The Love Languages book has been very interesting! I went on a relationship book shopping spree after reading some of that one, heh. There's some interesting research out there that I sure wasn't aware of, and it's eye-opening. At first, I was hesitant to look to mainstream relationship books because I figured they would give me hell about the open marriage concept, but so far at least I've felt very encouraged about how to work on my marriage so that poly can work. I'm sure there's a lot of junk out there, but I've found several books so far that compliment the Love Languages one and don't seem too gimmicky.
The original theme of this thread was whether or not it made sense to hide pain in my situation. I've read a lot in the past few days, and my current perspective is that while hiding it isn't right, becoming too attached to my pain is also something I need to watch for. A lot of the research in the books I'm reading now says that one partner telling the other constantly about how bad they feel invokes a shame reaction in the partner that very often leads to a pattern of defensiveness based on shame. A partner will often take the expression of pain as an accusation of failure, and this may explain why most of my husband's reactions are not sympathetic.
I can definitely relate. My sense of shame and inadequacy is provoked very easily, and viewed from this angle, I think I can understand better why he might be blocking out all the times I've told him about my pain. He's protecting himself, because we as partners aren't in tune enough to be able to share pain right now. I know that each of the times he's told me he's in pain, I've absolutely panicked, believing I'll lose him and be alone. I cope with this by deciding irrationally that I can fix everything, or by withdrawing into depression. I would not be surprised at all to learn that his coping mechanism has more to do with denial and "disproving" what I feel.
In either response, I think we're presenting and dealing with each other's pain poorly, and it's an area I'm going to try my best to find more techniques for handling. I'm realizing I've probably put the cart before the horse in all my efforts to work out my ability to deal with poly. There are a number of prerequisites, and among them are the abilities to express and interpret pain supportively. I have a lot of fear wrapped up in the idea that I won't be able to truly get on board with poly before his patience runs out, but I also realize that where I'm at with my present state of mind isn't right or wrong - it's just reality. And if his patience does run out before I get to where he wants me to be, then our relationship just won't work out. It isn't what I want, but so it goes.
Thank you all for the insights and advice. You have really helped me.
And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?