Originally Posted by copperhead
How has this worked for you? Was it difficult in the beginning? I feel like no rules=chaos=something unknown=new--> and the fear of new and unexplained alreade crept up on me from just the thought. I don't like to make (too many) rules. But how can we turn this unfamiliar situation into a familiar one without them? This morning I tried to imagine new situations and be ok with them, but I felt the white noise fill my head after a short while and had to stop for now.
It has been hard at times. Even the simple rules that we have are hard for him to deal with. The total honesty thing is something that he finds difficult, partly I think because being honest involves having to talk about needs and feelings and partly because he has to make judgements about what total honesty actually means. If he spends a day or a weekend with C, it is only natural for me to ask if he has had a good w/e. Really that only requires a one sentence answer giving a general indication that it was happy (or what went wrong) and perhaps mentioning if they went out and did something interesting. He tends to be much more literal and total honesty to him means a detailed account of what they did. I'm used to it now and I don't mind so much, but I found it hard in the early days. Sometimes I just have to be blunt and say that I don't need to know that. C finds it harder, his tendency to tell all makes her cringe in case it hurts my feelings and she found it hurtful that things which should have been private between the two of them were not private. It has helped a lot that C and I have developed such a close relationship because we can talk to each other about such things and find ways to cope that work for us.
Sometimes I have to give him a bit of a nudge about things because he is not good at picking up on hints. I try to keep it very simple and I don't interfere too much, so I will say something like 'C is feeling a bit neglected, maybe you need to give her a chance to tell you how she feels'. That works quite well for him because he still feels in control and he is able to prepare himself to hear what she has to say. He is very sensitive to criticism, so being asked to discuss feelings without any warning can be difficult for him and he sometimes reacts badly.
I think the hardest things for me and C are trying to cope with the unspoken things that are going on in his head. He can be quite 'fixed' about certain things which are completely irrational. If C doesn't answer the phone he convinces himself that she is seeing someone else, his rational mind knows that is ridiculous and insulting, but he can't quite let go of that thought. It sounds mad but I think he has his own unspoken set of rules in his head and occasionally he will get into a massive strop leaving us completely lost as to why he has reacted in that way. Usually we just give him time to process his feelings and 'find himself' again. It often turns out that his reaction was because one of us said or did something that wasn't part of his plan for how things work. We are fairly used to it now and we cope with it because we love him, but it still hurts sometimes. It would be a lot easier if he could be clearer and talk more openly about his feelings.
Earlier in the relationship there were times that we tried things but after one trial we had to stop because he wasn't comfortable. In some cases it took a very long time for him to want to try again, but it was worth waiting because those things feel completely natural and normal now. Anxiety and discomfort re new situations is normal and some feelings will always be a bit of a challenge. I am not jealous of them spending time together, but I really miss them because I am used to being in close contact by phone and text, so a whole weekend without that contact is always going to feel a bit isolating.