Interesting thread and I saw a lot of my earlier-poly self in it. (Not that I'm an expert - I have only been poly for 2 years, with a 6-month open relationship previously).
Well, firstly, it's great that you're both willing to explore this kind of marriage together. Congratulations on that and on working through to this point.
Secondly... it's not an easy road ahead.
But, importantly, with some ground work and ironing out of creases... the potential of poly is wonderful.
The main things I will say about poly:
- jealousy doesn't always fade with time and experience.... don't be surprised if it rears its annoying head at the most random of moments
- different situations, circumstances, etc. can set off different reactions
- timing is everything.. if you experience a stressful life event, or if your relationship gets rocky, be careful to balance your poly pursuits
- it's all about trial and error... something didn't work? try something else
- it's also all about learning.... what you believe now, you may laugh at in 6 months
- the first 6-12 months can be rocky... NRE can make you act like a complete idiot... and you may upset each other needlessly whilst you are learning
- never ever feel more evolved, better, or more successful 'at poly' than your partner.... never treat them like they are lagging behind, if they struggle... being poly takes courage - struggles do not make a person weak: facing struggles makes them strong... always remember that and acknowledge each other's courage
Onto the specifics, then....
It doesn't seem like a swinging situation would suit at the moment. But, your husband could consider solo casual sex activities. OKCupid is very poly friendly, for a start. So perhaps nudge him in that direction.
You are not a prude, or wrong, for not feeling good about swinging. You are you... you are who you currently are. Things might change in the future, or they might not. But the whole point of poly is to find *personal* fulfillment, travelling alongside an important partner who can help you grow.
If you need the emotional side filled with others right now, explore it. If he needs casual kinky sex, he should explore it. Put swinging on a wishlist for the future. Right now, he's probably clinging to, or even pushing, the idea because it enables him to feel 'ok with non-monogamy' whilst still dropping some of the guilt of being with someone else on his own - and still keeping that feeling of 'we're in this together'.
Reassure him that even if your sexual and emotional exploits are separate for now; you're even more together than ever, because you are choosing to take this path together.
The balance thing...
Oh yeah, we've all been there. Hahaha.
I used to bang on and on about wanting balance when my girlfriend had myself, her husband AND a serious secondary partner AND other guys here and there. I was convinced that if I had the same amount of partners, or one other partner to fill the same amount of time, everything would be even and wonderful.
Firstly, having other partners at the same time CAN be a massive pain in the ass. Sometimes you never see each other, because you're busy with secondaries on different days - secondaries rarely fall into place as easily as "well, you see your secondary on weekends and I'll see mine... that way we are never alone and are both occupied".
Also, the emotional side-effects and growing pains of poly can take their toll when dating at the same time. You start to do the comparison thing... you feel you've been the perfect poly partner, balancing, compromising, sacrificing, etc... whilst your other half has been swanning about on dates. Of course, they feel the same way about you. And if you're both experiencing jealousy/insecurity? Bam. Explosion. And if just one of you is? Confusion. "Why are they so damn jealous when I'm not jealous of them and they've spent way more time together this week" blah blah blah....
It might take your husband a while to admit to this... but I've realised that I wanted balance because I was afraid. Afraid to be the one who was shit at poly, because I was jealous or envious. Shit at poly because my girlfriend has all these other loves and I only have her. Afraid that if I didn't 'Start Being Poly', I'd be developmentally behind my girlfriend. Afraid of being by myself.... afraid of facing my emotions and working through them without the distraction of another person.
BUT... and I can't stress this enough....
This fear does NOT make your husband weak.
Your husband is doing what all of us do - feeling a subconscious fear and clinging to something safe to get us through. He probably doesn't even realise he's doing it. I didn't, until about a year later. And sometimes - crutches actually help. There's nothing wrong with wanting to ease in gently and be kind to yourself. It's actually good in many ways, because it is the opposite of reckless behaviour - which can be far more damaging.
My girlfriend said something to me a few months ago that really hammered home. She'd been dating like a freaking maniac and I was feeling The Void. So I went and found myself another girl to fill the time. My girlfriend pointed out that maybe I could use these times for reflection and growth, instead of distraction and hiding. She was right.
However, all of this being said....
There will be another reason your husband is wanting to find balance.
I was crying out for this when I kept banging on about 'balance' and my girlfriend just couldn't see it.
He is very, very likely finding a void, when you are engaged in activity or communication with your boyfriend.
He might be feeling like you're less interested in having sex with him, less interested in cuddling him, that you don't text him like you used to.... or whatever...
Have you asked him about that?
It can be very, very easy to think that the only good thing about poly for yourself is to get some action yourself. In truth, I think that's only half of the real value. Now that I can embrace my quiet times, when my girlfriend has a lot of other love, I've learnt to appreciate self-growth as a benefit for myself. When I date people, I learn how it feels to be on the other side of the fence and learn how to balance, etc. Hopefully your husband will see that at some point too.
As for your husband not understanding your needs... .that's a very important afterthought there. It's that kind of thing that can cause massive, slow-growing, wedges in marriages over time.... because wonderful, new, sweet, sensitive guy will come along and make you feel so very understood.... To get our needs met and understood, we basically have to bang on about them in different ways until it clicks. So you may want to talk to him about that... and also make sure that you are listening to his needs... (which may NOT be the need to swing.... but those other underlying things we just talked about....)