Need some advice from those of you who have been through some of the pain and joys of trying to convert from monogamy to polyamory. For the back story, please see this thread
We were having an escalating set of fights because of her saying she wanted to have another man in her life and there was nothing I could do about it but either learn to deal with it or leave the relationship. Up to this point, this has not been a good place for me to try to figure out how polyamory might work for us since I felt like I was being steamrolled and not heard.
Today, she sends me this email:
"Iím sorry that we stumbled into this thing that has turned into a very painful thing for youÖand me. Iím sorry for all of the heart wrenching pain you have had to go thru. As you reminded me, my motto has always been if something is so difficult and roadblocks keep coming, it wasnít meant to be. I canít live like this anymore. I believe that even though your intentions are to try to find a way you can be happy in this, you are never going to be OK with it. How many times have you told me that you want to find a way, and then in the same conversation maybe even, tell me this is horrible and you hate it and you donít want it. I know that you feel that I have coerced you into accepting me having "R" in my life, and that I brought all of this pain upon our relationship and all of the many other painful things you have said about it. I will relinquish my relationship with him and my pursuit of more. All of the things you have said about waiting 6 months, or just being friends, or waiting until you trust me or waiting until you trust him, I canít and I donít believe that those things will happen like I expect them to. When you love someone, you want to express it, you want to share it, you want to revel in it. You should know me well enough that you know I just canít do the things you want me to the way you want it, and I donít want you to have to live miserable for however long it would have lasted, if it even started. As you said this morning, this isnít what you signed up for and it isnít what you want. Monogamy it is then. If I truly thought that there were other people out there that I could love like you or "R", then THAT would make it less than the special gifts they are. I donít think that, I always thought ours, AND mine and his were unique and I was lucky, so Iím really only poly because of him, not because there are others I think I could feel that way about. Hopefully this will ease your pain and you wonít need to obsess about it night and day. I do ask that we never go to "night club" again; in fact, I donít even want it to be mentioned. I donít want to have any conversations about anything that went on in the past with them or him, no who did what to whom, no what your fears were, no what I should or should not have done, nothing."
This didn't make me happy, it just made me sad and feel like this was a lose/lose for us. This is what I sent back:
I have now read this a few times and here are my thoughts:
ē I understand the place you are at when you are saying this and I do understand it is to preserve our relationship that you are offering this solution. I appreciate that you are willing to do this. I truly do.
ē I know I run hot and cold on this and it must be terribly confusing. Itís confusing for me as well. I think it is because my brain processes things at one speed and intellectually I am somewhat OK with certain things or at least not in full rejection mode but when my heart gets its say, it currently just overwhelms me with a sense of loss that is almost unbearable and I struggle to control this. It certainly doesnít make me very rational.
ē I am concerned that this will just shift the fight because now you are the one hurting and probably resenting me, similar to how things were before you told me you were forcing him back in our life. You were certainly checked-out of our marriage and numb during that time and it wasn't healthy. This may lead to a situation that is not an improvement compared to now. Instead, I fear is it will be just a different place of negativism to consume and destroy our marriage.
ē I think there still may be a path here to a win/win rather than settling for what I see as a lose/lose. The fact that you are now in a place where you feel you can give him up for the sake of our relationship says something. It says you are not so afraid of the pain that you are going to force the situation no matter what. It says that you are hearing me and you do value our relationship. That actually helps me a lot in trying to quiet my fears.
Iíd like to suggest this Ė letís not do anything right now. You donít try to push forward and I donít try to push back. Letís see how we can go for a few days. No fights, no discussions, no obsessing, just living one day at a time. Once we are not in such a crisis mode, Iíd like to really talk, just talk about this. I think one of the big drivers of my fear and sense of loss was the fact you were forcing the issue and I felt trapped. Now that it appears that you are not set on forcing the issue, there may be a way we can frame this so that it feels safe or at least not ďrun away as fast as you canĒ for me. I want to be a good partner and I now know you want to be a good partner, too. I think we can be good partners if we do this together. Iím not promising success but I think we have a much higher chance for success and the process will feel better for both of us because it becomes us as partners looking for a solution together that we both can live with rather than one of us issuing an ultimatum and creating a crisis filled with pain. I believe this is a path to a win/win.
If you donít want to deal with any more uncertainty and still want to end it after what Iíve written, I wonít try to talk you out of it again and will respect your wishes.
So here's my actual question:
What have been some of the successful and not so successful ways any of you have navigated the choppy waters of trying to take a monogamous relationship to poly when it is one-sided (I have no interest in polyamory Ė just how I'm built) and there is someone waiting in the wings?
I intellectually support polyamory and I do not fear that I'm losing her love. I realize that love is essentially an infinite resource. Here what I fear:
1. Loss of quality time. We are busy professionals and have 7 kids between us. During the week, there is almost no "us" time. We do recover and get in our quality time during the weekends. With "R" in the mix, the only time she can spend with him has to come for the time we have set aside for us all these years to reconnect and keep the marriage healthy since the week is so crazy.
2. It seems to take a crisis to the point of fracturing our relationship for her to listen to and accept as real my feelings and thoughts Ė most of the times she has a real hard time with compassion and is quite hotheaded and moves to invalidate almost immediately. This is a real communications issue we have and I fear that this will just make things worse. This current crisis has already given me some evidence that this will be true Ė if she would have just listened to my concerns and came at the issue as my partner rather than trying to force things, we could have been here a month ago.
3. I have some trust issues with "R" due to the first time around. He's not truly poly and has stated that he wouldn't let his wife be in another loving relationship or "he'd have to kill someone". He also terminates his wife's relationships with other women when he feels threatened that she may be falling in love with them. He has stated that it is his biggest fear Ė her falling in love with another woman and leaving him. That why he approached us because he thought we'd be safer since my wife was married and not a relationship danger. Things turned out quite different, certainly for me. He is also pushing for having threesomes with my wife and his wife but I am not allowed to attend.
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.