Originally Posted by bsviking
Just recently opened up my marriage and I need some advice. My wife has repeatedly told me over the course of our relationship that she doesn't think monogamy is natural and would not be jealous of me sleeping with someone else. She has also said over the last few years that she has struggled not cheating on me. Well over the last year I've discovered she hasn't been faithful. She's had multiple other partners without telling me. She started pulling away from me 3 months ago saying she's confused and not sure what she wants.
I think you've made a bad rule, by the way. It's the 'pulling away' that should be the rule, not the 'feelings towards others'.
Finally about a month ago, after saying we should date others 2 weeks into a live in separation, she opened up and told me all about losing her battles and sleeping with others. I opened up too and said, while I hadn't slept with anyone, I've been close to it and it didn't change the way I felt towards her. I realized that I didn't have a problem with her being with other men physically. It was the deception I had problems with. We decided to try being open. One of the rules I said we needed to follow was to break off being with someone if we started having feelings towards them. She said that indeed there was someone special but it was only friendship. Nothing more. Turns our, after spending the majority of nights at his house over the course of 2 weeks she went out with friends, got really drunk and when she couldn't get ahold of him she had a one night stand with someone else. The next day I drove her to the airport because she had to fly out for a weeks worth of training. She told me that yes he meant a lot to her. She just realized that she had deeper feelings for him. And couldn't believe she had let it get so far. We texted all day and I felt like she was going to end it. The next day when I realized they were still in contact I told her she needed to end it or she had to move out. It was either him or me. She got upset over an ultimatum stating that it only made her want to choose him out of rebellion. She said that while she was attracted to him and didn't want to leave him she didn't want to leave me or our children. She said she needed him for an escape. That it's not going to last and asked me to be patient and trust her not to fall deeper for him. I agreed, but now I'm concerned that I opened up our marriage at the wrong time. She said on Sunday after returning from a night at his house that's she's happy because she can have her cake and eat it too. Is this bad? Did I just allow her to form a deeper relationship with him guilt free? I've told her while I'm being patient I still don't approve, but I'll trust her. Any advice?
It sounds like you have issues to resolve, specifically cheating, lying, trust, and commitment. Those aren't mono problems that go away in poly relationships. The best I can suggest is that you both go in for counseling together to work on these issues because it is in your, and your children's best interests, to do so.
I'm new to this too, but don't have some of those problems to deal with. Having said that:
1) People fall in love. Asking them not to is foolish. Instead you have to ask that she commit to staying in love with you.
2) Cheating isn't fair, isn't ethical, isn't right. If she can cheat on you, she can cheat on anyone else she falls in love with, and that's not fair to them either.
3) She has to be responsible for her own behavior. If she can't trust herself to act ethically and responsibly, she has to make sure she isn't in the situation in the first place. This isn't about you trusting her, it's about her acting responsibly to everyone who she loves and who love her
4) You shouldn't trust her to change, you have to trust her to be who she is. No one can tell how they will change, they can only tell how they are.
5) If there are any rules that need to be set (not boundaries, but rules), they have to be ironclad; safety, for one, especially for your children, but also for disease and pregnancy!
6) Boundaries aren't rules, but they are close. The thing is, I think, you can't set boundaries for her, she has to set the ones she can keep, while you set the ones you can keep, and you then can agree to them (or not!)
That's all in theory at least since I'm still working this out with my own wife. So an example of what we have worked out:
1) She fell in love with me, first. She fell in love with D, who isn't willing to reciprocate. She has agreed that she wants to be with me for the rest of her life, and I with her, and just leave the door open for D to join us at a later date. This isn't about primary/secondary, this is just the agreement we made.
2) We are working on this; she loses track of time when she drinks and in order to maintain trust she has promised not to get drunk and will keep to her promises of how long she will be out. She has also agreed that I am not a baby sitter so she can have dates because that is unfair to me.
3) This is where she will not make false requests for time (ask for 3 hours, stay out 4) or get drunk (because then she has to crash outside the home while I am watching our kids, especially since she has morning drop off duty)
4) She didn't expect to be poly, so this was never something we had discussed prior to this year. However, she can make choices and commitments. Something else we have decided is that it makes no sense for her to spend more time dating someone else than dating me since she has, and continues to affirm, her commitment to me.
5) Dates cannot be used to watch our children. Protection is to be used for penetration.
6) She has to be comfortable with someone, and won't be pressured into something. She gets to choose who she likes, and I get to choose if I like them as well. I have no veto, per se, but I do get to tell her if someone is irritating or whatever. Finally, I have the right to tell her she is making a bad choice, not because I'm jealous but because I legitimately care for her, and that was agreed because I think I've been very consistent about caring for her our whole marriage.