So, it's been a year or so since I've posted here; I've found that reading articles and books and listening to podcasts has worked better than throwing my cares and concerns out in an anonymous forum (no offense)....but despite all the progress, there ARE times when the voices of experience carry extra value. So here goes.
There have been LOTS of ups with our journey so far, she continued to occasionally (every month or so), meet with her bf. I closed out my friendship with the girl I had seen, as that just seemed to be easier for her to process. I have met with 3 different women this year, two became physical, but none could overcome the difficulties in my schedule and the difficulty I had handling the guilt over what I was causing my wife to feel. We tried to play as a couple to see if that would change what we felt about being friendly and physical with others. There were some awesome experiences on that front for both of us!! She always was able to describe the experiences that she had that she felt positive about, and she was honest about the experiences she had that she felt negative about, and we have no problem talking about how she feels about what she experiences.
But to find out what she thinks about the experiences I have had? (even when we did it together) Only the negatives, and never any positives (until one statement last week--after I "quit" poly).
I learned lots each time she went out, whether it involved sex or not. Of course it was hard, and it was difficult learning how to process those things. My attempts to talk these feelings out WITH her often ended in disaster, and I was forced to learn that our communication styles were much more different than we had thought. It was easy for me to overwhelm her with questions, and she does not have the ability to process things I say and provide the feedback I was needing. We learned that I needed to address one thing at a time, and that I needed to provide her with time....often days, for her to process and provide any sort of feedback to me about it. By then, I would be willing to settle for whatever feedback I got, no matter how little, and I knew, by then, not to press for an exchange of thoughts about it. If it took that long to get what little I got, it didn't feel right to press for more. I DO recognize the effort and work that it took her to be able to provide that much. I am very introspective, and she is very much in-the-moment. That has been tough. Yet, I learned anyways, and while I was frustrated that I couldn't learn WITH her, I am proud that I came to understand her, and what she does, so much better. This is one of many reasons why I am glad we have done this!!!
My need to feel that she was ok with what I was doing is what has created the biggest backlash and unintended consquences. I know that it is difficult for her to see me date, or flirt, or do any activity that might introduce me to a potential new friend. It was difficult for me to watch her date, but it was more difficult to see that she had no interest in finding anyone else.....that she would certainly explore any opportunity that presented itself to her, but no more. She is an attractive young woman.....interest in her is natural, and she has parlayed that into a interesting experience once or twice.
But, since she could never articulate anything positive coming from all of the pain and irritation that my polyamorous curiosity created, I began feeling that what I did was nothing but a negative experience for her. Even those things we did together that had positives for her own experiences never translated into any sort of approval or interest in me having a good experience. Aside from a couple of things she found hot, I was left with feeling that it was all negative for her, and that there was nothing I could explore in the world of polyamory that would be positive for her.....and that I was hurting her for nothing, with no signs that any positive learning was happening, or would happen. Even the topic, or browsing online seemed to cause irritation with her, and there seemed to be nothing (except ceasing any poly activity) that would improve things.
I love her, and I don't want to hurt her, so, after months of trying different ways to see if she could articulate a single thing she found positive about my approach to poly, I decided there wasn't anything positive from her perspective. So I told her that I was done. Until there was some way that we could find a way for me to explore this in a healthy way for both of us, that I wanted a poly/mono relationship.
I still consider myself poly and she knows that, but she is fine with me not having any activity outside our relationship. I am not willing to merely set aside all of what I have learned about the sources of jealous feelings, nor all of the positives I have found about her, and myself as they relate to her continuing to explore whatever interest she wishes. I get it, and I am proud of it, actually
It's just frustrating that I have failed to make my own experiences work in a way that is positive for my marriage. I enjoyed what I did, and I miss it already, but I just cannot see how I can do anything and live with the guilt at the pain she cannot work around. Is there a way to find a healthier way? or am I facing a significantly long (or permanent) return to a mono lifestyle?