What did we promise?
My wife and I never had a very conventional understanding of marriage, though we were monogamous for nearly 18 years before we decided, together, to become polyamorous.
When we married, we promised to live together, to mingle our finances, to seek to make one another happy, to explore the world together, to grow old together. A little later, we also promised to work together to raise our children to be independent and happy human beings.
We have always thought of our marriage as a practical partnership between equals, and as a work in progress.
We have never thought of it as a binding contract, a deed of ownership, a power relationship, or a bludgeon one might use to retain control over the other.
So, when my wife suggested the idea of being poly, I was startled and worried, at first, but not fundamentally offended or threatened.
When I'd had time to read and think about it, I came to understand becoming poly as possibly opening a new phase in our ongoing relationship, not as the violation of the fine print of a contract carved in stone.
So it has turned out: opening our marriage has been a revision or a reinterpretation of what it means for us to be faithful to one another, a way of making our commitment to one another more deliberate and more honest.
My experience may have been unusual, but there is a broader point here: people come to a realization of their own poly inclinations in their own time and in the midst of particular circumstances.
If one partner in a marriage comes to that realization, she or he should be at liberty to bring it up, to at least open the discussion . . . and they should also feel welcome to bring their questions and concerns to this forum, to get some ideas of how to open the discussion in a way that won't do a lot of damage.
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" - Charles Darwin
"Mystical explanations are considered deep. The truth is that they are not even superficial." - Friedrich Nietzsche