Well, this is my first message on this board -- I (and my wife *T*) have been lurking and reading for a couple of months. This may belong more in the introductions section, but....
For what it's worth, I find your situation very, VERY similar to my own -- I've been married for 15+ years to a wonderful woman. Our marriage was and is still rock solid. For over 17 years we have both been monogamous and faithful to each other without any desire to find someone else.
Then *J* came into my life. Ironically, it was my wife who introduced us over a year ago. During the ensuing year I became friends with her and as time passed, more and more attracted to her. I thought that the feeling was mutual.
Early last December it finally reached a point that I could no longer just ignore my attraction to her and for a few days I tore myself up inside to the point of making myself sick. Luckily, my wife and I have multiple friends who are poly. After a long talk with one of them and spending time reading this board, I 'manned up' and told my wife of my feelings for *J*. Then I asked her to consider opening our marriage and allowing me to tell *J* of my feelings for her.
This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I was very afraid of the damage that I was going to do to my marriage and the amount of hurt that I was going to inflict on *T* in the process. She had a pretty understandable reaction: shock, hurt, fear, jealousy, anger, you name it. BUT. She was also understanding and relieved that I trusted her enough to tell her of my feelings. There was some comfort that I trusted her enough to tell her rather than cheating on her. After a couple of weeks of talking and soul searching, she gave me her permission to tell *J* and see where it lead. Unfortunately, I had misread *J* and she didn't feel the same way. Looking back, this was probably for the best.
At this point in time, my wife and I have taken a step back and are very slowly and deliberately examining the possiblity of opening our marriage. This time, we're not working under an 'iminent threat'. Nothing has been decided. We're reading these boards and the recommended links/information. We're reading recommended books. We're lucky enough to have a number of close friends in active poly relationships who are willing to share their experiences and 'coach' us if necessary.
I would very much like to explore polyamory. My wife doesn't have any real desire to do so herself and can't see finding a partner for herself either, but she is willing to try to understand this change in me. She's doing some serious soul-searching to see if she can accept this. We have started discussing what we would be comfortable with and how things could work if we decide to open up. How long will this take? Dunno. As long as it takes.
The above is fairly long winded, but having been in very similar shoes, I offer the following bits of advice -- most of it is a rehash of wisdom that you can find all over this board, but it's definitely worth repeating.
-- Do NOT cheat on your wife. Even if she doesn't like the idea of nonmonagomy at all, trust me: She'd much rather hear that you have an attraction to another woman than find out afterwards that you have had an affair. Your odds of a 'good outcome' are much better if you're honest with her and don't destroy her trust in you.
-- Be prepared to reassure her that it's nothing that she's done (or not done). It isn't that you don't love her any more or any less. You aren't trying to replace her and in fact she can't be replaced. And I don't mean once. Continually.
-- Be honest and open. This is a recording.
-- Be prepared to "date" your wife again. Come to think of it, you should regularly "date" your wife regardless of whether she's willing to consider nonmonogamy or not.
-- Be prepared to be fully open and communicate with your wife on a level that you've rarely (if ever) done before. I can attest to this -- whether *T* and I ever reach the point of opening our marriage, our relationship is actually much stronger that it was before. We are closer and have talked more in the last seven weeks than we have in the previous seven years. I won't get too graphic, but our sex lives have also dramatically improved as well. All of this is a GOOD THING (tm).
-- If your wife is willing to at least consider the idea of opening your marriage, be prepared for this journey to take a lot of time and effort on BOTH of your parts. Your biggest temptation will be to rush and "push" her. Even knowing that this is not a good thing, I've fallen into this trap a few times. *T* and I are still in the middle of this process -- we have our good days and our not-so-good days.
-- Understand that as hard as it was for you to even tell your wife of your feelings for another woman and then broach the subject of nonmonogamy, it's going to be even harder for her to process. Be understanding, be sympathetic and BE PATIENT. Reread this point ten more times; I'll wait until you're done.
-- Read this board and follow the good advice and learn from others here.
-- If your wife is interested, show her this board -- read it with her.
-- Read Sage's blog -- www.polyamorouspeople.com
. It's been incredibly helpful to a lot of people, including my wife and I. Also, get her ebook. (Sage -- a kickback would be appreciated here....
-- Take Redpepper's and Sage's advice to heart. They know what they're talking about. I know that I'm forgetting to mention at least a dozen others by name here, but you'll find out very quickly who they are...
, by Jenny Block and Opening Up
by Tristan Taormino are excellent books. *T* is currently reading Open
and will be reading Opening Up
as soon as I have finished it.
There are probably another hundred or three things that I've learned but am forgetting to mention here. Good luck. And yes, it *is* worth it.