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Old 02-01-2010, 02:45 AM
InLoveInAGreenLand InLoveInAGreenLand is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Not far from the lake between
Posts: 2
Default navigating mid-life

Hi. For the usual reasons I'm not able to share my real name. Feel free to call me Landlover or anything else that seems to fit.

I'm in my mid 40s and live in a small college town with my wife of 20 years and our two teenagers and other animals. In recent months, my wife (I'll call her E) has identified increasingly with polyamory, and I'm trying to understand where this might take us. It think it is important to mention here that I've always had a stronger sex drive than E has. And, there have been phases of our marriage when my sex drive and E's sometimes-diminished health made the idea of outside-of-marriage activities like swinging seem (at least to me) appealing. But, we never actually engaged in those activities.

Ever since she was in high school, E has wondered why it shouldn't be possible to have deep feelings for more than one person. Despite the aforementioned issues regarding sex and extra-marital flings, however, I hadn't truly recognized this in her. This past summer, after a fairly difficult period in our lives (although not necessarily because of it), E developed a close online relationship with man I will call M. It wasn't at all an affair that developed behind my back. But, it did become intense in a short period of time, and while on an intellectual level I wanted badly to be supportive, on an emotional level it was a definite strain. Scratch that: I felt really, really vulnerable.

Things between E and M have scaled back a bit, yet they stay in touch and remain friends. The change was due at least in part to M's wife, who originally was on board but then asked M to reconsider when the intensity of the bond became clearer to her. No doubt I, too, influenced the relationship by showing E my emotional discomfort. Fortunately--and I do mean fortunately, because E's happiness is incredibly important to me--I am becoming more and more comfortable as time goes by.

Since December, E and I have been in couples counseling to work on some of the disfunctional things that have cropped up in our marriage and to address the issue of outside relationships. We are righting past wrongs and spending time reading and talking about polyamory. I'm (re)learning that there is no point in me telling her she shouldn't have a certain person as a friend or as a certain type of friend. On the other hand, we both need to be completely honest with each other. For that reason I've mentioned to E that if we do make polyamory part of our lives together, I'm likely to be more comfortable with the arrangement if I don't feel threatened as 'primary.' She dislikes the primary label, since by definition it implies inferior status for everyone else. My response is that I'd rather she not get hung up on a word; the idea is what is important.

That said, I suspect I might attach less significance to being primary if we _both_ had objects of affection outside the marriage. A part of me is jealous of E for having one while I do not. I'm certainly open to the possibility--if it can happen in a way that enhances rather than detracts from what E and I have. But I have doubts I could successfully explain the workings of my marriage without scaring most sane women away.

I'm gathering that there are people in this forum who can offer advice and/or perspective on all these issues. I look forward to 'meeting' you and learning from you.

I'll close this post by mentioning that I don't know if E will join me in posting in the forum. We've both been active posters in a somewhat related forum on a different site, so it is a possibility.
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