Thank you to everyone for your responses so far- it is helpful to share this with people who are constructive in their thinking! In answer to some of the questions coming up:
Yes, I have shared quite a bit of this with my husband. He knows that my experience with my OSO has led me to see the cracks in our marriage, as a previous poster named it. I have shared with my husband that I am getting significant needs met by my OSO that I have always asked him to meet- none of these are new needs, but ones that have been reoccurring in our marriage. I expressed to my husband that it is challenging for my brain not to go down a path towards making conclusions about the things I'm feeling, but that it is my intention to take my time and notice what is going on for me, and also give him time to work with me towards solutions within our marriage.
I think I have spent years repressing my needs and actually got really good at functioning within my marriage and in relation to my husband despite these needs not being met- we all strategize to support our vision of things, and so I think I had developed a way of avoiding noticing those issues, or explaining it to myself in a context that minimized my needs, so I didn't need to dissolve my marriage. Suddenly I meet this new man, and he just meets those needs innately, without me having to ask, beg or plead. Its a very startling experience for me. I've been in relationship with my husband since I was 20- so really, he has been my definition of relationship to a great extent. I hadn't realized what else might be possible.
To clarify what I mean by needs, I don't think its just the things that NRE propels lovers to do...its the bigger things. Feeling cherished, feeling like my partner appreciates me and values me, those needs are there too and met by my OSO more than my husband....but overall, it is things like really being present in the relationship and the day to day needs: fixing things around the house, investing in the relationship, being engaged in the day-to-day needs of the house and family, having the capacity to actualize the dreams we hold. I guess maybe the most startling realization I've had is that I very much have a "we" perspective when I am in relationship: thinking of the unit, the whole family, how to work together for the betterment of everyone. I realize that my husband has, and always has had an "I" perspective: focused primarily on his needs, what serves him. This innate difference in us obviously creates an unbalance in our marriage and life.
Someone asked how I think it would be for me and my OSO in the day-to-day reality of life, that maybe it is because we are the "others" to one another that it works so well....and actually I think it is exactly because I can see how much better we would do in the day-to-day work of life than my husband and I do that I am drawn towards my OSO. I feel like with him I could build the life I've always wanted and feel like I have not been able to build with my husband because of the difference in our values, work ethics, motivation, capacity, foresight, consideration, and basic ideas of what a relationship should look like.
Communication is another big place where my husband and I struggle and my OSO and I experience ease- even when there is conflict, or emotional challenges. My husband's needs are to avoid communication, where as mine are to engage, process, and connect through communication. My OSO shares my communication style, which makes communication really natural and easy. He reads me well and responds appropriately to me. My husband can never read me and rarely understands even when I express myself clearly in different ways, and still often disengages rather than responds in a caring way.
My OSO, by nature of his personality, character and temperament, offers a partnership that is equal, where as my husband will acknowledge in our dialogues that he only ever really carries about 30% of his 50% share in our marriage.
And apart from the big needs like having an equally involved and invested partner who wants a similar relationship, there are the small things that are perhaps more NRE based but impactful none the less. My OSO is free with his verbal compliments of me, my body, my ways of interacting with him, his appreciation of me, etc. My husband almost never (not in the beginning, not now) tells me that I am great, beautiful, inspiring etc. After a decade, I'd started to think those things just must not be true about me, and so I guess for me the impact of hearing someone articulate them to me is intense. In some ways, I feel like my husband is indifferent to me: like I am not that important to him. With my OSO, I have never felt that.
I know it seems that I am comparing the two men, which of course is not helpful. I think the situation is not so much that I am comparing the new man to the old, but rather that I am holding each of them up against my own idea of what I want for my partner, my life, my family and what I am seeing is that one of them has shown me for the last decade that we simply don't overlap in some really key places, while the other has shown me over the last few months that we easily overlap in most of those places.
Counseling is an option. My husband and I spent about a year working with a really great counselor on issues such as commitment and non-monogamy. We have not seen her in the past year, and I actually just made an appointment to go on my own for now, to process some of what I've written above. While I don't want to keep things from my husband, I want to feel free to articulate MY experience with the counselor without worrying about how he feels in response. Honesty and transparency is key to our open marriage, and I don't want to undermine that, but I also want to be careful how I navigate this topic. Clearly it is significant.
Okay....thats a novel. Sorry, I have not been sharing this aspect of my life with my friends/family so it is a lot to unload!! Thanks for the support and insight.