I apologize for the delay in response...I am from the Colorado area where all those fires were and I was preoccupied with smoke inhalation and other concerns for a few days. I am very happy for all the responses and this is very helpful to me as I try to compose a letter to my brother stating why I stand by my decision and why I feel it can be moral.
The main thing my brother is saying is that my choice poses great harm to everyone involved. He said my choice already hurt him so much that he ended up in a mental hospital. He also said that it poses great harm to E's moral character, and that the circumstances have not provided for Y's full consent. Since Y hasn't emotionally given his full consent, anytime I am with E romantically my brother feels that I am cheating on Y.
I disagree with the first two statements, but unfortunately the circumstances have put Y and I in a poor foundation to start poly from. I have been wanting poly for a while, but based on various things my husband had said I felt he'd never would agree to it. However, I was so in love with E at some point I felt forced to have to leave Y because I didn't think he could accept a non-monogamous life. So I told my husband I didn't feel our marriage could work out because he's been unable to respond to my requests for more romance and other things. When Y told me vehemently he was confident that he could get better at meeting my needs, I felt unable to diffuse his willingness to work on things based on our marriage issues alone. So I brought up the fact that I felt I wanted to date more than one man at once. Y quickly figured out I was in love with E and I told him I didn't really want a divorce and that I wanted poly and I wanted all three of us to continue living together. We talked about opening the marriage. The way the conversation proceeded pretty much made it appear to Y that E was there to fill gaps of my marriage problems with Y instead of be his own contribution to my life. My husband blames his mistakes for contributing partly to me falling for E, and because of this has trouble wanting to go along with the poly thing. My husband would have felt better starting poly if our own relationship was steadier to begin with. I deeply regret the foundations that have been laid myself, but it is my sincere hope that my husband and I will rebuild the foundations and get it to a position where the poly isn't so threatening to our marriage. I have slowed things down with E so Y and I can get over the whole divorce conversation and get Y to meet my needs in his own way, so we can progress with the poly thing the right way. Y and I do agree that our marriage improvement seems to be going in the right direction now, though.
The other problem is that the divorce conversation made Y feel like he had no other choice but to accept poly if he wanted to keep me. My brother thinks this is very unfair and that there were better alternatives available. When I pretty much became petrified that I had fallen in love with E, I think the alternatives all became pretty harmful. I could continue to hold it in, which would harm me and do no one any favors, or I could leave Y for E, or remove myself from both of them altogether. All of these choices was going to cause harm, but my brother seems to think there were healthier alternatives available, such as continuing to give Y a monogamous chance. It's almost as if to him love is a choice, and to some extent I don't think it is. I felt at least with the poly it was a chance for all three of us to be mostly happy, so that's the choice I pushed for. I told Y I didn't feel I was cut out for marriage because I sincerely want to be able to pursue more than one man. My brother feels I am condemning Y as being unable to meet my needs by saying this, and that this was cruel and cold-hearted given Y's dedication and love for me. I just was going with the whole thing that marriage was supposed to be monogamous and since I can't be monogamous I can't be cut out for marriage. I do want marriage but in a poly light, but my brother feels that open marriages aren't really marriages at all... Unfortunately the way the whole conversation of poly came up with Y was less than ideal, and I understand that it trapped him initially. That was not my intent but I see that's what happened, so I'm trying to restructure things so we have a better foundation to go from.
Because of my choice and the fact that my brother feels it is the beginning of the end for my relationship with Y, he wants to limit his contact with me from now on. This is someone I have considered my best friend all my life, and now he wants to cut away from me to an extent because of this. I am so angry at his lack of faith in my intentions with all of this. He told my husband that I am using poly as an excuse to cheat on him with E, which is not how I see it at all. Also, I've told Y that if he felt he didn't have a choice before he does now. I don't want Y sticking with me out of some desperate hope that I'll be monogamous again if our marriage gets better. I don't think the poly is something I can negotiate on with my own happiness, but I certainly don't want it to cause the misery my brother is convinced it will. Still, that is OUR decision to make, not my brother's. I am trusting Y to be man enough to tell me when it's compromising his own happiness too much to be with me, if the poly truly becomes too much for him to handle. My brother just thinks we all agreed to some sort of trap that can only be escaped by moral integrity and that we're all too blind to see the consequences. I think my brother is too blind to see there are other outcomes possible besides the dire one he sees.
I do hope at some point Y and I progress from the "trying this out" stage to actually being committed to making it work stage. I want Y's full consent. I can't progress in my relationship with E with my conscience intact unless Y becomes emotionally more okay with it. I want Y to be happy with me despite these changes in our lives.
Hyperskeptic, thank you for your post on the different types of morality. I was thinking of something along these lines, but you phrased it far better than I could have.
I do agree with what some of you all have said about this frankly not being my brother's beeswax. I'm more than ok with him disagreeing with my choice, but holding an ultimatum over my head that he wants our contact limited should my choice stand hurts me. I still feel people can have a huge difference of opinion and still enjoy each other's friendship....but apparently he does not feel that way. For all I care I could have sex with five people a week and it really should not be any of his concern. It's my sex life, he shouldn't have a say in it.
For clarification, my brother is agnostic but leans heavily right on the political scale. He heavily believes adopting solid morals is a solution to the world's problems and more people should be adopting good morals. He's right in some regards but wrong in others. I believe in the innate morals: respect, responsibility, kindness, those kinds of things. Those things would help make our world a better place. However, what one does with their sex lives, as long as they are again keeping respect, responsibility, and kindness in mind.....I frankly don't think the world will care what someone did with their sex life a millennia later. However, an act of kindness may have a more lasting impact. That's how I feel, anyway.
And GalaGirl, the way things are looking, I don't think I can invite E and my brother to the same social thing like Thanksgiving. I'll constantly be on the lookout on what I can't invite E to or my brother to to keep the peace. It's really irksome, honestly. My brother's unwillingness to "tolerate" our "immorality" makes it so he gets to miss out on the better parts of my life like birthdays, essentially. Or I'll just have to have a separate celebration with him, I guess. Whatever.
Nycindie, I to some extent agree with you, but my brother is very close to me. We used to think a lot alike, and we've been experiencing some distancing the last three years. I didn't tell him how I felt about our distancing for various reasons and I felt this has made things somewhat worse now that it's led up to this blow up point. I now find myself so thoroughly frustrated with him on various levels I wonder if anything can be reconciled someday, and this saddens me. I'd like to think my brother's capable of opening himself more to my choice and at least thinking I'm not some immoral disappointment. He essentially is the one who raised me and gave me many of the values I hold dear now, so to see that the open-minded brother I once knew doesn't exist in the form I thought he did is saddening. I may have to accept that he will be a much smaller part of my life, but it seems like an awfully unnecessary result. Still, you are right; it is my life. The one who should have control over that is me and not him.
I guess time will tell. It is my goal to lead an ethical life and I have made some mistakes in helping polyamory take an ethical role in Y's, E's, and my life. Still, I hope to go that direction now and make our relationship as ethical as it can be given the circumstances.
I do have my brother's letter to me downloaded. If it helps for perspective to read it, I'm more than happy to e-mail it (or PM it, if the forum allows uploading like that). I just don't feel comfortable posting it as it does contain everyone's names. It's hard to summarize his four-page argument on a post like this, but I think I at least covered the bigger points.
Me: K, female, 27. Married to Y for over 4 yrs (male, monogamous, 33). Opened relationship to E (male, monogamous, 27) in a relationship vee.