WOW! What a SNAFU! Part one.
This is a bit of stream of consciousness writing to help me try to figure out where I am and how in the hell I got here in the first place.
Almost a year ago I started playing pool and throwing darts with a female friend on a fairly regular basis about once a week. It started out as a group of friends but as time wore on more and more it was just us shooting pool. Almost 6 months of shooting pool, and a month or so of my wife asking me if I was going out with my “girlfriend” on the weekend to tweak me, my wife basically informed me that, yes, I had indeed fallen in love with this other, married, woman. I tried to deny it, not wanting it to be true as I feared how something like that would damage the relationship with my wife, who I considered and referred to as my angel. I was also somewhat embarrassed that if it were true, I’d been *caught* at something that felt wrong to me and that I probably should have seen and if I were a “good husband” I’d have acted to end pool nights and keep from being in situations that would result in us getting even closer than we already were. That didn’t work, and in very short order I admitted that yes, I was in love with her. Immediate dilemma for me, what to do now; what do I do? Pool night comes around and again, it’s just us two at the pool hall. I told her I loved her and asked her how she felt. She needed a little time to think about it. That same evening after taking what felt like forever, she told me that she had also fallen in love with me. My wife knew, and our families were very close so in the interest of honesty and full disclosure, we both decided right then and there that her husband needed to be told about this as soon as she got home.
He didn’t take it well. He didn’t take it well at all. My lovely wife basically told us we were morons and should have kept it a secret since the only thing that could have happened by him knowing was that he’d be hurt, which isn’t good for anyone and is actually quite cruel to him. She had been in favor of us having an affair. Oh well, it was too late for that now. So we dealt with it as best we could. Over the next few days or maybe a week or so I learned the following.
My wife had a 4+ year long affair with my best friend, and she has had a one night stand with two other people. In the distant past she had sex a few times with the person who was my best friend at that time, and she was the person with whom another friend lost his virginity. My wife has been “in love” with yet a different person for over 20 years without my knowledge. Wow! I can either have a blow-up and demand that behavior of that sort end forever or we’re done, or I can blow-up and leave her for cheating on me, or I can “cope” and let the intellect win over the feelings of jealousy and betrayal. Two teenage children, a mortgage, and 22 years of marriage spent building a life where I had never felt neglected or unloved, the *best choice* seemed to be to “suck it up” and get on with life, and just deal with my self-proclaimed polyamorous wife, and let her continue to have her fun, so to speak. Not only that, in large part, apparently, because 22 years ago I had told her, and kept telling her every once in a while, “what I don’t know won’t hurt me”, she had a rationale that was basically unspoken permission to have affairs and/or trysts as much as she wanted, with the responsibility that I never learn about them. But now I was in love with someone in addition to my wife, and that didn’t diminish the love I felt for my wife, and it was a nice feeling to be loved by two women, so now I could probably empathize with wanting to sleep with other women (at least this one) without it affecting how I felt about my wife, like she said her trysts/affairs didn’t affect how she felt about me. Welcome to the world of polyamory.
Did I have any affairs during the 22 years of our marriage? I think I *might* have had a couple of one night stands within a couple of the first two to three years, but if so, I don’t remember them, but remembering back to the kind of person I was, I believe I probably did have a few. I did have one “affair” with a girl about 5-6 years into our marriage where I met her and had sex on 2 or three different occasions, and I had a one night stand about 8 years into our marriage, but my wife knew about that one beforehand, and while she said she’d rather I didn’t do anything with her, I did. Maybe because a couple of years prior to that I had an opportunity to sleep with an old high school girlfriend that I’d never had sex with before, I asked her about that and when she said she’d rather I not, I didn’t. I’m just not sure, but for the most part I had permission from my wife to sleep around if I wanted to while I was an over the road truck driver, and I took advantage of it, without her knowledge, only with that girl I mentioned having the very, very short lived affair with. I never specifically gave her permission, other than the rule that sent a double meaning; “what I don’t know won’t hurt me”.
My wife is polyamorous in that she can love more than one person at a time, and she’s known this since before we got married. Hell, she almost talked me into a “group” arrangement early in our marriage, but I just couldn’t get rid of the jealousy, so I put the stop to it. Well, what I know is that I put the stop to the group arrangement, and I put a stop to this particular individual, but not my wife’s sleeping with other guys. Isn’t that a nice thought? Yeah, that was snarky, and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and I was sleeping around on her several times during the time leading up to our engagement, which was short as we married soon afterward, so it’s also hypocritical, isn’t it? Okay, so my wife tells me about her various “encounters” with other guys. At the end of the first evening of her confessions she says to me that that’s all there was. Then there’s another night of further confessions, and that’s all there was. Finally, at least a third night, and that’s all there is, and this is, if memory serves me correctly, the night of the confession to the 4 year affair, or the confession of the 20 year love interest, but maybe both. I honestly don’t remember the order anymore. What I didn’t pay enough attention to, apparently, was that she was adamant about telling me that nobody had her heart like I did by telling me that at the front end of every tryst/love affair she made it blatantly obvious to her chosen partner that they’d NEVER supplant me in her heart and there was no way she’d allow them to ever consider her their primary love interest, and she demanded of them that she never become their primary love interest. Talk about quashing and muting the potential for unfettered, uncontrolled emotional bonding and growth; it’d be nigh impossible if that’s on the very front end of any “engagement”.
During this time of confession and getting “honest” with each other we’re also discussing my own first-hand knowledge and experience with honest to goodness love of more than one person. I’m very uncomfortable with it, and tell her on more than one occasion that for some reason, whether socialization or something else I can’t identify, I think I’d actually be more comfortable trying to hide the whole thing from her and just have had an affair. Good idea, bad idea, who knows? It’s probably a bad idea since we are supposedly being honest and totally up front about everything. I’m also learning that she believes lying, or preferably deflection and misdirection, is acceptable when the truth serves no good purpose and will result in hurt feelings, and when there’s no good result but it’s known that hurt feelings would be the result, the truth in that case is the equivalent to intentional and calculated harm to someone, and it’s not nice, nor is it acceptable to intentionally hurt someone when no good can come of it. Okay, I understand that. Does that mean the same rule applies at all times, even when dealing with one’s spouse in what is now a totally open, honest, up-front relationship? Why? Because that relationship isn’t worthy of the protection others are afforded by the “when is lying and/or misdirection okay”, rule? Or is the critical assumption that nothing will hurt because we’ll trust that it isn’t the intent to cause pain, or that somehow the pain is a good thing, or what? I don’t get it at all when it’s applied here? How much trust do you have for your spouse and how much do they trust you, and in what terms and to what degree under what circumstances?
cont'd in next post.