I am very sorry you are going through this.
These sounds like you thinking and sorting your own wants, needs and limits for ethical polyship in a sensible way -- step by step. One thing at a time. That's good.
- I am willing to discuss the idea of poly.
- I have read ethical slut and opening up.
- Listened to poly podcasts.
- I think I would prefer a quad situation, we are very busy and have a teenager so time is tight
This is poor conflict resolution.
- We occasionally have heated discussions.
- She feels as though I keep backing off (from polyshipping?) so I can keep her as the bad guy.
Proceed with caution here.
Has she apologized to you? Asked forgiveness? Made amends?
Have you forgiven her? Are willing to give her opportunity to make amends? Or are you being spiteful and holding it over her head forever at the expense of the your own and the marriage health?
Are both willing set it behind you and rebuild trust before moving forward to healing the marriage first before moving it forward again toward healthy, ethical polyshipping?
If you cannot do healthy, ethical monoshipping together, how's that supposed to work in polyshipping together?
Do you need to take the time to learn better communication/conflict resolution skills? Before adding more people to the mix with their OWN voices, wants, needs, and limits to have to balance?
- I have been kicking the idea of "cheating" on her just to even the playing field.
That's just no good.
For you -- Choosing to CHEAT is not choosing self-respectful behavior for yourself.
For her -- this is you doing vengeful behavior toward her, or her shirking owning her conduct. Cuz if you do it, it "justifies" her bad then, or "minimizes" it because you did it too.
For the marriage -- this is destructive behavior that would help tear down trust further rather than constructive behavior that would help build trust up.
What do you want for your marriage? More
trust or less?
What kind of marriage partner do you want to be to her? A trustworthy
one or a vengeful
What kind of person do you want to be for yourself? A self-respecting
one or not?
You could determine what your wants are in this area.
- She is fine and actually offered it early on.
She wants to give you a free pass to cheat? That's a weird want. Proceed with caution here.
I am concerned that she wants you to "cheat too (dishonorable behavior)" than "repair trust (honorbale behavior.)"
Could this want of hers be so she can write off her own bad behavior as "See? You would have done it to me anyway!" or it's like some kind of tit for tat keeping score thing? Then she's off the hook guilt free without having to own her poor conduct or her personal responsibility toward her own self-respect, you, or the marriage?
You could ask her motivation/reason for this want of hers. Explain to you how THAT sort of belief system leads to healthy monoshipping or healthy polyshipping?
What prompted the cheating? What needs of hers were not being met in the marriage by you? Were you neglectful somehow? What agreements between you was she not willing or able to keep? Why?
You cannot polyship well with a partner you do not trust. You cannot polyship well with a partner you do not communicate well with.
You can't monoship well that way. Could choose to sort yourselves out first not pile on more new changes and stressors by Opening in a time of stress.
Have any of you had a similar situation or has any advice for my situation.
Could choose not to Open and try polyamory from a broken foundation. Could choose to deal with the old broken foundation before starting a new era in the relationship. Why offer yourselves to other people as less than healthy dating partners? Because you have broken marriage things hanging over your heads? Does this make you attractive as dating partners?
Whether that means taking the time to rebuild trust in this marriage, heal, and get it to a healthier place first, or just breaking up -- I do not know. Only you two can tell what you have to work with over there. Your willingness and her willingness -- are both willing to try to mend or just done here?
I can see you hurt. But again... could choose self-respecting behavior for yourself. Could choose to not cheat. Could choose ethical behavior.
If you want ethical relationship,
whether as a monoship or a polyship -- cheating is NOT the path toward that.
- If the marriage is over, END it clean. Don't CHEAT on it and pile more mess on.
- If the marriage can be repaired, devote yourselves to constructive behavior to build it up to where it needs to be again. Not choose behavior that keeps breaking it down.
Whether you choose to try to stay together and heal or choose to be apart as the best solution for both your long term healths and well beings -- I hope you both can move it forward
toward each of your future happiness-es. Be it a shared happiness or separate happiness.
Don't stay stuck HERE. This is not a good place.