KUDOS! Your instincts are right on!
I can't answer if the apple that is you can be ok being with his orange and live in apple-orange harmony of some kind and what exactly that IS. Only you guys can solve that one. Asking yourselves things like...
- Can you forgive the trespass?
- Why did it happen that way? That he could not come to you? Who'se bag is that to work on?
- How do you normally handle conflict? Communication?
- And how will you choose to move forward?
- How can you find the happy medium? What IS the happy medium?
If the goal is to stay strong together, then this is facing "tug-of-change" with grace. Not "tug-of-war."
Conflict doesn't have to be war. It's just two people not in agreement and an opportunity for better understanding and personal growth. But BOTH people have to agree that it is so. Can't grow with someone who wants to make it be war. What do you want it to be? How about him?
I'm not nuts about the cheating. It would have been better to come clean and go forward clean because then whatever growing pains of tug-of-change transition there may be? They were of BOTH your choosing. And you support each other through it.
But if you can forgive that and move it forward... then he has to be willing to move it forward too and keep it real.
We were just having this conversation today at mini golf. DH has long known I'm poly/overlappy. He isn't or hasn't been -- he's more mono in history. But he's open in mind. We're closed right now and we aren't anywhere close to opening up. But we talk a LOT about what we wish for, how we want to treat each other, how we want to be treated, if it has to end, how we want it to end. We certainly don't WANT end, but when you unfold a new thing and attempt new personal growth... you have to take on all possibilities. Keepin' it real means accepting you might grow together in one direction or you might grow apart.
Sharing emotional intimacy like that makes me feel loved, safe, secure, and if/when it comes to pass we've got some ground rules AND he's had plenty of mental time to adjust. It's not just SPRUNG on him.
I would begin by talking to your husband and making sure you are both on the same page in order to move forward. What is the mission?
- The mission if you both choose to accept it: You both in a HEALTHY mono-poly married place with harmonious rship with the lover/meta(s)?
- Maybe the mission is something else: You both in a healthy mono-poly divorced FRIENDSHIP with harmonious rship with whoever there comes next.
- Maybe the mission is something else other than THAT that I cannot think of right now. YOU decide.
Get the broad stroke mission down. Then set another time to talk details for how to execute and who has what responsibilities/rights/expectations laid out. Start talking and defining what all that means for YOU guys. Are you down with one meta? Two? What's the comfort line there? Safe sex practices? Enduring the dating phase before stability phase? IS the goal a stable other partner? Or a series of flings? What animal do we have here exactly?
I don't know where you will take it or where it will unfold, but the cheating thing has to stop.
And he's got to own that before you can strengthen your OWN relationship foundation before changing the dynamic by adding other loves and changing the configuration of your present relationship structure.
Strengthen you guys rship first before tacking on more variables.
"poly" (air quotes!) fuckery is NOT polyamory.
I'd suggest you explore this forum and websites like this and others together. Do some reading of books and other resources. TOGETHER.