let her continue seeing him but I had a really hard time with it. We are seeing a marriage counselor and I got on Wellbutrin and Xanax. Then I found the More Than Two website and discovered there are a lot of people out there like us and that I wasnít alone. This has helped tremendously.
We had actually set up boundaries and rules before we discovered Polyamory. She only sees him when Iím at work so sheís not taking time away from me, and usually only two days a week. She tells me when she sees him and is completely honest. We also determined that in order to make this work we both have to be happy. For her it was easy, she got great sex twice a week. For me, it was a lot harder. We talked about it a lot. She provided stress relief for me with sex. I started doing the little things to make her happy which made her want to make me happy. After two month of working on it she has checked back into our marriage and we are happier than we have been since we were first married. We fixed our marriage outside the bedroom and now weíre working on our sex life which has gotten better.
I know they love each other and he gives her a sexual satisfaction that I canít. But I know she loves me too. Our arrangement is hard on me but is getting a little easier every day. I feel lonely and abandoned at times even though I know sheís not going to leave me. I am envious of the passion she has for him and how much she misses him on the weekends.
I would like to hear from others that turned an affair into a Poly relationship.
How has it worked out?
How long did it take for the Mono partner to get over the initial hurt and accept the lifestyle?
How did you do it?
How I do I stop smothering her with a need for attention?
Any other advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated.
I know this is long but it helped to write it out.
Our dynamic transitioned from cheating to poly. If you search my login-you can find lots of posts regarding it.
Also-I have my blog on hte lifestyles page and a personal blog about my life at aafteota.wordpress.com
Maca is my husband-you can search his log in here. But he and GG (boyfriend) don't post any more or very often.
I believe in forgiveness. .. except for one bit.
Her lover is married.
You say you are completely honest with each other. Which is wonderful. But you and she aren't the only parties involved. If you really want to turn a new leaf and have this succeed, she and the husband need to confess to the wife.
Otherwise you're just asking for trouble.
This link has been posted before about going from cheating to polyamory and I think it's fitting. Keep in mind the author is very anti-cheating. I'm of the opinion that it's VERY hard (impossible) to go straight from cheating to polyamory. The dishonesty inherent in cheating badly damages the trust and intimacy needed for ANY relationship to thrive. Trying to go from an affair directly into polyamory is akin to breaking your leg and then hopping up and trying to train for a marathon. Better to put the marathon off until your leg heals, IOW, work on recovering from the affair BEFORE jumping into ethical non-monogamy.
Since this transition period seems unlikely, Wife and I found the book After the Affair by Janis Spring helpful after she started "poly" with an online affair.
We have children (myself and husband and myself and boyfriend) so "taking a break to heal" before transitioning, wasn't feasible "in whole".
The first 2 years, Dh made all of the rules and he got to make any rules he wanted. Some were asinine and very very limiting on bf and I.
We do all live together and we already did live together.
But there were severe limits, like no date times, no PDA (public meaning in front of DH).
Trust had to be re-earned. That meant answering questions we didn't want to answer-honestly.
That meant taking time to await scenarios to arise that would make needing to trust come to the surface-and then proving ourselves.
Most importantly it went SLOW AS SHIT and every single moment that Dh had insecurities-everything stopped. Every time he had an emotional moment, needed to vent etc-everything stopped and the focus was on him.
That was part of showing him that yes, his feelings did matter and no we weren't going to skip around him to be together in secret any more.
The third year things started to mellow out and we addressed as a group the need to drop the "you did..." accusations because they were damaging to the future for any of us.
We also addressed the need to truly put the past behind us so we could all move forward. Especially DH needed to let go of the past and just "take a leap of faith" because until that happened, he could never know if it was going to succeed or not.
That happened in the middle of a nightmare disaster with a potential he was considering who started a bunch of drama AND my having some major medical crisis's that exacerbated everything. So it was a really messy time.
