I think we've reached the end....
So, this is Rider continuing on my journey, trying to discover the root of all the problems Iíve been having this week, and figure some things out.
I would like to state up front here that we are struggling with the gravity of what this thread means. I wrote the post and RBR has read it and given her approval to post it.
For the remainder of this post, I want to define the terms that I will use, and what they mean to me so others can understand. I am NOT saying that this is the only meaning for these words, just saying that this is what I mean when I say marriage, autonomous, or independent. I really donít want to offend anyone by the use of these words, so please let me say in advance that Iím fully open to the fact that there are many different ways to use these words and give them the meaning that best suits you Ė thatís all cool!
Marriage Ė a commitment between two people, that includes with it a deep entanglement of emotion, devotion, physically and sexually, finances, it basically includes the entangling of two entire people, everything about them. They become partners in everything, incur a responsibility to the other spouse, supporting and loving each other through their lives together. In an arrangement like this, all important decisions would be made collectively.
Autonomy Ė an autonomous person makes all their own decisions, is not entangled with anyone else, may chose to consider or consult others in their decisions, but the key here is that all decisions are made by the individual, not collectively. An autonomous person is not responsible to any other individual.
Independence Ė I see independence as lying somewhere between married or entangled, and autonomous. An independent person could be married, and does likely include significant entanglement, but also has a strong sense of self, needs to make some (or even many) decisions on their own, often needs alone time, etc.
Again, please donít argue over the terms and definitions. The idea here is to be sure that I can clearly communicate.
What I think I have learned this week:
In order to make sure that I never had an affair or cheated on RBR, I made her my whole world, I looked to her for anything that I needed from a woman, spiritually, emotionally, and sexually. I have had other female friends, but if there was ever an attraction, I gently moved away from the relationship, just to be sure that it was never an option to cheat on RBR. This worked to ensure that I never had to make that choice. If itís not an option, it canít happen. That worked for our 20-year marriage, but it also created a thick entanglement between us, something that moved beyond entanglement into codependence. I knew she was my whole world, but I did not know how deep it ran, that I was actually what some would consider codependent with her.
RBR desires autonomy, plain and simple. She wants to be able to do what she pleases, make her own decisions, and not incur a responsibility to anyone else. She does desire some entanglement, but that too is on her terms. She decides where she is willing to be entangled, and the terms of that entanglement.
I think I want entanglement, maybe even codependence. I want to be very intertwined and partner in all things. And given the definitions above, you should be able to immediately see the rub.
When RBR and I started this journey, Iíve found that it was with some pretty high naivety. I thought poly would mean adding new love and relationship to my life. It would mean granting and receiving more independence in our relationship, which was necessary to facilitate each of us having other relationships, but in general the overall effect would be adding, not taking away.
I think what happened as we have moved into this is that I discovered RBRís deep sense of having been controlled, and her longing to be free of any responsibility to me. She wants autonomy as defined above.
The way Iím viewing things, marriage is closed, and could not include other emotional, physical and romantic relationships. Autonomy is incompatible with marriage, as the entanglement and partnering that comes with marriage is exactly the opposite of autonomy.
Independence is somewhere between the entanglement of marriage and autonomy.
RBR wants autonomy, and in order for me to grant that, it meant that the deep entanglement that I had built over the marriage had to be dismantled. I think this means that the ďmarriageĒ as I have known it is over. I think this is what the deep sense of profound loss and hopelessness that I have been experiencing this week has been all about. Mourning that loss.
RBR is not asking for a divorce at this moment, she wants to continue to be legally married, raise our kids together, own a house together, live together, etc., but she also is all about her autonomy. She wants to make all her own decisions and not have any responsibility to me for anything. I will be part of the relationship between RBR and I, but basically have no part in any other relationship she chooses to have.
The autonomy RBR seeks she also grants to others, so I will have the same autonomy she desires, freedom to make my own decisions and have the responsibility for them. The difference is that this isnít what I want.
This makes RBR sound selfish, or the bad guy here. I donít think that is the case. RBR deserves the freedom to pursue happiness in life just as anyone else.
So, I think autonomy means that she is in a relationship with me at her own pleasure. She will grant love, devotion, time, and even entanglement in her terms, to what suits her. I on the other hand have the option to accept those terms, negotiate for other terms, or leave the relationship.
Iíve been all over the map emotionally this week, so no decisions are being made. Iím just trying to understand what Iím feeling and why.
The deep emotional problems Iíve been experiencing this week are due to me coming to the understanding of how deeply incompatible RBR and I have become, and the ripping and tearing that has occurred in me as she separates herself from me to gain autonomy. It has bothered me that this seems so easy for her. In truth, in our discussions it is coming out that she probably left the marriage some number of years ago; itís just all coming out now.
She is sad that this has all occurred, and she never meant for this to be happening. As I started this post, we entered poly thinking we were opening our marriage to new love and relationship to be added to what we have. As it turns out, this led to the discovery that we really didnít have anything left.
I still love RBR very much and she says she loves me, but the new RBR is incompatible with me. I cannot love her as the autonomous person she desires to be.
RBR doesnít like these words, as they go down very hard, and make us both sad. The problem is that I want entanglement and she wants autonomy, which I feel are mutually exclusive.
Weíre not having an emotional meltdown today, but we are both very sad, as I think that this means that weíve come to the end of our marriage.
Itís amazing how unemotional this is at this moment. Very sad though.
We are going to give it some time to make this decision. We talked about perhaps getting marriage counseling from a counselor that was onboard with poly. But it will really all come down to RBR deciding what she wants. I canít stay with the new RBR as described here.
married, heterosexual male currently in an a newly opened relationship; married to RunBabyRun