Originally Posted by thetasignmom
OK...I'm about to spout an extremely unpopular opinion so I want to make it clear that this is not a piece of advice or even a reccommended way of doing things, simply my experience...
In the very very beginning of my poly journey, my husband was just fine with me having a sexual relationship with a woman, but no romance and no kind of "sexy" relationship with a man even if no sex was involoved. I treasure my husband and know that my relationship with him is what I consider my "foundational relationship' (notice that I neatly avoid heirarchical terms). That relationship is the one that gives me a safe foundation to move out from as well as a safe place to return to. Your mention of PTSD is what compels me to post this because I truly believe that those of us with traumatic histories have to deal with all of our relationships, including poly ones, in a unique way. Anyway...
I developed a very intense love for another woman and my husband was terribly afraid that I was going to leave him for her. At the same time, she had a sttrong hatred for the word "secondary" and needed to know that she was as valuable to me as my husband is. That was all four years ago. We all agreed in the beginning not to use terms like "primary" and "secondary" because they seemed to undermine the importance of the relationships. However...
My relationship with my husband is my foundational relationship. If that relationship is threatened, it feels as though my ery survival is threatened (trauma history rears its ugly head and I get a bit crazed). My husband responds in much the same way. That means that regardless of the terms that we use in our family, my relationship with my husband is the highest priority for me. Over the last four years, the woman that I fell so hard for has moved in with us and now we are all living in a new place that is ours. My wife has increased in importance to me as I believe always happens in long term relationships. She is certainly not secondary and she is becoming more and more a part of my foundation. On the other hand, I have a brandd new lover who is most certainly secondary. That works for all of us. My new lover has never NOT understood that I could and would meet his needs only AFTER the needs of the rest of my family have been met (I have three kids that I homeschool who require time, energy, and attention as well as the people that I am in romantic relationships with). Does that mean that I don't love him? Not at all. Does that mean that if he has a crisis come up I will make him wait for my attention? Nope. It does mean that if my relationship with him begins to weaken or undermine my foundational relationship(s), something will have to change. For now, it gives my new lover a sense of security in knowing that he is free to pursue his own growth and his own change without having to be very concerned about trying to meet my needs. And my husband has come to see that no other relationship will EVER be more important than the one I have with him. He has learned to trust that all of the yummy goodness that I get from my other relationships will splash onto him and benefit him and our relationship. He has heard me say more than once that I will end other relationships if that is what he needs from me. I had to get to a place where I genuinely meant that and knew that I could be more content to have just my husband than I could be if I had several other relationships but lost him. That gives both of us a sense of security that makes it much easier and much safer for me to explore other relationship potentials as they come. Again, I never forget that the other loves in my life are people with wants and needs and I work very hard to satisfy all of the people that I love and treasure. But there is also never a question about which relationship I am most devoted to. Because of that, all of my relationships are thriving.
This is a great bit, and I love your terminology. My only problem with what you have said is the bit about ending any relationship that your husband felt threatened by. I can't make that promise to my wife, personally. My girlfriends are very special people, and to me, it would be like trying to choose which of my children I love best (or least and able to severe ties with).
If one of my relationships causes fears and jealousy in another, then we need to address that feeling and its causes, but putting the others on the chopping block is not negotiable, IMO.
As far as to the OP: the only thing I haven't seen addressed is that her marriage, despite her husband's wild past, is really a Poly - Mono one, and he is the mono struggling with that concept. There are several great resources online you can look for on addressing this issue.