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Old 08-22-2012, 01:21 AM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Upstate New York, USA
Posts: 1,456

Coming in late to the discussion, and some of what I am going to say has already been said, but I feel that it bears repeating, maybe using different words. In random order:

Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
If think it is useless to discuss with people who consider cheating as a crime, even if more than 70% of people in the US (after 5 years of marriage) have been unfaithful at least once.
I don't think that anyone here is saying that it is a crime, just that it is morally wrong. Since polyamory is also referred to as "ethical non-monogamy" then if you want to have a discussion with people who consider cheating to be ethically ok, you are most definitely in the wrong place.

So you made vows to Anna to be monogamous and you broke those vows. So did Chris to her spouse. You did this multiple times (even if it was just sex and not love). So it was hardly a one-off for you - you exhibited a habit of breaking your promises to your wife, no?

You then said that you apologized to her for what you did. To me, an effective apology contains the following elements. It:
  1. Acknowledges the mistake or wrongdoing
  2. Accepts responsibility
  3. Expresses regret
  4. Provides assurance that the offense won’t be repeated
  5. Is well timed
  6. Is genuine “prompted by fear, guilt and love”
  7. Avoids the word “but” altogether
Do you agree with this?

Based on what you've described, the apology starts falling apart at about step 4, because you have essentially told your wife that you have single-handedly, without any input from her part, changed the contract of your relationship, and that you will, in fact, continue doing that thing that you are apologizing for (which I see as a big "but" - "I'm sorry, but I'm going to continue doing it"). A fait accompli, in fact.

So it's quite understandable if your wife doesn't feel that your apology is really an effective one, and bears some degree of resentment - whether she is expressly voicing it or not.

From that point, she has a choice - end the marriage, or try to make it work. I don't know on what basis she made the decision to try to make it work - she's not here to talk about it, but for whatever reason, she did.

Tell me, does she know about your affairs prior to you meeting Chris? Did you do a complete "here are all the things I have done to break the promises I made to you" or did you only mention what she had discovered (your affair with Chris)?

A few more quotes of yours that I want to comment on before giving the advice that you ask for:
Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
It's strange to see so many people so full of certitudes. Cheating is very wrong, nobody ethical would do that in any citconstances, if my husband cheat once, I divorce at once and destroy everything without a second of hesitation.
Actually, I don't think that anyone here has said anything like that whole thing. Cheating is morally wrong. That is a certitude, yes. It breaks promises that you made to your spouse (otherwise it wouldn't be cheating) - there is no amount of word-play that can turn that into an ethical behaviour. Quite a few of us on here (including myself) have cheated on our spouses or partners in the past. Some of us have done better jobs than others of sorting through the messes that this caused to rebuild our relationships. I made the mistake of trying to keep the relationship with my lover going - while my partner "agreed to it", it was done out of a place of anger and fear - in hindsight it was doomed from the start because of the foundation upon which it was built. I am not trying to say that it is impossible to make it work, just very, very difficult.

Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
I'm truly loving two people. So does Chris. This is polyamory. I just wonder if there is a balanced situation which could make us and our spouses happy, despite those bad beginnings.
You are polyamorous, in that you have the capability and desire to love more than one person, yes. I agree with you there. But part of this is the ethical part - it's not just everyone knowing about it, but truly, genuinely *agreeing* with it, and being happy with the situation. Based on what you have said, this is a missing ingredient here.

Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
I repeat again: each of the 4 of us now know what happen, so there is no more “cheating” for two years. When facts are not hidden, there is not cheating. That’s a part of my own ethical code.
Well, glad you have that worked out - but if we are working from different base paradigms, obviously our conclusions are going to be different.

If the rules of the relationship haven't been explicitly changed and the details worked out, then everyone knowing that you are breaking the rules doesn't mean you have somehow magically stopped breaking the rules. The feeling I get from your posts is that neither of your spouses have really truly agreed to his - I may be totally wrong, but that's the feeling I get, and it would be worth investigating more.

Originally Posted by charlesgarnier View Post
I won’t be happy until Anna and Chris are both happy.
And assuming that Chris feels the same way you do, what is needed is for all four of you to be truly, sincerely happy, and not just tolerating a situation that was presented to them as a "take it or leave it" deal.

So, to come back to my suggestions, which you asked us for...

First, your relationship with Anna - whether it is visible to you or not (and I suspect you know) the major thing that gets destroyed when cheating takes place is a demolition of the trust between you. A good, solid relationship relies on being able to implicitly trust your partner. You and she need to talk about this trust issue, and you need to work to regain that trust with her. Without that, I don't think that you stand a chance of the people you love ever being truly happy.

Second, you need to renegotiate your relationship with Anna. This may not be a one-time deal. You need to very explicitly have a set of new promises and new commitments in place that you can both stick to and be faithful to. One of the questions that you need to get answered from her is "What would it take to make you truly happy?" You need to hear the answer to this, whether or not you are going to like the answer. So this should take her requirements into account with an equal weight to yours.

Chris needs to do these two steps with her spouse too.

Then you need to get the four of you together and talk about how to make this work. You effectively need to come up with another set of rules and commitments that the four of you can put in place so that everyone knows where everyone stands. This will take negotiation and self-knowledge about the desires of each of you involved in this. It is NOT an easy discussion, or series of discussions, but it is very necessary. It needs to talk about safe sex rules and testing, about time commitments, about where sex can take place, etc. It can also include elements such as who outside of the four of you gets to know about what is going on and (if you have children) how much they get to know. It should also include a commitment to regularly get together to discuss how things are going and to give folks an easy opportunity to air any issues that they have. Give everyone a voice in this, not just you and Chris.

Then, most importantly, you need to live by what you have agreed to. And it needs to be followed by the strict wording, but also the intent behind the wording. If what has been agreed to is something you feel you can no longer do, then the responsible, ethical thing to do is to talk about it first, rather than going ahead and doing it.

They say that ex-smokers are the least tolerant of other people smoking - well, in the same way, folks that have cheated are possibly less tolerant of those who cheat - usually this is because they have seen what it has done to the people they love, and wouldn't wish that on anyone else. If the replies in this thread seem harsh, I have a strong feeling that that is why.

I do know how it feels to be in your situation - I know the pain of hurting people you love, the difficulty of seeing a road forward, and wondering if you will ever truly be happy again. It is truly horrible. But I only forgave myself once I understand what my moral compass was and chose to live by it.

And a lot of this will probably not be news to you, either - you know most of this, I'm sure - I am just laying it all out there in a complete picture.

I wish you strength and bon voyage on the path ahead.
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