Originally Posted by MrMom
Another clarification: We've been married a little over 10 years now, but the last 5-6 years has been very difficult because of her job changes, moving, losing a house to the bank that we couldn't sell, and a child that had a very serious illness. She believes that she needs another outlet because things are so hard on all of us right now. And I'm trying to believe that her not getting what she's needed is a result of the drama in the other areas of our lives, and that if we can get some stability then I could provide her what she's been missing. Hopefully it's not all wishful thinking, because I'll admit that I've read many stories of people believing the same thing as me when it's just not reality.
I'm going to second the notion that you shouldn't stay married for the kids. I'm 37 and I'm still begging my mother to leave my dad. Kids know when you don't like each other any more. If you can't at least be friends, then they'll be happier if you move on.
Of course she likes this guy--they have less history. Things are easier with him. She doesn't have to pay bills with him, she doesn't have to be a parent with him, there are no worries and stress that come with a long-term relationship by its very nature. This is not a judgement, it's a statement of fact. Sometimes it's hard for me to see my husband with our girlfriend because I know he can put down the large amount of stress he has with me. But if your needs aren't getting met, you talk to your partner(s). That's true in any relationship!
You need to figure out what you want and need. You both need to do some communicating. Say it all. You need to find out what the future looks like in her head. See if the two of you can find a future where you're both happy. Do *not* open your marriage because you think it will save your marriage. If you decide you want to try it, you should do it after your marriage is solid again. If you want to remain married, you love her and feel that you can work past the pain, fabulous! I have faith that you can do it. But poly is hard and a lot of work, and so is fixing a marriage. Add kids to the mix--especially if one of them is still sick--and you don't have a lot of resources left over. And any poly parent will tell you that you need to make sure that your kids don't suffer because of it.
If it were me? I'd figure out if I still wanted the marriage; if yes, then I'd ask my wife to stop her other relationship for a set amount of time, probably six months just because that's the minimum amount of time I would expect necessary to feel secure again. During that time, I'd try to find a poly-friendly therapist for marital counseling (just because they're poly-friendly does not mean they will push it on you), re-establish a connection with my wife, and focus on the primary relationship. I'd probably do some research on poly and figure out what I would need to be happy. THEN I would figure out whether I thought it was for me and discuss it with my wife. Of course, her happiness matters too, so I would need to discuss what she felt was necessary for her to be happy.