For us the benefit was we did not get a divorce. Because the feelings I had were too strong to fight -- I tried, for 4 years. But I did NOT stop loving my husband, so losing him, and our family, would have been just as awful as denying my love for the other man. I couldn't bear to choose either one, and I felt ripped in two.
I never thought there could be a third option -- yes, "having my cake and eating it too" -- but my husband loves me so much he thought I deserved to!
Of course the benefits do seem to be more mine than my husband's. I guess the fact that I recognize that, and I'm extremely grateful to him for it, means he gets my gratitude and appreciation, multiplied!
He admires my big heart. He knows I went into this because I cared so much, because my heart was bleeding for this man, and I was overwhelmed with compassion for him. My boyfriend has been through a lot the past 4 years, and we (my husband and I both) watched and suffered along with him. I truly felt "called" to love him, to help heal him (yes, "sexual healing" included!
) and I couldn't be happy knowing he wasn't. My husband knows me, and he gets that.
My self-esteem is boosted, knowing that I am sexy and desirable to two men who find me beautiful and capable of loving them wholeheartedly. That in turn makes me feel more sexy, which in turn leads to... more sex, and a happy hubby!
We joke and laugh a lot about the unconventional life we are living. We are proud of ourselves, for being so daring to try this out. We have a "little secret" but it is not mine alone, as an affair would be. This is something we share. Weird, I know, but still bonding in a strange way.
And poly means there is no need for cheating, because of the honesty. "Cheating with permission"? How can that still be "cheating," at all? Maybe think of it as "loving, with permission." Then take that a step further and see how silly that is, in the first place: who has the right to give anyone "permission" to LOVE? Love is a right, not a privilege. It's the way sex and love intertwine that gets everything all mixed up. I must admit, we're not there yet, either -- it is still a struggle. Sometimes my husband is ok with the sexual nature of my other relationship, but not the emotional part. Then other times he's freaked out by both. "Friends with benefits" is a difficult balance to keep.
I guess I'm repeating myself but the greatest benefit to my husband is he didn't lose the wife he loves. He thinks I'm worth it. Only you can decide how far you are willing to go to keep your wife. It will take a TON of work and sacrifice, but if she's worth it you should try.