Finally-in the last year or so, there's a sense of peaceful camaraderie between the three of us and things have gone smoothly. There are still moments. For example, DH is working out of town and has been since May. It's been harrowing for EVERYONE. But last month he got a lot of insecurities blowing in because of being gone so long. The difference is-that instead of just assuming the worst, this time he was upfront "hey-I'm having a shit time here alone, I'm feeling insecure and lost and lonely and I need to go to bed ok?"
He went off to bed and got some rest, renegotiated his scheduled visit home with his employer and we made plans to spend his first day home alone just the two of us. No drama.
But it's taken a LONG TIME to get to the point where he could believe that we weren't just "moving on without him" because-we did before.
This type of healing takes time.
But it also takes active effort on the part of every person involved to alter the behavior patterns that led to thinking lying and sneaking was ever ok.
Before any relationship started between AM, WI, and me, I started my relationship with EL by cheating. And, though the circumstances are different from what LR describes, the response had the same structure. For the longest time, EL's husband and my wife set rules, asked questions, demanded information, and, in turn, got every kind of support we could give. Our spouses needed to know they were being heard, respected, and loved. We also spent an incredible amount of time turning each other's attention back to our respective marriages. We spent more time talking about our marriages than about anything else, for ages. We needed each other's marriages to be good - without her marriage, she's not who she is, so why would I want her to lose that?!
It took years.
The breaking of trust, the betrayal involved, was huge. My wife needed years to return to a sense of security. She needed my attention, my words, and my full focus, even as that changed and took away from my relationship with EL. (EL was engaged in the same at home, as well.) In the end, EL and I kept something resembling what we'd had, and it's grown as we've grown, but it's not what we originally wanted or dreamed of. But it IS a passionate, meaningful, amazing relationship that has lasted for ages, and our marriages ARE intact and stronger than before.
What's important is that there came a time when... the awfulness ended. The rules of how often we could see each other changed. The need for every detail to be told changed (you did what? how often? why don't you do that with me?!), especially as ... we started doing "what" and "that often" and perhaps much more, at home, as well.
There came a day when I needed a particular kind of help in my life, and WI said to me, "you should talk to EL. She'd be good for you, you need her." And we all realized that things had changed, and WI sees EL as an integral part of my life, and the affair is no longer relevant. "Oh, right, that," is now the attitude, rather than "you asshole." (It certainly helps that WI fell in love, herself... putting herself in my shoes was a big deal, for her.)
The thing is, I'm not advocating going this route. My god, it sucked. But if it's the path you're on, then I can say that it worked out for us.
One last thing: You ask how to stop smothering her with your need for attention. My answer is: insist on attention. SHE is the one who had the affair. If she wants to leave you, she should. If she wants to stay, she needs to respond to your desire for attention. She broke a promise you two had with each other, and now she needs to turn and face you and love you harder than you've ever been loved. She needs to know what you want with her, and you two need to make that happen. If she means it, that she's not leaving the guy AND wants to stay with you, she has to fulfill that desire by convincing you, again, of her love. She has to re-earn your trust. If she's pining about her guy while you're there, you can tell her you're not there to listen to that. She had an affair, she hid the emotions for that long, she can keep them private now, too - not by hiding, but out of respect for you. You need attention from her, you should get it, and it's not about her, it's about you. That's not smothering, that's keeping your marriage intact. If that's what you want, go ahead and ask for it. If she's not giving you that, she's not taking your pain and your place seriously.
Our version of this situation sucked, but it also changed my life and my marriage immeasurably for the better, in the long run. But it's been a long run, and incredibly tiring at times. Good luck.
Please make sure you're open with any new potential partners about the fact you came from a cheating background. My experience has shown me that couples who open their relationships after this type of betrayal have issues that I am not interested in. Trust has obviously been destroyed and I'm not into being part of the rebuilding of that trust. You'll always be dispensable in that situation.
I second Pulliman.
It was hell for some time.
As I said, my blog and previous threads go into much more detail.
For us-it was so worth it. Where we are today is just so much better than we EVER were in our whole marriage.
But it is a tough road.
The person who had the affair needs to take time to rebuild trust without question. If you need attention-she needs to give it.
But only you know if the effort is worth it to you.
Thanks for all the advice. It's nice to know I'm not alone.
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