Sorry for the length of this post
Ok, we've had the talk. I expected some sort of big sense of relief and peace, but I don't feel that at all. It feels like there is now an enormous amount of work to do. I don't mean about restoring trust or clearing up misconceptions. More about figuring each other out.
The conversation did not go at all where I thought it would. He did not express jealousy, anger, suspicion, hurt, etc. He felt only concern, for propriety, for our family, for my life's aspirations (which was so odd I am going to explain below). He did not want me to tell him who I love, but I started talking anyway (about my feelings for my friend, etc.) and eventually said I'm sure he knew who it was. He did.
He agreed it was right that I told him, but he still didn't want to know. He doesn't like that it will feel awkward for him now, being around my friend. I asked him to clarify the boundaries -that I can love someone and do nothing, or at the other extreme (which I wouldn't want) have sex or run off with them, but somewhere in the middle of that range is a place we can feel comfortable. He really. did. not. want to talk about that. I offered that I wouldn't have sex and wouldn't share personal secrets about him or us. He added "or our kids" but since my friend is one of my best sources of parenting advice, having raised a daughter who was challenging in all the same ways as my oldest, I asked for specifics there, and he couldn't really think of anything about our kids I couldn't share. He said no picking up diseases, but that kind of went back to no sex.
He said "nothing physical" and I said dancing is physical, holding hands is physical, so how about no sexual touch. Later I asked him about kissing and he said, "I don't want to answer that." I know I should always ask and not assume, but I couldn't get a straight answer, and what I assume is this: he does not want to say yes, because he doesn't feel it is appropriate to allow his wife to kiss another man. He does not want to say no, because he doesn't think his objections outweigh my happiness. Well, the closest we came to settling the whole question is that yes, I can still see my friend, and no, we won't have sexual touch (I told him the sexual energy is not something that will go away at will), and the grey area between is a matter of my discretion, but he really doesn't want to be informed. By that I mean he said explicitly that he does not want to be told what goes on. I also asked that he let me know his emotions that might come up in the future.
What surprised me the most was that the only part of the conversation that had me alternating between tears and anger, was when he brought in "aspirations." I was asking some question to do with sexual energy, and he comes back with "There is more to life than this," and clarifies with some comment about my having been high school valedictorian and is this what I want to be doing with my energy? Loving, developing relationships? And it turns out that he (very highly compensated, well respected achiever in a big corporate environment) does not feel like he has made his mark in the world, and he can't understand why I am not similarly driven to DO something with myself, and not sit back enjoying life as I do. This infuriates me, because I have spent the last 8.5 years pregnant (twice), breastfeeding (6 yrs total) and raising our two young daughters full time, and at the same time, earned my master's degree and started a private school 6 years ago that has continued to grow. I direct it singlehandedly, from the marketing to the payroll -I even do my own corporate taxes. This is me, having no aspirations.
So his whole big concern with me having another man to love is that I will put emotional energy into that relationship, and it will keep me from achieving anything important. What kills me is that I think happy human relationships are what's important. I think life is about finding your happiness, in a way that helps others be happy too. He thinks more on the level of Nobel prizes, or inventing Google. I think he will never be satisfied with himself, and now I question whether he will always be disappointed in me. I love my husband immensely, but I just can't get my mind around this drive, and the way he can dismiss human interaction as a distraction from greater purpose.
Anyway, I guess I'm relieved that everything is out in the open now (and I called my friend to catch him up on it all too), but I feel sad that we have such an enormous difference in priorities. I feel like we are successful in every sense of the word: we are in love, we have 2 gifted children, we have more money than we know what to do with, we have our health, we are respected in our careers, we have friends and neighbors who like us, and our berry bushes are producing like crazy. I am happy with my life. He feels like a disappointment to his parents (one of whom is dead, so how can we argue with that?). And now he has a wife who is wasting her potential on silly things like love.
Is it no wonder I like to spend hours talking with my friend? He seems to come from the same planet I do.
Thanks again for encouraging me to bring this out in the open. I guess the journey has finally begun.