Marriage and more
So, I'm married and my wife and I have been separated for about a year and a half. We were certainly headed for divorce. The marriage itself has been very difficult. I contributed to that difficulty by cheating and behaving badly in that way. The cheating led to therapy, which led to quite a bit of soul searching, self-insight and resolve to lead a life that engages all of me and has integrity. I've been on this path for a good part of 3 years now.
When my wife and I initially separated, it was with the intention of working things out and putting the marriage back together. She had an apartment about 3 miles down the road and I stayed in the house with our two kids. This lasted about six months. We tried again for about 3 months. The issues in our marriage go well beyond infidelity and we just couldn't get it to work. She then moved back to her home town on the East Coast. Divorce was our primary discussion at that point. It was clear that we both had very different visions of what makes a marriage, what kind of partnership we wanted, and how we would share the responsibilities of life. Lawyere'd up we were hurdling headlong toward divorce. Custody and location (East or West Coast) being the main points of contention. It seemed to me the path with the best chance of maximizing everyone's pain. Ugh!
I also had the insight that I would probably never get married again. I've said to my wife - probably as long as I've known her - that I'm not quite certain I was suited for marriage. Experiencing it more or less convinced me of that. I went from that idea to the notion that if re-marriage wasn't a priority of mine, neither was divorce. My proposal became for us to stay married and separated - location to still be negotiated. The primary rational being the difficulty my wife will have finding quality health care insurance with a long-term, very expensive chronic disorder. I literally have the best health care imaginable and our lives were fundamentally transformed when we moved here because her health improved dramatically (both the quality of the care and the quality of the health insurance).
Over about a six month period that notion transformed into she'd move back to WA and we'd stay separated indefinitely. I also discovered poly about this time and once she decided to come back to WA - I talked to her about my being poly (my therapist was interestingly very against this). That set off a round of difficult conversations - because I think it resurfaced some hurt feelings around my infidelity. Ultimately, she was able to connect that notion with her whole history of knowledge about me. Also, prior to our getting married we were in a serious non-monogamous relationship - I had two serious long-term partners including her for a nearly 3 year period. So, me talking about being poly wasn't exactly shocking as it was confirming.
As our conversations evolved and the date for her to move back to WA got closer. We struggled with where - should she take the house with the kids and I get an apartment? Should she get an apartment nearby like before? Both options seemed less than ideal. We came up with the wacky idea of living together while separated. I guess it's not so wacky as I was thinking way outside the box at that point.
The big idea: My wife and I have decided to not get divorced while staying separated (i.e., not romantically linked and both seek that outside the marriage). For our own well-being and those of our kids, we’re attempting to maintain a common household, continue to nurture a close friendship with the aim of maintaining a loving environment for our kids.
She moved back in April. And, April and May were very difficult. It was hard to adjust to her being part of the family routine for me, the kids and her. It was hard to adjust to living together with separate bedrooms and offices with different expectations on privacy and boundaries. When I went on my first date while she was back, it set off an aweful explosion of emotion. She knew I was dating prior to coming back. But, "watching it" is different from hearing that it was happening.
The last several months have been much easier. We continue to work through how to make this work. It seems that we have both become more committed to making it work over that time - despite the large challenge of it all. We believe that the potential benefits of making it work far outweigh the risks. It's worth that risk bar far.
And so, the experiment continues.
Male, Straight, Poly
“Instead of getting better and better at avoiding, learn to accept the present moment as if you had invited it. And work with it instead of against it. And making it your ally rather than your enemy.”
Last edited by MindfulAgony; 08-27-2010 at 09:52 PM.