Thanks for the responses. I want to clarify a few things. It's so hard to put everything in one of these posts, so be patient with me! Also, I can't seem to figure out how to insert the quotes from posts to respond to each thing. I've cut and pasted a little, and hopefully you can follow it.
As a secondary, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes me cringe as I try to understand how poly couples really regard secondaries.
Yes, I know. I am considering all of the things you mentioned and we are talking a ton, which is what is producing the closeness. The one secondary he is continuing a limited relationship (which is open, everyone knows), has been working for me. In theory, I do see the secondary relationship as important. But in practice, I only could do it by someone I didn't feel terribly threatened by, and that worries me. The other relationship that went so wrong is what I'm focused on examining. This is what I mean: Why am I OK with one secondary and not the other? I think/hope it's because it all went wrong (dishonest, manipulative), but not because I'm just more threatened by that one (I've had feelings of jealousy, fear, and pride). So, I am worried about what part of my terrible feelings about the work-based secondary relationship are poly-based (I just can't share my husband) and what part are based on this actual relationship and all that went wrong with it. I will say, with the secondary relationship that seems to be working, that I can imagine being friends with her. And she wants it to be light as well, which helps. She is not looking to fall inlove right now. They both seem to be on the same page, which is a page I'm comfortable with. But your question: "What happens if he falls in love?" is the question that I'm worried about. I know the feeling of loving two people, so that should be assurance enough that it can happen without diminishing anyone. But that seems to be what happened with this other relationship and I didn't do well with it. I'm examining if I'm not doing well because it was done dishonestly, or because I simply am too jealous of a person. I don't know, but I'm working a lot to figure it out!
Just curious what your thoughts were on a woman dropping the "I'd like to have sex with another man even though we agreed in our marriage vows to monogamy" on her husband as a result of her interactions with your husband and encouragement from him?
Yes, this is why we have a no married women rule. I was so upset that we could possibly cause problems in another marriage. But everything just happened at break-neck speed once it started. He also is a good guy, and rationally doesn't like this either. It has caused him to question his morals. But the reality is that NRE was a factor and clouding his judgment. And, possibly more importantly, how can you do this if you don't have access to a poly community? We don't live in a big city, and poly is not common. We're on some local poly sites, but they really seem to be sites for young women looking for "sugar daddies," and don't seems to really be about poly at all. So, if you are limited to the people you meet through work, the gym, etc., might it happen that way? I don't mean an affair, but I mean two people making a connection and then deciding to ask their spouse to consider opening their marriage? So, I'm torn on this. I don't like it, but I think that it sometimes does work. I would love other thoughts on this.
Her tears are manipulative, yours are heartfelt and should be honored? Her tears are manipulative, your threat of divorce is....not?
Of course not. I knew threatening divorce was manipulative and even as my head said one thing, my mouth said another. It was wrong, and I feel like my "wrong" reaction is continuing. I am so mad! It's like my emotions are taking over all rationality. I have never experienced this. I am typically very rational and very honest. The tears? OK, here's the difference in my mind. I cried alone and with my husband. It was part of our communication and my emotions. I am sure she cried alone and with her husband and with my husband, which is also legit. But, she also cried non-stop at work, stating, "Expect people to ask you what's wrong with me." She cried for over a week AT WORK. This could damage their careers. People don't know anything about their relationship. I don't know, I just found it to be too much. I also found that level of emotion to be too much for a relationship that lasted only 2 months. I know that it was intense with anticipation and there was lots of NRE, but come on! There was other manipulation, too. I think the "My husband said no, I'm so sad (one day)... and ask me on a proper date (the next day)" is very manipulative. This back and forth went on almost every week. Touch me, don't touch me. Flirt, don't flirt. I can't describe that behavior as anything except manipulative. However, my husband definitely sees it as her just trying and working on negotiating new boundaries with her husband.
Let me address the lying aspect brought up by all the responses:
Did she lie? Did her husband know? What did he know? On the day of the break-up, my husband said, "I'm not sure your husband knows or what he knows. You've been really coy about that. (Note: she said part of her agreement with her husband is not to tell what he knows or doesn't know.) This has caused my wife to lose respect for me, that I'm willing to move forward anyway, and has caused me to question my own ethics." After that, her husband send my husband a text stating: "While I am not OK with what has happened the past 2 months, my wife has been completely honest with me about everything." So... Perhaps she was. That was all the text said, except that he doesn't want to communicate with us. To me, whether he knew or not, he states "I'm not OK with it." With every new thing that happened, my husband would ask, "Your husband is Ok with you flirting with me... with you rubbing your foot up my leg... with us talking for hours every day... with meeting for lunch... with kissing... etc." She always responded with either, "Yes." or toward the end, "You let me worry about my husband." So, I don't know what to think.
My honest struggle right now is this: Can I do poly? Can I forgive him? Sigh.