It shouldn't feel like losing. (2 of 2)
Iíve done A LOT of work on myself- reading, writing, really thinking about my needs. If DH wasnít in my life what would I be doing? What would I want my life to look like in his permanent absence if that came to be? What I realized was these were my independent goals that I had stopped thinking about in my married/motherhood state. More than just passing the time while he is out these were things that I wanted to be the fabric of MY life. Not his or ours. Just mine. I needed to do them with or without him. I had unwittingly stopped prioritizing my goals for the goals of others. So Iíve set out now to build the life I want. The time I have alone is the time that I propel my own dreams. The real lesson from the cheating to me was not to make ALL of my dreams dependent on one person. I had emotionally merged our identities and shifted my priorities to his goals because they made money and supported our family. What would happen to me if DH (who I have absolutely NO control of) was gone? By choice or not.
I am strong and I would move on and be the mother, lover, creator, daughter, sister, friend and healer that I am with joy and happiness in my life. It might take a while but it will be if I am free to make my own choices. I will intentionally make choices (even if they are hard work) that lead me in the direction of my personal goals as best I can with what I am given.
When we started exploring open relationships I needed to establish for myself what I want and need from a spousal relationship. On my own I gave it a lot of thought. What does it mean to be married while open? What are commitments when there are more than one? To stay emotionally connected- how much time do I need with DH? Want with DH? What is quality time for me? How much do I need? How often do I need to sleep with DH during the week? Are there exceptions to this? What about sex? What kinds of sex do I need (and how often) to be happy in this relationship? Does this relationship NEED sex? What if there were health issues? What if his sex life was predominantly with someone else? What if his partner selection made me feel unsafe emotionally or sexually? Am I ok initiating safe sex in our relationship? Would this damage our intimacy? What happens when we are having a difficult time in our relationship? What if I donít like his partner? Would that at all influence his outside relationships? How? What about our home? How do we handle socializing and general down time together? How often can someone outside our relationship be in our house? Could I live with another adult? What are my boundaries around that? Is there any possible scenario or fantasy where I can see it happening? Could I split time? Houses? Kids? Could he father anotherís children? EtcÖ
As I collected my thoughts I would ask DH what his current feelings were on most of these topics? I imagine it may be hard for you to go through these ďgeneralĒ questions because you are currently in a specific situation and it is HARD to isolate your relationship from his relationship with his GF around but I think they are important to address regardless. It is critical to focus on the definition of what YOUR relationship is and for BOTH of you to be happy and fulfilled by what you decide. Not just ďI love you and always want to be with you.Ē What does that even mean really? It seems you donít know for your marriage. Try not to worry too much about what his GF wants from your DH. If her wants/needs contradict what your DH has agreed and stated he needs from your relationship ask him how he plans to address the mismatch?
After going through all of these questions, and getting us fully connected with one another (taking vacations, dating, finding shared activities, sharing thoughts and dreams) I figured out that I actually needed time away from my DH to develop and work on my own goals. His constant presence would actually distract me away from my stated goals. I realized there was quite a bit of leeway time wise and scenario-wise so long as fundamental needs of connection and time were met and treated with importance by both of us.
The thing I notice in your posts is your DH's seeming resentment for the work he needs to put in to restore your trust. That is not a very reassuring thing for someone who has been unwillingly thrown into this position and is still trying to make it work FOR YOUR DHís HAPPINESS!!! I can understand why you don't feel safe, cherished or secure. You need to be able to ALWAYS be able to bring up triggers and work through them. Regardless of how irrational or unfounded they may be or how long itís been since your DH did anything wrong. You need your DH to step up and be your ally in this healing process of broken trust. By causing the hurt and still wanting a loving relationship with you he has signed himself up for it. As long as he is not your ally in this you will never feel free to let go, to fully heal and move on. And because his affair partner is still involved maybe she has to be committed to being your ally as well in supporting you heal. Itís sad that this may negatively impact his other relationship but it's unbelievable how such a large emotional trauma is taken so lightly that they are complaining and giving you grief on how you are healing. An earlier post of yours mentioned they were shocked that you were not fine and dandy after a couple of months. Ack!!!
It's been years for me (and this is w/o the affair partner present) and sometimes I still read into my DH's tone very negatively. I project disdain or disrespect or something when really he is just being brief or is preoccupied or whatever. Sometimes I get snappy or strongly reactive too him. It usually gets resolved quickly but it does hurt me that I often make these negative projections out of nowhere. One such evening I asked about his tone because I found it upsetting. He shared what his thoughts actually were. I broke down crying and asked him, "What is so broken within me that I keep doing this (negative projecting)?" Bare in mind I really feel our trust is restored but still this happens. He wrapped me up in his arms and said solemnly and seriously, "It's because I was such an asshole to you for so long." This is the kind of understanding and support you need from a loving partner who has deeply hurt you. Your hurts donít deserve to be trivialized as inconvenient.
He really needs to show up and be there for you and show accountability for his part in this healing process. Taking each trigger as they come because they do come. He needs to woo you and cherish you with abundant love. Too bad if your healing pace is not to his liking. The fact that he and his lover are waiting in the wings putting pressure on you is really not giving you and your husband time to reconnect and heal with each other and feel safe to define what you are to each other w/o distraction and alternate agendas. You shouldn't be worried about not having time with him because you should know in your heart that he needs that time and space with you just as much as you do. If you donít know that talk about it until you do. If you think he is just jumping through hoops to get all he wants with someone else you won't feel valued for the relationship you have with him.
What would happen if you removed all restrictions? Sure there might be some initial excitement and displacement but really what do you think he would do? Stop spending time with you? If the only reason you think he is hanging out with you is for the not so fun stuff it's good to learn that now rather than wasting several months/years full of fear and anxiety that he does not in fact want the same things as you. If your relationship needs are so far off from what he can provide then really you are incompatible. If you havenít had these conversations start them now. It is scary!!! Itís hard to be open to discovering that you might not actually be compatible even if there is deep love and investment. I promise you itís better to figure that out now and to keep figuring it out as you both change rather than trying to control the situation long term and waiting indefinitely for the ball to drop.