I must have a large karmic debt...
I am, to the best of my knowledge, a mono. My de-facto partner has made her decision that she is poly known about 8 months ago after I discovered her affair.
We live in a small rural community, and we're both members of our volunteer fire brigade. We had a close friendship with the captain of our brigade - in his early sixties, and with his own partner but their relationship was erratic - and my partner became very close to him in the last 5 or 6 years when she gave up work to study Naturopathy full-time, followed by us having our daughter (now 3 years old). I always knew that she had a thing for him, and she is the sort of woman that just draws people to her. She is the definition of alive! I'd even considered letting her see him before the affair.
We'd been through a rough patch about 5 years ago when I discovered she had had a few one-night stands and not told me about them - the sex wasn't an issue but the lying was. She promised never to lie again, and I took her at her word. I'm a Chinese Dog (astrologically although I don't believe in Astrology) - I am loyal to the death, but I need that from the people I love as well. So finding out that I was lied to hurt bitterly for several months.
So, in March of 2009, there was a music festival in the local park. I was stuck at home having to deal with some work on the weekend (I'm in IT working on projects that can get a bit crappy). And she wanted to have an evening free of being a mum. She took a bottle of wine and headed off. The music from the park finished about midnight - we're just up the road, but she didn't get home until about 3am. My head was going through a variety of scenarios (amazing how good gut-feel really is). She staggered in drunk, ripped of her clothes and hit the bed.
Next morning, she told me about her evening without mentioning anything about them going back to his place, and how our 'friend' had dropped her off. I didn't go into it further, but my head was telling me that something had happened. Time passed - whenever our daughter was in childcare, and I phoned her, she was at his place or vice versa having 'cups of tea'. At my 40th birthday, whenever she popped away, he'd saunter off into the night about a minute later. On Saturdays, she'd go off 'shopping'. After 12 months, it was doing my head in - I thought an affair was happening, but couldn't accept she would lie to me again. One night, after she had had a few wines, she started texting furiously, and then headed off to bed. I checked her phone, discovered the text to her lover, woke her, and she confirmed she was having an affair. Even if I hadn't found the text, I was about to implement a number of checks that would have confirmed the affair anyway (being in IT has its perks...)
My partner told me a couple of days after discovering the affair that if I didn't allow her to continue seeing him, our relationship was over. She said that she loved me completely, but loved him as well, and couldn't go on repressing her need to express her love with people that she felt a connection to. She had debated telling me about the one-night stand, but decided against that, and then the two of them decided to proceed with an affair - the intention being that it would continue indefinitely. If we didn't have a daughter, I would have ended the relationship right there.
In parallel with this over the prior few months, we had learned (along with several dozen other people) that a former colleague and friend that we had backed financially to set up his finance company had done a runner to India with all of our retirement savings and left us all with massive tax debts. I'd been trading shares to see if I could build funds to cover the debts and had just gotten to the point where we were OK. I discovered the affair, had a 2-month breakdown and didn't even think about money, came back to the shares after that and discovered all was lost. Karma right there I reckon.
In the following days, weeks and months, I've been internally battling with a lot of things. I have no issue with her having sex with others - we've 'swung', and although those instances were mildly interesting, I really enjoyed seeing her attracting others. I love seeing her happy. And I can honestly understand the logic behind her perspective that having an intimate relationship with someone else brings new things into her life, energises her and helps her grow. And our sex life, which was always great, was even better during the period of the affair.
I like him - he's a great member of the community, and a good bloke. In his words, she got under his skin. He was a Vietnam vet, and has had a hard life, but is now very successful. He was divorced about 20 years ago. He opened up to her in ways that he never has to anyone else - she's good like that.
But the deception still hurts. I've continually thought about giving her license to see him intimately - maybe once a month or so for starters so I can ease into things - but I really have a personal issue with their both being happy to have the relationship and continue to lie to his partner (they live separately). Which then leaves me feeling like I would be an accomplice to a lie that might end up with someone else being hurt as badly as I was, with the potential for a lot of fallout in the community, with friends and with family. She has said that he would never be honest with his own partner about anything that had happened, or if I agreed that they could still see each other.
We've been to counselling, and she has taken a step back from the ultimatum - she says that our relationship is the best she has ever had, and I'm the best partner and lover she has ever had (its kind of nice that her best friend has independently told me that as well!), that she will stay with me even if she can't continue her relationship with him. But on a couple of occasions when she's been drunk, the ultimatum has popped out - I've not bitten back, and she has apologised the next mornings.
She's had a couple of prior long-term relationships before, but they've always ended because in hindsight, she wanted to explore the poly path. She's had many many dozens of sexual partners over her adult life. So its kind of ego-stroking I guess to know that I'm special. Her description of the third party is that any continuation of their relationship would be a side-salad, and that I'm the main course and dessert, that our relationship has a depth to it that no other partner could bring to her. I battle a bit with the thought that her time with him was and would be more fun that with me because it didn't involve the sleepless nights with a sick daughter, doing dinner and dishes, chores etc etc - it was free of any responsibilities and obligations. But that's my own perspective, not hers. And I have to be honest and say that I envy her that chance to experience NRE again.
I'd love to be able to give her this, but its hard given the context of how their relationship came to be, that it would involve lying to someone else. I love her dearly, but how much of my own soul is that worth...
Anyway, I'm rambling. Sorry for the huge post. Hi!